In the next three days we will explore all about meditation.
Are you ready for the journey? Then buckle up! Fasten your seat belt!
Do you know what the real seat belt for meditation is? Feeling at home, being natural! If you feel very formal, you can’t meditate. Meditation requires being informal and feeling at home.
I suppose you all feel at home, right? Of course, it is California, everyone always feels at home. We are very casual, isn’t it? That’s the great thing about California, very at home, easy!
So, we will explore the need of meditation. Why do we need to meditate and what are the ways to meditate. I won’t go into the benefits; I assume you all know the benefits of meditation. But the need and the methods, and how we can have a successful meditation, we will explore all these avenues; the different types of meditations.
Now, what is the need for meditation, why should you meditate?
The need is there in every human being because it is a natural tendency of human life to look for a joy that doesn’t diminish, a love that doesn’t distort or turn into negative emotions. This is very natural, isn’t it?
Is meditation foreign to us? Absolutely not! This is because you have been in meditation for a couple of months before your birth. You were in your mother’s womb doing nothing. You didn’t even have to chew your food, it was fed directly into your belly and you were there happily floating in the fluid, turning and kicking, sometimes here and something there, but most of the time happily floating there. That is meditation. You did nothing, everything was done for you. So there is a natural tendency in every human being, in every soul to crave for that state when you are in absolute comfort.
You know why you want comfort? It is because you were comfortable at one point. So that wanting comfort is again natural because you have experienced a state of comfort that is called meditation. Meditation is absolute comfort. So getting back to that state which you have had a taste of just before coming into the hustle, bustle of this universe, of this world, is very natural because in this universe everything is cyclic, everything wants to go back to its source, and that is the nature of the world. Everything goes back and everything is cyclic; except plastic if you don’t use it properly.
See, when the autumn season comes, the leaves fall and go back to the soil and nature has its own way to re-cycle them. The natural tendency to re-cycle all that we have collected in day to day life as impressions, getting rid of them and getting back to the original state that we were when we dawned on this planet is what meditation is. Becoming fresh again, alive again is what mediation is. Getting back to that serenity which is your original nature is meditation. Absolute joy and happiness is meditation.
A pleasure minus excitement is meditation. A thrill without anxiety is meditation. A love without hatred or any of the opposite values is meditation. Meditation is food for the soul, so there is a natural craving for food, isn’t it? When you are hungry, spontaneously you go to eat something. If you are thirsty you want to drink some water. In the same way, the soul yearns for meditation and this tendency is in everyone. That is why I say, there is not a single individual on this planet who is not a seeker. Just that they don’t know it. They don’t recognize it. We try to look for that food where it is not available, that is the problem.
It is like you going to a grocery shop when you want to fill gas in your car. It won’t work. You keep going round and round the grocery store saying, ‘I want gas for my car.’ It won’t work because you need to go to the petrol station. So that right direction needs to be found and that is what we are going to explore. What are the ways and how we can meditate, how we can experience that absolute comfort within our self.
So there are five ways:
First way is through physical means; through yoga and through physical exercise. When our body does certain postures, with a certain rhythm, it brings some tiredness and then the mind slips into meditation.
It is very interesting to see. If you are very active you can’t meditate, at the same time, if you are too well rested, you can’t go into meditation. But in a state where the body has the right amount of tiredness, yet still not that tired, in that very delicate balance, the mind slips into meditation, or your whole system slips into meditation. So first is through the physical.
Second is through prana or through breath. Through breathing you can get into mediation. This we all know, Sudarshan Kriya is one of the best examples. After pranayama and Sudarshan Kriya when you sit for meditation you slip into meditation effortlessly.
So a breathing technique is one way to get into meditation.
The third is through any sensory pleasure – through sight, sound, taste, smell or touch. The five sensory organs, related to five elements.
The world is of five elements, earth, water, air, fire and ether. A different combination of these five elements is what this universe is made of, and these five elements are connected to the five senses that we have. Fire is connected with the eyes, smell with earth element, taste with water element, sound with ether element and touch is connected with air element.
You know, if you are in water or a swimming pool, you don’t feel touch so much. Have you noticed that? Not so much but a little bit, this is because the five elements are present in each one of them. There is air element even in water, but to a small degree. So these five elements in the universe are connected to the five senses. And you can go through any one of the senses to transcend them and become one in a very deep meditative state.
The fourth way is through emotions. Through emotions also you can get into meditation.
Then the fifth is through the intellect. You just sit and know that this body is made up of billions of cells. Ah! Something happens to you, something gets stimulated.
If you go into a space museum, something gets stimulated inside you. Doesn’t it make you feel somewhat different when you get into a space museum and then get out of it? How many of you have felt like that?
Someone gets into a space museum or watches a movie about the universe, something happens deep inside; something triggers. You can’t just immediately come out of such an experience and yell at somebody. It becomes almost impossible because the context of life immediately changes when you become aware of the magnanimity of the universe. That is the context for life. What is our life? What is this planet Earth, and where is this galaxy? Some shift happens within you. I tell you, this is just a glimpse of how through the intellect also you can transcend and get into a meditative state.
