My blogger friend Jody has left this comment on my post on Writers’ Block.
“I was just thinking of you yesterday because I’ve begun to meditate again, and I was remembering that you have a practice that’s been going on for a long time. One day, can you share how it works for you? Before or after morning tea, how long, what do you feel it does to/with/for you?”
Beside that request another young lady Mona who receives my posts by email advice has asked me to write on meditation and other spiritual matters and so this post is dedicated to both these ladies. Mona has recently started to meditate and I am delighted that Jody has revived her discontinued practice.
To start with, I request Jody and Mona to visit my blog post Meditation which I wrote just over a year ago. More than the post itself, the comments and responses are more interesting in my opinion.
Let me however start off by sharing how it all started and come back to answer the specific questions that Jody raises.
In 1977 I was burning both ends of the candle when a friend suggested that I try Transcendental Meditation. (TM). I took to it in earnest and that was also the beginning of my spiritual journey as I inevitably started to study the Bhagwat Geeta that Maharshi Mahesh Yogi recommended. TM was of great benefit to me and I became quite an evangelist for the technique with my colleagues and friends. That led my then mentor and immediate boss to challenge me to go for a ten day Vipassana Meditation camp in 1984 and I got hooked. There was no looking back and till the year 2000 I attended at least one and sometimes two, ten day camps and a couple of short three day camps every year. I could not attend them anymore due to my preoccupation with my caregiving duties but I have kept the practice going without a break.
There is a significant piece of information that I must share here. During both the TM and Vipassana initiation stages, my late wife enthusiastically joined me and got initiated too. Till she died five years ago following an eight year long convalescence from multiple cardiac and cerebral infarcts, she practiced Vipassana every day without fail and I am convinced that her peaceful convalescence despite her dementia was due to the practice.
To come to Jody, my normal waking-up time, without the help of an alarm clock is 4.45 am every day. After a wash, I sit down for an hour long meditation session on an empty stomach. Morning tea and other chores are all only after this session. It is now a habit and I miss it if I don’t get the full hour’s session. Sometimes it does happen that I have to be satisfied with shorter sessions, like when I have to drop someone off or receive someone coming from the airport or railway station or I myself having to go out of town. Sometimes, I also meditate at some other part of the day but those sessions will be for shorter durations, from between 20 minutes to thirty. I also meditate while I travel as long as I am not driving that is! These sessions will be after at least an hour after any kind of food intake.
How have I have benefited? Let the Buddha answer!
Mona who has met me personally will vouch for these to be true in my case.
Medically, I am blessed with a natural low blood pressure system and meditation has certainly helped in keeping it there. In fact my two surgeons who have operated on my hip joints on five different occasions have remarked on this at each operation. I am also naturally endowed with a cheerful disposition and I think that meditation has enhanced this aspect of my personality too.
In Vedanta, there are four states of being , waking, dreaming, deep sleep and a state that is simplyh called the fourth. The last is being in a state of consciousness where one is consciously witness to all the three states. Advanced meditators reach this stage of awareness. I am not at that stage yet but am sure to reach there eventually. I am in no hurry. It will happen when it has to, but I do get moments of intense clarity and awareness off and on and it is happening more and more frequently since the last surgery three years ago.
No, I am not a saint. Not yet anyway! I do occasionally flare up in anger but that does not last longer than a few moments and I am back to normal in a trice. I occasionally do go into whymeitis but here again my recovery is rapid and without rancour or regret. I was the sole caregiver for my late wife till she died and was able to manage that responsibility as well as running my household without stress. Between end 2008 and end 2012 I went through a mentally and physically challenging period due to another caregiving responsibility. I am convinced that I would not have survived that period had it not been for my practice which helped me in keeping my sanity intact.
The spiritual journey that started with the initiation into TM way back in 1977 has taken me into the study of Vedanta under a Guru / Sishya parampara system. This consists Shravanam, Mananam and Nidhidyasanam. The first is to listen and learn from a qualified teacher, the second is to internalise the learning by study and the third is to reflect on the learning through meditation. My Guru has now released me from the first requirement and has instructed me to focus on the second and third aspects. Eventually, this path will lead me to Samadhi and Moksha. The last may not be in this lifetime but it will happen now that I am on the path. It is said that Religion is belief in someone else’s experience and spirituality is having your own experience. I would rather call myself as a Spiritual person than a religious one. To a large extent, I have evolved into one over a period of time largely influenced by my meditation practice.
I trust that Jody and Mona find this useful. I will be happy to respond to questions from them as well as from others who may want to explore this topic further.