Tuesday, August 6, 2013

So You Wanna Meditate

Being a Shaivite (a topic for another day), the method I will recommend is meditating on the initiatory mantra of my lineage, "Om Namah Shivaya" (pronounced: Ohm  Nah-MAH  SHEE-Vie-Yah).

Sitting or lying, with eyes closed and spine straight, recite the mantra internally.  Synchronize it with the breath.  Repeat the mantra once on the inbreath and once on the outbreath.  This should initially be done for 15-20 minutes up to 2x/day.  Set an alarm so you aren't watching the clock. 

You may wish to invest in a set of reusable ear plugs and/or an eye mask to keep out external sound and light.  However, we ultimately want you to be able to “. . . . meditate in the center of Grand Central Station,” as Guruji put it.  As such, don’t let the accessories become a crutch.  Use them for up to three weeks to establish that certain things that are arising from within are, in fact, arising from within.  

When you find that your attention has wandered to something other than the mantra, which it almost certainly will, be kind to yourself.  Know that that is to be expected.  Simply acknowledge that attention has slipped and redirect it to the mantra.  Repeat as often as necessary.  If you have to redirect your attention 1,000 times in one sitting, that's OK.

Think of it as an exercise in repeatedly letting go of thoughts and stories.  Benefits will certainly come from the exercise.  Let there be no doubt of this and, therefore, don't worry about it.  When meditating, we are there for the exercise, not to experience any particular outcome.

Imagine you are at the gym.  It's your first day and you're watching your form in the mirror as you perform a set of dumbell curls.  Now would you go and get disappointed upon not morphing into Arnold Schwarzenegger before your very eyes as you're doing this?  Of course not.

It's equally unrealistic to expect to be transported to another world, experience light phenomena, enter ecstatic states, or achieve "no-mind" early on in your practice.  However, if you focus on just getting really into your practice and establishing a good solid momentum, you will hit all these marks without even thinking about them.  The trick is to figure out how to like your practice so you will keep going.

This blog entry is part of a series.  For more information on meditation, see also The Immeditate Benefits of Meditation,Beyond Mantra, and The Outlook of Shiva.  These articles are excerpts from the meditation handbook, So You Wanna Meditate.

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