Meditation and its Utility in Daily Life With Practical Hints
- Meditation and its Utility in
Daily Life With Practical Hints
Sri Swami Premananda
A DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY PUBLICATION
First Edition: 1994
Second Edition: 1996
Third Edition: 1999
World Wide Web (WWW) Edition : 2000
WWW site: http://www.SivanandaDlshq.org/
This WWW reprint is for free distribution
© The Divine Life Trust Society
Swami Premananda's `Meditation Classes' have become
very popular and there is a great demand. This booklet
will help aspirants and seekers.
THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY
P.O. Shivanandanagar249 192
Distt. Tehri-Garhwal, Uttar Pradesh,
Meditation And Its Utility In Daily Life
I. "Silence Is The Great Revelation"Lao-Tse
II. Body Sensations
III. Deepening ExerciseBody Sensations
IV. Thought Control
V. Breathing Sensations
VI. God In My Breath
VII. BreathCommunication With God
IX. Body Prayer
X. The Touch of God
XII. Finding God In All Things
Individual's Uplift And World Welfare
Meditation And Its Utility In Daily Life
Meditation is not for a few but is necessary for all human beings.
The inner self of a person touches the Higher Self (the Param-Tattwa)
during deep sleep daily. This unknown touch recharges the battery of
man. So, when he gets up from his sleep, he feels that he is
refreshed, full of strength and relaxed. This is a natural process
for all persons alike. If one could not sleep properly, he feels
disturbed and is in a sort of weariness. It is the experience of
every man, whether he is rich or a beggar, a literate or an
illiterate, an executive or a labourer, a farmer or a business man, a
housewife or a huckster. So, every man needs peace, strength, ability
to discharge his duties and for tranquillity of mind. So, a wonderful
discovery of man is to keep his inner self in touch with the SOURCE
in a wakeful state for longer periods continuously through specific
type of systematic practices. This is called the art of meditation.
And such a person is said to be a YOGI without any
discretion/distinction of caste, creed, colour and country.
Dhyanam nirvishayam manahThat state of the mind, wherein there
are no Vishayas or sensory thoughts, is meditation.
Whether oriental or occidental, Hinduism or Mohammedanism, Buddhism
or Jainism, Christianity or Judaism, Shinto-ism or any other
`ism', the spiritual purpose and meaning is to lead an
individual soul to the ecstatic communion with the Universal Divinity
or ONE TRUTH, the SOURCE. A continuous flow of perception of thought
is DhyanaTatra pratyayaikatanata dhyanam. It is the flow of
continuous thought of one object or God or Atman or Supreme S
ourceTailadharavat. According to Raja Yoga, meditation is the
seventh rung or step in the ladder of Yoga. One cannot attain this
state unless he knows the art of "Concentration". What is
concentration? Desabandhas-chittasya dharana. Concentration is
fixing the mind on an external object or an internal point
continuously, without interruption or break for twelve
seconds. So, an aspirant has to develop himself in concentration,
which itself is changed into meditation, if his state of keeping the
mind focused at one object/point/subject continuously and
spontaneously for 12x12=144 seconds. It is termed as `Dhyana'
in Sanskrit scriptures, which comes from the root `Dhi'. In
English we generally call it `intellect' which is the basic
root with different derivations in different practices. However,
`Buddhi'(reasoning faculty) is said to be directly based on
this root term; yet this term is used liberally by all systems of
Yoga, which is central theme of all mystic techniques leading one to
higher levels of spiritual consciousness with profound depths of
spiritual expansion and takes one to God-realisation or Self-
Meditation may be objective, or on qualities or purely subjective or
one's own breath. In objective meditation the Sadhaka meditates
upon an idol or picture of his Ishta devatamay be Lord Shiva,
Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Christ, Buddha or any other god or goddess.
For him, the idol is something alive, vibrating with supreme reality,
omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. He may meditate upon the
beautitude, the qualities, the activities of his Ishta-devata. Or he
may meditate upon the all-pervading pulsating Supreme Energy which is
within him and without, permeating everywhere. This is subjective
meditation. Similarly on his breath while inhaling and exhaling with
MINIMAL SILENCE. All meditations are good; what counts is the
intensity and unbroken continuity of meditation.
An aspirant has to rest his soul on the bosom of the Lord, to bathe
in the bliss of Divine ecstasy, to drown his ego in the ocean of
eternity, to draw sustenance and strength from the SOURCE to attain
whatever he is capable of achieving. A Sadhaka should meditate
regularly, chew and digest what he has learnt, to transform what he
has learnt into wisdom, to apply that wisdom to solve the problems
that cross his path daily. Says F.W. Robertson: "It is not the
number of books you read, nor the variety of sermons you hear, nor
the amount of religious conversation in which you mix, but it is the
frequency and earnestness with which you meditate on these things
till the truth in them becomes your own and part of your being, that
ensures your growth."
A sincere spiritual seeker meditates to realise the Ultimate Reality
to unravel the mystery of life and death, to understand in the bottom
of his heart, what is Truth. Once he knows Truth, he knows the
Ultimate Reality, he becomes That, and there is nothing more to know.
A person who has realised Brahman, becomes Brahman, and lives in
Brahman. Knowing is being. That is the highest state.
