Meditation and the Senses

Meditation and Senses

We have five sensory organs - eyes, nose, ears, tongue and skin. Meditation can happen when there is harmony in the five senses.

When you sit for meditation, observe all your sensory organs. Observe your breath and eye movement.

Is your breath steady? Is the prana haphazard or is it smooth and normal?

Are your eyes steady? If your eyes are going all over the place, the mind is not in a meditative state.

When the senses are steady, the soul also becomes peaceful. Your being, your spirit inside you becomes steady.

You become totally relaxed, yet at the same time you possess sharpness of awareness, strength of intelligence. Your senses become so clear. You can see better, think better, hear better. Like a pure crystal, your senses come to reflect all objects as one Divinity. - Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Moving beyond the senses – essential for meditation

The senses are the bridge, between objects and the Self.

Joy is the nature of the Self, but the five sensory organs perceive joy in external objects.

The following thoughts shake the senses:

  • that pleasure comes from objects
  • that more pleasure will come from the objects

When the senses shake even for a few minutes they become tired, and then they are unable to perceive/experience true joy.

The mind gallops towards the world of five senses. You may be sitting quietly – with eyes closed or open. But where does your mind go?

  • Towards sense of sight, you want to see something or somebody
  • Towards sense of smell, taste, sound, touch
  • Gallops towards something it has heard or read about

Distractions of the senses:

  • Seeing: Eyes bring all sorts of temptation. Mind would be far more peaceful without the eyes. Eyes are the greatest distraction for the steadiness in the Self
  • Hearing: You switch on the radio, and every five minutes, keep tuning to different stations
  • Smell: You try one perfume, and then another one, and then yet another perfume
  • Taste or sense of touch can also create cravings

Craving for any of these experiences in the mind - can stop you from being in the present moment. When the mind withdraws from the senses, you are ready for meditation.

Steadiness in Prana - essential for meditation

When the senses get steady - then the prana (which was shaky inside you) also becomes steady. When you don’t feel good, or when you are down, unhappy or afraid, observe your prana - it will be very shaky. How to make the prana steady?

  • Be aware of the state of the prana
  • Observe it
  • Be with it for a few moments

You will experience that the prana becomes steady.

Samadhi is steadiness in prana.

This centeredness brings you to a space - where you are completely hollow and empty.

Dispassion (vairagya) - essential for meditation

Dispassion has to occur - whenever you want to sit for meditation. For dispassion your senses need to be in your control. By following the instructions below, you can control you sensory organs.

For a few moments tell yourself:

  • However beautiful a sight is, I am not interested in seeing it
  • However great the food is, I am not interested to taste it this time
  • However melodious music may be, I’m not going to listen to it now
  • However beautiful it is to touch, I am not interested in feeling it

Depriving your senses of the craving (even for a few moments) – takes you from the object, back to its source. This is vairagya or dispassion.

Meditation is good - when it is practiced with dispassion. Meditation can then provide you the rest that you are longing for.

Freedom from Desires – Essential for Meditation

Your mind is tired, is burnt down by galloping on one desire after another.

Just turn back and see all the desires you have achieved - have they given you rest? No! They have created few more desires. Have desires given you fulfillment? No! They only gave you more hope that you can achieve more/have more - and that has put you on another trip.

So you are on a merry-go-round. It's not even merry-go-round. The horses on the merry-go-round do not go anywhere - but give you an illusion that you have traveled miles and miles. Life has been such a journey - where you are galloping on your desires, yet reaching nowhere.

Desire is an obstruction to meditation. A mind that is obsessed with desire cannot meditate.

You are above stimuli

Repeated enjoyment of external stimuli - causes inertia and dullness:

  • Cooks often do not enjoy their own food
  • The same piece of music heard over and over again loses its charm
  • People in the sex industry do not enjoy sex

With awareness - the stimuli lose their significance; whether they exist or not, makes no difference to you anymore. When the sun is shining, it makes no difference if the candle is lit or not.

Realizing that all pleasures are just stimuli - and that you are more than just stimuli - brings freedom.

By vairagya (dispassion) and with awareness that you are more than just stimuli, you can achieve freedom from desires. It also helps you overcome the obstructions caused by the senses during meditation.