As part of the overall process of Living Unbound, we will be discussing ways to help create the flow of natural harmony in our lives. One of the cornerstones of this process is to bring some stillness into our lives by bringing our attention inward.
Natural balance; Living Unbound, involves a balance, and an even flow of awareness between our inner world, consciousness, and awareness of all the external aspects and activities of life. This may be a foreign concept for many of us, when we’re first exposed to it.
We’ve spent, and spend, nearly every waking moment of our lives focused on various aspects of the world outside of us, or on the many thoughts and feelings happening in us. Even our own thoughts and feelings are almost always externally focused on various aspects of the world outside of us, including our own place and involvement in it (“Should I have said that?”; “Maybe it’s time to look for another job.”, “I need to remember to …”, and so on).
Now, it’s time to bring some awareness back into our self. One way to do this is meditation, or, if you prefer “sitting in silence”.
In our experience, the cultivation of a bit of stillness in our lives has been the best way to go. Even a few minutes of sitting in silence each day, every day, has a very positive effect on our lives. Much like physical exercise, even short session of exercise done every day, can positively impact almost everything else in our life. When you are more balanced and centered, and feeling better, on the inside … you’ll find that life and the world seem more balanced and centered; and it all feels better.
A little stillness goes a long way, and is much more powerful than it may seem, initially. In fact, consciously experiencing stillness is one of the foundational keys to Living Unbound; it is also easier, and much more natural, than it might seem when staring out.
There are many different ways to cultivate stillness. We are not here to teach any new techniques in this area, per se. Good, highly-effective ways to cultivate stillness have been around for thousands of years, and have always been part of every culture, in one way or another. We’re not here to re-invent the wheel, but rather, we’re here to help you find and use the “wheels” that best fit you, and to help you take it from there.
One technique that has consistently and repeatedly proven itself, has been “deep meditation”, as described in the lessons of Advanced Yoga Practices .
It is a process in which we sit comfortably, close our eyes, and silently (mentally) intone the mantra “i am” in our mind for 20 minutes, twice a day. If for any reason “i am” doesn’t feel right to you, you can intone “ayam”; it is actually about the sound, or vibration of those syllables together, not about the meaning of the words.
Please read the lesson posted by Yogani (the founder of Advanced Yoga Practices, or AYP, as it is more commonly known), on the AYP Site: Lesson 13 – Meditation — Awakening the Silent Seed (The technique below is quoted from that lesson, but please do read the entire lesson here):
Find a quiet, comfortable place where you can sit, preferably with back support. We want to remove unnecessary distractions. Just sit and relax somewhere where you can close your eyes for twenty minutes without interruptions.
Once you have gotten comfortable, slowly close your eyes. You will notice thoughts, streams of thoughts. That is fine. Just observe them without minding them. After about a minute, gently introduce the thought …I AM… and begin to repeat it easily and effortlessly in your mind. If your mind wanders off into other thoughts, you will eventually realize this has happened. Don’t be concerned about it. It is natural. When you realize you are not repeating the mantra, gently go back to it. This is all you have to do. Easily repeat the mantra silently inside. When you realize you are not thinking it, then easily come back to it. The goal is not to stay on it. The goal is to follow the simple procedure of thinking the mantra, losing it, and coming back to it when you find you have lost it. Do not resist if the mantra tends to become less distinct. Thinking the mantra does not have to be with clear pronunciation. I AM can be experienced at many levels in your mind and nervous system. When you come back to it, come back to a level that is comfortable, not straining for either a clear or fuzzy pronunciation.
Do this procedure for twenty minutes, and, then, with your eyes closed, take a few minutes to rest before you get up.
We just simply repeat the mantra, not focusing on the meaning, the speed, or the clarity of the words. When we realize we are off the mantra we slowly bring our awareness back to the mantra.
This is a very simple technique and an extremely effective way to use 40 minutes of our day (2 sessions of 20 minutes, each) to get in touch with our inner world; our true self. The remaining 1400 minutes of the day we can focus our attention to the world outside of us. This is in fact recommended.
“Do what you want, and meditate”, as respected spiritual teacher Swami Lakshmanjoo has said.
Other than the 20 minutes, twice each day, spent in meditation, spend the rest of your time living your life.
The most common problem most of us have is to find time to do this. Well, first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed, just prop yourself up against some pillows and spend 10 to 20 minutes sitting silently, repeating the words “i am”.
If 20 minutes sounds like a lot, start off with 10 minutes, twice a day, but please: make sure you do it every day. Just as with physical exercise: to experience the benefits of this practice, we need to make it a part our daily life … like brushing our teeth. We don’t put too much thought into brushing our teeth, we just do it, and most of us wouldn’t let ourselves miss it, for even a full day. Similarly, we can develop the habit of sitting in silence for 10-20 minutes, twice a day; cultivating silence by using the above procedure, as part of our daily routine, every single day.
Don’t expect to experience silence during the 20 minutes that you’re doing the practice (although, that will happen, in increasing amounts, as you continue with this practice). The 20 minutes is really the process for “cooking” silence: you get to enjoy the food (silence) after the cooking.
There’s a reason to sit in silence every day, twice being ideal; there’s a cumulative effect, just as with exercise. When you get into a regular exercise routine … you don’t experience the benefits of exercising while you’re exercising, but during the rest of your day. Similarly, you’ll experience the benefits of silence in your daily life during the remainder of your day, rather than during the short time you’re sitting in silence.