Mastering the Essentials (ૐ)

meditation-at-homeWhen you meditate at home,
you should have a comer of your room which is absolutely pure and sanctified- a sacred place which you use only for meditation. There you can make a shrine where you can keep a picture of your spiritual Master, or the Christ, or some other beloved spiritual figure whom you regard as your Master.
Before beginning to meditate, it is helpful if you can take a shower or proper bath. The cleanliness of the body is very helpful for the purification of the consciousness. If you are unable to take a shower or bath before sitting down to meditate, you should at least wash your face. It is also advisable to wear clean and light clothes.
It will also help if you burn incense and keep some fresh flowers on your shrine. When you smell the scent of incense, you get perhaps only an iota of inspiration and purification, but this iota can be added to your inner treasure. There are some people who say that it is not necessary to have flowers in front of you during meditation. They say, “The flower is inside; the thousand-petalled lotus is inside.” But the physical flower on your shrine will remind you of the inner flower. Its colour, its fragrance and its pure consciousness will give you inspiration. From inspiration you get aspiration.
It is the same with using candles during meditation. The flame from a candle will not in itself give you aspiration, but when you see the outer flame immediately you feel that the flame of aspiration in your inner being is also climbing high, higher, highest. If someone is on the verge of God-realisation or has actually realised God, then these outer things will have no value. But if you know that your God-realisation is still a far cry, then they will definitely increase your aspiration.
When you are doing your individual daily meditation, try to meditate alone. This does not apply to husband and wife if they have the same spiritual Master; it is all right for them to meditate together. Otherwise, it is not advisable to meditate with others during your daily individual meditation. Collective meditation is also important, but for individual daily meditation it is better to meditate privately at one’s own shrine.
Meditation is a divine gift. Meditation simplifies our outer life and energises our inner life. Meditation gives us a natural and spontaneous life, a life that becomes so natural and spontaneous that we cannot breathe without being conscious of our own divinity.
hen meditating, it is important to keep the spine straight and erect, and to keep the body relaxed. If the body is stiff, the divine and fulfilling qualities that are flowing in and through it during meditation will not be received. The body should not be uncomfortable, either. While you are meditating, your inner being will spontaneously take you to a comfortable position, and then it is up to you to maintain it. The main advantage of the lotus position is that it helps keep the spinal cord straight and erect. But it is not comfortable for most people. So the lotus position is not at all necessary for proper meditation. Many people meditate very well while seated in a chair.
Some people do physical exercises and postures. These exercises, called Hatha Yoga, relax the body and bring peace of mind for a short period. If someone is physically very restless and cannot stay still for more than a second, then these exercises will definitely help. But Hatha Yoga is not at all necessary. There are many aspirants who can just sit and make their minds calm and quiet without doing any Hatha Yoga.
It is not at all advisable to meditate while lying down, even for those who have been meditating for several years. Those who try to meditate while lying down will enter into the world of sleep or into a kind of inner drift or doze. Furthermore, while you are lying down, your breathing is not as satisfactory as it is when you are in a sitting position, since it is not conscious or controlled. Proper breathing is very important in meditation.
A soulful heart has discovered a supreme truth:
To meditate on God is a privilege and not a duty.
People often ask me if they should meditate with their eyes open. In ninety out of one hundred cases, those who keep their eyes closed during meditation fall asleep. For five minutes they meditate, and then for fifteen minutes they remain in the world of sleep. There is no dynamic energy, but only lethargy, complacency and a kind of restful, sweet sensation.
When you keep your eyes closed during meditation and enter into the world of sleep, you may enjoy all kinds of fantasies. Your fertile imagination may make you feel that you are entering into the higher worlds. There are many ways you can make yourself believe that you are having a wonderful meditation. So it is best to meditate with the eyes half open and half closed. In this way you are the root of the tree and at the same time the topmost bough. The part of you that has the eyes half-open is the root, symbolising Mother-Earth. The part which has the eyes half-closed is the topmost branch, the world of vision or, let us say, Heaven. Your consciousness is on the highest level and it is also here on earth, trying to transform the world.
When you meditate with your eyes half open and half closed, you are doing what is called the “lion’s meditation.” Even while you are going deep within, you are focusing your conscious attention both on the physical plane and on the subconscious plane. Both the physical world, with its noise and distractions, and the subconscious world, the world of sleep, are inviting you, but you are conquering both of them. You are saying, “Look, I am alert. You cannot take me into your domain.” Since your eyes are partly open, you will not fall asleep. So you are challenging the world of the subconscious. At the same time you are maintaining your mastery over the physical plane, because you can see what is going on around you.

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