Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.
Meditation & Life, with Sw. Chinmayananda (Gurudev).
We are now exploring the writings of Gurudev on our focus subject of Meditation. The book is a thorough treatment of the subject and extends to over 170 pages of closely printed text. No attempt is intended, here, to present the text in its entirety. However, important paragraphs and quotes will be given, within a summary of each section. You are encouraged to use the links on sidebar to obtain a copy for yourselves from CM publications. Please remember that each of the posts under this title is part of a thought flow and it is important to go back and read the previous post in order to refresh and review the context.
Ch.25; Hints for Taming the Mind
It is common, despite all the techniques being undertaken, for the mind still to 'go random'. To hold the mind until it is an integrated whole is a painful and difficult task. It is this very 'battle' and other inner struggles which are explored in the Mahaabharata - and, more specifically, in the section often referred to separately as the Bhagavad Gita.
The mind arises from the impressions we gather through our lives - all of the incarnations, whether we recall them or not. It these impressions, memories and desires which keep arising unbidden and convincing us that it is a wild and surging thing never to be tamed.
The image of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other sits well here! At one moment we identify with our better selves and then we are faced with our darker nature. We daily seesaw between our two sides; every one of us has them, but with different variations of quantity and quality. The mind is the challenge - and the threat - that faces every meditator. The meditator's task is to bundle up all the wasteful channels of the mind and direct the thought-flow into a single, powerful channel. A thorough knowledge of the mind's strategies becomes essential in order to 'arm' ourselves against it! Here are some methods which may be used to keep the mind in check.
1; Be forceful - whenever your mind runs away, simply call it back and give it a talking to! This method is, in fact, the means and the goal in one.
2; Be aware of what you are doing - even in prayer and meditation, conscious awareness (mindfulness) is paramount. A wandering mind shows that this is not the case. An aware mind notes when it is about to take a wrong turn and can redirect instantly, returning to the task in hand. "It is for the purpose of keeping fully conscious of our activity that we have congregational prayers, chiming of bells, burning of incense, lamps, symbols. Also, every religion insists that we cleanse ourselves before prayer and prepare a clean place for our worship. A messy workshop engenders confusion and chaos."
3; Chant eyes open - even in the most conducive of environments, the inner 'mess' will arise to confuse and distract from the meditation task. The mind is great at bring out the self-sabotage! Such mayhem is held off by singing the glories of the Lord with your eyes open… beware just 'trancifying' though; chanting and staring at the symbol of your choice can still become an automatic thing. Sincerity and conscious awareness of the words you sing are still required and the secret to holding the mind in place.
4; Give the mind an inspiring place to play - the uncontrolled mind finds all sorts of 'fields' in which to ramble and gambol. Sometimes, especially for the novice, it is advisable to bring the mind 'to heel' with gentle tugs. We need to give the mischief something which will catch its attention and it will want to play there instead of less fertile areas. For this purpose, we can feed it the tales of saints and sages, prophets and leaders. The inspiration of such people is a wonderful wide field of enquiry… and gradually we can ask the mind to focus on specific parts - perhaps a particular talent of the person in focus, or an incident in which they shone for their humanity and high ethics. Then again, we can narrow the focus to an image of the person - then translate this to one of the Higher Symbol… Bit by bit, draw the mind's focus to the very heart of the focus and know it to be the same heart as Brahman OM, the infinite… this is the very process of meditation using a specific 'crutch'.
This constant reducing or narrowing of focus will bring success - how much and how quickly will depend on the amount of Love you can bring to bear and how much you surrender to the process. Love and surrender are devotion in action.