Concentration and Meditation
It is often recommended, that before we begin to study the Holy Truth, we should bring the mind to the central line of the body, and one of the ways of doing it is to isolate the point in the centre of the chest: just below where the ribs meet. This is technically called “the lotus of the heart”. Sitting reasonably upright, touch that spot; then using the after-sensation of the touch, bring the mind to this point. Keep the attention there, bringing it back if it is distracted, until it becomes continuous.
Here is a text on this practice of samadhi meditation (Bhagavad Gita, VI.7):
“Of the one who has controlled the mind, he is the inner Self, always in samadhi.”
The Supreme Self called Paramatman, within each living being, is always in the peace and clarity of samadhi. By bringing the mind to this point, we control it and tranquillise it. Then Paramatman, the Supreme Self within, who is ever in samadhi, can be at least glimpsed. We shall find that there is something here which is always calm. It is described as being “like a serene ocean”. And, if we have by practice become familiar with it, then even at a time of crisis we can bring the mind back to the centre.
There is something here which is unmoving, immortal, in a different space from our ordinary space, but which can be touched. One method given by Dr Shastri is to take the heart centre as the point of concentration – there are others, but this is a main one, so we bring the mind onto it. Then it wanders off. We recall it and bring it back, it wanders off again, we bring it back and so on and on.
Long Waves and Short Waves
The same thing happens when we take up anything new which requires practice. Before we have got any definite results, we are not sure what we are trying for, and we find that the mind wanders off occasionally. Why am I doing this? Suppose I am not suited for this? Am I wasting my time? To master anything we have to come back from these distracting thoughts. An important point is, that we should try to come back quickly to what we are doing. Dr Shastri said that if we think in long waves, it takes some time for the mind to return to the point of concentration. And soon it is distracted again, and again takes some time to get back to the desired focus. It corresponds to someone working at a desk, who at every sound from the street gets up and looks out of the window. Instead, we must learn to think in short waves. Then though the mind may wander off, the period of distraction is short, and it comes back to the focus quickly. (When watching a favourite TV serial, people have no difficulty in waving away all interruptions.)
A serious aspirant will practise the heart meditation given above for twenty minutes each morning at the same time, and another twenty minutes in the evening. When he can to some extent hold the mind steady during the practice periods, he finds he can begin to control it at other times. When a little control is established by one practice, we can begin to think what we like, how long we like, instead of being at the mercy of whims, of sets of desires, irrelevancies and trivialities.
Even physically, if we have to wait an hour or two, and then go into decisive action, during the waiting period our body feels it must do something. We cannot just sit, fighting phantoms of what may happen, and what we will have to do to meet it in the various forms it may take. Generally we get nervous and the energy runs away to the hands, face and feet. We fiddle with something, smoke cigarettes perhaps, chatter if there is the chance, and shuffle our feet endlessly. But if we have learnt to bring the attention to the heart centre, the body will become calm and it won’t twitch. The inner landscape of the mind too quietens down.
When the time comes for it to go into vigorous action, then that action will be well co-ordinated and appropriate, not jerky and spasmodic, which it would be if we were nervous. One who is always twitching can’t do anything. Can a surgeon or a violinist have a twitch? It applies in everything where we need concentration. Worse than a physical twitch is a mental one. By practice, we can learn to control not only the physical, but the mental twitch also.