Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.
"Meditation, especially for people who don't know very much about it and think it's this very hippy dippy thing, can really be powerful, terrifying even, as it lifts the rug up on your subconscious and the dust comes flying out." (Amanda Palmer)
How are you finding the daily exercise in clearing the mind? At this stage, remember, we are not at all approaching 'meditation' as such. Rather, seeking to see our own minds. AUM is one of the best ways to do this. Having now looked at thought substitution, supplanting the loose and free thoughts of the ironing to be done or the dog to walk with words of devotion, virtue and positive spiritual action, we can begin to distance ourselves from thoughts. The idea here is to play with them.
Take the word 'and'. Read this then try the action for yourself. Close your eyes lightly and place an image of the word in the forefront of your mind. What is the word doing? What has it become? Go ahead, take a few moments and do this now…
Are you back?
What happened? Was it that you could not see the word as an entity before you? This is the most common difficulty. How to make thought an object?..which it is, only we have become so determined by our thoughts that we think they cannot be separate from us. Here is where we can start to employ viveka, for the reality is that everything other than the 'I' which is attempting to play witness here is an object, a manifestation of plurality and therefore an aspect of माया /maayaa (illusion - this will be taken up at a later time. Please note also that the transliteration is given here for correct pronunciation, but in future Maya will always be written in this standard form). If at all you are to reach to greater levels of meditation, it is necessary first to contemplate the nature of what is to be left behind.
So a little more on the technical side of settling into this activity. For all its stillness, until the time of transcendence, everything is an activity. Even stillness. (Don't fret for what will happen in the incredible chance that transcendence takes place. It won't matter!)
At the end of last week when saadhana was given, breath was mentioned.
This may have seemed almost off-hand. However, correct breathing is of prime importance. We have become a race of shallow breathers, leading with the shoulders, exercising only our upper lung. The diaphragm forgotten and rusting. Trained singers of course will know about this. Sports folk also. Majority though are very poor breathers indeed. Like our thoughts, it is so much part of our being we pay no attention.
Resettle now into your correct posture (need reminding?) As you do this you will automatically have rolled your head, shaken your shoulders, wiggled fingers and toes. If you have completed the posture correctly, there should also be an automatic increase in abdominal breathing. If you are not breathing into your whole body, then posture needs further work. In आसन /aasana (pose) when spine is properly balanced, it is as if there is a trigger for the diaphragm. It is a clue for settling. Keep shifting and making the minute adjustments required to find that trigger. The breathing may not yet be deep and prolonged, but it should definitely be from the solar plexus and the shoulders should be straight, level and not in any way lifting to your ears! The more tense you are, the first place of defence is the shoulder area; the tighter the shoulders the more shallow will come your breath. It is a flight/fight response.
What are you fighting or fleeing here? Take charge!
The more settled and correct is aasana, the freer the lung will be and by now you ought to be able to take longer lasting, deeper and fuller breaths. In doing this the whole chest should lift outwards and lightly upwards - not the shoulders… movement there should be absolutely minimal. Place your hands on your tummy with middle fingers just touching each other. As you breath in they should separate. If they don't you are not yet breathing to diaphragm.
This is a physical exercise. It requires conditioning. Pace yourself. Do this for five minutes before and after the existing focus exercise.
What was the point of the 'and' word, you are wondering? You may continue to repeat that particular exercise. Keep monitoring the effects, or whether at all you manage to separate the word into an object separate from yourself. Be observer only.
Expect nothing. Accept everything.