meditation silence

beyond the basic meditation techniques 


“A seeker of silence am I, and what treasure I found in silences
that I may dispense with confidence
?” ―Kahlil Gibran

There is an internal space inside the body that links one
to his highest self/consciousness through
devotional practice of meditation silence.
In this way, an individual self finds a loving guidance of his own highest Self
in the process of continuous transformation.
Meditation silence expands consciousness in peace, awareness and love
and finally results in self-discovery or illumination.

instead of introduction

Meditation is not to be understood or learned mentally as a discipline.
It is an inner experience that can be transferred
to the individual in a mystical way by his soul or God,
or a God-realised spiritual Master.

Overall, the one who meditates in and through man is God.
Man has absolutely no ability neither to meditate nor interpret an experience.
Nevertheless, man can invoke meditation silence
through a variety of devotional concentrations.

Ideally, concentration slows down our mind and gross physical and
brings them into the deeper internal space of our subtle body,
linked to the highest consciousness
where the mind stops and actual meditation starts.

Meditation is not the highest consciousness but a state and a tool for self-discovery.
It is breathtaking, serene and as simple as a child.
“Meditation is energising and fulfilling silence.
Silence is an eloquent expression of inexpressible”.[Sri Chinmoy]

The best place to focus is heart center, Anahata, and
use the vehicle of the breath to enter that subtle inner space.
The depth of the heart itself has the power to silence the mind.
Silence speaks there and our physical remains a mute enjoyer. 

No matter whether your beloved Guruji is embodied or in spirit
or you accept your own soul/silence as a private Tutor,
your love, devotion, surrender and gratitude,
are the essence of your inner bonds.
Meditation with Guru Sri Chinmoy “Meditation-Silence”, 11th episode

“Silent meditation is the strongest force that can ever be seen, felt and executed.” 

Camera & Edit: Kedar Misani. Voice: Kanan Roberts. Copyright: © 2007-2013 Sri Chinmoy

concentration & meditation

With due respect to Patanjali the great, modern aspirants can start their spiritual practice straight away with Concentration and Meditation without necessarily passing through the first 6 initial steps of the classic Patanjali‘s system. People are now really different from our ancestors who lived thousands of years ago.
Having been said that meditation is done by God, we place more trust in the attitude of love, devotion and surrender to the highest consciousness, than in “meditation techniques”. 

The best attitude we may have for meditation is to be a child of our mother-soul, our inner self. If one day we get that kind of feeling, we will start seeking for her and learning about her and her ways.

“The soul is here for its own joy.”
“What you seek is seeking you.”
—Mevlana Rumi

Once we begin our attempts/invocations to experience silence through devotional concentration, sooner or later we will pick up some moments of silence. Our inner self and that silent void are one.

"There is a voice that doesn’t use words.
—Mevlana Rumi

Being our mother the soul is bound to grant us an individual type of meditation (not concentration exercise) that fits our nature, and spiritual level and needs.
Obviously, from now on we need to knock on the door of meditation silence regularly looking for a point where silence takes a lead. Some call such attempts concentration or Dharana, a type of inner exercise that leads to actual meditation or Dhyana.
Concentration slows down our gross physical and mind and brings us into the deeper space of our subtle body where the mind stops and actual meditation automatically starts. In essence, concentration is a devotional invocation to start the game. Concentration may take the form of systematic breathing, visualisation, devotional singing or chanting mantras and so forth.
Actual meditation takes place in our subtle body. However, our gross physical - body, energy, mind - can participate on the different levels, partially or fully. Silence speaks through our physical and mind most eloquently. After a while it doesn’t take long to concentrate… we just get into a kind of meditative mood and shift our awareness within just to find ourselves in the flow taking us beyond our body-consciousness.
Overall, to invoke meditation we need to make an effort. We call it concentration or entering meditation, namely focusing on breathing, following our breathe, diving within, visualising, chanting, etc. But this process cannot be called ‘meditation’. Actual meditation hasn’t started yet. At this stage our mind is still working and fishing for a magic touch, a mystical turn into silence or, you may say, we are waiting for a big wave to surf. When it comes, actual meditation starts and we enter the state of Maunam or silence/emptiness that takes us beyond Time and Space. Ideally, at this stage, the whole physical is consumed by the highest Self.

