07 Dec 7: Secret of Good Meditation
What is the secret of good meditation? If you get a grip on this, you will always be able to maintain the quality of your meditation. Maintaining focus and concentration with mindfulness and alertness are key. But how does one do that?
Imagine driving a car. When you are driving on a highway, at times, you accelerate, and at times, you take your foot off the accelerator. You don’t brake to maintain the speed. You just take your foot off the accelerator and as your speed slows down, you accelerate a bit again. A bad driver uses brakes to slow down and an accelerator to speed up. But a good driver will put his foot on the accelerator to speed up and take it off to slow down, rather than braking, because braking always has a sense of abruptness to it. Similarly, the greatest secret of good meditation is knowing when to exert mentally versus when to relax. Relaxing is taking your foot off the gas pedal and exerting, pushing it.
When you feel lazy or are dozing off during your meditation, you need to refresh your concentration. This is done by exerting, which is an art your mind alone can teach. So, when you are feeling lazy, just sit and exert mentally i.e., pay attention to every moment. Not every thought, because one moment can have multiple thoughts, one after the other. Rather, pay attention to every single moment. Just maintain your focus on the object of your meditation. Soon, you will feel tired. That is what happens when you exert. If I clench my fist, how long can I keep it clenched? Very soon, I am going to get tired, and then, I have to relax. To maintain a firm grip, I have to maintain that balance. The same is with meditation. That balance comes with practice.
When you feel lazy, exert mentally. When you feel restless or tired from that exertion, slow down. Take your foot off the gas pedal and simply relax. This fine balance between relaxation and exertion, is at the heart of good meditation. Think of it like the jelly on your palm. If you move your palm slightly, the jelly is going to move a lot. Now, think of your mind as that jelly. You just have to maintain a gentle balance, and with that, your mind is going to stay in place with no thoughts.
All of you who complain that your mind goes in some other direction when you try and meditate, it is because when you exert too much, you become restless, and your mind becomes agitated. Think of your mind as a small child. You can’t always be firm with the child. On some days, you have to pat the child, sometimes you have to cajole, sometimes you have to pacify, and at other times you have to be firm. The same goes for your mind. Every single person’s mind is unique. You have to pay attention to what is the best method that works for you. When it comes to meditation, though, it is going to be within this framework of exertion and relaxation.
If you know when to exert and when to relax, you will champion the art of meditation. When you are tired from exerting, then relax. When you feel lazy, then exert. Relax- enjoy-exert-enjoy. Relax-enjoy-exert-enjoy and so on. This is the method of building your practice of meditation. This is how you go from five minutes to fifty minutes or more.
Personally, I have meditated for seventy-two hours without moving, sitting still like a rock, and maintaining lucidity of my concentration. But, I didn’t get there overnight. It took immense practice, many years, in fact, a lot of failures, aches and pains, frustrations, and a whole gamut of emotions. When you keep going with a happy disposition, when you keep progressing in a positive manner, you will grow, you will evolve, and you will enjoy the rewards that come from good meditation.
This article is part 7 of Learn to Meditate series, and is transcribed from the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWdO1by3hf0&feature=emb_title
Read Part 6: Elements of Good Posture in Meditation – Black Lotus , Part 8: Concentrative Meditation – Black Lotus