“Meditation for the Love of it” by Sally Kempton (Swami Durganada)

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No meditation technique is an end in itself, and no matter which meditation technique you use, it will eventually dissolve when your meditation deepens.

 


“The mind is truly fickle. But … it frequents places familiar to it. Therefore, show it often the delight of the experience of the Self.”

—JNANESHWAR 

 


I like to think of meditation techniques as portals, entry points into the spaciousness that underlies the mind. The inner spaciousness is always there, with its clarity, its love, and its innate goodness.

 


It is like the sky that suddenly “appears” over our heads when we step out of the kitchen door and glance upward after a harried morning.

 

 

The Self, like the sky, is ever-present yet hidden by the ceiling and walls of our minds.

 

 

In approaching the Self, it helps to have a doorway you can comfortably walk through, rather than having to break through the wall of thoughts separating us from your inner space.

 

As you practice, the technique becomes a vehicle that connects you to that subtle inner current of meditation, the natural in-drawing power.

 


Then the natural meditation current itself carries the outgoing awareness inside, into a state of meditation. (It’s also been my experience, as we’ll see in chapter 8, that techniques can arise spontaneously from the awakened meditation energy—the shakti.)

 

Different techniques often seem to lead us into different corners of the inner kingdom.

 

The Self is one, yet it has endless facets. So working with a technique that’s new to you can land you in a part of the inner country you may not have known before.

 

There’s another reason why it is good to experiment with techniques: the technique you use currently may be keeping you stuck. That happens to a lot of people.

 

They learn one practice and they stick with it, even if it doesn’t help them go deeper.

 

After a while, they feel that they aren’t good meditators, or that meditation is just too hard or too boring, or even that it comes so easily they miss a feeling of growth.

 

Often their only problem is that they are trying to enter meditation through the wrong doorway or through a door that once opened easily but is now stiff on its hinges.


The best reason to do any meditation practice is that you like it.


This piece of advice comes from no less an authority than Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a text of meditation so fundamental that every yogic tradition in India makes it the basis for meditation practice.


After listing a string of practices for focusing the mind, Patanjali ends his chapter on concentration by saying, “Concentrate wherever the mind finds satisfaction.”

 

How do you know that the mind is finding satisfaction in a technique?


First, you should enjoy it.

 

You should be able to relax within it.


It should give you a feeling of peace.


Once you’ve become familiar with it, the practice should feel natural.


If you have to work too hard at the practice, it may be a sign that it is the wrong technique for you.


Most people who have meditated for a while have a sense of which modes of meditation feel most natural.

 

Some people have a visual bent and respond well to practices that work with visualizations.


Others are more kinesthetic and attuned to sensations of energy.


There are auditory people, whose inner world opens in response to sound, or people whose practice is kindled by an insight or a feeling.


Once you become aware of how you respond to different perceptual modes, you can often adjust the way you do a practice so that it works for you.


Someone who has a hard time visualizing can bring a visual form to life inside her if she imagines its presence as energy or an inner sensation, rather than trying to see it as a visual image.


A highly visual person might get bored with mantra repetition when he focuses on sounding the syllables, but may feel the mantra’s impact if he visualizes the letters on his inner screen.

 

One person might experience great love when he repeats a mantra with a devotional feeling, while his friend’s meditation only takes off once she lets go of all props and meditates on pure Awareness.

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