The Fundamental Elements of Meditation

Posted: June 27, 2014 / in: Meditation, Spirituality / 6 comments

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

What happens with all our mental capacity?

Did you ever experience to try to focus on something and another thought to come over and over into your mind disturbing your concentration? Have you ever had a situation where you heard a melody (even for only a few seconds) and then for hours or even days that melody is singing in your head “by itself”? Did you ever try to remember something and you couldn’t and after you drop it the memory came to you vividly? Have you noticed that in some circumstances you are able to concentrate for hours in an exemplary way (like when you’re reading something very interesting and you don’t even hear people calling you very loudly) and other times for other activities (that you are not much interested for) you need a huge effort for results that aren’t even close?

All the aspects that we have described above are happening under the direct control of the mind. But analyzing these situations one might think that that mind is not controlled by the one that owns it. It seems like the mind has its own life, out of our will power and control. It seems that we have a huge mental capacity on one hand and on the other hand that we don’t really control that potential. Then the questions here are: if not us, then who is controlling our mind? And more, what happens with our mind when we don’t use it?

The answer to the first question is that nobody and everybody controls it at the same time. From a certain point of view, our mind is like a very advanced computer that has a lot of pre-installed programs and routines, and is running them under the impulses that are coming from the “outside world”. In the “outside world” we include everything that is from outside of the mind. This also includes perceptions that come from inside, like feelings, emotions, inner perceptions of all kind, and thoughts, which are usually mixed with what is coming from outside. For this reason the mind reacts to many stimuli that are coming to it in an automatic way, which is out of our conscious control. When we get angry for example, we become conscious of that only when we are already deeply in the state. But the state is the result of some settings that the mind has beforehand, in the subconscious area in relation to certain perceptions that we react to.

The state that we become aware of is the final result of a lot of combinations and “superimpositions”, and was created without us being aware at all. We are “served” only with the conclusion, without being given the choice. The state is already there, and we were not participating in its formation. And in fact we are not even aware that we could have a choice. We think that if we get angry that’s a fact that does not leave us any choice. “It comes from outside and I can’t help it,” we usually say. In our sleep-walking existence, the choice is almost inexistent because in order to have a choice the first condition is to wake up.

In the ancient tradition of wisdom, the uncontrolled mind was compared with a monkey. One who has a monkey-mind is acting like a monkey is controlling him/her in many situations.

The answer to the second question is even simpler. When we don’t use our own potential then we are used by it, we become automatic machines that are reacting according to predefined schemes. Of the unitary flow of universal energy – information that comes to our mind we use only a very small part, the rest becoming just “noise”, unconscious activity that is using most of the power that is given to us without us being in control. When we are “intensively” thinking about a certain object for example, hundreds and in some cases thousands of “parallel” processes are taking place in our mind at the same time. What looks like a “dense” and continuous process of thinking is in reality as full of holes as a fishing net. The flow of mental energy is divided between many “parasite” processes that our main conscious activity has to share the energy with. As a result the conscious mental processes are often almost “suffocated” by the intensive activity of the subconscious mind. The process of focusing the mind is in fact gathering the forces in the same direction as the one we consciously choose. In this way the power of mental concentration is very much increased and the “density” of our attention focused toward the object of our concentration is much better.

The hypnotic monkey

In order to better understand the importance of the mind and of the understanding of its functioning, there is a classic example in the ancient texts that gives the dimension of the power of the mind in creating our reality. Imagine that you enter a half dark room and on the floor is a rope. You see the rope and get scared thinking that it is a snake on the floor. Your body can react violently and you might even have a heart attack. But in reality the snake didn’t exist, even though it scared you. Where was the snake? The snake was in your mind. If we think deeply about this example, we can see that the mind has the power to create the reality that we dwell in, considering it to be perfectly “objective”, and being so convinced about its “objectivity” that we can even react strongly to it. One can say that the example is a rare situation, but we can find such examples in every moment of our existence because the same mechanism that make us superimpose the image of the snake on the image of the rope make us superimpose the desires we have over an objective reasoning, and in this way influence the result.