“Let silence take you to the core of life.”
—Mevlana Rumi

We may say, concentration is similar to driving our car to the airport. Meditation is a domestic or international flight conducted by God, the Inner Pilot. The meditation-flight doesn’t start or to be controlled at our sweet will. We just pay for the ticket and let the inner Pilot take us on the journey.

“Every morning I deeply enjoy watching
The waves of my heart’s silence-sea.”
—Sri Chinmoy (45,144.)*

* Here and below are the quotes from “Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees” by Sri Chinmoy

place to practice: heart center 

  • When concentrating on the physical plane, it is best to focus in the middle of the chest. Only there, in the silent space of the chest, meditation is effortless, flowing and productive. You may recognise this space by the warm, welcoming and uplifting feeling. That is the point that links us to our highest self. Internally, it is the best is to use the intuition of our child’s heart.

    "Only from the heart can you touch the sky."
    —Mevlana Rumi

    There is no way one can touch silence with his mind. Only the purity of a child’s heart is allowed. We may feel our heart as a warm childlike oneness-peace with everyone and everything around: people, animals, nature… no matter how beautiful or ugly, sweet or bitter, powerful or weak they are. Now, whenever we sit for meditation, we bring forward our childlike qualities of sweetness, openness, spontaneity and simplicity.

    “Beyond speech and mind
    Into the river of ever-effulgent Light my heart dives.
    Today thousands of doors, closed for millennia,
    Are opened wide.” 
    —Sri Chinmoy, 1975

    The depth of the heart has the power to silence the mind. The deeper we go into the inner space of the heart-chakra the more efficient meditation is. In fact, we are not even able to stop our own thoughts, it is an inner peace that stops all the thinking.
    Thinking does not bring inner reality, imagination does. So does mantra. So do soulfulness, will power and gratitude. As breathing is a vehicle to take us inward, imagination, willpower, soulfulness and gratitude are the magnets that bring forward the inner reality. When thinking stops meditation starts.

    “The God of the mind
    Has a very short life.”  
    —Sri Chinmoy

    In the beginning the attempts to enter meditation via Ajna chakra (the Third eye) or Sahashrara (the Crown center) are not easy because of their close proximity to the active mind that is difficult to quiet or ignore. In proper concentration, we do not fight the mind but rather focus on our breathing in the heart center and let the mind listen and surrender to the higher power of our inner Self. When this happens actual meditation starts and the mind remain a silent observer and enjoyer. After years of practicing we find the entrance to our deeper space always open without the differences between the chakras. 
    We cannot possess silence. Nevertheless, we can play with silence, surrender to silence and grow into silence. Let silence possess us and take care of our lives.

Meditations with Sri Chinmoy, Part 3. 
Camera & Edit: Mridanga Spencer. Copyright  ©  1995 Sri Chinmoy

entering thought-free space

It is easy to speak basics: breathing, posture, concentration etc… impossible to articulate how does meditation start and proceed. “... words feel very shy to encroach upon the emptiness of silence.“ —Vimala Thakar.
There’s no uniform way for entering meditation silence; each of us has to find his own approach based on his inner bonds. Meditation may even start spontaneously.
The easiest way to pick up meditation is to sit next to a spiritual Master or an adept when he is in his silence and feel the flow within ourselves. Meditation is “contagious”, we are bound to get it and learn the feeling.
If a spiritual Master is not around or no more in physical, we can still get his full guidance in meditation by entering his consciousness via focusing on his photo or brining to the fore our sweet memories of being close to him… and in many other ways.
Otherwise, the principle of concentration is as simple as that:
still the body and mind
stick to the breath
follow your inbreathes to dive beyond within
embrace meditation silence
Let the heart play with the Divine. Let the mind not interfere.