India has been fortunate to have produced many saints and seers who
had realised the Truth and for more or less time lived in a state of
Divine Ecstasy. Even during the past hundred years people have
witnessed such saints like Paramahamsa Ramakrishna, Swami
Vivekananda, Swami Ramatirtha, Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi, Swami
Ramdas, Swami Sivananda and several others of world fame. Ramakrishna
would while talking relapse into Samadhi and often prayed to his
Divine Mother not to draw him frequently into Her Bosom so that he
can converse with his disciple, particularly his darling Naren later
known to the world as Swami Vivekananda so that he could prepare a
band of workers to spread his message, the holy message of India.
Swami Ramatirtha was often seen in a state of ecstasy during last
seven years of life in India and United States. Swami Sivananda was
another who would often sing and dance or be just be quiet in divine
ecstasy. There have been more in India and quite a few messengers of
God in other parts of the world.
Meditation and concentration are often treated as synonymous.
However, I have drawn earlier a distinct line between concentration
and meditation. In further explanation when one brings to bear all
his thought waves on a single point or spot like a laser beam where
the scattered rays of light are concentrated, it is concentration.
Every body needs concentration to understand, assimilate and apply
any information, any knowledge. When the concentration is prolonged
for 144 seconds, it is called meditation and when extended to 144
multiplied by 144 i.e. 20736 seconds = 345.6 minutes, it is said to
reach the state of Samadhi. According to Ashtanga Yoga comprising two
main parts of Hatha YogaYama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama covers
the first one, whereas Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi, is
the second part. There is no equivalent word in English language for
Samadhi. Concentration is the sixth, Meditation the seventh and
Samadhi the eighth and last stage of Yoga when the Sadhaka is united
with the Supreme Being. It shows that concentration leads to
Meditation, similarly prolonged constant meditation leads to Samadhi.
In other Yogas Manana, Nididhyasana, Upasana, Chintana,
Dhyanathese terms are used in different Yogas with subtle
differences in their techniques. Manana is a sort of reflection. It
is just to chew the cud slowly and nicely. It is done through into
intense practice of Manana. Chintana is also a sort of reflection and
meditation to assimilate the thoughts in consciousness for proper and
significant impression with profound understanding. Intense
meditation on the Self or Brahman or ANY SPIRITUAL ILLUMINED
PERSONALITY is termed as `Nididhyasana'. As Saint Francis of
Assisi did. `Upasana' stands for devout meditation which is
being used in both i.e., Jnana Yoga Sadhana and Bhakti Yoga.
Upasana means `sitting near by'. In Jnana Yoga Sadhana the
seeker has to sit near the Self or Brahman; whereas in
Bhakti Yoga a devotee has to sit by the side of God.
A keen and true regular practitioner (Sadhaka) will attain quick and
sure results, when he proceeds properly stage by stage under the
guidance of his GURU or master. The first four parts are meant to
purify the mind and keep the body strong and fit to receive and
retain the power of the DIVINE. Many moderns, however, equate Yoga
with the practice of few asanas and pranayamas. This is not
sufficient for spiritual uplift. Yet, it is better to practise asanas
and pranayamas for health's sake than not to do anything at all.
But Yoga is really first to withdraw one's mind from the objects
of senses (pratyahara), practice concentration, prolong the period of
concentration under proper guidance to reach the stage of meditation
and finally become one, unite (Yoga to join to unite) with the
Supreme Reality, the TRUTH.
Thus meditation is not meant merely for the recluse, the ascetic, the
renouncer. It is of utmost important in man's day-to-day life. It
is of immense help to a student, a youth, an old man. A man who can
meditate will become a better manager, a better businessman, a better
executive and, above all, a better man. Conversely, if a person
cannot meditate, he will lack composition, courage and confidence to
achieve his goal. Nowadays, several medical doctors and psychologists
advise to their patients suffering from nervousness, unusual
irritation, disordered mind, fear and inferiority complex and lack of
self-confidence to meditate in a specific manner along with the
medical treatment. So, the meditation is very necessary these days
when man leads a life of tension and complexity.
Every morning and evening, preferably at dawn and dusk, sit down in a
comfortable posture with your backbone straight, relax each and every
limb of your body, and then your mind, and sit unmoved, in the same
pose, as long as you can. It is always better to invoke your Guru
(master) and Ishta Devata first, when you sit for meditation for
their blessings and guidance and gratefully thank them again when you
finish the meditation. Gradually, increase the time of your
meditation. It is easier to relax your limbs of the body but not so
easy to relax your mind. This process of relaxation, stillness and
body awareness will automatically reduce the speed of your breathing,
which, in turn, will help in meditation. So many thoughts will cross
your mind now and then. They may even disturb you. Do not be afraid.
Try to remain calm and watch them with equanimity. Let them come, let
them go. Do not fight to free your mind from thought waves. Try to be
indifferent to them. But do not observe these thoughts with
equanimous mind. Gradually, automatically the flitting of thoughts
across the canvas of your mind will diminish. After
sometimesooner than lateryou will be absorbed in your
Ishta-Devata if your meditation is objective, or in your Being, if
your meditation is subjective. Once, you get the taste of it, believe
me, you will like to taste it more and more and more.
May God Almighty and All-merciful and the Most Revered Gurudev, help
you, THEY WILL.
