A sixty-century master said that meditation is the practice of mind control by which we stop all thinking and seek to realize truth in its essence. Realizing truth, or as I prefer to think of it, discovering truth, is one of the advantages of meditation. Most of us believe that we know what truth is, just as surely as we believe in the truth of a dream. However, when we awaken, we discover that the dream was not real. Truth is like that fleeting dream. We believe that we understand it now, in this state of mind, but we can’t know truth. This state of mind is clouded and distorted by the impressions of the ego, by names, titles, and descriptions. We accept all this as “truth.” But what we are really faced with is classification, not truth itself. Our classifications are clumped as: “good and bad,” “beautiful and ugly,” “big and small,” “thin and fat,” “pleasure and pain,” and so on. They are all just impressions of what is, not as it is, in the same way that “looking” is not necessarily “seeing”.
When we bypass the ego and rid of ourselves of its impressions and classifications, we see things in their pure and real glory, things are they are. The is-ness, the such-ness comes through untarnished, unchanged in total reality.
Another master once said that we should not seek the truth, but only cease thinking in distinctions. In other words, if we keep making distinctions, we will never find truth and, without truth, we are living a lie.
Our five senses – sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell – know truth. We often do not open ourselves to their messages. We add to them. For example, our eyes see only color and form. On the other hand, we, the ego, put a name to it. Our ears hear only sounds and vibrations. We name these sounds.
You might ask: “Shall we go back to never naming anything?” Of course not. In our everyday society, we need names, labels, and titles. However, would’t you truly like to see everything as it really is? Wouldn’t you like to know what “blue” is? What “sky” is? What “stones” and “stars” are? How “grass” feels without any preconception? It is like looking out of the window through a curtain, until, one day, you push the curtain aside and really see.
Once, in the early morning, I was going for a walk with my dog. I had rained the night before. We hadn’t walked very far when my dog suddenly stopped to smell something. I looked down at my feet, and saw something that I had never seen before. I cannot even describe what I saw because there are no words for it. It was absolutely indescribable and magnificent. I stood in awe of this sight. It was a feeling I had never had before. My dog finished “doing his thing,” and we moved on. I kept trying to review in my brain, in my mind, in my seeing, what I had just witnessed. I continued doing this for the full hour that we walked. As we headed back home, we went by the exact spot where we first stopped. I looked down again and the only thing there was a circle of small wet rocks, resembling shiny little diamonds. This time, however, my ego was looking, not seeing, and I named my impression of what was on the ground below me. Of course, it wasn’t nearly as beautiful, not nearly as magnificent, only a bunch of dampened pebbles. One of the rewards of being in yoga is that this type of experience occurs every so often. When we last expected it, we really see something. It’s like being born at this moment, like taking the first step into this world, and really seeing it untarnished, untainted as it is. Those brief moments are simply magnificent. They are unexpected, unplanned, and unforgettable.
Stand with your feet about four feet apart, or as far as it is comfortable for you. Your arms are out straight to the side at shoulder height. Turn your left leg and left foot slightly inward. Turn your right leg and right foot slightly outward. Be sure to turn from your hip, not from your knee. Do not twist your knee. Your right heel should be in line with your left heel, and your body faces forward. Bend your right knee and lung down to the right. Your knee should not extend beyond your right toes. Keep your left leg straight. Turn your head to look over your right leg. Hold this position for about six breaths, or as long as you are comfortable. Return to the starting position and repeat the posture for your left leg. This posture should be performed at least three times for each side.
Stand in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. Feel rooted in your feet. Feel your body light and relaxed. Your arms are free at your sides, light and flowing, like huge wings hanging down. Imagine that a slight breeze moves them back and forth, very lightly, carefree, relaxed, and peaceful. The more relaxed you are, the freer you are. The freer your arms feel, the more calm you become inside. Simply imagine that wind pulling on the huge wings that were once your arms. Relax.
This is advanced Camel position and has two variations.
First variation: Take the same kneeling position as Camel. Sit on your knees with your feet stretched out on the floor, and place your hands on the floor behind you. Lift up your pelvic area, lean backward, and place your hands on your ankles. Inhale and lift your midsection upward and outward Exhale and lower your body down.
Second variation: Take the same kneeling position as in the first variation, except that this time you’ll want to keep your feet flat on the floor. Lean back and place your hands on your ankles. Inhale to lift your midsection and exhale to lower it down.
If you’d like a more challenging posture, assume the above kneeling position, sit on your heels, and place your hands on your ankles. Inhale and lift your body up into the position and exhale to lower yourself.