“Enter space, supportless, eternal, still”.
—Vigyan Bhairav Tantra

I’m hesitant to offer the concentration exercises given the tendency to take them as a rigid protocol to follow and expect the “effect”. The thing is, no matter which type of concentration we use, each time we enter meditation via a sudden mysterious process wherein our small effort meets God’s Grace. So, it is better to remain spontaneous, soulful and intuitive instead of being dogmatically persistent with techniques and thus, locking ourselves in the mind.
That said, here are a few ways to approach concentration. Maybe, there are as many ways as there are practitioners.
Every time you sit for meditation take some time to enter your child’s heart / child’s mood first.
Take 5-7 deep breathes before you start. It will relax you and attach you to your own breathing. Breath is a vehicle to reach inner silence, stick to the breath. If thoughts invade do not fight them; stay with the breath, and replace mind fluctuations with watching your inhales and exhales.

Now, to reach stillness slow down your breathing comfortably without force or strain. After a while, focus on your inhalations only. You may feel like you are expanding and entering a void where the physical is vanishing and inner space is getting real. 
When inside the inner space, still follow your breathe > replace your thinking by imagining something vast and divine like a sky or an ocean > enter the image, identify yourself with it > catch silence > drink silence and light.
When your body is completely relaxed, and still, you may feel a flow inside. Close your eyes and visualise the vast sky/ocean/horizon/dawn deep within. Avoid any mind activities: assumptions, comments, analysis… only spontaneous, happy, balanced diving within.
Project or shift your awareness deep inside using your aspiration and imagination > catch stillness or let stillness catch you. Dip your mind into the silent void of your heart. Swim in the ocean of peace. Get rid of any conceptuality. Return yourself to the silent void if losing it.

"I am not this hair,
I am not this skin,
I am the soul that lives within." 
—Mevlana Rumi

In concentration, we have to feel that the power of concentration is coming from the heart chakra. Our concentration goes from gross to more and more subtle states. If we are not happy with our concentration attempt then, we can go deep again until we catch silence. Otherwise, we can even start our attempts afresh if find that is reasonable.
It might be easier to begin with guided meditation in a group where we can get inspiration and support from others. After a while we may be more comfortable and efficient with individual practice and visit collective meditation just occasionally.

"Close your eyes, fall in love, stay there."
—Mevlana Rumi

actual meditation

There is something called actual meditation. When the wave of meditation comes and takes us beyond our physical consciousness we give ourselves into the hands of the divine letting it bathe us in the ocean of peace and light. “In the presence of a gust of wind She [Anandamayi Ma] would feel an impulse to let Her body fly away like a rag of thin cloth."
When deep in a silent void we go beyond the mind and senses to touch the Global, to play with unearthly skies, firmaments, islands, valleys and cities floating in Infinity’s Light… or a space endlessly growing inside. These freeze all fluctuations of the mind enabling one-pointed inner clarity. It makes the body weightless, motionless, breathless and self-forgetful. Body-consciousness disappears. At this point, we feel we ARE the space or a flow of love which is our ALL. No small outer personality left. Time stops. We are swimming in infinite peace. It leads to the Contemplation of the One, the Supreme Being that removes all qualities.

“The Face of Truth Is covered with a brilliant golden orb [lid]. 
Remove it, O Sun (Effulgent Being). 
So that I, the worshiper of Truth, 
May behold Thee.” 
—Isa-Upanishad, XV

We can’t say that God is the object of our knowledge. God is our highest Self and is self-revealing to His devotees. This is totally His Game. So, the spiritually correct attitude is to practice meditation for the sake of God, The Supreme Being. The other reason of getting some earthly benefits will pale in insignificance as we are getting closer to our inner self.
In actual meditation, we do not control or change anything… and are not able to. It is “meditation” that takes care of our sublime state and all our needs, spiritual and earthly. Surrendering to the highest consciousness is one of the cornerstones of a spiritual journey. Such effort is not of a mental origin or just determination.

“Only during meditation 
can we make the conscious effort of surrendering ourselves.“ 
—Sri Chinmoy, 1974

In surrendering, we consciously embrace our inner part and when duality is removed the body is one with silence-sky.

