Frequently Asked Questions
Union of the soul with Spirit is the definition of Yoga and is its ultimate purpose and aim. Yoga physical exercises (Hatha Yoga or the Asanas) are a discipline to not only bring health and rejuvenation to the body but also to bring the body and mind under one’s control so one can sit for meditation.
There are many schools and approaches to meditation to help an individual to refine their consciousness. The supreme purpose of meditation is to unite the soul with Spirit.
The higher purpose of meditation techniques is to calm and still the mind by drawing the life-force or energy within, away from the senses, so in the resulting stillness we can experience the soul and its divine qualities. In the complete silence or stillness we experience that our consciousness is one with the consciousness of Spirit and from that awareness live in a state of supreme fulfillment and contentment. It is then in this highest state of consciousness we are able to act as the immortal soul in a world of duality and change and lovingly serve our brothers and sisters in need.
You will never be content until you realize your divine nature as the soul. Everything you have ever wanted can be found in the silence within yourself. Also see the benefits of meditation.
The first immediate gain from meditation is the sudden and simple observation that the mind is mischievous, intrusive even when we don’t want it to be, and gymnastic. This “monkey mind” has become our constant waking companion, wasteful of our energy and resistant to silent in-turning, focus and concentration. This first recognition, though perhaps startling, is the first important realization in seeking self-understanding, self-compassion and self-refinement.
At some point in our beginning meditations, however, one will catch enticing glimpses of the innate ability to experience one’s soul as peace. In meditation one begins to perceive that the peace one is feeling is not an external experience but an internal perception. As one goes deeper in meditation one begins to expand in peace realizing they are one with peace that not only permeates their mind and body but the entire cosmos. In oneness with peace one realizes they are one with all of creation.
This same experience of expansion can be felt with love and joy. We come to know that our true nature is peace, love and joy.
Ultimately we can experience that our consciousness is one with all of creation and the vibrationless void (bliss consciousness) beyond creation. This is the supreme fulfillment of uniting our soul with Spirit.
In meditation one can feel connected to the Cosmic Energy that structures the universe. Connected with this energy we can experience an increase of healing vibration in the body resulting in better health and rejuvenation.
On the mental level we can experience greater calmness and therefore enhanced concentration and focus, resulting in greater productivity and efficiency in our work and fulfillment of our desires.
Creativity blossoms in those who meditate and expresses itself in many different and beautiful ways in the arts and our dealing with others.
We become more tolerant and considerate of others experiencing deeper levels of compassion and humility.
The desire to merge in Spirit and unite with others through useful service opens in the heart.
If you would like to go deeper into meditation see my book, Meditation Where East and West Meet.
On the physical level meditation practice can lower the pulse and heart rate as well as the blood pressure. Meditation reduces cortisol and modulates the stress response. It enhances muscular relaxation thereby reducing tension in the body. The body becomes calm, soft and relaxed and this harmonious state can lead to a longer and more enjoyable life.
There is MRI evidence that mindfulness meditation reduces the size of the amygdala, that part of the brain which relays and governs the mind and body’s response to stress and trauma. This supports the use of meditation to dampen fear and reduce anxiety where they are unfounded in our every day lives.
In fact, meditation has been linked to enhanced telomerase activity, which may protect chromosomes from aging, may protect cells from the effects of cancer and its treatment, provide other health benefits.
Meditation releases endorphins, the joy-producing hormones. This, together with meditation’s healing effects on the thalamus, the brain’s pain gatekeeper, may also explain why meditation can be so helpful in reducing physical pain.
Meditation also appears to increase immunity and reduce inflammation in the body. Exciting and rigorous academic research is now looking at the effects of meditation at all levels of body function for its effect on quality and quantity of life.
In the beginning it best to practice for short periods of time so we can feel comfortable in our meditation endeavors. In our society where time is very precious we first need to decide to set aside a time for meditation each day even if it is for only a few minutes. That small and real commitment of time and effort is the first step in overcoming resistance and building spiritual discipline.
The first challenge everyone experiences in meditation is a restless wandering mind and this can be very daunting and disturbing. By starting slowly we can learn to calmly observe the mind, gradually tame our thoughts and create depth in our meditation practice. When we accomplish this and the mind begins to appreciate meditation then we can lengthen our meditation practice.
Once we develop the habit of meditation and begin to feel the peace within we will naturally and spontaneously want to extend the time in our practice.
Each act of meditation is progress if we are making a sincere and honest effort. Even if we feel nothing in meditation and we just experience a restless mind, each effort we make to try to control the mind through meditation techniques develops patience and concentration.
Each effort is laying a solid foundation (whether we are conscious of it or not) that will untimely lead to higher states of consciousness.
The secret of success in meditation (as well as anything else) is to continue to make the effort until it become an established habit.
First we need to remember the goal of meditation of uniting our soul with Spirit. This can never be experienced in the subconscious as we need to lift our mind to the superconscious state where all the divine qualities of the soul reside.
I have coined the word “sleepitation” and although we experience a degree of peace in the subconscious while sleeping it can never give us the fulfillment and contentment we so desire.
If we have a problem falling asleep in meditation against our will (and most people do and I personally struggled with this challenge) then we can try these suggestions:
• Make sure you are getting enough deep sleep each night then when you come to meditation you will be mentally alert.
• Keep your meditation area well ventilated with oxygen.
• If you begin to sleep in meditation start deep breathing and make sure your awareness is uplifted to the spiritual eye. When the eyes are lowered it evokes the subconscious state but when they are uplifted to the spiritual eye it evokes the superconscious mind or soul awareness.
Avoid the notion that you should not attempt meditation because of your challenge or stop it if you have already started. You can make common sense adjustments such as sitting on a chair or the edge of a bed if you cannot do the traditional lotus posture (which many people in the west may find difficult).
When sitting for meditation it is best to keep your back from touching the back of the chair. When you do this you will feel a greater sense of freedom as you experience an expansion of consciousness in meditation. If this posture is a problem you can lean against the back of the chair or place a pillow behind the small of your back. If the injury or challenge is very severe you can lie down on a couch or bed but be cautious that you do not give in to sleeping in meditation against your will.
Any common sense adjustment would be in order.