How to Meditate? Meditation is to conquer the inner enemies. Negative emotions like anger, hatred, fear, jealousy are these enemies. To conquer the enemies, you need friends. The nine friends of meditation are the subject of this article. Meditation is to experience the truth about yourself. Meditation is to overcome the sufferings of life. There are two aspects of meditation: body and the mind. In meditation, we need to prepare and observe both. As one goes deeper in understanding the truth of body and mind, it becomes clear that mental defilements are the main causes of sufferings. Just as there are nine obstacles in meditation which block our progress on the path, there are also nine friends. These are the nine faculties of mind, which help and support us.
In my earlier post I discussed about the twelve basics steps of meditation. Here, I will discuss about the nine friendly faculties of mind which helps us to improve our meditation.
1. Confidence on the Path (Shraddha)
To get success in meditation, you need faith on your path. Blind faith is a great enemy. Faith without proper understanding and discrimination is blind faith. But faith with experience, understanding and discrimination is the first friend of meditation. Select the path which is free from rituals and ceremonies. Select the path which is free from sect or person. Select the path which will directly help you to eliminate craving, aversion and ignorance without any dependence. Select the path where rewards of meditation are visible. Your every step must be leading to the right direction of higher feelings. Once you select the path, have faith on that.
2. The Capacity to Discriminate (Viveka)
It is capacity to distinguish the permanent from the impermanent. It is the capacity to distinguish real from the unreal. It is the capacity to distinguish self from the non-self. It is capacity to distinguish the path of sufferings from the path of peace.
3. The Spirit of Detachment (Vairagya)
Detachment means withdrawal – withdrawal from the clinging or craving for something, some concept or some person. There are three types of detachment. Physical detachment, mental detachment and detachment from craving for existence. Physical detachment is withdrawal from the material things. Mental detachment is withdrawal from thoughts, memories, ideas and beliefs. Craving for existence is considered as the roots of suffering. The more we are free from gross desires like name and fame, the more we will progress in our meditation.
4. The Peaceful State of Mind (Shama)
The purpose of meditation is to get the peaceful state of mind. Peaceful mind and meditation works in a circular way. When our mind is peaceful, free from gross desires, our meditation will be perfect. We need to establish peace and meditation in a positive feedback loop.
5. Right Effort (Prayatna)
Right effort is vital for meditation. Effort must be accompanied by proper understanding of how it going to help you on meditation. Like faith, it must not be blind. Do not waist your effort in wrong way. Right effort must cultivate wholesome qualities like tranquility, equanimity, peace, love, joy and goodwill.
6. Self-control (Dama)
Self-control requires us to simplify our life. It is minimizing our desires. We need to reduce our multi-directional desires. We need to create an environment where our practice can thrive. We may need to control our social networks. We need to optimize our interactions with others.
7. Awareness (Chetana)
Awareness is our greatest friend in meditation. Awareness is real only in the present moment. One cannot be aware of the past, one can only remember it. One cannot be aware of the future. One can only have the dreams for the future. Awareness of memories, thoughts, emotions, beliefs, ideas, opinions, ideals, actions and reactions is the tool for meditation.
8. Concentration (Samadhi)
The next mental faculty is concentration. It is the sustaining awareness of the reality from moment to moment, without any break. Right concentration must be free from all cravings and all aversions. Right concentration should generate peace and joy.
9. Wisdom (Prajna)
This is not the wisdom that is acquired by reading books, memorizing quotes, listening to discourses or by intellectual analysis. This wisdom must come from direct experience. Because only by this experiential wisdom one can get freedom. Faculty of wisdom brings experiences of our limitless nature. Compassion and love arises out of this wisdom.