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Home sjmtoc 13 Psychology, Meditation and Ayurveda

13.3 Meditation and Ayurveda

Rather than spending years analyzing mental qualities and habits, Yoga and Ayuveda give us practical instructions how to change them. The foremost of these methods is meditation. At first fifteen to sixty minutes daily are needed to maintain the equilibrium of the mind. This should be eliminated as soon as possible to achieve a twenty-four-hour frame of mind. Too many schools or teachers use meditation as a symptomatic pill. It is not sufficient to sit for thirty minutes watching your breath and then start yelling at your husband or wife an hour later. Some confusion exists between exercises and meditation.
In the personal example give above, it is apparent that even though I was meditation for many years, it was not sufficient to prevent mental imbalance and thus physical imbalance. In hindsight it is clear (as things usually are) that I had not transformed the exercises into an ever present reality, or true meditation.

Meditation is a state of being, actually it is Being. An exercise is something to archive something else-like peace. Meditation is beginningless and endless being. Another way to say this is that meditation, as used in ancient Vedic scriptures, means to be consciousness, or to identify yourself as the substratum of existence-God. Exercises are very good for calming the pranas and the mind, but they do not result directly in a re-indentification of the person to the ultimate-which is the true meaning of meditation. Concentrating on the breath, on an object, using a mantra, chanting, or prayer are all good methods to bring a peaceful quality of mind and to harmonize the pranas. Although these methods bring in a limited way, they do not bring lasting peace, which is defined as the unchanging reality. That which does not change is peace, because it is the substratum for everything else.

All exercises are helpful. However, the best medicine is a complete re-identification to the unchanging substratum. Most people acknowledge that exercises are needed at first to allow the mind to be able to use the most direct methods are given below. As my personal experience illustrates, sooner or later the direct methods must be used to recognize the fact that the substratum is always present (hence “substratum”) and to know that I am not different from that substratum. This is a twenty-four-hour phenomenon, it is not possible to get out of it, or not know it, as it is with an exercise or practice.

Exercise in this context are defined as putting yourself outside of the “current of thoughts” that we call the mind. There are two basic methods to do this. The first is to follow the breath in and out of the mouth or nose, all the time placing the attention on the two spaces between the inhalation and exhalation. The second is to perceive that the current of thoughts is actually a series of single thought appearing separately. Recognizing this, one can place the attention on the spaces between the thought. Either of these two methods will result in calming the mind, one by the prana and the other by using the mind.

It is usually difficult to do anything with the prana or the mind directly, therefore, it is generally better to focus on the spaces or gaps between breath or thoughts. I do not recommend pranayama (direct control of the prana)
Through breathing exercise) for people unless they live in a community or ashram that has a qualified teacher,. It is very easy to imbalance the pranas with pranayama, easier, in fact, than balance them. Pranayama should be done in a protected environment, with a teacher who can first give the right exercises according to your Ayurvedic constitution , and second watch your progress as the effects change your pranic balance. Finding a teacher qualified to fill these two requirements is rare in my experience.

If you like pranayama, and feel some karmic necessity to do it daily then, please, do it only for five to ten minutes per day. This will normally not be enough to imbalance the pranas in a lasting way. I have seen a number of people who have pranic imbalance from excessive meditation practices or inappropriate pranayama practices for their constitution.

A vegetarian diet is highly recommended if one practices meditation or pranayama. This is due to the opening of the nadis that result from the passage of an increased flow of prana in the meridians (nadis). The new level of prana passing releases toxins buried in the subtle levels of the body as well as the toxins lodged in the tissues. If these toxins are the accumulation of a meat diet, their release will cause problem for the practitioner on both a mental and physical level. The Ayurvedic pancha-karma purification methods should be done before storing, and again at three month intervals for one year if one starts pranayama from a meat-based diet. The mental rajias will then be better controlled and physical toxins purged.

The direct methods are also two. The first is to follow a thought back to its source; where does it come from? One does this by inquiring very intensely, “What is the source of this thought?” One can also intensely inquire into his or her ultimate nature by asking “Who am I” Both of these from of inquiry are facilitated by negating anything that is not the source of the thought or the “I.” This is a very old method given in the Upanishads. If this is intensely maintained, then one arrives at a thoughtless state. By staying in the state and, should any thought appear, inquiring to whom does this thought belong, then one comes close to knowing the substratum. There are in fact, many states of subtle mind after the thoughts cease, but it is the place from which to being. From here the “fourth” state can be experienced that is neither waking, dreaming, nor deep sleep. The full identification with the substratum is called “beyond the fourth” because there is no one to call it the fifth. All personal identification has ceased.

The other direct method is to simply “be.” This revolves around finding and recognizing the ever-present conscious sense that each of us, our “I-ness.” By holding onto constantly being aware of, honoring this “is-ness” or “I-ness,” the “fourth state” results. While this may look simple, it is considered to be the most difficult. The practice of exercises helps to develop the mental concentration needed for the utilization of the direct methods. Either of these two methods will result in identifying with Consciousness or the substratum.

The retraining of my mind (what I thought I was) to re-identify as Consciousness, the substratum, was instrumental in the recovery of my health. The lessened fiery emotion (rajas) or agitation in the mind, lessened fiery emotions (pitta), such as anger and self-negating (tamas) ones, such as anxiety (Vata) and stress. The preoccupation with my agitated mental state and over-stressed emotions prevented me from giving attention to my physical body. By emphasizing the pure quality (satva) of intelligence, I was able to eliminate troublesome emotion and give my full attention to getting well. All of this generated the necessary energy yo change situations.

While other methods are also good, they should be considered as supplements to meditation, not as substitutes for it. Whatever one does helps. The other methods can help prepare one to work more directly on the question of re-indentification with the substratum. The only exception to this is devotion or devotional prayer. However, my teacher (as well as others) points out that a devotional nature is very rare in the Western world due to our individualistic social conditioning. If devotion is your way, then love; it is enough because it is the substratum of the substratum.

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