I. "Silence Is The Great Revelation"Lao-Tse
1. Scripture as the revelation of God.
2. Discover the revelation that silence brings.
3. Silence offers, one must attain silence. It is NOT EASY.
Comfortable Posture. Close eyes for 10 minutes. Observe total silence
of Heart and Mind. Describe `Silence' in terms of your
attempts. Experience may infinitely be varied. You have to still the
constant wandering of your mind. To quiet and emotional turmoil. On
approaching frontiers of silence there may be PANIC and WITHDRAWAL.
You may have frightening experience. NO REASON TO BE DISCOURAGED.
Wandering thoughts are a great revelation. Take time to EXPERIENCE
this wandering mind and TYPE of wandering it indulges. SOMETHING
ENCOURAGINGawareness of mental wandering, inner turmoil and
inability to be still shows that you have small degree of silence
within you. AGAIN close your eyes, become aware of wandering mind for
two minutes. Now sense the silence that makes it possible to be aware
of wanderings of your mind.
MINIMAL SILENCEas it grows, it reveals more and more rather it
reveals yourself to you. You will have ATTAINMENTSlike WISDOM,
SERENITY, BLISS, GOD, PRECAUTION: you shall have no talk and no
discussion. Inhale and exhale deep and slow breathing throughout.
Again close your eyes for five minutes. SEEK SILENCE. Now see your
successwhether more or less. Don't seek ANYTHING
SENSATIONAL. In fact, do not seek at all.
Limit yourself to observing. Take in everything that comes to your
awareness whether big, small, trite or ordinary. CONTENT of awareness
is less important than the quality of awareness. As quality improves,
so silence deepens, you will experience. You will discover, to your
delight, that revelation is not knowledge. It is power: a mysterious
power that brings transformation.
II. Body Sensations
One must become aware of certain body sensations of which one is
explicitly not aware. To go around by yourself to become conscious of
your toes, your feet, your legs, your knees, your thighs, your
buttocks, your waist, your stomach, your chest, your shoulders, your
fingers (starting from the tips), your forearms, your elbow, your
arms, your full back, then again your shoulders, your neck, your
chin, your lips, your nose, your cheeks, your ears, your eyes, your
forehead, your head, upper side of your head and backside of your
head. Do not dwell for more than two or three seconds on each part of
your body. REPEAT it again and again for five minutes. This act of
yours brings a sense of relaxedness. BIGGEST ENEMIES: Nervous
tension, living too much in head i.e., to remain conscious of the
thinking and imagination and to remain conscious far too little of
the activities of the senses. It is a must to remain in the PRESENT
and not in past and future. One must master this technique of sense
awareness. One must learn to get out of the area of thinking and
imagination and move into the area from Head to Heart i.e., feeling,
sensing, loving and intuiting where contemplation takes birth, prayer
becomes transforming power and a source of delight and peace. A few
of you may feel an increase in Tension. Note what part of your body
is tense and see exactly what the tension feels like. Become aware of
the fact you are tensing and note exactly how you are doing this.
Note means not to reflect but to feel and sense. You pick up no
sensation. Why? Your sensibility has been dead from so much living in
head. Our skin is covered with trillions (3 Powers of a million) of
bio-chemical reactionsthat we call sensations and you are
finding it hard to pick up even a few of them? You have hardened
yourself not to feel may be due to some emotional hurt or conflict
that you have long since forgotten. And your perception, your
awareness, power of concentration and attention are still gross and
underdeveloped. It is as a means for attaining relaxation and
stillness. GET IN TOUCH WITH SENSATIONS AGAIN AND AGAIN without
naming limbs and organs as you sense. If you notice an urge to move
or to shift your posture or positiondo not give into it. Do
continue this exercise for a few minutes. You will gradually feel a
certain stillness in your body. Go on with your AWARENESS exercise
and leave taking care of stillness. If you are distracted, get back
to awareness of body sensations, moving from one to another, until
your body becomes still once again, your mind quietens, you are able
to sense again stillness that brings peace and a foretaste of
contemplation and of God. HOWEVER, DO NOT explicitly rest in the
stillness. Because resting in it can be relaxing and even delightful.
BUT in it there is DANGER of mild trance or mental blankness which is
not good for contemplation. It is like a sort of self-hypnosis that
has nothing to do either with the sharpening of awareness or with
contemplation. IMPORTANT: DO NOT DELIBERATELY seek stillness or
silence within you and not EXPLICITLY REST in it when it occurs. BUT
SEEK SHARPENING OF AWARENESS. In moments, stillness becomes so
powerful that all exercise and all your efforts become impossible.
Then it is no longer you who go in quest of stillness. But stillness
takes possession of you. THEN you may safely, and profitably, let go
of all effort and surrender to this overpowering stillness within
III. Deepening ExerciseBody Sensations
The body sensations exercise is so simple, in fact, as to prove
disillusioning. To advance in it, you have to preserve in simplicity.
Resist temptation to seek novelty, but try to seek DEPTH. You have to
practise second exercise over a long period of time. You may ask for
benefits. Don't ask. Do what you are asked to and you will
discover yourself. TRUTH is found less in words and explanations than
in action and experience. So get to work, with faith and
perseverance. Close your eyes. Repeat previous exercise of body
sensations for five to ten minutes.
NOW CHOOSE JUST ONE SMALL AREA OF YOUR FACE, PICK UP EVERY SENSATION.
