Previously, I have asked, “What is Meditation?”, and “Can I Meditate?”, and now we revisit those questions after we have tried to answer them. In my experience, to meditate is to have the universe talking to you and you are there to listen. The thing that amazes me is that I don’t have to go to some remote or holy place to meditate, and I don’t remember achieving a proper state of meditation in such places like I have in the din of the city, where I have been able to concentrate and block it all out in a place no more special than my apartment. It is actually pretty simple, and here is the best way I could say it, and maybe these words will resonate with you:

The universe is always talking to you. We do not hear it because we choose not to hear it. Our minds and our senses that involve our minds are constantly jumping and reacting to our environments out of habit and because we choose to do so. In meditation we do the opposite, and in choosing not to do so, the mind stops. No more knee-jerk mind movements, no more wasted energy responding to things that need no response, no thinking, no thoughts, no sounds, no words, a total disregard for the noise of things that have no importance. Suddenly, the barriers blocking the information streaming to us are removed, and in the center of your brain you “hear” the universe talking to you. You know you are experiencing this for sure because it is no longer outside stimuli saturating your mind communication and it feels like it is coming from you, outside of you. This is your higher self coming in synch with your conscious mind, one of the most important goals for meditation. Now you are part of all that is around you and there is no more you, you are everything. Once you have done this, you can be this way more easily, at more times, in more places, tapped in to who you are more often without living a life of separation from yourself.

The single most important physical act that coincides with these thought-based, or non-thought-based, concepts is breath. Through Dharana the breath is trained to lead you appropriately into Dhayana and coincide the physical act of breathing with the flow of energy in and out of you in every dimension that you occupy. We often breathe without thinking of it. It just happens involuntarily, like the beating of our hearts. You do, however, have the ability to be mindful of every breath and here is where it can be focused, meaning attributed to every inhale and exhale; eventually you will find that you can extend this breath mindfulness to every waking minute of the day with less and less effort, connecting you to being in a constant meditative state no matter what you are doing, no matter where.

Now let’s describe this from a less personal experiential perspective:

After Dharana, the mind has become steady, peaceful, and quiet, and we are ready for meditation. In Dharana, we are aware of the ego as a separate part of ourselves, used as a tool to condition that which gets conditioned. This division of  ourselves into two ends with Dhayana. The identification with the idea of ‘Me’, the ego, ends. In meditation there is no activity at all. During conditioning the ego is used as an instrument of psycho-physical activity, and meditation is the ending of all voluntary activity, with no method or technique. Through the ending of all activity, further exploration takes place, and all through Dharana the techniques and methods have relevance and are necessary. This brings you to the transformed state that enables you to begin meditation.

To one who is not intimately familiar with meditation, or not ready to embrace it because training is not disciplined, meditation has the look of inaction, the look of lethargy, the look of lost opportunity. This is the perspective of the mind that is not still. However, through the gateway of Silence, the cessation of the thinking process, the discontinuity of mental movement, one is transported into a different orbit of consciousness, a different dimension; the thought-free, time-free, word-free reality. People have said it is difficult to verbalize about Samadhi, which comes after dhayana. It is no longer a separation between the cosmic and the individual, like one connected sea of shared energy.

Meditation is the last effort to be made, and it is effortless and methodless, because you have already put in all the effort into the methods and techniques of Dharana. Without effort, you don’t cling to the center of ‘Me’ or ‘not me’. No longer a man or woman, a Hindu or Catholic, you are in the lap of the cosmos, looking beyond duality. In this way it is a lot like sleep, where you make no effort to sleep unless you want to be up all night. The only difference between sleep and Samadhi is that in sleep there is no awareness except for a Yogi. Effort is one dimension and effortlessness is another. In life, we strive for effortlessness in everything we do. In yoga it is the same.

Effortlessness does not mean a void or a blankness, nor a darkness in inertia. Meditation is not a state of inertia, it is not a state of passivity, it is not a state of mere void, but when you relax unconditionally and totally, the Supreme Intelligence operates.

This is where the stream of communication from my personal explanation comes in. If you are still confused or lost about what meditation is, understand that it is a personal experience and you have to put the time in; someone other than you will not make it happen or bring you there. The more time you spend there, the more it feels like home and becomes an extension of how you operate. But it really is like switching the television to the channel you never want to watch, and it’s always there, and you have to switch it.

 

Training or Torture?

Dharana is conditioning. It is the method of concentration in which you are conditioning what is called the mind, or generally what is called the thought structure, the psychological structure, that vibrational stuff in the body. So the question arises, how do we condition?

 

The two forks of conditioning are training and education. Training is repetition of movements, repeating patterns of behavior. Everyone is familiar with negative and detrimental patterns of behavior, which are trained as well. As infants we are born free and clear of any negative behavior, but the potential is always there in the environment we learn. In the repetition there is learning, the understanding why it has to be done. If you are aware of any negative behaviors of your own and ask why they have to be done, the answer is always pointing to ego. Understanding why stimulates the urge to learn or puts a stop to unwarranted actions by shedding light.

Conditioning is a mechanical repetition enriched by a new element. When the Karate Kid was sick and tired of painting the fence, sanding the floor, wax on wax off, he was given the knowledge that infused his discipline with the stimulating urgency he was looking for, and suddenly he could paint, sand, and wax to his heart’s desire with the education infused in his training. The mind can easily become diffused, running in different directions to different ideas (internally in the mind), to different words (externally by speech), and to different objects in our space (the telephone, the television, the computer, etc.). Conditioning brings you back from that diffused state to a collected, composed, concentrated state. It is your energy, and you are concentrating the diffused energy. You are making the mind steady. A mind that was wandering, scattered, running in ten different directions, that is no place for a mind anymore than the side of the road is the place for a car unless broken down.

The greatest difficulty with a mind that can’t be steadied or requires steadying is that the frenetic, scattered mind is operating within a belief system that it is hyperattentive, and working productively on many levels, multitasking. This may be true if focused on one process of work and indeed there is an overall calmness and steady workflow, be it painting, or building, or writing, etc. A scattered mind is one that is pinned across an immovable place and there is tension and conflict pointing inward, yet the ego won’t let go of the different things pulling the mind apart. Before Dhayana, the ego must be refocused to what is right for the self and a steadiness must be achieved.Allowing your attention to wander unnecessarily, unwarrantedly in an irresposible way, you allow your vital energy to be diffused.

The path of Dharana is yours to choose, and there are hundreds. Be it Mantra yoga, where you learn a conditioned way in which to use speech and all sounds, or Tantra yoga, where sex energy is directed upward in the body through postures to the crown of the head with the help of pranayama, utilizing its creative powers. Once again, sex, like the mind, is put in its proper perspective of joy, beauty, and divinity and sanctity for those who can understand and appreciate it, in contrast to the simple notion of dragging it down to only a pleasure level, projecting personal pleasure obsessions on it, pleasure mongering, and therefore missing out on so much that is available us.

Through Dharana, one can arouse the latent powers, the experiences contained in the subconscious and unconscious, all the experiences of the human race contained in all of us, sophisticating the mind.