So today, after the usual amount of time lying around in the warmth of my bed, half awake, half asleep, I went downstairs to do a light clean of the coffee table in the lounge, the glass top table where we sit to drink our morning coffee. Did a light clean of that with a spray and paper kitchen towel then also brushed the kitchen floor, yes, gave it a quick going over with the dustpan and brush. When that was done it was back upstairs for meditation, no actually, come to think of it, there was no cleaning this morning, there was just the straight walk from bedroom to shrine room in order to sit down and meditate. Shrine room is the little room we have at the end of the landing which would be a small bedroom except that for us it is not, it is our shrine room instead, the place where we go to meditate, contemplate, sitting before the shrine we have with Buddha and other religious objects placed upon it.
Today the sitting was better, more focused than the last couple of mornings when I have struggled to stay on the button, struggled to keep concentration tight enough so as not be continually losing from sight the object of meditation, struggling to place the object of meditation in mind’s eye. What is this eye? Well, for me as I have written many times before, the mind’s eye is located more or less in the centre of the forehead, between the eyebrows, or at least just above the point that would be between the eyebrows. Just have to keep coming back to this again and again. In terms of the body under the skin its location approximates to where the pineal gland is found; it is here for me where the mind of meditation is located. Physically I can feel it, I can feel the energy there. It is something like a bright light accumulation. From this point emanates the energy to fix upon the meditation object, whether the meditation object comes in the form of the face of guru, which is most powerful, whether the object comes in the form of paying attention to the breathing in and breathing out through the nostrils, or whether the object is something else such as a white disc like circle visualized in the centre of the forehead.
So if it is breathing which is the object of meditation, we are specifically concentrating on the area at the nostril tips, the heat of the breath, the speed of the breath in the form of inhalation and exhalation, the size of the breath in the sense of whether it is thick or thin when passing through the nostrils, being pulled down into the lungs, pushed back out again, whether it is only passing through one nostril and not two, other observations such as that. From this point, drilling down to the nostril tips, illuminating with the light of meditation this specific area, then once settled in this area making all the observations necessary to keep the object of meditation firmly fixed in mind, in focus, to the point where all other sensory phenomena, including thoughts, are excluded, is extremely difficult indeed, nevertheless going back to this point of focus again and again through the course of a meditation session is what we have to do.
All this is easier if the energy empowering the meditation is elevated, if the energy is brought up to the pineal gland location, also known as the place of the 3rd eye, or the mind’s eye. Once energy resides there it is more often than not just a question of will in regard to keeping focused on the chosen meditation object. In the meantime thoughts will come and go, thoughts will inevitably pass through the mind, but they should not be allowed to take one’s attention away from the meditation object, certainly not allowed to take attention away to the point where the meditation object is forgotten. If the energy which empowers the meditation is not elevated then the effort involved in trying to keep focus will quickly tire you out. This is because it feels like your place of focus is beneath rather than above, it feels that you are struggling to look up to find something rather than being in a position of looking down from above.
So, the meditation object could be the breathing where the illumination of the mind’s eye is applied to the nostrils, especially the nostril tips, or it could be something entirely different such as a white circle of energy placed in the middle of forehead, specifically on the point of pineal so that the sensation of energy around that area, within that area, becomes intensified. Or, from the same location, the object of meditation might be the face of the guru, that other world energy, the indescribable energy which is the face of the guru, in front of which, as the devotee, as the meditator, you perform or rather partake in the company of the guru, the presence of the guru, bathe in the light of the guru presence. For me, when I meditate, the guru is Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879 – 1950) who was was a jnani – man of knowledge – and for over 50 years sat as presence on Mount Arunachala in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, South India.
Sri Ramana Maharshi
This meditation can be an incredible meditation to do, specifically because of the power of the object, the strength of the object of meditation which you are focusing upon. The blessings from the object of meditation which come in the form of calm, peaceful concentration, allow you to keep this meditation object in clear focus, pacify the never ending stream of thoughts which continually threaten to intrude unless one is determined and vigilant so as to ensure they stay out of the way. The guru never changes, the guru is one and the same each and every time, the resplendent indestructible, unchanging, full of the power of presence. It is up to us to find the guru, to seek out the guru, to bring the guru into our lives. Fact of the matter is that the guru is always available and it is simply down to us as to whether we make this relationship as part of our lives or not.
So for quite some time now, well over a year in fact, pretty much since I stopped working at Wise Words, the small book distribution company I helped run and was co-director of, the time for my meditation has been in the morning, more or less straight after getting out of bed, getting out of the sack. If I can, this morning meditation session will last at least an hour, sometimes up to an hour and a half if I am fit for it. It is the best time of the day for me to do it, to sit, no doubt about that; to repeat, the best time to do it, the meditation, is first thing in the morning after getting out of bed, out of that sack.
When I say first thing, I don’t necessarily mean very early in the morning or anything like that because these days, if truth be told, I am not often getting up the right side of 8 am to sit on my meditation cushion. By the right side of 8 am I mean something like 5 to 8, if it is the wrong side, which to be honest these days it quite often is, then we are looking at 10 past 8, something like that. This is not because I am lazy, or have gotten lazy, but more to do with the fact that my current lifestyle, or I should say, our current lifestyle, because I include my wife Dawa Dolkar in this, is such that we do not often get to bed before it has gone beyond half past midnight, even coming up to 1 am. It is just the pattern we seem to have fallen into and at the moment there seems to be little chance of things changing to any great degree, although of course things do change eventually and evolve into something else. So, anyway, with anything between 7.5 to 8 hours sleep under my belt I then get up in the morning and do my meditation.
Think it is pretty much true to say that I do meditate every day, well certainly every day that we are here at home in London. It is rare for me to miss a morning meditation session and if some reason I do I will try to sit to meditate at some point later in the day. No, I think it is true to say that 9 times out of 10 in the course of a normal cycle of time whilst being here in London I do indeed get up and pretty much go straight to the little room at the other end of the landing to our bedroom in order to sit there and meditate. The routine is there, I don’t think there is any doubt about that. Guess the more relevant question is just of what quality the meditation sessions are within that routine, whether they are really up to scratch or just simply going through the motions?
It is not so good if the sitting is done just to get it done, with mind and body already half employed in running through the various other things that are to be done that day. If that is happening then without a doubt it is not so good, it is not at the point of it not being any good at all because at least the body is being trained to sit still, to maintain some semblance of meditation posture, even if the mind in fact is running all over the place. No, it is not completely worthless but of course it is definitely not great, not as good as it could be if you are sitting there only half engaged, going through the motions so to speak, in order to get it done, so as to simply say to yourself, “Yes, I have meditated today”.
No, within the context of the meditation practice, the meditation sitting, it is far more powerful and effective for it to be something that you really want to do, something you can’t wait for, something you love doing because you fully realise its importance in regard to giving a validity to your life, a validity which otherwise might be missing. So to do meditation regularly is one thing but to do it well, with full love, focus and vigour is quite another.