What do I gain from meditation

X: Madman, what do I gain from my meditation?

Madman: This reminds me of a story. Someone once asked Buddha, “You have meditated for so many years, what have you gained?” Buddha says, “Nothing.” Shocked, the man says, “Nothing! So why did you struggle for so many years to gain nothing?” Buddha answered, “I gained nothing, but I lost my anger, suffering, delusions, pain, worries, sickness…”

This is the true reality of meditation. You gain nothing. There is nothing to gain. What you need to gain is already within you. You were born with it; it is your true nature. In a mind contaminated by egocentrism, it is buried deep within. Only when this contamination is cleared, your own true, divine nature reveals itself to you. Meditation is the process of getting rid of the garbage under which your mind has buried itself, to reveal your true divine nature to yourself.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of meditation: concentration meditation and receptive meditation, where you listen to the universe within yourself. What are you practicing?

X: Receptive meditation.

Madman: Ah, that is good. You learn to ignore the ‘I’ faster and become a mirror of the divine universe.

X: When I meditate, why do I feel groggy or as if I am fainting? Why do I get a headache sometimes after I meditate? 

Madman: It’s very simple and clear if you understand how meditation works. 

X: Did I make a mistake?

Madman: From the symptoms one knows exactly what mistakes the person is making. Here are two points to consider:

1) The mind is like a piece of wood floating on an ocean of consciousness, the harder you push it down by force into the water, harder will the water push the block of wood out. That is why, when you use force to concentrate and push your mind hard into silence, it will push back with the same force. This may lead to headaches and in some cases, severe disorientation and even fainting. One has to ease the mind in gently. The mind is very sensitive equipment.
2) The headache may be because of coming out of meditation too quickly. After a long, deep session of meditation, bring the mind out slowly. If you get up suddenly or open your eyes suddenly, you may have symptoms ranging from a headache to bloodshot red, burning eyes.

In meditation, if one is disturbed suddenly by sharp sounds, it comes as a shock to the nervous system as one is jolted from a state of deep mental focus to reality.

In receptive meditation, any mental effort to concentrate is prohibited. The belief is that the natural state of a human being is purity and calmness. That is what we were born with. Our mind becomes hyperactive and confused as it accumulates garbage like destructive habits and stress. Thus, we are lead astray from our natural states. By being alert and passive and leaving the mind without activity, the mind will organically start throwing out this accumulated garbage and revert to its pure, natural state over time. This is, of course, only if there is no intervention by us in our deluded or ignorant states.

X: What about the mantra for meditation?

Madman: Don’t cling tightly to the mantra given by your guru when other thoughts come. Sit comfortably and lightly put your mind on the mantra. Thoughts will bombard you, but let them drift and go away, don’t engage with them. Fighting hard to keep thoughts away and to keep the mind on the mantra is a big mistake. Isn’t that what you are doing?

X: Yes. If I don’t focus on the mantra, other thoughts keep appearing. In fact, it’s a flood of thoughts. I can’t focus on the mantra beyond a few seconds without a new thought appearing.

Madman: In meditation, this is called the monkey mind. This is the mind that we live with daily. It is so agitated that it can’t stop and be still beyond a few seconds. It continues like this, one random thought after another, till we get tired and fall asleep out of exhaustion at night.

X: Sometimes, I realize I am using force to close my eyes to concentrate.

Madman: That is why you have headaches.

In our day to day life, we suppress all disturbing thoughts, mistakes and guilt. These thoughts never disappear. They get buried deep within our subconscious. When we keep ourselves busy, we suppress those disturbing thoughts. However, when we first start to sit in meditation, our massive unresolved backlog of stressful memories which were buried in the subconscious mind are pushed out for resolution into our conscious mind.

X:The things that surface are those that happened recently, like my dreams from last night or things that happened yesterday in office.

Madman: Good you noticed that it was recent memories first. The brain is like a sequential library, old memories are in the bottom shelf, new memories on top and they keep piling up in that order. As a beginner when you meditate, new memories that worry you are brought to your conscious mind first. These are stressful memories. Relax your mind, and let them flow one by one. Your body might draw your attention to a particular memory, saying: Look, this happened yesterday. You are then distracted by this thought and the memory remains unresolved. Now, I present it to you for resolution. What do we do now?

X: Do I resolve it by pondering about it?

Madman: You have to just ignore it. Let the memory drift away like a passing cloud and very gently bring your mind back to the mantra. In effect, what you have just told your mind is: It is ok; this issue is not important to me anymore. That stress dies instantly, as you have just told your body it’s no longer something to worry about. By letting go of that worrisome thought, you lighten your mind and body.

Initially, you will be bothered by several thoughts or worries about the day's activities and then the previous day’s and so on. As time goes by and you have more experience in meditation, memories recede to previous week, then previous month, previous years, childhood, and finally to previous lifetimes.

X:For sure, this process will take a very, very long time.

