Only a serene mind can lead to pure consciousness. In the reality of pure consciousness, Ishta Devata can be visualized and realized. There is a trenchant connection between mind, consciousness and God, the first leading to the last. Mind is always associated with impurity, as it is directly connected to senses. Therefore, it becomes a necessity to understand the mind better. Shiva Sutra (I.17) says “vitarka ātmajñānam”. This means that unfaltering awareness is a precondition for acquiring knowledge of the Supreme Self. Spanda Karika (II.6) also underlines the importance of mind by saying “manifestation of the object of meditation in the meditator’s mind (dhyāyinaścetasi).” A normal mind perceives illusionary nature of time and space thereby causing dyads. Every object that exists in this universe is conceived by human mind influenced by senses. When one is able to transcend human mind that normally stands afflicted by senses, one is able to progress towards reality. Reality means devoid of dyads. Dyads arise because of illusionary effect caused by māyā. Pragmatism is the stage where one is able to realize that an object does not exist as such but only appears to exist as such. What prevails around us is the energy field, where objects constitute as materialness that are susceptible for destruction and decay over a period of time. The mind that is influenced by sensory perceptions is incapable of functioning without ego. As long as mind is affected by ego, one continues to be self-centred without any opportunity of realizing the Self. Ego is a major factor in maya that plays spoilsport in knowing the reality. Inner peace alone can lead to realisation of reality. When peace does not prevail, the mind is subjected to innumerable digressions caused by maya. One of the major factors that preclude considerable progress in meditation is lack of internal gratification. This happens due to the combined factors of ego and desire acting in tandem with senses afflicting the mind beyond reprehension. The adversities influence the mind making it deviate from the causative path of realising the eternal truth. Ramana Maharishi has said “the human mind alone that is the main obstacle to our realising the reality”. Minds of non-human beings are devoid of ego. It is only the human mind that is capable of realising the Brahman and it is again the same human mind that causes obstructions in realising the reality. The former is knowledge and latter is ignorance. Hence mind is considered as more powerful than nuclear energy that can be used for both creative and destructive purposes.
To counteract the effects of ego, desire and sensory afflictions, meditation is practiced. A proper meditation causes attentive awareness for a considerable duration, causing certain physiological changes thereby relaxing both mind and body. For an effective meditation, relaxation of mind and body is a prerequisite that can be attained only by persistent practice. Practice alone makes a man perfect. Relaxation of body is indicated by lowering of blood pressure (BP) and relaxation of mind is reflected by internal happiness leading to ability of better focusing. This relaxation is reflected in the face of practitioner. Two things that are required to reach this stage are comfortable posture and total body relaxation. There are bound to be stiffness in our body and the localisation of the stiffness largely depends upon one’s profession. Apart from mentally removing such blocks, stretching exercises are of great help which is popularly known as yoga. Yoga means union of individual self with the Supreme Self. Yoga makes the energy move inside the body without facing any blocks. In the initial stages, a practitioner may find it difficult to move to the transcendental stage, but this becomes possible by practice.
Quality of meditation is directly related to our breathing. When the breathing is fast or normal, it means mind continues to be associated with extraneous thoughts. The spiritual quest should be more powerful than extraneous thoughts that are associated with sensory precepts. The intense spiritual quest alone is capable of obviating extraneous thoughts. This is the reason for associating with bhajans and spiritual lectures. Breathing is the tool that connects self with the Self, by establishing a link between the brain and the body. Medulla is the lowest part of the brain. The level of oxygen in the blood is decided by medulla. When the level of oxygen is low, brain sends signals through the spinal cord, which in turn makes the diaphragm to descend thereby making the lungs expand by drawing external air. After pumping the available oxygen into the system, the inhaled air is exhaled with lesser oxygen and more carbon dioxide. When breath is slow and steady, adequate oxygen is supplied to the body and when the breath is erratic and shallow, lesser amount of oxygen is supplied making the breath faster. Abdominal breathing helps in relaxing both body and mind and chest breathing leads to build up of tension both in body and mind. Abdominal breathing has already been dealt with in previous postings. It would be ideal to make the breathing deeper with lesser time on inhalation and more time on exhalation. When attention is fixed on breathing, the practitioner automatically enters the state of ‘no-mind’. The ‘no-mind’ state is the entry point of pure consciousness where the brain continues to remain awake, but disengages itself from all other thought processes. It becomes receptive, dispassionate and devoid of all emotions. The first stage of meditation begins here.