“In the infinite home of my eye, 
The Eye of the Universe resides. 
The joys and sorrows of each individual are being played in my heart. 
I am lifeless, again I am immortal. 
In the finite I am the friend of all. 
I know, I am the lord of my life, of my senses, of my realisation.” 
—Sri Chinmoy, 1972

Meditation silence means becoming, we are growing into our own experience. Then, we bring that inner fragrance into our day; it mystically fills our words and actions. This is how we spread inner light and how the world changes. It is called a manifestation of the divine and as unexplainable as silence itself.

“My meditations calmly expect 
The unfoldment of God’s Peace.” 
 —Sri Chinmoy (13,158.)

“Let’s the beauty of what you love be what you do.” 
—Mevlana Rumi
Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa Samadhi

Sri Chinmoy explains and demonstrates the high meditation states of Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Queens, New York, August 1993.

Camera & Edit: Kedar Misani; Copyright: © 1993-2013 Sri Chinmoy

other internal practices

Pranayama and soulful devotional singing themselves could be the other forms of silent meditation. One of the most ancient spiritual texts of India, the Upanishads speaks extensively on breathing saying,

“He who breathes in with your breathing in is your Self. 
He who breathes out with your breathing out is your Self” 
—Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.4.1. 
“Breath is Brahman” 
—Chandogya Upanishad 4.10.3.

When we technically mastered Alternative breathing or Anuloma Viloma – a type of the classical pranayama – it goes absolutely smooth, tensionless and purely meditative rather than perfect mechanically. At this time we can worship our breath as the Supreme Being itself and surrender to it. At that stage the whole process shifts under our soul’s regulation; we may discover internal breathing, grow into our breath free from body consciousness and thus, become the breath.

“There is only one way for the heart 
To learn from the soul. 
It is through the breath of silence.” 
—Sri Chinmoy (9,636.)

What important is to be cautious about forceful retention of breath. The first impulse to exhale must be followed. To avoid health issues, to learn Pranayama technically under the guidance of a hatha yoga expert is highly advised. Otherwise, if we do not go that far, further moderate exercising of the classical types of Pranayama for a few minutes a day is greatly supportive to silent meditation and emotional stability. “If we can practise this exercise…, the benefits will be unimaginable.” —Sri Chinmoy.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. 
Conscious breathing is my anchor.” 
―Thích Nhat Hanh

The above notes on pranayama are equally applicable to devotional singing as well. When singing a song becomes soulful and ecstatic, we may grow in the sound of the song free from body awareness in the same way we identify ourselves with our breath in pranayama. Of course, for that, we have to be absolutely in love with the song and know it by heart.

Devotional songs composed by God-realised souls are also highest mantras. They work inside us magically establishing the divine patterns of our actions and words and making us expressions of the Divine.

“Silence is the nest and music is the bird.” 
—Sri Chinmoy, 1974

We may also find that a soulful practice of devotional songs itself is one of the best types of pranayama and excellent for developing steady psychic concentration.
Practicing devotional songs or learning classical pranayama belong to a type of concentration. When our singing and pranayama become internal and meditative then, deep within we grow into a sound of the song or the flow of the breath free from our body-consciousness. At this time, these two are nothing short of silent meditation itself.

“When the movement of the breath is internal, 
One will see the world in himself” 
—Paramhansa Nityananda

merging in the Divine

“Yoga is a rapid and concentrated evolution of being, which can take effect in one life-time, while unassisted natural evolution would take many centuries or many births.” —Sri Aurobindo

Meditation gives the inner and outer experience that tailors our human nature to be fit for illumination. We are running our Sadhana for life getting into actual meditation from time to time to receive Light of aspiration, guidance, transformation and encouragement. Thus, we proceed for years, keeping high the banner of our love and devotion for the Guru/Divine who is working for our liberation unseen from behind the veils of consciousnessIf we want to know more about the stages of our spiritual journey, the passage from the Anandamayi Ma teachings can be very illuminating (Published in “Mother As Revealed To Me”). Again, sometimes we might be granted a sublime experience from the much higher consciousness, the gift to treasure lifetime as a polar star of the journey. And if the Divine wants It can take the aspirant to the the highest level of realisation unconditionally.