Upon closer inspection we can see that most of our experiences are subject to the same mechanism, and we don’t usually have any way to check. The dangerous part of this situation is that the process itself is not controlled by us and therefore we can be the “victim” of our monkey mind at any time. And if somebody knows how to use this in a skilful way we can be even “killed” by the snake that exist only in our mind and that was “suggested” to us by a skillfully placed rope on the floor. In fact many of the situations that take place nowadays with us are the proportional combination between the objective experience and mental projection, and the problem is that we never know what is what. A common mistake when we try to understand this situation is to judge only the perceptions that arise from the activity of the senses. But there are a lot of other experiences that are more “subtle” and that are not the result of the activity of the senses, but we can perceive them inside of our being: for example feelings. But the perception of aspects like feelings is often far from being accurate.

Often we try to find the answer to questions like: “Do I love this person?” and in a strange way the answer seems to be very difficult give. If we don’t think at all we might have a clear answer based on the mysterious “intuition”, but if we try to think a little bit we will not be able to give a clear answer, and the more we think, the more the answer is unclear. This phenomenon happens because we are confronted with the same superimposition of mental patterns over some objective perceptions of the emotions.

Usually we try to escape this kind of situation by choosing to live at the surface of things, never trying to get into the depth for the very simple reason that we might get lost into all kinds of ghost-like impressions, into the labyrinth of our own emotions. On the other hand, if the mind will not interfere we will know for sure what we love, what we like, what we don’t love, what we don’t like, what is beautiful, what is ugly, what is right and what is wrong. All these answers are instantaneously known in our being and it only takes an accurate capacity of perception (without the interference of the “monkey mind”) to know them at first sight.
The “monkey” in the mind that is “playing” with the tuning button is almost always imposing mental activity over objective perceptions and experiences (from the outside – coming through the senses – and from inside – coming directly through the mind).

Get back what is yours by Divine right

The mental potential is ours by Divine right and the fact that we do not use it fully is just a choice that we have made. As we have shown before, the mental processes are out of our control firstly because we don’t think that is possible, because we don’t know otherwise. For this reason we have to start to study the functioning of our own mind and to gradually take conscious control of its functioning.

In our consumer society is very hard to make this step, especially when it looks to be against the general current that tells us “let go!” Some are saying here that the problem for them is that they are too much in control, that they have to relax and let go. This is usually a mistake because the condition of these people who feel tensed and obsessed about control is just that they are controlled by these tendencies that they cannot stop. In such cases, tensions of all kind are mistaken for control. A person full of tensions is not “too much in control” but is just dominated (controlled) by tensions!

When talking about the control of the mind we are talking about the capacity to have choices in whatever aspect of our states or inner experiences. A good control over the mental processes means that if we choose to be happy in a moment or a situation when we usually are sad, than we will be happy. If we want to create art and we need inspiration than we tune at will with the mental vibrations that are characteristic to the state of artistic inspiration and we can create like a genius. The control over the mind doesn’t have anything to do with the effort.

Of course the questions at this stage are many, but the best answer that we can recommend is meditation! By understanding meditation you will gain a very practical understanding of the intimate functioning of the mind.

Rediscovering the wheel

One of the oldest definitions of meditation is found in the famous yoga treatise, the “Yoga Sutras” of the great sage Patanjali. Thousands of years ago Patanjali gave one of the most simple and clear definitions for meditation: “when the mind flows through the attention toward the object of meditation in an uninterrupted flow, the meditation is attained”.

Other definitions of meditation – to be read with an intuitive openness.

advaita meditationMeditation is a Lotus flower arising from still waters.
Meditation is the action of going towards the middle, towards the Supreme Center of the (human) being.
To meditate means to travel inside the own inner world to the Inner Source Gate (Portal), and if the soul is sufficiently purified, to merge with it in a final impulse.
Meditation is the royal path that leads to perfection, to spiritual Liberation. It eliminates any suffering, sadness and blockage. Meditation confers the vision of Union and the direct perception of Uniqueness.
Meditation is the path to divinity. It is the mysterious ladder form Earth to Heaven, from untruth to truth, from darkness to light, from pain to joy, from worry to peace, from ignorance to knowledge, from death to eternal life. Meditation leads us towards knowing the Self, eternal peace and supreme happiness (joy).
To better understand these definitions we first should take a look at the concept of concentration and what “mind” actually means.