So through the intellect, through emotions, through the five senses, through breathing and Sudarshan Kriya and then through some physical manipulation of the body, we can attain meditation.
So remember what I said, meditation is AC (absolute comfort). Who does not want comfort? Everyone wants it. Just that we don’t know how to be absolutely comfortable.
Meditation is the journey from movement to stillness, and from sound to silence. So let us grasp this one thing today and do some meditation.
See, you don’t have to be very serious in order to be in meditation. Meditation is being very natural, being at home. At home with yourself and at home with everything else in the universe, okay!
Q: What is your view point on God? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In every view point there is God!
We think God is somebody sitting somewhere in the heaven, no! God is love and love is what the whole universe is made up of. It’s non-judgmental, always available for everyone, at any time. That energy you can call God. It is beyond all explanations and beyond all comprehension.
Q: How to quiet the voice inside my head while meditating? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are several things you can do about it.
First is accepting it and not fighting with it. When you fight with it and feel that you should not have this noise and you want to get rid of it, the more you want to get rid of it the more it will stick to you. The principle of consciousness or mind is such that resistance does not eliminate it but makes it grow. So first is letting go and not resist it.
Second is as I mentioned, the five different ways you can get into meditation. Breathing will help you get rid of the noise. Proper food can also make an impact on meditation. Exercise, posture and refined emotions, good understanding, all these will aid meditation.
Q: Dear Guruji, I had a beautiful meditation where I was aware but had no sensation in my body. There was only ‘I Am’ and then my body jerked and I was back. What happened? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is good, you had a glimpse of that inner state, the consciousness that you are. That is normal and that is good. But now don’t sit and try to have the same experience tomorrow. ‘Today I want to experience that same state that I experienced yesterday. I want to feel that beautiful feeling I was feeling yesterday.’ No, it is not going to repeat. Everyday there is a new treasure that will come to you. So, just take it and do not latch on to experiences. You are much bigger than these experiences.
Q: During meditation, my mind becomes silent but I haven’t been able to transcend or go beyond my mind. Am I trying too hard? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, you should not try to go beyond the mind. For your own sake don’t do anything, just let it be, okay.
If you are on a massage table, what do you do? You just let the masseur take care of you. The masseur does the job and you do nothing. Same in meditation, you do nothing, let nature take care of you; the spirit will take care of it.
Q: After meditating for a while I have become aware of my patterns of reactions, such as defensiveness and anger. How do I get myself to react differently? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Now disown all that you think are your patterns, let them be.
If you start identifying that my patterns are like this, I am always angry, I am always defensive, then you are latching onto the past or some patterns. So disown them. They were there yesterday and it came in my space, so what.
Sometimes you see dark clouds in the sky, but the space does not own them. It just allows them to come and pass away. Similarly, these emotions come, sometimes pleasant, sometimes unpleasant. You should disown them. That is the first step. Let them come and go.
Q: I have heard that after years of meditation that one’s whole life becomes a constant meditation. Can you explain this? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes! That inner calmness stays whatever you do. You may be walking, talking, eating, chitchatting, watching news, and there is that certain serenity which continues. You get so used to it. It doesn’t leave you.
But again, ‘When will I get this sort of experience’, don’t keep saying that. It can happen anytime. Who cares! That should be the attitude. That is the best thing to say, ‘Okay, let it be.’
There is a beautiful verse of Kabir; he was a saint in India in the middle ages. He said that he went in the search of God all the time, looking here and there, where is God? Where is God?
He said, ‘When I went in search of God, I couldn’t find God, but when I left everything and I relaxed, now God is after me. God is running after me saying, ‘Kabir, Kabir, Kabir!’’
So when he stopped running after God, then God started running after him. This is very true!
You just need to know how to deeply relax. No effort, because whatever we gain through effort is material and is limited. Anything you want to gain from the spiritual plane, something higher ,then effort is not the language there. All effort should be let go of, do no effort at all then you gain something which is bigger.
The material plane is just 1/10th of the entire existence and 9/10th is the spiritual plane.
See, you cannot cultivate love by effort, you cannot be compassionate by effort, can you? Can you say, ‘I try hard to be compassionate’? Your trying hard is the impediment. You just relax and you will be compassionate. You are trying hard to be happy is the deterrent factor to being happy. So effort is the language of the material world.
If you don’t put effort you can’t make money, you can’t study and gain good marks. You can’t obtain a degree if you don’t put effort. So everything in the material requires you to put effort. You need to put effort to build a home. It does not happen by just sitting and thinking. But to attain something spiritual just the reverse mechanism is needed – no effort! A few moments of sitting and making no effort at all whatsoever.
I know you may tell me it is difficult not to do anything. It is difficult to be quiet. But it just appears like that. A couple of days here and you will see how it is so simple, so easy!
Q: How does one go about leaving this realm of consciousness and entering different realms of spiritual and mental understanding? What is the best way to move past the physical world?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is the fifth aspect which I said, knowledge!
You don’t have to leave things here and go, being here, amidst all the noise, still recognize that beauty, that thing that’s so beautiful, so wonderful, so fascinating, right here and now! But that right here and now will be tomorrow. Done!