At the beginning you may not feel. Continue previous exercise, then
enter in this area. Be aware of the type of sensations that emerge;
itching, pricking, burning, pulling, vibrating, throbbing,
numbness....... If your mind wanders, bring it patiently back to
IV. Thought Control
By doing previous awareness exercises, your mind may be distracted.
To deal with such situation, you shall keep your eyes half closed
resting on an object or one spot three feet ahead of you. You are not
to focus on the object/spot. By doing this, you may have trouble with
your wandering mind. No cause for alarm. You practise control over
your wandering mind with patience and perseverance. Gradually you
To deal with distraction of mind you may follow any of the two ways:
a) You have to follow your thoughts as a puppy in the streets follows
any pair of legs it finds in motion. It does not care for the
direction where they are moving. After some seconds, you shall make
yourself aware that you are thinking. You may say to yourself
interiorly that I am thinking ......... thinking ...... thinking. By
this you will be aware that thinking process is going on.
b) The other way to overcome distraction is to observe your thoughts
as a man stationed at his window watching passers by on the street.
After doing this for a while, you shall keep yourself aware that you
are thinking .... thinking .... thinking .... You may do any of the
above two exercises for not more than five minutes. Thinking tends to
stop by making yourself aware of it. A distraction charged with
strong emotion: love, fear, resentment, sorrowwill not easily
yield to this exercise. Other exercises discussed hereinafter shall
help you in that.
V. Breathing Sensations
(Become aware of sensations in various parts of your body)
Become aware of the air as it comes in and goes out through your
nostrils. Do not concentrate on the air as it enters in lungs, but
limit awareness to nostrils breath. Do not control your breathing.
Don't attempt to deepen it. It is not breathing exercise, but
breathing awareness. Whenever you are distracted, return with vigour
to your task to enable you to make you aware of each breath. Continue
this exercise for ten to fifteen minutes. This exercise may be
difficult for some of you in comparison to previous exercises; but it
is most rewarding in sharpening awareness, bringing calmness and
relaxation. HOWEVER, in attempting breathing awareness DO NOT tense
your muscles. Determination must not be confounded with nervous
tension. You may be distracted at the beginning but you must keep
returning again and again to the awareness of your breathing the mere
effort involved in doing thiswill bring beneficial effects that
you will gradually notice.
After developing some proficiency in this exercise move on to
somewhat difficult and more effective variant:
a) Become aware of the sensation of the air passing through your
nostrils. Feel its touchin which part of the nostrils you feel
the touch of the air while inhaling .... and in what part of the
nostrils you feel the touch of the air while exhaling .......
b) Become aware of the warmth or coldness of the air .... its
coldness when it comes in, and its warmth when it goes out.
c) Also be aware of quantity of air that passes through one nostril
is greater than the amount that passes through other .....
d) Be sensitive and alert to the slightest, lightest touch while
inhaling and exhaling .... STAY with this awareness for ten to
fifteen minutes. In case you put in more time, you will get better
results. But DO NOT stay on breathing awareness alone for many hours
over a period of more than two or three days. Although this exercise
brings you great peace and a sense of depth and fullness that
delights you but prolonged concentration on breathing is likely to
produce hallucinations or to draw out material from the unconscious
that you may not be able to control.
AWARENESS AND CONTEMPLATION AND PRAYER
Prayer means a communication with God that is carried on mainly
through the use of words and images and thoughts. Contemplation means
a communication with God that makes a minimal use of words, images
and concepts altogether. The exercise of awareness of body sensations
or breathing can be termed as communication with God. Many mystics
tell us that, in addition to the mind and heart with which we
ordinarily communicate with God, we are endowed with a mystical mind
and mystical heart, a faculty which makes it possible for us to know
God directly, to grasp and INTUIT Him in His very beingapart
from all thoughts, concepts and images.
Ordinarily all our contact with God is indirectthrough images
and concepts. To be able to grasp Him beyond these thoughts and
images is the privilege of this facultya mystical heart. In most
of us this Heart lies dormant and undeveloped. If it is awakened, it
would be straining towards God and, given a chance, would impel the
whole of our being towards Him. Hence, it needs to be developed, it
needs to have the dross that surrounds it removed so that it can be
attracted towards the ETERNAL MAGNET. To be near or discover Eternal
Magnet, one is to find means of silencing the mind. And to silence
the mind is an extremely difficult task. How hard it is to keep the
mind away from thinking, which is producing thoughts in a never-
ending stream. But it is also said that one thorn is removed by
another. So you can be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all
the other thoughts that crowd into your mind. One thought, one image,
one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten
on. For to consciously attempt to keep the mind in a thoughtless
state, in a void, is to attempt the impossible. The mind must have
something to occupy it. The seemingly disconcerting conclusion is
that concentration on your breathing or body sensations is very good
contemplation. The awareness exercises lead to a deepening of the
prayer experiences. Now is the time to expose yourself to the Divine
Sun in SILENCE.
