"When I first started meditating, thirty-seven odd years ago, my mind was a mess. Many of my meditations were unrelenting "thinkitations". I probably would have stopped meditating if I hadn't liked my teacher a lot and if he wasn't so patient with my endless queries, including persistent doubts about whether he had given me "the right Sahaj mantra".
I did have some beautiful deep meditations, but they seemed to be infrequent. Over the years, the experience of peace and bliss in meditation grew, but it was only after I received instruction in Sahaj from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and started listening to his teaching around meditation that the quality of my meditations really shifted consistently.
The understanding of the principle of dispassion is what really helped more than anything else (apart maybe from the Sudarshan Kriya). For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to unpack the understanding of dispassion (or vairagya, in Sanskrit parlance) and how it can address the obstacles to the mind settling in meditation. Many meditation students have told me they can't meditate effectively because their mind is too busy. There can be several reasons for that, but often the primary reason is that people are giving free license to their mind to roam and to get caught up in daydreams, planning, working things out, and so on. That is not the mind's fault. It just reflects the mind not having been given a direction.
To me, dispassion in meditation means being totally disinterested in the content of thoughts that arise in meditation. But, how do you develop dispassion?
One way is a combination of your meditation practice and a consideration of what Sri Sri rightly says is that desires—which are the source of planning, intentions, and other mental activities in meditation—are really not worth a cracker. Recognise that desires arise from a feeling of lack in this moment. If they are fulfilled, the satisfaction is fleeting, and if unfulfilled, they
only bring frustration.
As Sri Sri says, "Taking a good look at one's desires and realizing that that they are futile or nothing great, is maturity, or discrimination". Consider that most of us have literally thousands of thoughts a day, and the research indicates that 95 percent or more of these don't serve any useful function at all—they are just repetitive patterns. I've come to the conclusion over the years that most of us take our thoughts far too seriously.
The second way to develop dispassion is by getting beaten up by the world and heading in the direction of the same realization the hard way, without necessarily having a practice and knowledge. A lot of us come to the spiritual path through that route.
The third way is through your practice alone. Over time, as your meditation slowly deepens and you experience a little Samadhi (total settling of the mind) despite all the action in your brain, a global letting go happens in your life. This doesn't mean you lose interest in everything, by the way. In fact, if anything, the opposite happens—your awareness is heightened. However, way three is the bullock cart route compared to the jet plane route of way one – practice combined with the wisdom given by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Written by Chris Dale, Sahaj Samadhi Meditation teacher