How to attain the best
meditative state

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar elaborates on the obstacles we face during meditation and reveals simple ways of overcoming them and attaining the best meditative state.

There are four things that obstruct you from having a calm, serene, and meditative mind. It is very important to understand these four principles that are the basis of any sankalpa or intention - ichha, dwesh, sukh and dukh.

1) Ichha: Ichha means desire - to do something. It could be a simple thing like washing clothes, going out to get groceries, or planning where to set up the garden, or what to make for dinner, or what you will be doing in the next few years.

When you sit to meditate, it feels like there is a rock on your head. Many of you may have felt this - like there is some obstacle. This is ichha.

2) Dwesh: When you feel dwesh or hatred also, you feel like a rock has been placed on your head. So, the second obstacle - hating somebody, has the same effect.

3) Sukh: The third obstacle is sukh (comfort or pleasure), which means too much excitement or something that makes you very happy. In such situations also, you feel unsettled.

4) Dukh: The same thing happens with the fourth obstacle - when there is dukh or great sorrow.

The first two obstacles, ichha and dwesh, sit like rocks, weighing you down. The other two, sukh and dukh, the sensations of pleasure and pain, are like steam - boiling and unsettled. They make you feel like you are in a pressure cooker; the pressure is applied by the steam. 

So, the four things that bring inertia to your brain cells are ichha (desire), dwesh (hatred), sukh (comfort or pleasure), and dukh (pain or sadness). 

These four things or modes of consciousness can obstruct you from being in a natural and lively state of mind. They obstruct your meditation.

How to overcome obstacles to meditation

So, what can you do about it? 

1) Surrender

Surrender means dropping all of these four things! When you have surrendered, there is no planning. This does not mean that you don’t plan at all. You plan, but it should be like a raincoat. What does that mean?

Just imagine a situation where someone is sweating a lot in summer, and they stand underneath a shower, but with their raincoat on! You know, no amount of showering is going to take the foul smell off of them. Just as you take your raincoat, tie, suit, and shoes off when you take a shower, you must set aside your plans when you meditate. That is surrender.

2) Give custody of your plans to the Divine

Say, “ I now ‘keep’ all my plans, sorrows, and pleasures with the Divine. So, I am now free and relaxed!” Along with freedom comes relaxation. And then meditation, samadhi and equanimity come to you. Do you see that? 

Everybody has desires and plans. But, only a few have the ability to plan and take the raincoat off. Then, again, as and when they need, they are able to put it back on as well. 

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Similarly, you may be meditating for 30 or 40 years, but if you do not know how to ‘take your raincoat off’ i.e. overcome your obstacles again and again, then, you land up in the same place.

I have talked about this in the Bhakti Sutras.

3) Give up ‘me’, ‘mine’ and ‘I’

If you examine all your sorrows, you will see that the cause behind any sorrow is your fixation with “me” or “mine”. The moment you understand that nothing is yours, the steam or pressure reduces.

So, unless you know how to take these coats off, you can never practice yoga.

4) Time heals you

You cannot have the same degree of any of the four obstacles over a long period of time. That’s why you need to observe what is happening with you. Many a time, you feel the rock. You don’t know what is happening or how to get rid of it, and then you just worry. Instead, just wait. After a couple of days, or weeks, it will disappear or reduce in intensity. 

To meditate, you have to just stay in the present, and be alert and awake, and wait.

5) Live in the present and just be

Don’t be anxious to feel love. Many try to feel love and wonder why it is not coming to them. This is another problem! You have felt waves of great love and bliss at some time. So, at times, when such love doesn’t come your way, you feel bad and you try to get it back. You try to hold on to that moment and reproduce it in your life. But, all this ‘doer’-ship or effort becomes counter-productive. Do you see that?

Just be. And wait. It will, then, happen again!

You can learn to meditate without obstacles with the Sahaj Samadhi Meditation (SSM).

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