During meditation, one may lapse into brief periods of mental silence and wake up refreshed with no memory of what happened during that interval. Various sages have pointed out that this condition verges more towards unconsciousness instead of greater consciousness, and does not imply that the goal has been reached or is nearer. One has to go further by making the meditation more conscious, active and dynamic. For that to occur, the Higher Self must always remain awake during meditation even though the mental consciousness has become immobile. These are some passages collected from various sources on this topic.
The ordinary human mind interfaces with the phenomenal world through abstractions; with the aid of the senses, it builds a representation of the world in the human memory which it manipulates with the reasoning process, rejecting and accepting ideas based on the ego’s subjective inclinations. The nature of the thought process changes as the mind becomes electrified with progress in Yoga. The practice of mental silence heightens the vibratory pitch of the brain and the awakening of the Kundalini kindles subtle centers in the brain. The mind expands into the cosmic planes of the Mind and acquires new powers of consciousness. In such a mind, the memory of the past is purged, the reasoning process is replaced by spontaneous intuition, and the abstractions within are substituted by a more intimate knowledge acquired by direct contact of subject consciousness with object consciousness.
One of the techniques Sri Aurobindo and the Mother recommended for meditation was contemplating on Akasha or Space. This has been discussed in the section on Widening of consciousness. The source of this technique lies in the Yoga Upanishads. Out of the 108 Upanishads, there are 21 which are known as the Yoga Upanishads. These contain various methods of Dharana (i.e. one-pointed concentration). This post contains a brief overview of these techniques as given in the book Dharana Darshan by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga.
As discussed in the post Taming the Monkey Mind, the mind in contemplation can focus its awareness on many different objects – be they gross or subtle, within the body or without. In this post, we will cover one more method called Videha Dharana(fixing the awareness outside the body) which has been briefly mentioned in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and elaborated by Sri Anirvan in his book Inner Yoga. As we see below, what is noteworthy is that Sri Anirvan’s description of the transformation bears resemblance to some changes in body consciousness that were noted in exchanges between Sri Aurobindo and his disciples.
As anyone who practises meditation will attest, it is not easy to suspend the thought process. Even if thoughts regarding the external objects are switched off, our internal memory (Chitta) keeps feeding past events to our mind and this cycle does not die down easily. Any attempt to control or force the mind to stop always ends in failure. What is required are some supports on which the mind can rest before it glides off into effortless flight. These are observations on a few aids which might help in quieting the thought process.
Vyasa, in his commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, defines five planes of the mind (i.e. Chitta Bhumi)
- Kshipta: Disturbed and restless mind due to the predominance of Rajas (kineticism).
- Mudha: Dull and forgetful mind due to the predominance of Tamas(inertia).
- Vikshipta: Occasionally steady mind which gets easily distracted by impulses. In this state, neither Sattva (illumination), Rajas or Tamas is dominant.
- Ekagra: One-pointed concentration of thought is possible.
- Niruddha: Complete mastery over the thought process.
The following is an excerpt from an article by Nolini Kanta Gupta, a disciple of Sri Aurobindo, on the progressive stages of meditation as one leads the mind to the last stage of Niruddha or Complete Mastery described above:
This article is related to the previous article “Four Powers of Intuition“
The source of all Knowledge is the Superconscient; it is the reservoir of all creativity – the source of all inventions, paintings, musical compositions. In contrast, the source of all Ignorance is our limited consciousness which is only aware of its identity as the physical body in the physical world. Every problem we face is the result of a deformation of some underlying Truth and the Intuition required to solve a problem can be found by bridging this gap between Ignorance and Knowledge, by ascending and widening our consciousness so we can become aware of our larger Self. When we ascend into this wider consciousness, we also find ourselves crowned with the power of Intuition.