Concentration can be defined as “to control (to stop) the mind”

The nature of the mind is like the nature of the wind. In the old traditions it was stated that the nature of the mind is motion. When the air is still the wind doesn’t exist and the air is invisible. But when the air is moving the effects are visible and we call that “wind”. In the same way, the mind is invisible if completely still but when in motion we can see the effects of this motion (the thoughts) and this is what we call “mind”. In this way we erroneously identify the mind with its movement. But in reality the mental substance that remains after the mental phenomena are stopped is the “conscious principle” that has its manifestation in motion as mind.

Once the thoughts are stopped, the mind “disappears” and there is the non-mind state, a state characterized by the highest degree of spiritual creativity and intuition. This is the state of meditation!
When concentration is maintained for a long enough time, then meditation appears in a natural way, as day follows after night. Meditation is not a practice in itself unless we have the level to enter the state of meditation. Meditation is a result of the practice, when the practice is successful, it is a state. The usual misunderstanding about meditation is to mistake it for the concentration. Concentration is the voluntary orientation of the attention toward a certain object (interior or exterior) with the purpose of keeping the mind fixed upon it.

Not everybody who stays with eyes closed and in a special meditation posture is meditating. Only if the conditions inside are fulfilled does meditation appear. Until then we can say that we practice mental concentration.

When we have attained the meditative state, this becomes gradually the background of our existence. To make this clearer we have to underline here that in the process of obtaining the state of meditation, we are not “building” some extra abilities. Our inner nature is a meditative state, but due to successive superimpositions we cover it with all kind of mind games. The mental concentration that makes the mind able to remain under control, focused only on the targets that are given by us and in rest silenced, is practically removing all the obstacles that obscure the meditative state in our being, bringing it to the light of the consciousness. Therefore, meditation is not an extra “layer” on top of our personality; it is the basis of it brought to light. For this reason, once obtained it easily becomes the background of all our experiences, thus all the experiences in our life transform enormously.

Searching for carrots and discovering diamonds

The work of the mind is amazingly complex, but the reality that we perceive consciously is far simpler than the whole picture that we have in the subconscious. Most of the activity that we are performing is done behind the stage and we are not part of it.
The work of our entire structure is based on the phenomenon of resonance. If we take the example of a radio, the station that we listen to there is the one that we have tuned to. By rotating the tuning knob we are able to change the station that we listen to at will. In the same way the human being is an analogical radio that can tune by resonance to different energies – vibrations. The tuning knob for us is attention. The things that catch our attention are in fact the aspects that we immediately tune into. Usually this process is automatic and the “monkey-mind” is playing with it according to whatever comes. For this reason the control of the attention is essential in the practice of concentration.

By the constant practice of mental concentration, we are regaining control of the tuning knob and in this way we are able to control all our states that are nothing else but different resonances. By doing this we are able effortlessly to “rephrase” our destiny, to take our life in our own hands. This is one of the big rewards that we get by practicing mental concentration. In the beginning we try to obtain control over some states, but then we realize that by modifying the predominant states that we have in the everyday life we in fact modify our destiny. In the focus of the mind lays the secret of all the powers.
Meditation is the sign that we have succeeded in the mental concentration, it is the treasure that we discover while searching for power.

With a focused mind, all the resonance phenomena can be maintained for a very long time, producing effects that are far from the usual states of daily life. The so called paranormal powers for example are nothing else but expressions of the ability to keep the mind under control and to focus it on specific resonances for much more than a normal person, thus generating the exceptional energies that are responsible for the “paranormal” phenomena.

The difference between a normal and somehow “flat” state and a very vivid and intensive state is the intensity and continuity of our concentration upon that state. If we want to have a very intensive state of happiness all we have to do is to focus continuously upon that state (we can evoke a state of happiness that we have experienced in the past) for enough time, and the state that appears will be more or less intensive in proportion with the time of our uninterrupted concentration. What is important to note here is that it is possible to control the intensity of all the phenomena that happen with us by controlling the mind and where it’s focusing.

In this way the power that we usually have as human beings and that we manifest in our daily existence is not relying on the outside circumstances but very much on the degree of mental focus.

