Once we find relative ease in the physical body, we can turn our attention to the mind and the necessary practice of meditation. Vedic teaching tells us that the mind is the cause of both bondage and liberation. An undisciplined mind runs incessantly from one object of the world to another. The one-pointed mind gained through meditation, however, can withdraw from the external world, go beyond mental yammering, and experience the potential of its essential nature. It is through the sadhana of meditation that we learn to be the seer of our thoughts without getting involved in our thoughts, whatever they may be.
It is best to undertake Sadhana in the form of a daily meditation practice without expecting immediate results. Yoga philosophy teaches that sustained effort over time is what is important. To assist in developing self-discipline, try to sit for meditation at the same time, in the same place, every day (before sunrise if possible). All that is necessary for posture is steadiness, allowing the head, neck and spine to be in gentle straight alignment. After we have found stillness in the body, we observe the flow of the breath. At this point we learn to focus internally and allow the breath to become smooth, deep and uninterrupted. Beginners need not start with more than just a few minutes of meditation a day; practicing for long periods with discomfort is counter-productive.
There are many forms of meditation. Japa, the silent recitation of a mantra with full concentration, is considered the most effective way to purify and nourish the mind. The word mantra in Sanskrit means “that which protects the mind.” The Sanskrit mantras use the technology of sacred sound to breakdown samskaras, old habitual thought patterns, and build new sattvic ones. Some mantras are simple, some quite complex. Exact pronunciation is not required, purity of intent is. Find a mantra that suits you from a feeling standpoint and allow your mind to follow it as you practice your daily meditation. With persistent effort, we can get a glimpse of the peace of the realm beyond the mind. The Sages tell us to begin wherever we are; there is no chance that we will not progress.
Next time we will consider Sadhana in the form of selfless action.