VI. God In My Breath
With closed eyes practise the awareness of body sensations for a
while. Then come to the awareness of your breathing as done before
and stay with this awareness for a few minutes .... Reflect now that
this air that you are breathing is charged with the Power and the
PRESENCE of God. Think of the air as of an Immense OCEAN that
surrounds you .... an ocean heavily coloured with God's presence
and God's being .... While you draw the air into your lungs you
are drawing God in .... Be aware that you are drawing in the Power
and Presence of God each time you breathe in... Stay in this
awareness as long as you can... Notice what you feel when you become
conscious that you are drawing God in with each breath you
1. While you breathe in, be conscious of God's Spirit coming into
you Fill your lungs with the divine energy he brings with Him ....
2. While you breathe out, imagine you are breathing out all your
impurities .... your fears .... your negative feelings .... Your
shortcomings and weaknesses.
3. Imagine you see your whole body becoming radiant and alive through
this process of breathing in God's life-giving Spirit and
breathing out all your impurities ......
Stay with this awareness as long as you can without distractions.
VII. BreathCommunication With God
Devotional Prayer may here be called as `PRAYER';
whereas `Intuitional Prayer' may coincide roughly with
CONTEMPLATION. Both type of prayers lead to union with God. Such of
them is more suited to some Sadhakas than to others. According to
time and need suitability of these Prayers may change.
Any Prayer that limits itself to the thinking mind alone is not
prayer really but! at best, a preparation for prayer. Even among
Sadhakas there is no genuine personal communication that isn't at
least in some small degree heart communication, that does not contain
some small degree of emotion in it. If a communication, a sharing of
thoughts, is entirely and totally devoid of all emotion you can be
sure the intimate, personal dimension is lacking.
Here are some variations of the previous exercise more devotional
than intuitional. As the thought content in prayer is minimalit
will easily move from the devotional to the intuitional, from the
heart to the heart.
Become aware of your breathing for a while. Now REFLECT presence of
God in the atmosphere all around you.... Reflect His presence in the
air you are breathingBE CONSCIOUS OF HIS PRESENCE.... Notice
what you feel, when you become conscious of His presence in the air
you are breathing in and out....
Now express yourself to God non-verbally. Frequently, express a
sentiment through a look on a gesture .... Then again by breathing.
Express first of all, a great yearning for Him without using words,
even mentally, say to Him, "MY LORD, I long for You ...."
Just by the way breathe. You may express this by breathing in deeply,
by deepening your inhalation.
Now express another attitude or sentiment: ONE OF TRUST AND
SURRENDERNO wordsjust through breath, "My LORD, I
surrender myself entirely to you ...." You may do this by
emphasising your exhalation, by breathing out each time
as if you were sighing deeply. Each time you breathe out feel
yourself letting the whole of yourself go in God's hand.
Then, after sometime, take up other attitudes before your LORD and
express these through your breathing such as: LOVE.... CLOSENESS....
and INTIMACY ADORATION.......... GRATITUDE.......... PRAISE.... if
you are tired of doing this, return to the beginning of this exercise
and just rest peacefully in the awareness of God all around you and
in the air you are breathing in and out.... Then, if you tend to get
distracted, fall back on second part of the exercise and express
yourself to God non-verbally once more.
Modern man is unfortunately plagued by a nervous tension that makes
it almost impossible for him to be quiet. If he actually wants to
learn to pray he must first learn to be still, to quieten himself. In
fact, this very quietness and stillness frequently becomes prayer
when God manifests Himself in the form of STILLNESS.
Repeat the exercise of becoming aware of sensations in your body
whole body. This time start with the top of your head and end it with
the tips of your toes, omitting no part of the body. Beware of every
sensation in each part.... You may find some parts of your body
completely devoid of sensation.... Dwell on these for a few
seconds if no sensation emerges, move on......
As you become more proficient in this exercise you will, hopefully,
sharpen your awareness to the extent that there will be no part of
your body in which you do not feel several sensations.... For the
time being you must be content to dwell briefly on the blanks and
move on to the parts where you feel more sensationsMove slowly
from head to foot.... then once again, from head to foot..... and so
on for some fifteen minutes. As your awareness sharpens you will pick
up sensations that you hadn't noticed before.... you may also pick
up sensations that are extremely subtle, too subtle to be perceived
by any but a man of deep as a whole. Feel the whole of your body as
one mass of concentration and deep peace. Now become aware of yours
body as a whole. Feel the whole of your body as one mass of various
types of sensations.... Stay with this for a while, then return to
the awareness by parts, moving from head to foot.... then, once
again, rest in the awareness of your body as a whole......
Notice now the deep stillness that has come over you. Notice the
complete stillness of your body.... Do Not, however, rest in the
stillness to the extent of losing awareness of your body.... If you
are getting distracted, give yourself the occupation of moving once
again from head to foot, becoming aware of sensations in each part of
your body. Then, once again, notice the stillness in your body. If
you are practising this in a group, then at occasions, notice the
stillness in the whole room.
It is very important that you do NOT move any part of your body while
doing this Sadhana. This will be difficult at first, but each time
feel the urge to move, or scratch, or fidget, become aware of this as
sharply as you can.... Don't give in to it.... It will gradually
go away and you will become still once more........
It is extremely painful for most people to stay still. Even
physically painful and you become physically tense, spend all the
time you need becoming aware of the tension.... where you feel it,
what it feels like.... and stay with it till the tension disappears.
You may feel physical pain, rather severe pain. No matter how
comfortable the position or posture you have adopted, your body is
likely to protest against the stillness by developing aches and pains
in various parts. When this happens, a serious Sadhaka MUST RESIST
the temptation to move limbs or read just posture so as to ease the
pain. Just become keenly aware of the pain.
