Meditation is an unbroken flow of knowledge of the object on which one meditates. It is not a state of blissed out ungroundedness or bypass, that is the opposite direction. It is also not sitting still and being quiet like what it has been taught as in the masses.
Meditation follows concentration (Dharana). Concentration merges in meditation (Dhyana).
Meditation is the seventh step in the ladder of yoga.
Concentration, meditation and Samadhi are internal sadhanas. Pratyahara is the first step to these. You can say that Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are all internal practices, but for most people pranayama remains breathing exercises and doesn’t make the step into an internal practice.
When you practice concentration, meditation and Samadhi at a time, it is called Samyama. These are the main focus and main practice of what Yoga is, not exercise like what modern yoga has turned Yoga into.
Meditation is freeing the mind from all thoughts of sense-objects. The mind dwells on God alone during meditation.
If you meditate for half an hour daily, you will be able to face the battle of life with peace and spiritual strength. If you meditate 3 hours a day, you can start to imagine the lifestyle that would come from it. This is why in some lineages of yoga there are no yamas and niyamas mentioned. If one is a meditator, the lifestyle will automatically be inline with the yamas and niyamas. This says tremendous volumes about the yoga that is being taught out there.
Meditation kills all pain, suffering and sorrow. Since all of those are actually from the mind, the mind becomes a tool rather than a prison. The physical body releases, energy releases, the body and mind become healthy just from real meditation.
Meditation is the most powerful mental and nervine tonic.
The divine energy freely flows to the Sadhaka during mediation and exercises a benign, soothing influence on the mind, nerves, sense-organs and body. You will experience physical releases of what we see as stress. This is nothing more than stuck karma or physically bound energy unraveling as the mind unravels.
Meditation is the mystic ladder which takes the Yogic student from earth to heaven.
Meditation is the key to unlock many of the secrets of life. Many, many, many. It is no secret really, it is our birthright. The siddhis are not supernatural powers but natural powers that are part of regular existence of a human being living at their potential.
Meditation opens the door to intuitive knowledge and realms of eternal, bliss.
During meditation the mind becomes calm, serene and steady. One idea occupies the mind. Most people in the Western world believe that they are their mind. This is the first hurdle to jump over. There is no meditation in this state. There is also no spiritual anything from a narcissistic or sociopathic state.
Deep meditation cannot come in a day or a week or a month. You will have to struggle hard for a long time. Be patient. Be persevering. Be vigilant. Be diligent. With the lack of much cultural wisdom or lifestyles of ethics or moral living in the western world, this presents a much harder time to get to the very basic fundamentals that one from say the indian culture would be starting at. They have it in their bones. Their culture is grounded.
Cultivate burning dispassion, burning aspiration or an intense longing for Self-realisation. Gradually you will enter into deep meditation and Samadhi.
All doubts will be gradually cleared through meditation.
A mysterious, inner voice will guide you. It is not actually a voice. It is not spirit guides or angels or any other imagined fancies like that. You will yourself feel the way to place your first step in the next rung of the Yogic ladder.
Meditate regularly in the early morning between 4 and 6 a.m. (brahmamuhrta 1.48 hours before sunrise) The mind is calm and refreshed at that hour. It is vata time, when the energy is high and clear. The atmosphere also is calm. You will get good meditation.
Have a separate meditation room, or convert by means of screens a corner of a room into a meditation chamber. The North East corner of a room or corner of the house is the best for meditation. Facing East, North or Northeast are the auspicious directions to face while meditating.
If there is much strain in your meditation, reduce the duration of each sitting for a few days. Do light meditation.
Use your commonsense throughout your Sadhana. Do not go to extremes. Stick to the middle path.
Know that all the aches and pains or burning, itches and discomforts are just distractions of the mind. It is best to notice them and acknowledge them but not to fuss and scratch or fiddle around… that is just giving in to the minds game.
Mind needs a concrete object for meditation in the beginning. Meditate in the beginning on a concrete form such as the image of your Ishta Devata, Lord Jesus, or Lord Buddha. This is Saguna meditation, or meditation on the form of the Lord with attributes. Think of His attributes such as omnipotence, perfection, parity, freedom, when you meditate on His form. Rotate your mind on His form from head to foot or from foot to head.
MEDITATION ON LORD HARI
Place a picture of Lord Hari in front of you. Sit in a meditative posture. Concentrate gently on the picture. Rotate the mind on his feet, legs, yellow silken robes, golden garland set with diamonds, Kaustubha gem, etc., on his chest, then on the face, the ear-rings, the crown of the head, the disc on the right upper hand, the conch on the left upper hand, the mace on the right lower hand. Then close your eyes and try to visualise the picture in the same manner. Repeat the process again and again. Devotees of Lord Buddha can meditate on his form in a similar way, in association with his particular attributes.
MEDITATION ON OM
Have the picture of OM in front of you. Concentrate gently on this picture with open eyes. Associate the ideas of eternity, infinity, immortality, etc., when you think of OM. The humming of bees, the sweet notes of the nightingale, the seven notes of the scale in music—all sounds are emanations of OM only. OM is the essence of the Vedas. Imagine that OM is the bow, the mind is the arrow and Brahman or God is the target. Aim at the target with great care and then, like the arrow becoming one with the target, you will become one with God. You can also recite OM while meditating. The short accented OM burns all sins, the long accented gives Moksha, and the elongated bestows all psychic powers (Siddhis). He who chants and meditates upon this monosyllable (OM), meditates upon and chants all the scriptures of the world.