“I like the old kind of spirituality — 
That means long hours of meditation every day.” 
—Sri Chinmoy (46,494.)

To reach the second stage of lengthy self-absorption in meditation, attaining purity of the mind and vital is essential. When it comes to purity here is absolutely the best definition of the term, “Purity is something that makes us feel that God can never be separated from our true existence.” To name some of impurities Guru Sri Chinmoy adds, “Doubt, insincerity, fear, anxiety, jealousy, attachment and all other imperfections or limitations are impurities. But the worst impurity is doubt or a negative way of thinking…” Of course, we cannot purify ourselves by following archaic religious or cultural dogmas, observing taboos and suppressing our nature. Silence, pranayama, devotional singing and unconditional service are the most efficient in this long and steady process of attaining purity.
Finally, many activities and disciplines we had been practicing throughout our life may cease leaving space for devotional silence. What Sri Aurobindo said about this phase of our Sadhana might be not the only type of experience however, his account is incredibly inspiring and reads as follows: 

“After a time one feels the consciousness rising upward and in the end it rises beyond the lid which has so long kept it tied in the body and finds a centre above the head where it is liberated into the Infinite. There it begins to come into contact with the universal Self, the Divine Peace, Light, Power, Knowledge, Bliss, to enter into that and become that, to feel the descent of these things into the nature.”

With one’s own inner divinity Is a supreme secret 
For a seeker to multiply 
His inner progress and outer success.” 
—Sri Chinmoy (8,994.)

Now, the inner life and the outer earthly life are not the two separate or disconnected existences. The outer life comes from within and unfolds of what had already been created inside. Meditation silence is the bridge between the inner world and its earthly unfoldment. When we meditate the Light descends into our physical as a direct Will of God or our inner being. Then, we spontaneously express this Will in actions without any mental confusion or worries. Then, an awareness comes up that it is the inner self who is a real doer behind the veil. We just observe life or remain detached instruments of our illumined inner self.

“Who will lead this world to sanity? 
Not the human life, But the divine Breath.” 
—Sri Chinmoy (28,422.)

“Respond to every call that excites your spirit.” 
—Mevlana Rumi

Meditation allows the soul to take over our life. That results in peace and fullness beyond positive or negative earthly outcomes. Whatever message meditation brings from the soul it is pure satisfaction despite our likes or dislikes. In silence Time and Karma stop, we feel unchallenged peace.

“A mystic silence guides my outer life.” 
—Sri Chinmoy (42,339.)

Of course, at any stage of the journey meditation silence is to guide us in our life-mission, inner or outer. Thus, with our life mission/service we pay all our bills to mother-earth that houses us, all humans, on our way to illumination.

“A veil behind the heart, a lid over the mind divide us from the Divine. 
Love and devotion rend the veil, 
In the quietude of the mind the lid thins and vanishes.” 
—Sri Aurobindo

following our aspiration

Spirituality is not a mental road, we enjoy our progress itself without any plans or expectations. We meditate following our aspiration and love without an idea of pursuing liberation and illumination.
In the spiritual journey there are no uniform rules for all; each of us has to find his own rules. Spiritual life is not an austerity, but definitely a discipline. We are not looking at others, we listen from within to balance between outer life and inner practice. On the personal level, we build up a temporary harmony, without any self-criticism or suppression of our nature and then… move forward in continuous self-transcendence.

“When man promises a higher future to God, 
God removes the lower present from man.” 
—Sri Chinmoy (11,054.)

Of course, being members of a spiritual community, we have to follow the overall regulations approved by the Master.
Meditation silence is never judgmental to us. It is a loving and transforming internal space above moral, religious, cultural or any other boundaries. Even amid daily activities we may feel a welcoming inner space beckoning us.

“In the world of silence, 
No outer law is welcome.” 
—Sri Chinmoy (25,358.)

