Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Meditation and neutral feelings

I have managed to continue with the meditation class I started a year ago. The attendance is erratic, some people come, some get angry, some get bored. But even if just one person comes I have decided to keep the class going because I realise that the real concept of meditation is not yet promoted in India and as a yoga teacher how could I too fall into that trap of "popular" yoga?

 A lot of "dramatic" meditation is being done by certain yoga schools, almost designed into slapstick comedies.  That works for the boss gurus and attracts the sort of crowd that looks for spiritual entertainment -- which is the latest sort of fun really.

My transcripts are mostly by the Bihar School of yoga, from their innumeraable books.My favorite is of course of Swami Satyananandaji's meditations  --  very healing and soothing, with a sweet and accessible language and structure.

Of course there is no yoga without meditation.

Often, I see people unable to manage their poses despite great physical prowess. I also see people dropping  out of practice altogether. Even sickness and injuries that comes as natural part of life -- it surprises me practitioners allow that and do not see it is because they are resolutely resisting meditation.

Though asanas and pranayama (another aspect of yoga largely neglected all over) do a lot towards sickness control, ultimately, if there is no meditation there is no yoga and not its benefits either, it seems.

 And no, it  is not me saying it. Its the way yoga is defined, because meditation is the higher limb of yoga. It may be you are unfit for it, but to think that meditation is sissy or boring, that is strange. Or to have loud hypnotic sessions where people are lolling about or passed out from psychotropic stuff?

When people who have tried these weird meditation come to my class,they get angry -- because I think the possibility of training the mind is too much for them. They have become so tuned to becoming its puppet.

Here is a quote from Thich Nath Hanh in his little amazing booklet " How to sit" which explains this strange aspect  of meditation which is pure, austere.

"When you sit and breathe with mindful awareness, you become aware of al then emotions that have been  ignored while you were busy doing things. You become aware of not just your sorrows and joys but also your neutral feelings. A neutral feeling is an awareness that is neither pleasant nor painful,such  as an awareness of a part of your body that is not in pain. With awareness, we can transform a neutral feeling into a pleasant feeling.

When you have a toothache, the feeling is very unpleasant. When you don't have a toothache, you usually have a neutral feeling: you are not aware of your toothache. When you are mindful of not having a toothache, then what was a netural feeling becomes a feeling of peace and joy. You are so happy not have a toothache in this moment. By transforming neutral feelings into joyful ones, we nourish our happiness."

That is obviously a tough act. Most people want explosive experiences. And keep on cultivating them. And of course, there are gurus who cater precisely to these sentiments.

So it is natural that meditation is not for everyone.

1 comment:

Sugandha said...

Hi Shamim,
I am trying to do meditation since a long time but unable to concentrate for more than 5 minutes. Even if it goes longer there are multiple drifting moments.
I have been looking for a meditation cd which can keep me in the meditative state for at least half an hour. I have also searched google but all which are available are by foreigners and none by any trusted Indian Yoga teacher. Can you help me in getting such tape.