Maintaining mental focus. One of the eight limbs of yoga.
How to Meditate
The moment we utter the word “meditation,” there are all kinds of misconceptions about it. First of all the English word “meditation” doesn’t mean anything in the sense, if you close your eyes and sit, in English we call it “meditation.” You can sit with your eyes closed and do many things. There are many dimensions. You can do japa, tapa, dharana, dhyana, samadhi, shoonya. Or you might have just mastered the art of sleeping in vertical postures! So what is this thing that we call as meditation? Generally we assume that people are referring to what is known as dhyan or dhyana. In that context of referring to dhyan as meditation, it is not something that you can do. Nobody can do meditation. The reason why most people who have tried meditation have come to the conclusion that it’s very difficult or impossible is because they are trying to do it. You cannot do meditation but you can become meditative. Meditation is a certain quality. It is not a certain act. If you cultivate your body, your mind, your energies and your emotions to a certain level of maturity, meditation will naturally happen. It is just like if you keep the soil fertile, if you give it the necessary manure and water and if the right kind of seed is there, it will grow and bloom into flowers and fruits. Flowers and fruits will come out of a plant not because you want it, but simply because you created the necessary, conducive atmosphere. Similarly, if you create the necessary atmosphere within yourself, on all the four dimensions of who you are, then meditation will naturally flower within you. It is a certain fragrance that one can enjoy within himself.
Meditation and the Mind
The mind does not like meditation because if you keep the body still, the mind will also naturally become still. This is why so much stress has been laid in yoga on hatha yoga and asanas. If you just learn how to keep your body absolutely still, then your mind will also become still. I want you to just observe yourself and see how many unnecessary movements your body makes when you stand, sit or speak. If you look at your life, you will see that more than half the time is taken up in these things that you yourself don’t care for. If you keep the body still, the mind will slowly start collapsing and the mind knows that it will become enslaved if it allows this. The main aspect of meditation is, right now your mind is the boss and you are the slave. As you meditate and become more meditative, you will become the boss and your mind will become the slave and that is how it should always be. If you don’t know how to keep the mind as a slave, it will put you through all kinds of endless suffering. If you allow the mind to rule, it is a terrible master. But as a slave, the mind is wonderful – it is a miraculous slave.
I wish I could simply sit for long hours
▵ Sadhguru, I wish I could simply sit for long hours, but I am just not able to keep my body still. How can I overcome this limitation?
Sadhguru: To sit still, definitely your body needs to be conditioned – hatha yoga is towards that. But even if your body is in a good condition, you still will not be able to sit still, unless you settle some other aspects. There are eight limbs of yoga – yama and niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. They are not steps – they are limbs. If you had eight limbs, which one to move first is your choice, according to your need. Is there a rule which limb to move first? Since you are from India – do not think you must always put your right leg first. There are certain aspects of life where putting your right leg first is better, and there are other aspects where putting your left leg first is better. Which leg to move first depends on the activity. Similarly, which limb of yoga to use first depends on where you are.If you want to sit still, just working on your body is not good enough – you have to work upon your mind too.
For a long time in the history of humanity, the body was the strongest aspect and the biggest hurdle. Therefore, people were put through hatha yoga first. A few hundred years ago, only 5-10% of people had mental problems. Others only had physical problems. Even today, in the villages, most people only have physical problems, not mental problems. But generally, in the last few generations, people have had more mental problems than physical problems, because they use their mind more than they use their body. This is a big shift for humanity. Until 100 or 200 years ago, human beings used their body much more than their mind. Since I am a contemporary mystic, I am looking at people who are here now.
As their problems are more mental than physical, we generally start off with kriyas and meditation, which mainly work on the level of energies and mind, and only then go into hatha yoga. If you want to sit still, just working on your body is not good enough – you have to work upon your mind too. Particularly for this generation, focusing on settling the whole system – mind, emotions, body, and energy – is important. It is a wrong perception that people of today are more brilliant than people of the past. It is just that people’s minds are more out of control today because of haphazard use.
The way our education system is structured, it will invariably lead to disturbed minds. A child is going from reading poetry to mathematics – both are connected, but there is no one to make the connection. From mathematics, they go to music – both are connected, but there is no one to make the connection. From music, they go to chemistry – they are connected, but there is no one to make the connection, because the music department and the chemistry department do not get along. Everything is taught in disjointed ways because after all, no one is studying with a passion to know. Everyone is studying to pass the examination and get a job.
This is a very destructive way of educating yourself and a pathetic way to live. But no matter how senseless it is, the majority of people in the world have chosen to live like that. Recently, I was at a very high profile evening event, where alcohol was being served in a corner. The host said, “Sadhguru is here, let’s not have alcohol served.” But some people could not keep their hands off it. There was a minister who came and said, “I’m sure Sadhguru is a man of the world – he won’t mind.” I said, “When did the whole world get drunk?” Today, it is made out like if you are a man of the world, you must drink, otherwise, you do not belong to this world. We are culturing human minds in a completely wrong way. Then how can we expect them to be peaceful and blissful? It will not work. Unless you do the right things, right things will not happen to you.
If your body is not at ease simply sitting here, obviously, something is not okay with it, even if you are medically certified as normal. I was surprised to know that according to the medical textbooks in the United States, going to the toilet twice a week is considered normal. According to yogic culture, yogis should go to the toilet twice a day, because excreta should not remain in the system. What should go out must go out at the earliest possible time. First thing when you get up in the morning, it should be done. Twice a week means on an average, you keep it in your body for three days, and you expect your mind to be okay? It will not be okay because your colon and your mind are directly connected. The colon is at the muladhara, which is the foundation of your energy system. Whatever happens at the muladhara, happens to the whole system, one way or the other – and particularly to your mind. Today’s scientists are arriving at such conclusions because they study the human being under a microscope – piece by piece.
Therefore, about every bit, they come to a different conclusion. The whole cannot be perceived from outside – it can only be perceived from within. Do your sadhana, change your diet to include more natural foods, and you will see in a couple of months’ time, you will sit still.