Unfortunately, in the beginning, the mind is not ready to remain steadily empty and practice silence alone. It should be occupied by some inspirational readings, disciplines, performances, etc. So, nothing is wrong with following a path of a disciplinary practice without being too attached to the ideas… where your heart belongs. This helps to keep our aspirations and beliefs high enabling us to have moments of silence. Yet, as soon as silence is near we need devotional silence most… sometimes even without any other disciplines. This is not a call to abandon your spiritual community or other practices you like but just a note that nothing stands even close to silence.

“I have been a seeker and I still am, 
But I stopped asking the books and the stars. 
I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.” 
—Mevlana Rumi

In the beginning, our aspiration is greatly mixed with ego. Let us do our inner work and serve others unconditionally out of our inner oneness with them. Such service is an extension of our meditation. Meditation silence and service will be crushing ego and releasing our inner self.
“Till man destroys “self” he is no true friend of God.”

“Be melting snow. 
Wash yourself of yourself.”

“When you lose all sense of self, 
The bonds of a thousand chains will vanish.” 
—Mevlana Rumi

Such transformation of human nature in meditation and service is unavoidable. In silence we are losing our ego, our old nature is dying and a new divine entity is taking birth. It is an unavoidable part of the evolutional journey, difficult to bear but always liberating. It helps if we go with purity, simplicity, stamina and balance.

“It takes enormous courage 
To have implicit faith In God’s outer operations.” 
—Sri Chinmoy (00,816.)

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.” 
—Mevlana Rumi

We can’t underestimate importance of being happy for spiritual practices. The happier we are the easier we find to meditate. Whereas, being unhappy and having loaded mind we locking ourselves in the mind.

“Ignorance-night and wisdom-light 
With equal happiness course through me.” 
—Sri Chinmoy (5,579.)

While on the way, we do not waste our time on mental theories, criticism, oppressing our nature, comparing/competing with others, involving ourselves in self-imposed responsibilities, etc. All these do not add to our progress-joy. Make it simple, soulful and give silence priority.

“Love silence. 
Silence has the capacity to give you everything.” 
—Sri Chinmoy (37,218.)

Smooth life, ‘vital immobility’, emotional balance, outer dynamism including regular athletics are very helpful for our substantial inner progress. In daily life, we will make no mistakes just by being normal and following common sense and our conscience.

“Try to have a smooth sail across your life-river 
— Never force yourself”. 
—Sri Chinmoy (27,534.)

No need to mimic or follow each other; everyone’s path is unique. We get inspiration and encouragement from others and follow our inner self.

“It’s your road and yours alone. 
Others may walk it with you,
But no one can walk it for you”.
 —Mevlana Rumi

Regulated physical exercises release the flow of vital energy and make our internal concentration easy and sharp. Also, Ayurvedic food, Hatha Yoga are supportive. Some natural herbs/foods – wheatgrass juice, turmeric, ginger, kefir, fermented food and other things – do have beneficial properties for health. BUT, let us not make spirituality cheap by thinking that some external means can replace meditation*. The real shortcut is a devotional silence indeed.
Of course, no one denies that vegetarian food, a proper lifestyle and other small things are undoubtedly good for our inner progress. We love all these but they are microscopically small to be of the same importance as meditation silence.

“Meditation is the only ticket 
 That the higher worlds accept from us.” 
—Sri Chinmoy (29,133.)

We respect life. It is evolving from darkness to light. We do not look down on anyone or anything and love the world the way we love our inner self.

– Earth is God’s Body. 
Be extremely careful and soulful.” 
—Sri Chinmoy (26,316.)

* Note, substances cause our consciousness distortion but they can never replace aspiration or speed up our mind-illumination or heart-liberation. Some psychedelics may damage our subtle body irreversibly. Also, prolonged use of substances like Ayahuasca may suppress the natural body synthesis of vitally important biochemicals. So, substance approach in spirituality is a sheer misconception. Err is human.

parting words

“In the spiritual life,
The golden days are always ahead
And not behind.”
—Sri Chinmoy (18,280.)

”Stay in the spiritual life
Let it cook you.”
—Mevlana Rumi
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