How to Choose the Right Method of Meditation?

a person meditating in silence, dark, black and white, digital, astitva

Meditation is a science. In fact, it is the most subtle of all sciences. And just like any science it has its own set of rules, methods of observation, and field of activity. Anybody who wants to experiment with meditation must understand all these aspects of meditation very carefully, otherwise he would cause himself serious harm. Whenever an ignorant experimenter conducts any kind of experiment, that experiment may not only be useless, sometimes it may be very harmful, fatal rather also. For example, if a person who is not familiar with chemicals conducts an experiment in a chemistry lab, he is likely to create nuisance. He may mix chemicals that do not go well with each other and then there may be an explosion. It is equally applicable to meditation as well. If a wrong method is chosen, it may not only be useless, it may be harmful as well. There are certain experiments that are destructive by their very nature, like the one in the above example. But certain other experiments may be destructive or creative, depending on the surroundings where they are conducted. Like, scientists have developed a hydrogen collider. There they are experimenting on the impact of the collision of atoms. Whenever atoms collide with each other, huge amount of energy is released. It is colossal, it is uncontainable. And that energy can be disastrous, if not handled properly. This is why, these scientists have taken every care to contain that released energy. If the same experiment is conducted in a wrong place, in an improper place, it may be destructive.
So these are the two things we have to keep in mind. One, the right kind of experiment has to be done. Two, the experiment has to be done in the right kind of environment.
When it comes to meditation, body is the laboratory. It is within the body that experiment begins. So the very first thing we all have to understand is know the body properly, become familiar with it, observe it, understand its nature, study it closely. When you are familiar with your own body, you will be able to choose the right method of meditation. For example, let us start with yogaasans. There are certain yogic postures that are very harmful for certain people, not all, but for certain people. Like, people suffering from joint pain, ankle pain, hip joint pain are advised not to do Vajrasan, Supt Vajrasan or,Padmasan because in these postures joints are stretched and already weakened joints can get worse. These people can try other aasans like Vakrasan or Ardh Padmasan.
Again, the person suffering from neck pain shouldn’t try Halasan. So if you study Yog literature carefully, everywhere there are precaution: “People suffering from this problem should not try this aasan.”
The same holds good for meditation as well. I will talk about “Osho’s Dynamic Meditation” and “Bhastrika Pranayam”. These methods involve heavy breathing, wild, chaotic breathing. One has to breathe chaotically. Now, anybody who is suffering from breathing trouble mustn’t try this, otherwise there would be very serious consequences. Once, I developed a method of meditation, Darkness Meditation. It has to be done during the winter season. During winter, there is peace around, there is no noise, particularly because coolers and fans are off. So that peaceful atmosphere is readily available. Secondly, because of cold, people also generally prefer to stay back at home, hence, less traffic. So this Darkness Meditation can be tried during this season. In this meditation, you have to switch off all the lights of the bedroom and then cover your whole body with a blanket or a quilt, from head to toe, the whole body, just like covering a dead body with a shroud. Cover yourself so tightly that there should be no chunk, no slit for light to enter; there should be complete darkness. Once it is done, you have to simply look at the darkness created inside the covering. Just open your eyes and look at the darkness around. It is a very powerful meditation technique because looking at the darkness you for the first time feel the formlessness as darkness has no form at all. Then, you start feeling the formless within you. Very simply and easily, this experiment can give you the first idea of what formlessness is. However, the people with breathing trouble will find it very uncomfortable. They may feel suffocating inside. So they should not try this, or somehow at the feet they can create some space for air to enter. Then they have to keep their focus up where there is complete darkness not being distracted by light. But even if it is not possible, then they should not try this.
The point is you have to be very careful with the methods you choose. Further, you may choose a meditation method which suits you; but, again, it has to be combined with a proper posture. Take, for example, in Vipashyana, you have to simply observe your breath. But what should be your posture? Should you be lying or sit up straight? Those who have backache will find it difficult to sit in Padmaasan and do Vipashyana. Then they should try Shavasan. Just lie like a shav, dead body, and watch breath. This is a simple combination of the right method and the right posture. You may force yourself to sit in Padmasan, but because of constant trouble, constant backache, you wouldn’t be able to focus on the breath; you would be distracted.
Therefore, I repeat, because meditation is a very subtle science, every single thing has to be taken care of. This is why, it is advised that one must do meditation under the guidance of an instructor. If one gets an enlightened master, one cannot be more blessed. However, sometimes, it happens that people who are not enlightened but have got certain insights love to share them with others. If you come across any such persons, there is no harm in taking their help. And if they are honest, they will guide you to a certain point.
But what after that? Whenever a method starts creating trouble for you, the best and the ultimate method is conscious living. Just become an observer, just live consciously, be a witness. This is the ultimate method. So whenever you are confused, whenever you are unable to decide which method to follow, you must try this method. And this method is going to connect you with Existence. Then, Existence itself will become your guide, your master. Conscious living never fails, never at all. In fact, all methods are just devices to help you become a conscious living being. Practicing a certain method, whenever you feel the body is in trouble or the mind is in trouble or there is some emotional upheaval inside you, then it is time you switched to conscious living method.
A meditator has to be very conscious, just like a lover. When a lover starts feeling that he is disappearing, he must be sure that he is on the right path. But if he is just feeling sentimental, if there are outbursts of emotions, if he feels his inner chemistry is being disturbed, then he must change his approach to love. Remember, what you call love may not be love at all. You may be mistaken, you may be under delusion. Because love essentially gives you peace. Even its pain is peaceful. Even its suffering is full of contentment. But if your approach to love or what you understand as love is causing you discomfort, disappointment, frustration, then it is time you changed your method. And if you feel that you are disappearing, blissfully; when you start feeling an absence within you, be sure you are on the right path because in the ultimate stage of love, you disappear, you become an absence. And this absence is not negative. You feel it as an absence; it is not an absence, it is a presence. But in the beginning, it looks like an absence because whatsoever you thought you were is no more there. You knew yourself as somebody. You had a name, you had a certain physical identity, social identity. All this has disappeared. Whatever you identified yourself with has disappeared. So you feel an absence. It is an absence of your identities, it is not the absence of your existence, your essence. It is just the absence of what you thought you were. So if you are not afraid of this absence, if you accept it, receive it, you will feel a certain presence. The same absence will turn into a presence. Paradoxically, that presence will be the presence of an absence. You will feel that an absence is present inside you. I repeat, you will feel that an absence is present within you. That absence is not empty, that vacuum is not empty; it is so fulfilling! This is an indication that you are on the right path, that you understand love. But if it is causing you frustration, anxiety, anguish, you feel suicidal, then there is no love. It was something else; you mistook it for love.
As the disappearance of your self, your ego, your identities is an indication that you are on the right path of love, so if you are becoming more conscious, if you are becoming more and more alert, if you have started looking at the world as a witness, be sure you are on the right path of meditation. And a time comes when your alertness deepens, methods start dropping by themselves. There is no method left at all because then alertness, awareness itself becomes the method. And in the ultimate stage of meditation, when you hit the peak of meditation, the very word meditation too disappears.

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