Relaxation/Meditation: Connecting with the Inner Self
Our biggest enemy is usually our ego. It can possess us, control us, dominate us, rule us, and ruin us! It is very powerful. Should we do away with it? Should we even go so far as to kill it? No. The ego is very useful for operating in our everybody world. We can learn to live with it if – and this is a very big if – we are the master of our ego and do not allow it to be the master of us. The following relaxation will help you more fully understand this concept.
Make yourself comfortable on the floor. Stretch out in your usual centered position with your body released and relaxed on the floor. Gently close your eyes and breathe smoothly and effortlessly.
With your eyes closed, picture yourself – what you think you are. Clearly picture every detail of your face. (pause.)
It’s not easy, is it? It’s not clear at all. It’s fuzzy and blurred. you can’t really get a clear picture, can you? The more you try to see it, the more frustrated you become. It’s evading you. You grow uneasy. You grow. Relax a moment, and try it again. (pause.)
Perhaps, you see only a rough outline. When your eyes are open, you are so sure that it exists, that it is so real, but now you can’t even see it. Maybe it’s dead. Keeping your eyes closed, picture yourself dead. (pause.)
You’re frowning, again, and your breathing is becoming uneasy. You’re not a bit comfortable, are you? The problem is this: the ego will never let you picture dead. Always remember the elusiveness of this thing you cling to so tightly. Remember also how very uncomfortable your felt when you concentrated on it. There is a reason for this uneasiness. You can not meditate on the “I,” the ego, the small “self.” All must wait outside when you go inside to the inner self. That inner being is waiting to greet you, simply listen to what it is saying to you. Try to feel the words as you totally open yourself, released and relaxed, to this moment, this tuning in and turning on to what it is saying to you. (pause.)
Your inner self is telling you to come home, to come back to your source. (pause.)
It is saying that it has waited a long time for you to reconnect. (pause.)
It welcomes you warmly. Can you feel that warmth? It’s as if someone has just covered you with a soft blanket, making you feel all cozy and calm. Feel it. (pause.)
Isn’t it good to be home again, and received so warmly? (pause.)
Bask in that warmth, in that radiating love you feel feeling you. (pause.)
You are feeling secure, protected, safe, and serene. (pause.)
Feel the love, the caring, and the concern radiating from this being inside you. (pause.)
Feel yourself relax into it more and more, further and further, now. It is so good. (pause.)
The radiance passes over your entire body. The warmth and love envelop and cradle you. (pause.)
Know that you are return to this place of serenity any time you wish, any time you are silent and still, open and accepting. Simply be silent and expectant, but not forceful in your inward listening. Be expectant as if you are about to hear the most important message in the world. You will hear it, for it is. Once you touch this inner being, allow it to converse with you. You will discover that life can be a celebration, and you’re invited. Come just as you are!
Now, it is time for you to return to the room around you, to this experiencing. Begin to awaken yourself by gently stretching. Think again: “My body is relaxed and my mind is peaceful.” Complete this thought with: “I am whole and complete, just as I am at this moment. This moment is perfect.” Stretch fully with an energizing yawn, and a grateful smile to take with you.
We never really stop growing. We must keep learning in order to grow; we must keep doing to grow. If you decide to take a break from your lessons at this point, remember the following basic principles:
- Watch what you eat. If you continually eat high seasoned foods your body/mind cannot reach the calm state that is needed for meditation.
- Watch what you drink. Stimulants of any kind – coffee, tea, and caffeinated drinks – are disturbing to a calm state of being.
- Watch your morals. You are trying to reach a state of higher consciousness in meditation, and you can’t do that with the bad conscience that low morals causes.
- Keep your body in shape so that it will not disturb you with pain or discomfort when you are sitting in meditation.
- Learn to control your breath. If you learn nothing else in yoga class, learn that! It is so essential, not only physically, but mentally. It is the doorway to calmness, to controlling the mind so that you can enter meditation and be more peaceful in life.
- Don’t expect, demand, or force the meditation. Just be open, aware, awake to the moment. It will happen, probably when you least expect it.
- Try to bring some naturalness back into your life. Don’t live in a totally false world of human fabrications twenty-four hours a day. Go back to your naturalness. Naturalness is wholeness, and it’s found in nature, outdoors.
- Put simplicity back into your life. Eat, live, play – learn to just be – as uncomplicated as possible. You’ll be healthier and happier. Remember your carefree days of youth? Try to recapture them.
- Remember this one well: I want you to laugh right out loud at least once a day. Just laugh. Even a smile changes the whole chemistry of your being. Laughter is such a healing thing. Laugh aloud, at least once a day. Laugh at yourself! That’s a great healer.