Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
VEDANTA IN ACTION.
This is the title of a publication from CM which, whilst it of course has items by Gurudev, also includes selections of writing from other well-esteemed Gurus from the Vedantic tradition as well as leading businessmen. Its focus is the working life. We shall be exploring these essays for the next few weeks on Workings-day as, clearly, they pertain directly to the premise of this section of AVBlog! As ever, you are encouraged to read back over previous posts, to ensure full benefit.
3: Actionless Action.
Meditation in Action (Swami Ajaya)
The World as Teacher
In stead of thinking of involvement in the world as an interruption to your peacefulness, you can see these activities as opportunities to learn how to meditate in all sorts of different contexts. Without being in the world and in the midst of activity, that opportunity would be lost.
You can go through life so that nothing affects you, but it is also possible to enjoy the various aspects of life while maintaining a centred self. When you remember this centre continuously you will not become attached, dependent, or swayed by the world. You can experience the joys of the moment without clinging. This is the path of meditation in action.
There is a branch of yoga called tantra. Most people think that tantra yoga involves mystical rituals, or has to do with male/female relations. However, tantra is to be understood as an attitude toward all life. In this practice, instead of withdrawing from the world, one uses the activities of the world as a means of centring the mind and expanding consciousness. Here we work with those things that ordinarily distract us. Instead of avoiding experiences for fear of their effects upon us, the student chooses to become involved in it and learns to develop objectivity in the context of that situation. From this perspective one ought to be able to maintain a meditative attitude amidst the madding crowd.
Avoiding involvement in the world may lead to the appearance of peace and equanimity, but unnoticed by others, our mind may remain turbulent; or we can delude ourselves that we are at peace. By confronting the world we can deal directly with the things which arise as our disturbance and work out the meaning of this to ourselves. There is a caution here. The risk is that we start to live in the world externally again, seeing the external as our spiritual challenge… the point is to look again and again at our inner self as we do this, to ensure that the centre remains stable, objective and aware.
A Daily Exercise
As we understand the process of meditation in action, we realise that it is a process of self-study. We become our own best observer. There are many useful methods which can assist the process. These often involve some kind of discipline by which we can evaluate ourselves more objectively. Keeping a spiritual journal is useful. Another technique is called introspection (sometimes retrospection), whereby we review each day at the end of it and our part within it, paying attention in particular to those things which caused us disturbance and which were the calmest moments and fully assessing our state of mind in those times, which we may not have managed whilst actually in the 'play'.
Simply begin to remember the last experience you had that day. Without becoming absorbed, let the event pass through your consciousness. Notice the quality of the experience… anxious?.. relaxed?.. angry?.. peaceful?.. Make notes. Then move back to the experience before that, continuing in this way back through your day. Remain at all times as a neutral observer, as watching television. Do not get caught up in subsequent emotions or criticisms and judgements, but simply make notes of the experiences.
This does not have to be a long process… indeed if long, you are overthinking it! Think in terms of not more than 15 minutes for the exercise. Do this daily.
It is not necessary to be judgmental for this exercise to be effective. By being an observer, you will naturally start to correct; it will become easier to observe within experiences. The centre will begin to be the focus, and objectivity and peace will begin to become the normal. You may find yourself pausing as you discover yourself using old habits in response to a situation and be able to correct right there and then for a more positive outcome.
A similar exercise may also be practiced at the beginning of each day. In this case you can spend a few minutes after waking (and after any routine such as ablutions and prayers), to objectively visualise the experiences you are likely to meet in the day ahead. If you anticipate going shopping, what quality will the event have? Will you be preoccupied? Will you enjoy the visit?.. Simply let each anticipated happening pass across your consciousness before you step out to embrace the day. In this manner, you can centre your objectivity and regardless of what actually occurs, you will be more prepared to deal with the day. Positive affirmations arose from this technique.
Thus, a few of the very many aspects and techniques of meditation in action have been shared here. If you are to experience their value, they must be used daily in your life. As with physical exercise, it is the systematic application which yields rewards. All too often we read books, or go to lectures about higher states of consciousness or spirituality, to be inspired, informed or entertained. We accumulate knowledge-bytes aplenty, but barely use any of it to our advantage.
The important thing to note is that, as with anything, meditation in action requires patient and persistent practice. If you practice one method consistently, you will find more benefit than learning a hundred techniques and practicing each only once or twice. It is the human habit, particularly in this century, to expect instant results and if they do not appear we move on to the next 'great thing'. Find a method with which you feel comfortable in its execution and, no matter how long it takes, follow it. All the way.