Meditation – Yogananda
How to Meditate
Sit on a straight chair or cross legged on a firm surface — cover that with a woolen blanket and/or a silk cloth. This insulates your seat from the downward pull of subtle earth currents.
Instructions on Posture for Effective Meditation
One of the first requisites for meditation is correct posture. The spine should be erect. When the devotee is seeking to direct his mind and life force upward through the cerebrospinal axis to the centers of higher consciousness in the brain, he should avoid stricture or pinching of the spinal nerves caused by improper posture.
Sit on a Straight Armless Chair
Those persons whose legs are supple may prefer to meditate sitting cross-legged on a cushion on the floor, or on a firm bed.
However, Paramahansa Yogananda recommended the following meditation pose:
Sit on a straight armless chair with the feet resting flat on the floor. Hold spine erect, abdomen in, chest out, shoulders back, chin parallel to the ground. The hands, with palms upturned, should rest on the legs at the juncture of the thighs and the abdominal region to prevent the body from bending forward.
If the correct posture has been assumed, the body will be stable yet relaxed, so that it is easily possible to remain completely still, without moving a muscle.
Now, close your eyes and gently lift your gaze upward, without straining, to the point between the eyebrows — the seat of concentration, and of the spiritual eye of divine perception.
A Beginner’s Meditation
As taught by Paramahansa Yogananda
After you are established in the meditation posture, begin by offering God a prayer from your heart, expressing your devotion and asking His blessings on your meditation.
2) Tense and Relax to Remove All Stress
Inhale, tensing the whole body and clenching the fists.
Relax all the body parts at once and, as you do so, expel the breath through the mouth in a double exhalation, “huh, huh.”
Repeat this practice three to six times.
Then forget the breath. Let it flow in and out naturally, of its own accord, as in ordinary breathing.
3) Focus Attention at the Spiritual Eye
With the eyelids half closed (or completely closed, if this is more comfortable to you), look upward, focusing the gaze and the attention as though looking out through a point between the eyebrows. (A person deep in concentration often “knits” his brows at this spot.) Do not cross the eyes or strain them; the upward gaze comes naturally when one is relaxed and calmly concentrated.
Focus attention at the spiritual eye. What is important is fixing the whole attention at the point between the eyebrows. This is the Christ Consciousness center, the seat of the single eye spoken of by Jesus: “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22).
When the purpose of meditation is fulfilled, the devotee finds his consciousness automatically concentrated at the spiritual eye, and he experiences, according to his inner spiritual capacity, a state of joyous divine union with Spirit.
It takes deep concentration and calmness to behold the spiritual eye: a golden halo surrounding a circle of blue, in the center of which palpitates a five-pointed white star. Those who do see the spiritual eye should strive to penetrate it by deeper concentration and by devoted prayer to God. The depth of calmness and concentration necessary for this are naturally developed through steady practice of concentration and meditation.
4) Pray Deeply to God in the Language of Your Own Heart
Whether you see the light of the spiritual eye or not, however, you should continue to concentrate at the Christ Consciousness center between the eyebrows, praying deeply to God and His great saints. In the language of your heart invoke Their presence and Their blessings.
A good practice is to take an affirmation or a prayer and spiritualize it with your own devotional yearning.
Silently chant and pray to God, keeping the attention at the point between the eyebrows, until you feel God’s response as calm, deep peace and inner joy.
5) Daily Practice as Preparation for the Deeper Techniques
The meditation period should last at least thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes at night. The longer you sit, enjoying the state of meditative calm, the faster you will progress spiritually. Carry into your daily activities the calmness you feel in meditation; that calmness will help you to bring harmony and happiness into every department of your life.
Through daily practice of the foregoing instructions, you can prepare yourself for the practice of the deeper techniques of concentration and meditation that are given in the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons. These scientific techniques will enable you to dive ever more deeply in the great ocean of God’s presence. We all exist at this very moment in that ocean of Spirit; but only by steadfast, devoted, scientific meditation may we consciously perceive that we are individualized soul waves on the vast ocean of God’s bliss.
More resources for going deep in meditation.
From the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda:
“As a first step toward entering the kingdom of God, the devotee should sit still in the correct meditation posture, with erect spine, and tense and relax the body — for by relaxation the consciousness is released from the muscles.
“The yogi begins with proper deep breathing, inhaling and tensing the whole body, exhaling and relaxing, several times. With each exhalation all muscular tension and motion should be cast away, until a state of bodily stillness is attained.
“Then, by concentration techniques, restless motion is removed from the mind. In perfect stillness of body and mind, the yogi enjoys the ineffable peace of the presence of the soul.
“In the body, life is templed; in the mind, light is templed; in the soul, peace is templed. The deeper one goes into the soul the more that peace is felt; that is superconsciousness.
“When by deeper meditation the devotee expands that awareness of peace and feels his consciousness spreading with it over the universe, that all beings and all creation are swallowed up in that peace, then he is entering into Cosmic Consciousness. He feels that peace everywhere — in the flowers, in every human being, in the atmosphere. He beholds the earth and all worlds floating like bubbles in that ocean of peace.”
— Paramahansa Yogananda