Meditate on the effulgence in the sun, or the splendour in the moon, or the glory in the stars. Meditate on the magnificence of the ocean and its Infinite nature. Then compare the ocean to the infinite Brahman, and the waves, foams and icebergs to the various names and forms of the world. Identify yourself with the ocean. Become silent. Expand. Expand.
Meditate on the Himalayas. Imagine that the Ganges takes its origin in the icy regions of Gangotri, flows through Rishikesh, Haridwar, Banaras, and then enters the Bay of Bengal near Gangasagar. The Himalayas, the Ganges and the sea: these three thoughts only should occupy your mind. First take the mind to the icy regions of the Himalayas, then along the Ganges, and finally to the sea. Rotate the mind in this manner.
Gaze steadily on the formless air. Concentrate on the air. Meditate on the all-pervading nature of the air. This will lead to the realisation of the nameless and formless Brahman, the one, living Truth.
Watch the flow of breath. You will hear the sound “Soham”, “So” during inhalation and “ham” during exhalation. Soham means “I am He”. The breath is reminding you of your identity with the Supreme Soul. You are unconsciously repeating Soham 21,600 times daily at the rate of 15 Soham per minute. Associate the ideas of Existence, Knowledge, Bliss, absolute purity, peace, perfection, love, etc, along with Soham. Negate the body while repeating the Mantra and identify yourself with the Atma or the Supreme Soul.
Meditate on Nirguna Brahman or the Absolute. Think that there is a living, universal Power which underlies all names and forms. Associate the attributes of infinity, eternity, immortality, existence-consciousness-bliss absolute. In due course the attributes will; merge in pure Nirguna meditation.
There are meditations in the upanishads. You can resource them for real yoga meditations.
EXPERIENCES IN MEDITATION
The feeling of rising up during meditation is a sign that you are going above body-consciousness.
When you practice concentration and meditation, you are bound to get various powers and Siddhis. Do not use these powers for gaining some material end. Do not misuse the powers. You will get a hopeless downfall. They will bring on bad karma and bite you in the ass, promise. They stop you on the spiritual path due to identification with the ahamkar (ego). Siddhis are obstacles in the path of Yoga. They are temptations. They will prevent you from entering into Samadhi or reaching the goal. Shun them ruthlessly and march direct to the goal. There is really no such thing as a miracle. When you know the cause, the miracle becomes an ordinary event. Just as magic is just trickery of the eye to one that does not know how it is done, once the knowledge and experience has been had the illusion of magic disappears. When you get a flash of illumination, do not be frightened. It will be a new experience of immense capacity or expansiveness. Do not be unnecessarily alarmed when you go above body-consciousness. Do not stop your Sadhana. A flash is a glimpse of truth. It is Ritambhara Prajna. This is not the whole experience. This is not the highest experience. Reach the Bhuma or the Infinite. This is the acme or the final stage. You have reached the final destination. Meditation stops here.
You will hear various sorts of Anahat sounds, viz., conch, bell, flute, lute, Veena, Mridanga and drum sounds, thunder, etc. You will see brilliant lights in the space between the two eye-brows. They are like pin points, or like the sun, the moon or the stars. You will have vision of unity.
Sometimes you will behold coloured lights: green, blue, red, etc. They are due to the presence of different Tattwas at a particular time. Prithvi or earth Tattwa has yellow light, water Tattwa white light, fire Tattwa red light, air smoky light or green light, Akasa blue light. Ignore these lights and march forward. Sometimes you will have vision of Rishis, sages, tutelary deity, Nitya Siddhas, astral entities, landscape, mountains, blue sky, beautiful gardens. Sometimes you may float in the air. Your astral body may get detached from the physical body. You will move about in the astral world. You may go to Brahma Loka, the realm of Brahma or Hiranyagarbha. Those who have entered the first degree of meditation will have a light body, sweetness of voice, beautiful complexion, clarity of mind and less urine and defecation.
OBSTACLES IN MEDITATION
The chief obstacles in meditation are Laya (sleep), Vikshepa (tossing of mind), the rising up of latent desires, lack of Brahmacharya, spiritual pride, laziness and disease.
Company of worldly people, over work, over-eating, self-assertive Rajasic nature, are all obstacles to meditation. This means drinking coffee, alchohol, and all stimulants of chemical types and external stimulus like T.V. and computers as well as music and culture are also deterrents.
Conquer sleep through Pranayama, Asanas and light diet.
Remove Vikshepa through Pranayama, Japa, Upasana, Tratak, etc.
Destroy desires through dispassion, discrimination, study of books which treat of dispassion, enquiry, and plainly look at the lifestyle you lead and the people you surround yourself with, etc. In time you will shun the company of worldly persons who always talk on sexual matters, money and worldly things.
Observe moderation in diet. Obey the laws of health and hygiene.
Rasasvada is another obstacle in meditation. The aspirant tastes the bliss of the lower, Savikalpa, Samadhi and thinks that he has attained the goal. Rise above Rasaswada and strive to reach Nirvikalpa Samadhi. There are 9 levels to Samadhi. The first level is just the starting point and the sidewalk outside the gate leading up the driveway to the mansion.
Remember, it is not about happiness and the bliss that Yoga talks about is not a happiness at all. It is way beyond a happiness. Happiness is still in the lower levels.