Meditation is a state that arises when following a meditation technique.
Meditation technques usually consit of one sitting still in one of the classicial recommended meditation postures.
One ensures the body is still and comfortable.
One’s awareness is withdrawn from the senses and is directed inwards.
One begins to steady the mind by the process of Kaya Sthairyam.
Then one gives a ‘concentration method’ to the mind such as ‘watching the breath’ or repeating a mantra mentally to oneself.
In time and with practice, one’s awareness begins to merge with the object of meditation. If one is fortunate the state of emditation and bliss arises which is beyond the ability of words to describe.
The first stage is Pratyahara or detachment from the senses.
The second stage is Dharana or Steadying the mind
The third stage is Dhyana or mindless attention… merging.
The fourth stage which arises of it’s own accord is Samadhi or Bliss which defies description
Kaya sthairyam is the first practice of the dharana series. It is a basic practice of concentration on the steadiness of the body.
One practices this when one sits for meditation practice.
Firstly one sits in a comfortable meditation posture, gives time to settle down, and then gradually brings one’s awareness to each part of the body in rotation.
Steadiness of the body for Meditation
In Sanskrit, kaya means “body” and sthairyam means “steadiness”.
Because of the interrelation between the body and the mind, when the body becomes steady and still, the mind follows suit. Therefore, each of the dharana practices should begin with five to ten minutes of kaya sthairyam. Only when the body is absolutely steady and immobile should the actual dharana practice begin.
To see where Dharana fits in with Meditation, please see What is meditation ?
It is also important to note that the mind remains one-pointed only while the body is still. As soon as any part of the body moves, the mind also moves. Thus the concentration is broken and once broken is cannot be attained again in the same sitting.
During pratyahara practices you can move the body, you can shift your position you can even get up and then come back to the practice.
In dharana, however, you cannot move a finger, you cannot bat an eyelid, you cannot even swallow without breaking the concentration.
Before attempting the following practices of dharana, kaya sthairyam must first be mastered. You should be able to sit without moving any part of the body for a least half an hour, then you will be ready to begin the practices of dharana. In the initial stage of kaya sthairyam, the body should be comfortable and relaxed in the meditation posture.
Later on, as immobility develops, the physical awareness will gradually subside as awareness of stillness increases. At this time the concentration is shifted from the body to the natural breath, so that the mind still has a focus. Ultimately, the awareness of the breath will also subside so that there is only awareness. At that time you are ready to begin dharana.
Second stage of Dharana; the object of Meditation
The object of Meditation can be the breath, or a Mantra, or a psychic symbol.
With that awareness which is steady and still and unhampered by the body, you must begin to concentrate on the object of meditation. If dharana is attempted with an unsteady body and fluctuating mind, no benefits will result from the practice even if you perform it for a hundred years.
The only results will be tension, frustration, and a broken mind. Therefore, give your attention to the preparatory practices in the beginning. Master kaya sthairyam, then you will be able to proceed with the practices of dharana without any obstacle.
Practice of Kaya Sthairyam
- Preparation: Sit in a comfortable meditation posture, preferably siddhasana or padmasana. However if these postures are painful or just not accessible to you, then please sit in a comfortable crossed legged meditation posture with your spine as straight and erect as possible. Adjust your position so that you do not have to move any part of the body during the practice. Make sure the spine is erect. Head, neck, and shoulders should be slightly back. Place your hands on the knees in chin or jnana mudra. Close your eyes. Become aware of slow deep breathing and count five breaths mentally.
- Body Posture: Switch your awareness to the body. Concentrate on your meditation posture. Feel your spine rising straight up from the floor, supporting the head. Be aware of the synchronized and balanced position of the arms and legs. Total awareness of the body. [be aware of the arising sensations of the body; vital energy]
- Visualization of Body: Visualize your body externally as if you were seeing it in a full length mirror. See your body in the meditation posture from the front, from the back, from the right side, from the left side, from the top. See your body from all sides at one time. [using psychic eye; don’t see a mirror, just see your body out in front of you and rotate around this image; try to allow yourself to see all sides at once, don’t “try”, this develops 4th eye; also see bottom view of your body, sitting on the floor, not floating in space]
- Body Mountain or Tree: Be aware of your whole body. Feel that you are a mountain, rising up from and part of the earth. Notice how your body’s shape is like that of a mountain. Feel the dense energy at the base, the lighter energy towards the top. Alternately, you can envision yourself as a tree. You are rooted to the floor. Imagine that your body is growing up from the floor like a tree. Your torso is the trunk, your arms and head are the branches, and your legs are the roots. Your body is rooted to the floor and it will not move.