Your awareness may wholly be absorbed by the acute pain. You may
start sweating, may be profusely. Your mind may think that you are
going to faint with pain; at such moment firmly decide Not to fight
it, Not to run away from it, Not to desire to alleviate it, but to
become aware of it, to identify with it. Then you may see that the
pain sensation is broken into its component parts and you may be
surprised to discover that it is composed of many sensations viz.,
intense burning sensation a pulling and tugging, a sharp, shooting
sensation which may merge every now and then.... and a point which
may keep moving from one place to another.... This point you may
identify as pain.... As you will keep up this exercise, you shall
find that you are bearing the pain quite welli.e., pain without
Every Sadhaka has to experience some types of pains, as indicated
above, until his body becomes accustomed to remaining perfectly
still. Deal with the pain through awareness. When your body finally
does become still, you will have a rich reward in the QUIET BLISS
that this stillness will bring you. The temptation to scratch is
another frequent temptation with beginners. This is because, as their
awareness of their body sensations sharpens, they become aware of
itching and pricking sensations that were there all along but were
hidden to awareness because of the psycho-physical hardening that
most of us submit our bodies to and because of the grossness of their
awareness. A Sadhaka must resist such temptations during awareness
IX. Body Prayer
(A devotional variant of the body sensation)
First quieten yourself through the awareness of sensations in various
parts of your body.... Sharpen your awareness by picking up even the
subtlest sensations, Not just the gross and evident ones.... Keep
your hands on knees. Now very gently move your hands and fingers so
that your hands come to rest on your lap, palms facing upwards,
fingers joined together.... The movement must be very, very slow....
like the opening of the petals of a flower.... And while the movement
is going on BE AWARE OF each part of it.
Once your hands are resting on your lap, palms facing upwards, become
aware of the sensations in palms.... Then become aware of the gesture
itself, this is a gesture of prayer to God.... What meaning does this
gesture have for you? What are you saying to God through it? Say
without words, merely identifying with the gesture... It may give you
some taste of the kind of prayer you can make with your body....
When you pray with your body you give power and body to your prayer.
People fail to attend to their body in prayer; they fail to take
their bodies along with them into the holy temple of God. When they
themselves visit temples or places of worship, they stand or sit in
the presence of God, but they are carelessly slouched in their seat
or standing in a very slovenly fashion.... They are still not gripped
by the living presence of the Lord. Therefore, a devotee of the Lord
should try to understand the meaning and purpose of `Body
Prayer'. The `gestures' suggested are merely samples. A
`devotee' may invent his own gestures to express
his `Love', `Praise', `Adoration',
Close your eyes. Quieten yourself through one of your awareness
exercises. FEEL you are in the presence of God in a very devout way,
hands devoutly joined in front of you, slowly raise your face upwards
towards God.... Let your eyes continue to be closed.... What are you
saying to God through your upturned face? Stay with that sentiment or
communication for a few moments.... Then become as fully aware as
possible of the position of your face.... of the sensations on your
face.... After a few moments ask yourself once again what you are
expressing to God through your upturned face and stay with that for a
X. The Touch of God
This is a devotional variant to the exercises on body sensations that
you will find helpful if you have reservations about calling the body
sensation exercises true prayer or contemplation. Repeat one of the
body sensation exercises. Take some time to experience as many and as
subtle sensations as you can in various parts of your body......
Now make the REFLECTION: Every sensation I feel, no matter how light
and subtle is the result of a bio-chemical reaction that could not
exist except for God's Almighty Power.... FEEL God's power at
work in the production of every single sensation.... Feel HIM
touching you in each of those sensations that HE is producing....
Feel the touch of God in different parts of your body: rough, smooth,
The experience of God need not be something sensational or out of the
ordinary, unless your devotion and Divine Love is developed. There
is, no doubt, an experience of God that is different from the
ordinary run of experiences that we are accustomed to: there is the
deep silence that I spoke of earlier, the glowing darkness, the
emptiness that brings fulfilment.
There are sudden, unaccountable flashes of Eternity or of the
infinite that comes to us when we least expect them, in the midst of
our work. One needs to do so little, really, to experience God. All
one needs to do is quieten oneself, become stilland become aware
of the feel of your hand. Beware of the sensations in your hand....
There you have God, living and working in you, touching you,
intensely near you.... Feel HIM.... Experience HIM. Most of the
devotees look upon an experience like this as far too pedestrian.
Surely there is more to the experience of God than just the simple
feel of the sensations of one's right hand. This needs a long
explanation to know the realityYet, you are assured that these
simple and humble exercises shall help you a lot to march towards
We forget all too easily that one of the big lessons of incarnations
is that God is found in the ordinary also. Do you wish to see God?
Look at the fact next to you. You want to hear him? Listen to the cry
of a baby, the loud laughter of a simple party, the wind rustling in
the trees. Or just quieten yourself, become aware of the sensations
in your body, sense HIS ALMIGHTY POWER at work in you and feel how
near He is to you.
(This is an exercise in pure awareness)
Choose one sense object for a basic object of attention. It is
suggested that you choose either the sensations in one part of your
body of your breathing or the sounds around you.
