हरिः ॐ Each Monday we focus on 'focus'.
Why the need for meditation? What is the point of focusing on a 'point'?
It has been said earlier that thinking is an exercise, an activity requiring effort and when done well, should yield positive results. The same can be said for striving to move beyond thought. This is the ultimate aim of meditation, to move beyond the realm of mind into the Pure Consciousness/Brahman; that state known as mukti/liberation, or 'realisation. In making such effort, the side effect, you should find, is that when in thinking mode (majority times!) you are more ordered, more integrated...more focused.
Working towards that goal means putting in some work. Suspension of thought requires first that we think about it! Part of the way to understanding the Eternal is to go internal.
Prior to doing anything of the sort, however, we must prepare our external environment. Certainly, once advanced sufficiently, it becomes possible to withdraw into the mind regardless of where one is situated (classic are the pictures of sadhus in samaadhi in the middle of highways!); but for most of us it pays to have at the very least attended to a few simple things such as;
- it is a regular time of day (ideally early morning after shower)
- we have one space in our home dedicated to quietude - i.e. no interruptions from family or pets
- that we have attended any other pressing matters so that thoughts are not drawn away (it is amazing how, suddenly, the weeding or the ironing become pressing matters...... )
- that there are no equipments of transaction ready to destroy peace (walk away from the smartfone, put that tablet down....)
That's just for starters and is challenge enough for many folk. Remember, sitting in a quiet is space is not sitting quietly. It helps a lot in the early stages. It is the quietness of mind that we are seeking, however, and once it is achieved, all else becomes as if quiet. Perspective alters.
How to sit? Does it require contortions? No, it does not. Again, there is the ideal position with which many are familiar (padmaasana/lotus pose) - though rarely is it practiced well; but for the less able or for those who have no experience of yogic practice, it is entirely acceptable to sit on a chair for meditation. NOTE HOWEVER; this should be a firm and upright furniture, not your lounge or easy-chair.
Correct posture is important for what reason? Let us not here concern ourselves with chakra balancing or linking with Kundalini; these are matters for Hatha yoga and do not pertain to Jnaana yoga. That said, neither can the energy flow created by correct spinal alignment be ignored...simple biological understanding helps us with this one. Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CFS) must be unimpeded for full functioning at all levels within the body. There is a balance point at which one feels everything on the physical level is set 'just so'. Try it even as you read this now. (It is assumed you are on a dining or standard office chair.)
Ensure that feet are flat on the ground and that knees are at right angles to the hips. Use a foot stool if necessary to obtain this, or adjust the office chair accordingly. Now bring your shoulders over your hips also. Already, if you have followed this clearly, you will be feeling a somewhat 'lighter' sensation. It may require a little 'hip shuffle' for balance to be centered such that you no longer feel the need to shift. Your back ought NOT to be touching the upright of the chair. At no time should the lumber curve be allowed to fall back. The head should be bobbed around to find the balance point; there should be no neck strain and the eyes ought to be looking straight ahead. The hands may be placed on the thighs, palms up, or lightly rested on chair arms if they are present.
If nothing else, you have now achieved the perfect ergonomic posture for hours of productive typing...
For those using the traditional method of floor or platform 'padma' pose, even if you believe you know, double check yourselves. The posture from hips up should be exactly as described above. There should be no forward 'slip' of the head or shoulder bowing, which in turn pressure the lumber backwards.
Close the eyes gently, simply rest them.
There is much more to come. For the next week though, concentrate on these; creating a dedicated space and attempting to sit in posture without thought for not more than five minutes at a designated time every day. Five minutes? Where's the challenge in that?! ...
Please place your feedback and questions via comments. It is imperative that you clear doubts and make appropriate corrections/adjustments as we go along so as not to compound errors at a later stage.
Discipline today will bring joy tomorrow.