The Practice of Meditation

by Sharon Gannon |
July, 2007

Just as you cannot “do yoga,” you cannot “do meditation.” Yoga is the natural state of union with the divine source, happiness itself. What we can do are practices, which may reveal to us our resistance to that natural state. The practices of meditation, like the practices of yoga, are practices of letting go; letting go of tendencies and obscurations to the cosmic state of awareness, limitless joy. Meditation is one of the primary practices that allow us to let go, and let God.

The experience of meditation is graceful. Yoga cannot be obtained by effort, but grace arises only after the mind has been purified through much effort. The instructions for this meditation practice are suggestions to help you to develop the ability to sit still long enough to be able to concentrate the mind so that it becomes balanced, steady, one-pointed and able to concentrate on one object. When this concentration is intense enough, and sustained for long enough, then that concentration (dharana) becomes contemplation (dhyana), or what is called “meditation.”If meditation is intense enough and sustained for long enough, then it will transform into a state of cosmic awareness, or bliss-divine (samadhi). Success requires a steady and consistent practice. It is important to practice every day in order to reap the joyful benefits of the practice. Meditation practice is a 3-step program, consisting of: Sit down, be still, and focus on witnessing your breathing.

Step 1: Sit down. Consciously choose your seat. It is necessary to bring the body into one place so that you can develop the ability to focus the inner workings of the mind. Place your legs and feet in a comfortable cross legged position. Sit on a pillow or cushion so that the hips are raised slightly higher than the knees, so that stress to the back is diminished. Or, you may want to sit on a chair. Rest your hands on the thighs, palms up or down or in the lap. If your palms are resting in your lap, place your active hand on top of the passive hand with your palms up. Relax your elbows and shoulders. Your spine should be as vertical as possible. In meditation practice, your spine is like an antenna, enabling you to pick up and to transmit cosmic frequencies beyond the ordinary sense perceptions. Your spine should be unhindered and as extended as possible. Relax your face. Allow the jaw to release, and the chin level with the floor with your eyes gently closed. Once you have chosen your seat, then move to the next step.

Step 2: Be still. Do not change or doubt your choice of seat for the remainder of your practice time. Keep your seat. Stick with it. This is a very important part of the practice. Do not move the outer, voluntary muscles of the body. This will keep the mind from being drawn outward and will give it a chance to move on its inward journey towards the source, which is joy. As the great yogi, Jesus, said in his meditation instruction, “Be still, and know that I am.” So choose your seat, sit still, and now you are ready for the final step.

Step 3: Give the mind something to focus upon so the thinking, or fragmenting, of the mind becomes lessened. Use the breath as the focus. It is easily available, moving in and moving out of the body. Feel this breathing in the area of the abdomen, where there is a gentle rising and falling as the diaphragm muscle moves with each incoming and outgoing breath. Feel this action each time the breath passes in or out of the body. Don’t try to control the breath. Just observe it, watch it and feel it. Don’t you breathe! Instead, allow the breath to breathe your body, and watch it or witness it as it is happening. You may want to silently repeat a mantra with each incoming and outgoing breath. This is very helpful in directing the mind towards its source, which is cosmic awareness.

So sit, be still, and watch (by focusing on witnessing the passing breath). No teacher can tell you what you will experience in your meditation practice. That experience is yours alone. These are only instructions. It is up to you to allow for the happening. Let go of expectations. Be diligent, be devoted, be spacious, be open, begin…