Focus your attention on this object, but do so in such a way that if
your attention shifts to something else you are immediately aware of
Let us suppose you have chosen for your basic object of attention
your breathing. Well, then, concentrate on your breathing.... It is
quite likely that after a while your attention will move to something
elsea thought, a sound, a feeling.... Now provided you are aware
of this shift of attention to something else, this shift is not to be
counted as a distraction. It is important, however, that you be aware
of the shift while the shift is taking place or immediately after it
has taken place. Count it a distraction only if you become aware of
the shift long after it has taken place.
Suppose you choose breathing as your basic object of attention. Then
your exercise will possibly go something like this:
"I am breathing.... I am breathing.... Now I am thinking....
thinking.... thinking.... Now I am listening to a sound....
listening.... listening.... Now I am irritated.... irritated. Now I
feel bored.... bored.... bored...."
In this exercise, the wandering of the mind is not considered a
distraction provided you are aware that your attention is shifting to
some other object.... Once you have become aware of this shift, stay
with the new object (thinking, listening, feeling....) for a while,
then return to the basic object of your attention (breathing)....
your skill in self-awareness may become so great that you will not
only become aware of the shift of your attention on to some object,
but even of the desire to shift, the impulse in you to shift on to
something else. As when you want to move your hand you will first
become conscious of the desire arising within you to move the hand,
your consent to this desire, your carrying out of this desire, the
very first stirring of your hand.... All of which activities are
performed in an infinitesimal fraction of a second and so we find it
impossible to distinguish one from the other until the silence and
stillness within us has become almost total and our awareness has
acquired razor edge sharpness. Self-awareness is a powerful means for
increasing in love of God and of neighbour. The self-awareness
heightens the love. The love, when it is genuine, fosters deeper self-
Do not go in search of abstruse means for developing your self-
awareness. Begin with humble things like the awareness of the feel of
your body or awareness of the things around you and then more on to
exercises like the ones which are suggested here and it won't be
long before you notice the fruits of peacefulness and love that
heightened self-awareness brings with it.
XII. Finding God In All Things
(This is a recapitulation of most of the previous exercises)
Do any of the awareness exercises that have preceded. Take your body
sensation, for instance, as the focus of your attention.... Observe
not only the sensations that yield themselves readily to your
awareness, the grosser sensations but also the subtler ones.... If
possible, do not give the sensations any names (burning, numbness,
pricking, itching, cold.... ). Just feel the sensations without
putting a label on to them....
Do the same with sounds.... Capture as many of them as possible....
Do not try to identify the source of the sounds. Listen to the sounds
without putting a label on to them.
As you proceed with this exercise you will notice a great
peacefulness coming upon you, a deep silence.... Now become aware,
briefly, of this peacefulness and silence......
Feel how good it is to be here now. To have nothing to do. To just
For those who are more devotionally inclined. Do the previous
exercise until you sense the peacefulness that comes with it....
Become aware, for a brief while, of that peacefulness and silence....
Now express yourself to God non-verbally. Imagine that you are dumb
and you can only communicate with your eyes and your breathing. Say
to the Lord, non-verbally, "Lord, it is good to be here with
you." Or, do not communicate with the Lord at all. Just rest in
Also, for the devotionally inclined, a rudimentary exercise in
finding God in all things.
Return to the world of the senses.... Become as keenly aware as
possible of the air you breathe.... of the sounds around you.... of
the sensations you feel in your body.... Sense God in the air, the
sounds, the sensations. Rest in this whole world of the senses. Rest
in God.... Surrender to this whole world of the senses (sounds,
tactile sensations, colours....) ......
...... Surrender to God ......
Individual's Uplift And World Welfare
The Divine Life ideal offers a panacea for all the social and
political ills of the modern world. The three fundamentals of Divine
LifeServe, Love, Giveare the pillars upon which an
individual can stand and uplift himself and the brotherhood of man
can be built. Thus the life in this world can become more fearless
and happy as well as purposeful.
If one tries to observe people, one may see there three types of
personsextroverts, introverts and ambiverts. Extroverts are
persons whose mind always goes outwards. They become slaves of their
senses. They are after money, pleasure and passion, position and
power, honour and acclaim. They are bound with the conditions and
circumstances and the circumference of life. Naturally, their pursuit
is of the outer and they forget the purpose and destination of human
Introverts are those persons who are reflective and contemplative and
long to study their inner realm, the inner universe hidden within.
Goethe called it as "Man's inner universe". They renounce
pleasure and position, keeping themselves aloofaway from acclaim
and honour. The charm of the world is such that one may find only a
few who are introverts. Ambivert is a person who does not cut himself
from the outer, but lives in the `inner' and makes the outer
a vehicle of the inner. He dedicates his life in selfless service of
humanity and places his life as an offering at the altar of the Great
Creator of the universe the Lord. Such a person realises the sanctity
of service, seeking nothing for himself, keeping ablaze the Divinity
within. They are the embodiments of humility and compassion and love
pure and simple at heart. But without becoming introvert it is not
possible for anyone to become ambivert. And such a person is called
sadhaka in its real perspective. In fact, man is an inborn sadhaka,
but fails to recognise the same due to misconceptions,
misunderstandings, arrogance and vanity.
"There is a common tendency to isolate spiritual principles from
politics, especially in these days of great intellectual power.
