In the last post in this series, I wrote about restlessness as the foremost hurdle in meditating correctly. As mentioned earlier there are four common flaws that prevent the meditator from experiencing oneness, that exalted state, the natural state of mind. When a meditator stays on course, ceaselessly working on crossing the four hurdles, such an aspirant experiences profound sensations and bliss before long.
In this post, I shall elaborate on the second most common defect, that is, laziness.
Laziness is of two types. Let us say that you have decided to meditate for forty-five minutes every day. That is your resolution.
- The first type of laziness makes you want to skip your meditation. Your conscious mind gives you excuses because it does not enjoy being tamed, it wants to go its own way dragging you along. Purity of discipline is paramount in executing any plan, be it in meditation or in any other routine.
The only way to encounter laziness of this type is to not listen to your mind. If you sit down and vow to meditate no matter what, your conscious mind will eventually understand that you are the master and that you have no plans of showing any lax when it comes to following your discipline.
- My present focus in this post is laziness of the second type, the one you encounter while meditating.
The usual scenario
Why is it difficult to meditate?
As you sit down to meditate, motionless, still in one posture, you enjoy the first few minutes. In the beginning, you are aware of the restless nature of the conscious mind. You work hard to channelize your thoughts, you exert yourself to concentrate, you try to stay focused. When you do that, you experience restlessness. Such restlessness may prompt you to move, engage in thoughts, or abandon your session of meditation altogether.
How to overcome restlessness in your meditation session?
The best way to overcome such restlessness is to relax at that point in time. However, as you relax, you run the risk of losing the sharpness of the mind. Such relaxation, if unchecked, can lead to inertness, inattentiveness, a kind of stupor, a torpid condition.
What are the signs of meditation going wrong during the session?
If you are meditating by way of mental visualization for example, the image you were holding mentally dims and disappears. If you are meditating on a mantra, it becomes a superficial exercise of just mentally chanting the mantra and you are no longer hearing it, let alone becoming one with it. Basically, your meditation has lost its lucidity, its crispness, and has now become a mostly useless activity of sitting still and nothing beyond that.
Laziness: A grave flaw
Attentiveness plays the most critical role in meditating correctly. Laziness during meditation can take the form of dullness of the mind or lethargy of the body. If your mind experiences dullness, a kind of sluggishness, the clarity of the object of meditation, the sensitivity of superconsciousness disappears. It is as good as sleeping.
A session of meditation that is not clear, crisp and lucid, will not allow you to experience even a relaxed state of mind, much less its natural one. You will get up from your meditation feeling quasi relaxed, the type you feel after a nap.
Can you meditate incorrectly?
Often an overwhelming number of meditators mistake that type of relaxation for good meditation. Good meditation is not about putting your conscious mind to sleep, it is clearing it. Such clearing does bring about bliss and sublime sensations with it. If a meditator gets into the habit of meditating incorrectly without actively working towards clearing the hurdles, it becomes extremely hard to get rid of such flaws later.
A lazy mind: A slow elephant
A lazy mind in various meditational, yogic, and tantric texts has been compared to the slow-moving elephant. The hurdle of dullness is as big as the elephant. It is for this reason that many meditational deities are shown holding a goad, the weapon used to prod an elephant. The esoteric meaning behind such an implement is to always hold the goad of attentiveness, of alertness to control the elephant of sluggishness.
Just like an animal as large as an elephant, when in front of you, can obstruct your vision, the laziness of the mind obstructs your path of bliss and oneness. Think of a hibernating python or one in a deep slumber. It is still, calm, but that does not equate to meditation. If you are lazy or restless, however still you may be sitting, such meditation is a misnomer. Meditation full of flaws is like a pot full of holes; just like the latter is unable to carry water, the former is unable to retain bliss.
What happens when you meditate too much?
Imagine you are trying to move a big rock. You keep exerting force. It is only natural that after a while you are going to feel exhausted and tired. Exactly the same thing happens with your mind. When you try hard to concentrate and keep doing so even when you feel restless, there comes a time when you feel worn out and tired. If you are not attentive at that time, you will slip into stupor right at that very moment.
How do you know when your meditation is compromised?
Such dullness compromises your meditation. In every likelihood, presuming you are physically fit, you will experience restlessness before feeling lazy.
If you can take corrective measures at the time of restlessness, it becomes relatively easy to overcome laziness. Like an athlete who gradually builds his endurance, his physical strength, and raises his pain barrier, a good meditator steadily increases the duration of his meditation.
At the peak of my own meditation practice, I used to meditate for a straight stretch of ten hours. It was not easy, but the results were astounding. I did not start sitting ten hours from day one, in fact, I started with multiple one hour sessions, gradually increasing them over the course of many years. Correct posture is absolutely critical; I will cover that when we get to Physical Transformation.
How do you meditate correctly?
The moment you realize you are losing the sharpness of your meditation, you need to exert, mentally that is. You must refresh your concentration. You need to remind yourself to focus. If your laziness has resulted from physical exhaustion, you need to stop meditating. That can happen if your meditation sessions are longer than ninety minutes each. Under such circumstances, you should take a break, get up and inhale some fresh air, drink a little bit of water, walk around a bit, and then resume your session.
However, if you experience dullness as a result of mental exhaustion, something that can happen even after the first twenty minutes of your meditation, you must not get up and break your session. You should try to visualize a bright light, or focus on the enchanting aspects of your object of meditation while staying in the same posture.
You need to refresh and energize yourself without getting up or ending your meditation. Focus your attention elsewhere for the time being but do not engage in thoughts that are not linked to your meditation. As you feel fresh again, relax, and resume your original meditation. You need not exert any longer. Because if you keep exerting, you will feel restless.
Art of Meditation
Learn the Yogic Technique of overcoming obstacles in meditation in just 4 days (and master it over a lifetime)
Balance is crucial. When you feel restless, relax; and, when you feel lazy, exert, concentrate. These two repeatedly interfere with your meditation. They almost take turns. You need attentiveness to identify and correct both flaws. Hold short but lucid sessions and gradually increase the duration.
Learn to meditate flawlessly for short periods first. When you learn to harness laziness and check restlessness, you are very close to experiencing cosmic oneness. You may want to read about the yoga of self-transformation here. I never said it was easy. Remember that analogy of rope-walking?