Madman: You are going deeper and deeper and cleaning out your entire memory bank of stressful thoughts by going further and further back in time. In this process, you are releasing your mind and body from deep-rooted stress buried in your body over a lifetime or several lifetimes. Yes, it takes a long time. One can’t predict how long. It depends on the person and how much Karma he has accumulated over this and previous lifetimes. However, the good news is, you are releasing these distressing thoughts from the mind, forgiving yourself and making place for newer and more divine thoughts within yourself, every day.

X:I don’t want to remember incidents that happened when I was young.

Madman: In meditation, never say that I want this or I don’t want this. You will only block yourself from progress. Surrender to the divine vibration of the mantra. Trust its capacity to do what is right. Never doubt it.

X: The deeper stuff is scary.

Madman: Who do you think brings these memories to you? There is a divine force unleashed by the mantras. It knows what has to be done. Trust in its vibrations and let it do what it needs to do. You say nothing; you decide nothing. The moment you decide anything, the egocentric ‘I’ is strengthened. The entire purpose of meditation is to get rid of the contamination of the egocentric ‘I’. You have to surrender to the divine force of the mantra, which is, in a way, is surrendering to the divine. Trust the divine to do what is best for you. After all, it is to reveal the divine that we meditate. So just trust divine intelligence and give yourself up to it without hesitation.

Why would you want to avoid some memories? Is it not the same as saving garbage within yourself? Would not letting go of those memories make you free from them forever? A momentary discomfort for permanent freedom!

X: Is it possible that just by imagination you can clean yourself?

Madman: Did we not agree we must not examine or indulge the thoughts that arise? You are supposed to let the thought drift away as soon as it surfaces, by bringing your mind back to the mantra. When your conscious mind lets the thought drift away, you are free of it forever. Consciously, you have told your sub-conscious mind that this does not matter anymore. The vibration of the mantra does what needs to be done with the thought. It does not have to concern you anymore. This is the beauty of the cleansing process of the mind.

These disturbing thoughts are called stresses. When there are too many disturbing thoughts buried in your subconscious,  the body becomes sick. The side effect of meditation is people reporting healthier blood pressure, better sleep, lesser sick days in a year, improved mood, better concentration, lesser depressive thoughts and a feeling of overall well-being.

Thoughts that did not bother you will not surface in meditation. So it’s not that you will remember every event in your life, only unresolved emotional issues will surface.

X: Ok.

Madman: Troubling thoughts are like files on your office desk that have not been processed. Just because you ignore them or forget them, they don’t go away. They sit there. It will sit there till you decide that this has to be resolved.

X: On the contrary, these thoughts trouble me and I don’t want the memory to resurface.

Madman: You have to understand, normal humans don’t have complete control of their minds. The mind controls them. Just because someone can concentrate for short periods of time on a task, does not mean he has control of his brain. His mind controls him with the habits he seeded into it, the prejudices he fed it, the beliefs he filled it with and the habits that he developed. These inputs to the brain have now set up a control system in his own mind to which he has become a slave. This is something one has to understand deeply.

As time goes by, we become victims of our own minds. People develop destructive habits and thought processes and finally, become the victims of their own habits. The older you get, the more rigid you become and harder it is to change.

If anyone claims he has complete control of his mind, just ask him to sit for 20 seconds without a single thought crossing his mind. He has to be honest about the experiment. It’s impossible for an average human being to keep the mind without stray thoughts even for a few seconds. That is why everyone complains in initial meditation sessions that their mind is never silent. A million thoughts bother them. This is the revelation that comes to them when they try meditation. They realize that they have absolutely no control over their own minds. That is why meditators call it the monkey mind. 

Don’t fear these destructive memories. It’s critical to get rid of them. As you get rid of these thoughts and what I call mental conditionings, which arise from troubled memories, your mind becomes suppler and clearer. You have a better vision and appreciation of situations in life as the mind is now uninfluenced by prejudice. And you regain control of your mind.

Madman: Just remember, the fact that thoughts run through your brain like wild horses without you being able to stop them, this proof that you don’t control your mind.

Now you have to understand a very subtle point. Suddenly, you begin to realize that there is a new you. It is the one that is watching what the brain is doing and realizes you have no control over it. There is another part of your own mind watching your own out-of-control brain. It’s like there are two people within you. One out of control, and the other watching it. This watcher is called the observer within you. It just watches and informs you with no emotion, just complete honesty.

It’s like when you commit good or bad actions in life. There is a very honest, independent observer evaluating your actions and telling you what is good and bad. We usually shut this voice down and get on with what we want to do or believe, to make life bearable.

It’s very important that you recognize this pure voice within that never lies to you. You should recognize these two ‘you’s within you.

The contaminated ‘you’ is the egocentric you, an artificial creation by you in response to this contaminated world. That pure voice within is the one you were born with and you slowly buried over time. This pure ‘you’ lies buried under this contaminated ‘you’.