Dreamers and visionaries are often brushed aside as people with their
heads in the clouds", out of touch with stark realities. In so
many ways man has become wedded to the doctrine of self-salvation,
self-achievement and self-dependence that in the resultant excitement
of great material achievements he is in danger of forgetting the
eternal truths upon which this entire universe exists and its future
The bad habit of complaining against others, the conditions and
slackness in sincere attempts, and a lack of love for himself and
humanityand man becomes a prey of vanity which subsists on false
values. Man generally thinks falsely that he is unblemished and
superior to others and that others are blemished and inferior. The
inevitable consequence is that he gets a perverted vision and loses
the capacity for seeing and accepting Truth. If a man develops an
attitude of selfishness, he is liable to poison every good sight and
tie. But, if his attitude becomes one of helpfulness and
understanding, he shall beautify every tiefoes will turn into
friends, problems will have their solutions and man will have his
salvation. Unfortunately, man thinks his gain in the loss of others,
his progress in another's downfall and his happiness in
another's unhappiness. It is a tremendous mistake and a dangerous
trend born out of indiscrimination and selfishness.
The inspired visions of saints, mystics and leaders in the religious
education, social, economic and artistic scene of every country have
truly reflected the true aspirations of the people. From these
visions was born the practical reality of everything which is
recognised to be good in their way of life. And of course, everything
that is discordant or bad is the outward result of individual and
collective negative or evil thinking or beliefs.
One of the greatest saints of the present day Sri Swami Sivanandaji
Maharaj has placed before the world the `Divine Life' gospel
for the uplift of the individual and attainment of divinity in the
end which can be summed up in six succinct words, "Serve, Love.
Give, Purify, Meditate, Realise."
The physical frame of a man owes much to the world because it is made
of the same five elements of which this world is composed. One has,
therefore, to serve one and all without any distinction whatsoever
and without any expectation of return or reward so that he may clear
out his debt towards the world. One must properly understand that the
acquired wealth and power are not his own but are the `trust'
of the poor and weak. In the right use of things lies the key which
consists in the service of others. Service and sacrifice, hence, are
the acme of duty and dutifulness. When a duty is performed as a duty
for duty's sake, it becomes the source of salvation and not the
bondage of attachment. But he should not have the idea of doership.
Hence the service and performance of duty with a feeling of
responsibility and pure heart without expectations, which is prompted
by an inner sense of fellowship and unity, reduces attachment and
destroys the sense of doership and thus liberates the man.
Love is light, life, eternity. There is nothing else to achieve in
this world but love. In love consists the perfection of human life.
All impurities are rooted in the craving for the pleasure of the
senses, but love is not there. Love is the nature of the beloved and
the life of the lover. One must know that faith and Love go together,
because in the sense of unity resides Love and in the ending of
desire is the dawn of Love. Man has sincerely to understand that the
outer form of action warranted by a given situation generally makes
little difference to the Love and sympathy in one's inner
attitude. The man has to learn a great lesson that he has to love
even a sinner, while hating the sin. A man, who is an inborn sadhaka,
must learn the lesson of forgiveness even without asking for the same
from the person who has done something wrong. Thus only the
impurities of man's mind can be washed off. Of course, it
requires great moral strength to seek forgiveness for one's own
past wrong actions. Only one who is truly repentant and who has
realised that any satisfaction of the senses derived from evil
propensities is bound to reap a harvest of evil and sorrow.
Man should not be confounded with a seeming contradiction between
forgiveness and justice. Man's sense of justice is distorted, on
account of the limitations of his ego, his reactions are perverted.
Strictly speaking, in one sense, man can do justice only to himself
because he can understand his own mind and not of others. As a man
and as a sadhaka one should, therefore, refrain from judging others;
and also one should be forgiving others in so far one feels wronged
by others. When the mind is devoid of hate, a long step is taken by
man towards recovery. Love is the tremendous curative force for an
individual and for the society. So the great Master emphasised
greatly this love factor and preached in practiceLove all, hate
none. God is in all, do not hurt Him.
The urge to give happiness to others helps man to destroy his own
craving for pleasure. The desire for pleasure is the cause of
frustration; giving and sharing what you have and serving others with
compassion consumes the craving for pleasure. He warned an aspirant
that generosity motivated by attachment, and renunciation caused by
anger are fruitless. The truth is that the supreme giver is ours, but
all the things He gives are His. Therefore, man should learn the
lesson of giving and giving with happiness all the good that he
possesses and not think that by giving he will lose. In fact he will
gain something which is Divine and Eternal.
If the three mottos aboveServe, Love and Giveare properly
understood and practised by man in his day-to-day life, he will find
that his heart has become purified and he is living in a higher stage
and better society. In fact, in the renunciation of one's rights
and protection of rights of the others lies the secret of attainment.
His mind becomes purified and then alone he is in a position to
meditate and realise.
This is the gospel of Divine life which is the need of the hour, and
if we follow this, we shall be serving this world in a better way on
its upward march. Then alone can there be `Ramarajya'.
Let us march on this path with confidence and faith, with sincerity
and strength, with devotion and dedication. May God and Gurudev bless
Radiate to all thoughts of love and goodness. Never look into the
faults and defects of others. Always appreciate the good in others.
Overlook their weakness. Pray for the one who wishes to harm you.
Bear insult and injury. Be good and do good.