Practical exercises as taught by Sirshree
1. Prayer on waking up in the morning
O God! My gratitude to You for showing me another new day!
You have given me another chance to sing your praise.
O God! Today this temple [body] opened at 6 o’clock [the time you wake up].
Let this temple be clean and pure throughout the day,
Grant me this blessing.
Let the bells that ring in this temple
help to increase the feeling of devotion in people.
Thank You for fulfilling my prayer.
2. Prayer before having food
When you sit to have food, close your eyes for two minutes and bring in front of your eyes all those who were responsible for the food to reach you, and thank them.
Thank the farmer who cultivated the crops.
Thank nature, which provided water and sunlight.
Thank the person who sold the grains.
Thank the servant or family member
who brought the grains to your house.
Thank the person who prepared the food.
In the end, thank God, who gave you hunger
so that you can satisfy it
and experience the joy of gratification.
3. Prayer before you sleep
O God! You made my day right and proper.
I could remain happy throughout the day.
Now let my night be excellent too.
For all the grace you have showered on us, Thank You!
You can try the following experiment right now as soon as you have finished reading this article. What you need to understand before the experiment is: You are using your body; you are not the body. You use a car, but you never say, “I am this car.” You always say, “This is my car.” With whatever word you use ‘my’, you cannot be that (my house, my eyes, etc.). To understand this in depth, try the experiment given below.
Look at one of your hands and ask yourself, “Am I this hand?” Answer this question with your feeling and not with your intellect. Give yourself a minute to feel it. Again, look at your hand and ask yourself, “Am I this hand?” What relation do you feel with your hand?… Am I this hand?… Look at it carefully.
The experience or feeling you get is: ‘It is my hand but I am not this hand.’ In the same way, repeat the same thing with every part of your body (feet, knees, face, etc.). Then what feeling do you get…“I am not this.”
The next question you should ask yourself is, “If this hand is cut, then will I become incomplete?” “No, I am still complete.” The feeling, the experience that is present within says, “I am complete.”
A person’s hands and legs may get amputated due to an accident, but still he says, “I am there.” He never says, “I am incomplete… earlier I was complete… now I am incomplete.” Because when the body is cut, you (the real you) don’t get cut. When you start experiencing this truth, then the root belief that ‘I am this body’ will break..
Seeker: Can we know our inner secrets with meditation?
Sirshree: Yes, meditation can help us know such things about ourselves which other people are unable to know about themselves. Meditation enhances our awareness, due to which our awareness increases for everything. We find ourselves more at peace and more stable.
Meditation brings a change in our thoughts. The chaos which exists in thoughts reduces to a great extent. A simplicity seeps in. Thinking power intensifies. Many things about the mind become clear to us, which otherwise we would have never known. But the bigger secret is ‘Who am I?’, and meditation helps in finding the answer to this question.
In Koan Meditation a person is given a koan (i.e. a puzzle or a question) and he is told to keep thinking about what can be the right answer to it. Some examples of koan are:
1) How can you clap with one hand?
2) An egg of a bird was kept inside a bottle. The mouth or opening of the bottle measures exactly the size of the egg. The egg hatched inside the bottle and the little bird was fed and raised inside the bottle. Gradually the bird began to grow. Then a time came when the bird had fully grown up and had become equal to the size of the bottle. Then, without breaking the bottle and without killing the bird, how can this bird be freed? This puzzle has to be solved.
3) How can the eye see itself without a mirror (instrument)? How can the Experience (of Being) experience the Experience (of Being)?
4) Which are the questions whose answer is right if you say ‘Yes’, but is right even if you say ‘No’?
5) Who is the ear of the ear? How can the tongue taste itself?
6) How was your face before you were conceived?
7) In dreams, why don’t we see ourselves at the place where we actually are?
8) If we have attained this birth due to our karma (deeds) in our previous births, then how did we get our first birth?
9) How can effortless effort be done?
10) What is definite in deep sleep?
- In this meditation, for becoming thoughtless, thoughts are destroyed by giving sequential numbers. Begin the meditation by watching every thought.