The balance between love and knowledge is a successful meditation

The mind needs discipline and the heart needs freedom. Usually we are in the opposite situation: our mind runs freely around without control but our heart is locked away, closed to any contact with reality. To change this status we have to train the mind and bring it under control by means of practice of concentration and to learn to let the heart express freely without the mind interfering. The best way to strengthen the heart is LOVE.

It is said in the spiritual traditions that meditation appears spontaneously in the mirror of a mind that reflects a heart full of LOVE

The practice of concentration has to be built on a strong feeling that we love what we are doing. If the exercises are done in a flat and boring way, without “putting heart” into them, the results will not come easy.
The daily practice of mental concentration is a very important help. The positive habit of practicing concentration and to aim for meditation every day is an amazingly efficient tool in order to create the necessary calmness and detachment for a harmonious life in the middle of modern society.
Swami Shivananda praised meditation: “The overall sum of the pleasures of this world is nothing compared to the happiness resulting from concentration and meditation. Do not give up this practice at all. Go on with your practice; be patient, persevering, happy, tenacious and trustful. This way you will succeed.”

Even if you only practice a little in one day, the constant practice is a very important aspect of the mental training, firstly because the nature of the mind is to change, and this constancy in practice is helping to regain control over the mind.

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Advaita Stoian

Comments (6)

  1. stelian says:

    Draga Advaita,
    am studiat cu interes acest articol.Sincer am urmarit chiar sa pun in practica,in meditatile pe care le realizez aceste elemente practice.Ma ajuta foarte mult”SA PUN INIMA” in meditatii si mai mult am inteles ca “SA PUN INIMA” in cat mai multe actiuni pe care le fac ,chiar in viata de zi cu zi,este foarte impotant,totul se transforma intr-un mod superior.I-ti multumesc .Te rog sa ma sfatuiesti in ce priveste durata unei meditatii pentru a putea sa progresez cu adevarat.De asemenea cum ar fi bine sa pregatesc aceasta meditatie.La fel un alt element important care l-am inteles acum este faptul ca meditatia trebuie realizata zilnic si nu in salturi cum faceam.

  2. Dominique says:

    I’m interested in meditation and I participated in some workshops about it.You said above that the balance between love and knowledge is a successful meditation and the best way to strengthen the heart is LOVE. What about making love like a meditation?

    I heard from someone that when you make love, you are bound with that person for many years afterwards and you take in your aura many of his aspects. Could you please explain what is the criteria according to which you take in those aspects? Is it just all of them or is it according to personal resonance? Can it be that you can take in some seeds and if you don’t resonate at all with them, they will disappear without disturbing you? or can you carry them subconsiously until they find the soil to grow?

  3. Diane says:

    I made my first steps in meditation thanks to your presence and teachings. And this article is such a good referral.Thank you for pointing out these initial requirings and steps.

  4. Klaus K says:

    Dear Advaita,
    I found your article very interesting, but for me it seems far away. I have tried some meditations, but whenever I close my eyes, I see images from my past, people I hate, and I get very angry on all the people that hurt me, on myself for the stupid stuff that I did and it gets worse and worse. Just recently I came clean from spending my nights in bars with heavy alcohol consume and smoking, fighting etc. (now it is just a joint every once in a while with friends, who are much more calm). Eventually I became desperate and dropped any meditation I tried. Not to mention the withdrawal symptoms. I hardly can’t sleep, how to meditate? Now stumbling across your article, I felt to ask you: Is there any chance for me to get out of this vicious circle?

    • Advaita Stoian Advaita Stoian says:

      @ Klaus K
      Yes, it is a real chance to get out of this vicious circle … by turning it into a virtuous ascendent spiral.
      Gradual processes of transformation are taking place one step at a time. But in the beginning the mind gives you this impression that you are in front of a well fortified citadel and you attempt siege barehanded. But if you know the secret and narrow path to enter the fortress you can make it quite easy.
      Built a gradual discipline and you will make real progress. Practice little every day and increase the time for concentration practice. For this you need to give up expectations of sudden progress and grow patience. The rest is simple …

  5. stein says:

    Scientist say that we use very little from brain capacity,somewhere around 4-5%. Geniuses use only a few percents plus,around 7-8%. We know that through yoga meditation this percentage increases very much. I recently watched a movie”Lucy” about this idea. But this can be real?

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