- Sensations of the Body: Be aware of any physical sensations: cold, heat, wind, itching, pain, uneasiness, tension, stiffness. Direct your awareness to these feelings. Let them be a focus for your mind. If your mind starts to wander, bring it back to the sensations in the body. [you can expand this stage to make it more tantric]
- Body Parts: Direct your awareness to the head. Be aware of the head and nothing else. Feel any sensation in the head. Visualize the head. Shift your awareness to the neck. Feel any sensations in the neck. Continue to be aware. Following the same process, move your awareness to the shoulders, to the right arm, the left arm, the whole of the back, the chest, the abdomen, the right leg, the left leg, an finally the whole body. Be aware of the whole body. Do another round maintaining full awareness. [a mini yoga Nidra; clearing away any energy that?s not in harmony or not in your conscious awareness]
- Immobility of the Body: Make a resolve that, I will not move my body throughout the whole practice. My body will not move or shake. I will remain steady and motionless like a statue.? Even if you feel an impulse to move a finger or toe, to adjust your clothing, or to scratch, try to overcome this urge. When you the urge to move you must say to yourself, No, I will not move any part of my body until the end of the practice.
- Steadiness and Stillness: Be aware of your physical body, of your meditation posture and of nothing else. There should be total uninterrupted awareness of the whole body. The body is perfectly steady and motionless. Develop the feeling of steadiness. Be aware of your body and steadiness. Be aware of your body and stillness. Your body is absolutely steady and still. Be aware of steadiness. Be aware of your physical body. There is no movement, no discomfort, only steadiness and stillness. [tip: at any point if you’re not as deep as you want, go back to #5 and bring sensations up to bubble out so as not to distract you; visualize all the molecules in your body stop vibrating in suspended animation]
- Psychic Rigidity: Feel the steadiness and stillness of the body. Gradually your body will become rigid and stiff like a statue, as though all the muscles have frozen. The body should become so stiff that you are unable to move any part, even if you try. Total awareness of the body, of immobility, of psychic rigidity. Feel the locked position of the body. Be aware of the body and of stillness. [feel as though all joints and muscles are invaded with hard set glue; important stage for pratyhara, astral body is freezing up.
- Breath Awareness: As the body becomes stiff and rigid, you will begin to lose physical awareness. At this time, shift your attention to the breath. Become aware of the natural breath, without altering or modifying it in any way. Simply watch the breath as it moves in and out of the body. The breath moves in and out in a rhythmic flow. Follow each movement of the breath with your awareness. At the same time become aware of the body. Let the awareness alternate from the breath to the body, then from body to breath. As the body becomes stiffer and stiffer, the awareness will automatically shift more and more to the breath. No effort is required. When the body is absolutely still and motionless the breath will become more and more subtle, until is seems that you are hardly breathing at all. [If you attempt to control the breath, you will engage skeletal muscles and lose the rigidity; when aware of the breath, be aware of the air rather than on the organs of breathing; shift back and forth between breath and body 3 – 4 times, doing so very subtly and naturally; when you shift from body to breath, it’s not that you have the thought that you don’t have a body, it is simply “no body”]
- State of Concentration: As the breath becomes more and more imperceptible, you will begin to experience the pure awareness which functions through the unfluctuating mind. The breathing is responsible for the movements of the mind and body. When the breath becomes very subtle, the mind becomes one-pointed and still. This is the state in which dharana must be practiced. [a layer below the thinking mind, not the intellect; let the energy take over, you can?t understand consciousness/essence; this is beginning of tapping into Essence]
- Ending the practice: Get ready to end the practice. Gradually become aware of the physical body, of the meditation posture. Feel the weight of the body resting against the floor. Be aware of the hands resting on the knees. Be aware of the whole physical body. Be aware of the breathing. Watch the breath as it flows in and out. Melt the glue.Bring on sensation slowly, take your time, then externalize to sounds, etc. around you, taking in the stimuli the environment.
Take a deep breath in and chant Om three times.
Hari Om Tat Sat