- Now start numbering every thought. As soon as one thought arises, number it in your mind as ‘one’. As the second thought arises, number it as ‘two.’ In this way, continue counting the thoughts.
- Sit quietly even when there are no thoughts. If this thought arises that, “At this time I don’t have any thought”, then number this thought also because, “I don’t have any thought” is also a thought.
- Don’t follow any thought. Just number it and leave it.
- With this meditation, the number of thoughts will reduce drastically. Sometimes even a thoughtless state will result. Practice this meditation regularly without expecting a given result.
Neutral meditation means you are neutral for every thought. If you are in sorrow, you are neutral; if you are in joy yet you are neutral. When you are practicing this meditation, then:
1) If you are sad, don’t say, “I am sad.” At such time, say, “Thoughts of sorrow are passing through my mind.”
2) If you are happy, yet you should remain neutral. At such time also, say, “Thoughts of happiness are passing through my mind.” At such time, don’t say, “I am happy” or “I am sad”, instead your thoughts should be neutral in both instances. That is why it has been called as ‘Neutral Meditation.’
You can practice this meditation any time of the day. When you get thoughts of boredom, make them neutral. When you get thoughts of hatred, then too look at them with a neutral feeling and say, “At this time, thoughts of boredom or thoughts of hatred are passing by.” Never say, “I am bored… angry… depressed… anxious… ” etc. This will help you to remain balanced and steady in every situation.
Giving attention is not meditation. Meditation is not concentration. Meditation is not contemplation. The word ‘meditation’ originated from spirituality. In India, spiritual seekers understood the deeper aspects of ‘meditation’. But today the word ‘meditation’ has become commonplace and is being used without its deeper meaning. It has therefore lost its importance. ‘Giving attention’ is being understood as ‘meditation’ by most people.
Meditation is an attribute. It is an attribute of the witness. The witness which is called differently by different people… God, Allah, Self, Self-awareness, Consciousness, etc. Meditation is that source which is present even in deep sleep – self-awareness – even in the state of unawareness.
Meditation simply means ‘doing nothing.’ For some people ‘doing nothing’ is very difficult. How can we do ‘nothing’? If someone asks, ‘What should I do to get sleep? What can be done to get sleep faster?’ Then he will be told , ‘You have to do nothing to get sleep. Just go and lie down. If you try to get sleep, it will run away. You can get sleep very easily without making any effort.’ In the same way, meditation is also a process in which there is no need to do anything. You simply have to be present.
The techniques which have been designed to kick start meditation or to improve concentration, have also been called ‘meditation’. This ‘meditation’ is a path to self-meditation. Self-Meditation means meditation of ‘Self’ which is the real aim of meditation. Just improving concentration is not the goal of meditation. The word ‘Self-Meditation’ is more appropriate than the word ‘meditation’. But due to the greater prevalence of the word ‘meditation’, people have forgotten the real meaning of meditation. Concentration is a ladder in the path of meditation. Concentration improves with meditation. But if someone is meditating with the aim of improving concentration, then he is taking only minimal benefit from meditation. Many a times it so happens that someone begins on the path of meditation to attain ‘Self–Realization’, but he becomes very happy with improved concentration having gotten some powers and strays away from his real goal.
Meditation has also been taken as a Yogic Practice. Meditation (awareness) is necessary in every field of life. No work can be done without meditation. Meditation is essential for all activities of life. All our senses affect our body. Whenever our senses are directed externally and are involved in external things, then all the energy of our mind gets exhausted in the external objects. Therefore it is necessary that we have some control over our senses, which is possible through meditation. Through meditation it is possible to utilize for ourself a part of the energy which is getting consumed in the external world. To shift the mind from external objects and stabilize it inside is the beginning of meditation.
The above article has been taken from ‘Meditation’, a book written by Sirshree. Although it was targeted primarily for beginners, it can be useful for everybody – even for those who practice meditation regularly. Just as you can’t learn swimming by just reading a book on swimming, similarly you can’t get the benefits of meditation, you don’t get absorbed in meditation just by reading a book on meditation. Practicing regularly with the right understanding is necessary to make progress.