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Swami Sivananda on Concentration and Meditation

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  • medit8ionsociety
    Yoga is an exact science. Asanas and Pranayama (Yoga postures and breathing exercises) perfect the body. Service and charity expand the heart. Prayer, Japa
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 22, 2004
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      Yoga is an exact science. Asanas and Pranayama (Yoga postures and
      breathing exercises) perfect the body. Service and charity expand the
      heart. Prayer, Japa (repetition of the Lord's Name), Kirtan (singing
      devotional songs) and other devotional practices purify the mind and
      make it more subtle. The aspirant is now fully equipped for the last
      lap of the journey. It is the toughest part of the pilgrimage to God.
      It is full of darkness and the aspirant has to pierce this darkness
      with his purified mind. The purified mind is the most dependable
      weapon in the armory of the spiritual aspirant.

      The purified mind must be made to concentrate. Concentration is mental
      focusing. The mind can be focused on a concrete object or an abstract
      idea. For a novice, concentration becomes easy if the object of
      concentration is concrete. Also, the beginner should choose a pleasing
      object on which to concentrate. Only thus can he prevent the mind from
      wandering away from the object of concentration. To start with,
      concentration can be practiced on the flame of a candle, the tick-tick
      sound of a clock, the star in the sky, the picture of OM or the
      picture of one's lshta Devata (personal God). This should be followed
      by concentration on a suitable spiritual center within the body. The
      Sadhak may concentrate with closed eyes on the space between is the
      eyebrows or on the tip of the nose. There is nothing which cannot be
      achieved by concentration.

      Concentration should be followed by meditation. Meditation is nothing
      but protracted or sustained concentration. A scientist has to
      concentrate on a problem, on a given subject, on a riddle, to bring
      out the answer, to solve it. He has to think, think and think. Then
      only the answer flashes forth. Likewise, meditation is intense
      concentration, concerted concentration on the problem of life, on the
      problem of the inexplicable triad of God, man and the universe. While
      concentration becomes essential even to solve small problems in
      science, what to speak of the problem of life which has baffled
      humanity since time immemorial? The Sadhak (aspirant) who wants God
      must meditate, meditate and meditate.

      Meditation can be practiced on any image of the Lord. This is concrete
      meditation. After some practice, the aspirant will be able to
      visualize the form of the image even with closed eyes. Meditation can
      also be practiced on abstract ideas and on various Vedantic formulae
      such as "I am Eternity", "I am Infinity" and so on.

      Reading of profound scriptural texts like the Upanishads and the
      Brahma Sutras (revealed texts of the Hindus) requires intense
      concentration. Such reading itself is a mild form of meditation. It
      should be followed by contemplation on what was read. Repeated
      meditation on a single idea will bring out a wealth of knowledge on
      that idea.

      While meditating on a particular object or idea, various extraneous
      thoughts will try to enter the mind of the aspirant and interfere with
      his meditation. The aspirant should ignore these extraneous thoughts,
      be indifferent to them and repeatedly try to concentrate on the object
      of his meditation. Gradually, the frequency of interruption will be
      reduced and a time will come when meditation will give uninterrupted
      peace and bliss.
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