Today's post is brought to you by Shannon O'Bryan, a meditation teacher a Sundance.
Let us first examine ‘the purpose of meditation’ and what type of meditation we are talking about.
To do this, first we must clear away preconceived ideas of “what should be happening during my meditation”.
My name is Shannon O’Bryan and I teach a technique known as Nishkam Karma Yoga or, in the western world, simply, Vedic meditation, which is a simple technique practiced for 20 minutes, twice a day. This technique allows the mind and the body to integrate into a more grounded and rested state of being quite effortlessly. It is from this state that our body wants to thank us and begins to throw off stress and offer some relief to our nervous system.
"Yogasthah Kuru Karmani"; (Bhagavad Gita); Established in Being. Perform Action." By establishing ourselves in that least excited, most grounded and rested state of Being, we are provided with the energy and adaptability to be able to launch out into the relative world with more creativity, a greater sense of awareness and clarity, and are able to take on all of life's demands without really breaking a sweat.
There is one thing that is very important in Vedic Meditation... We do not try to meditate. We do not try to control our experience. We do not try to block out sound or thought. We simply take the experience as it comes. What we want is to transcend control; to let go, to allow Nature’s intelligence to take over. That is why we say that this is a natural practice. Nothing is involved but the nature of the mind and the nature of the body. No intervention by one’s individuality is necessary. And that is why during this practice we do not use effort. Effort means control and its use in meditation takes away from our most natural state. We do not focus, try or concentrate, for these experiences also tell us to exclude many things that may want to occur naturally and control the mind down a different path. Remember, the ultimate goal is to get back to our most natural state... our highest Self beyond thought, worry, space and time.
Another thing to remember... by nature, the mind’s tendency is always to move toward greater happiness (whenever a choice presents itself). It is this experience of following charm that causes the mind to follow the mantra, whose nature, in turn, is to become more and more subtle simply through effortless repetition silently in meditation. The subtler strata of thought intrinsically are more charming than the gross conscious thinking level.
What is a mantra? Mantra is a combination of two Sanskrit words. “Mana”, meaning mind, and “Tra”, meaning vehicle. So, quite literally, it translates to “Mind Vehicle.” The mantra’s we use are simple Sanskrit sounds chosen specifically for each individual. These sounds, you will find, are so charming to the nervous system that your mind and body can’t help but to dive and to be effected in the most lovely ways possible by it if we can remove this experience of greater effort. Our goal then is to intend to think this sound, but to be ok with letting go of it, surrendering to the experience the mind and body want to take you on, and allowing it to become softer and subtler and fainter until it finally slips away.
As the mantra becomes subtler it also becomes more charming. This increased charm attracts the mind. Mind and body are intimately connected. If the body is storing some fatigue (and whose body is not?), then, in the midst of meditation, the body may recognize an opportunity to rid itself of that fatigue. Dozing will indicate that the body has used a portion of the meditation sitting to purify itself of deep tiredness; the body is attempting to normalize – that’s all.
However, if intellectually we decide that that natural function does not match our concept of ‘the purpose of meditation’, then we may reject our own natural response, and resent our body’s need to rest in that way. Then we are in danger of using effort to stay awake because of an intellectual idea we cherished about ‘the purpose of meditation’.
Instead of that approach, what we should know is: “the use of effort defeats the purpose of this meditation”.
The true purpose of this meditation is simply to allow whatever happens naturally to happen and not to wish that it shouldn’t happen. The true purpose of meditation should be to allow our own intelligence to be one with nature’s intelligence. To that end, we take it as it comes. This is why we do not reject any experience that occurs spontaneously in meditation, whether it be the experience of thought (stress release), transcendence (going beyond), sleep (removal of fatigue) or any other experience one may have. It is all good as long as we are going about it as effortlessly as possible.
We must remember that the most important thing lies in taking the time for yourself...every day, twice a day. Make that appointment with yourself... we have no problem making so many other appointments with so many other people. Literally add it to your date book, set an alarm as a reminder, whatever it takes. You are worthy of the time to rest and heal and develop that greater sense of Self and you will be better for all of those around you for committing to that time. All of those stresses and things from our past and expectations of the future... they are no longer relevant to us in the here and now. Our body wants to get rid of all of that junk... we must provide it with the ability to.
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