Main Obstacles in the Practice of Meditation
Main Obstacles in the Practice of Meditation, By Sant Sevi Ji Maharaj
The Sant Mat Quote of the Day
The main hindrances to success in the practice of meditation are the following: procrastination and laziness, activity of thoughts during meditation (day dreaming, fanciful imagination, planning, the rising of any kinds of thoughts).
In addition, the lulling silence during meditation puts many practitioners to sleep. During meditation we should be vigilant and awake. Whatever is our point of focus, we should diligently keep our mind on that goal and we will not be bothered by sleep.
Unless we overcome the magnanimous challenge of procrastination and curb the ever-rising tide of mental activity during meditation, we cannot reach our Noble (arya) destination (state of unity with God). The un-vigilant practitioners usually become engrossed in thoughts or fall sleep. These formidable passes must be crossed for success.
What is the place to be reached? When we close our eyes and see darkness, this is the realm of ignorance. When the light dawns within you, then you understand that you reside in noble regions. In darkness resides ignorance and in light resides Knowledge. For example, as we are sitting in light right now we are able to see one another. However, if the electric power goes out ensuing total darkness we will not be able to see others. We will not even be aware of other people, coming and going. In this analogy light signifies knowledge and darkness signifies ignorance. In the same manner when we see darkness with our eyes closed, we are in the realm of death and re-birth [we are unaware of our true nature]. When we come out of the realm of darkness and enter into the realm of light, we will at the same time transcend the web of death. It is not possible that we can remain in darkness and be free from the net of birth and death. Having achieved inner light we can be liberated from the cycle of birth and death.
Saint Kabir says: “In each house (heart) the light shines, but we are blind [ignorant of that divine Light of knowledge] so we cannot see it. If we keep looking, we will find the Light and will destroy the shackles of death.”
Various forms of Dhyâna [Meditation Practices]
Without formless or subtle meditation, attainment of inner light is impossible. You must get yourself out of darkness. How will this happen? Prat-ya-hara—bringing the mind back—is followed by dha-rana, sustaining of focus for small periods. At first this will be for even a small time. Pratyanhara is the repeated practice of bringing the wandering mind to a focus. By repetitive practice of pratyahara we are able to focus for a little while on the object of meditation. This focusing for small periods is known as dharana.
When this Dharana continues for extended periods, then the state of dhyâna or complete focus occurs. However, mere focus on a physical form or name is not the only type of dhyâna. [Emptiness of mind is also dhyâna.]
As it is said in the Jnana Sankalni Tantra: “Dhyâna (focus on the physical forms) is not known as dhyâna; the empty mind is known (focus in empty mind) as dhyâna. By the grace of this [focus] meditation, one attains Moksha.”
Some one asked Saint Mira Bai: “What kind of practice did you do to control your mind—our mind wanders far away during meditation?” Mira replied: “Through my consciousness I traveled the skies and then my mind came under control and agreed to be still.”
Let us ponder on this subject. What vehicle did Mira Bai use to travel the skies? Was it an airplane, helicopter or a rocket? Mira Bai’s journey was not in the outer world but it was inside the inner realms. Her vehicles Divine Light (bindu), and Divine Sound.