The egocentric mind has a very deep-rooted fear of this pure, natural mind with which you were born, as it always exposes and always shows you your contaminated desires lusts, fears, insecurities, survival instincts, egocentric existence, greed for money, self-centred attitudes, etc. This creates stress and dissonance within us. So we quickly bury this pure mirror or conscience over time.

This pure mind of yours is hard to listen to, as it always exposes your egocentric self and holds up this image for you to see. Whereas the egocentric mind indulges you. 

This very pure self we are born with is possessed by everyone. This is the divine self god gave us. Depending on how deluded a person has become with his ego, the extent to which this pure self is hidden varies from person to person.

For some people, it’s completely buried and nearly impossible to reach. For some, it’s barely buried and easily reached with some light dusting.

When you still your mind and remove all junk thoughts in meditation, just believe in your mantra and completely surrender to it. Through continuous practice of meditation, you kill your egocentric self and bring this pure, genuine self out from its depths. 

X: Explain the role of the mantra?

Madman: The mantra for meditation is given by your trusted guru who knows you well. The guru knows with his divine vision, what vibration best resonates with you. Every mantra is pure vibration that will affect all your levels of consciousness. This mantra will take you deep within your inner-self. In reflective meditation, it’s recommended to go in slow, clearing the layers slowly. If you go in too fast with very hard concentration, Nature kicks back as previous upper layers have not been cleared. So as you go in deep suddenly, the upper layers of memories collapse on you. If on the other hand, you clean each layer slowly and sequentially, over time you will find that you can go in deeper faster without effort, although this may not seem so initially.

This is why in reflective meditation, we say when thoughts arise it’s a good sign. Because it means cleansing has started. This is contrary to popular belief where it is believed we must prevent thoughts from coming. This is incorrect. 

There is another reason why you should not prevent thoughts from coming. The moment you fight stray thoughts, by admission you are no more focusing on the mantra. Your mind is now involved in fighting thoughts.

What is more critical is to let thoughts float in and then let them float out by continuously bringing your mind back to the mantra slowly.

As your meditation develops, you will find that over time your mantra starts to become blurred, mispronounced and like a dull memory. This is a very beautiful stage. It means your mind is going in so deep, that even the mantra is getting lost. This is lovely. This is the first indication that soon you will experience long periods where you suddenly become aware you were never reciting the mantra, and you had no thoughts. This is called deep meditation, Samadhi or a transcendental state. This is the goal of reflective meditation. The longer you are in this state, the greater the chances that you will have visions of the cosmic universe.

There is also a state which is beyond visions as well. But this is not to be discussed at this level of discussions.

X: Will it take forever?

Madman: There is never a constant speed or consistent speed of cleaning; it’s never the same for anyone. Everyone has different Karmas and samskaras from this and previous lifetimes. Some people have been known to go into Samadhi in their very first attempt or within a few months. Some take several decades. The critical point to understand is: Every second you meditate is beneficial. Nothing is wasted; every second counts. For those who take longer, you have to remember someone who seems to have taken lesser time, may have spent previous lifetimes in Samadhi, when you were having fun. This universe is extremely fair and balanced; it does not play favorites. Everyone has the same deal, although it may not seem so to you, the gurus know it to be true.

One should also be aware that as you clean your memory banks of troubled thoughts and misconceptions, the rate of progress becomes rapider, although it may seem in the initial months and years that you seem to be progressing slowly.

The first glimpses of the goal of meditation are blurry or appear in flashes. It’s like the clouds slowly clearing. First you have brief, hazy glimpses, then as you go along, the visions become more frequent and sharper.

One has to just go on and on in his or her sadhana.

X:When the picture starts to become clearer, does it mean you have reached the final stage?

Madman: Far from it. It just means you have reached the first marker on a long journey. But on a positive note, the first marker is the hardest to reach. If you have reached here, the journey from now on will be much more rapid.

It’s at this stage that one enters a difficult phase of confusion. On one hand, you would have seen direct visions of the universe and gods perhaps. Yet you seem to have bad qualities lingering within you. This is extremely confusing. Sometimes you will be called a pretender, a fake. You will have the same doubts yourself. Be patient. The explanation is simple. Even though your karmas are clearing and purity is increasing, old habits are still hard to shake off. The mind adapts faster, the body and tissues with their old, ingrained habits take longer to readjust.

Be patient, continue your sadhana. Overtime these too will be overcome and there will be a new transformed you, internally and externally.

Reflective meditation attributes
•  Effortless, sustained attention.
•  A more universal awareness.
•  May shift into intuitive, insightful modes.
•  A clear, non-judgmental awareness arises.

Concentrative meditation
•  Effortful, sustained attention.
•  Deliberate and one-pointed.
•  May lead into deep absorptions.
•  Attention skills develop instead of awareness skills.

About Author: In search of the ultimate truth beyond concepts and notions, after 20 years in soulless corporate boardrooms.