Learn to meditate consciously and discover your Divine heritage through self-realisation. Divine Meditations: 26 Spiritual Qualities of the Bhagavad Gita is an inspirational, spiritual workbook which unravels the Cosmic Illusion of duality using intuitional wisdom, pranayama, meditations and prayers. Structured in four parts and focusing upon meditation in reference to Patanjali's eightfold path, the Bhagavad Gita and the spiritual aspirant, the 26 qualities and how to assume them and transcending the Cosmic Illusion through devotion, the reader will learn... Conscious breathe (pranayama) to alter your brainwaves into delta waves; Conscious meditation to achieve a super-conscious state; To find happiness is our natural, God-given state. 'This is a fine book, so good it should anchor the spiritual wing of your personal library.' Jack Hawley, author of The Bhagavad Gita: a Walkthrough for Westerners
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About the Author
Jenny Light is an inspirational speaker, therapist, teacher of meditation and yoga, healer and artist. She coaches sufferers of conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and her book Living Lightly details her spiritual journey to regaining her own health. Jenny regularly travels to MBS events across the UK, where competition to attend her talks and workshops is fierce. She lives in Ayrshire, Scotland.
Read an Excerpt
Mindfulness has become a very popular solution to living with our busy lifestyles. So many people ask me, what is the difference between mindfulness and meditation? Are they not the same thing? Mindfulness is an act of concentration where we simply become conscious of being in the present moment. It takes will power and intense concentration to train the mind to observe what is arising without a flicker of reaction. It brings detachment and awareness of awareness itself. The mind can be likened to trying to ride a chariot pulled by five strong horses (symbolising the five senses) all pulling in different directions. It takes patience and stamina to rein in the mind to ignore sense stimulation and to focus on one thing only. This is single-pointed focus.
From whatever cause the restless, unsteady mind wanders away, from that let him restrain it and bring it under the control of the Self alone.
(Bhagavad Gita 6:26)
Meditation is a deeper, specific focus on realising God. It is the process of withdrawing the senses from the physical body and turning inward, like a tortoise drawing inside its shell. We learn to pull our awareness from the skin, nerves, ears, taste, smell and hearing in order to gaze unwaveringly within, with a focus on knowing God. This takes great resilience and trust to let go of the senses until the body is no longer in our awareness.
When, like the tortoise which withdraws its limbs on all sides, he withdraws his senses from the sense-objects, then his wisdom becomes steady.
(Bhagavad Gita 2:58)
Meditation is the means by which we realise our divine spark and God-consciousness in the centre of our being. The word yoga means Divine Union. A yogi is he or she who undertakes a scientific practice to God-realisation: a specific approach with empirical results.
Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutras before 400 CE, detailed an eightfold path as a self-disciplined moral and ethical code of conduct to lead the yogi inward to see through the cosmic illusion (maya) of the external world to reveal who we are: what is real (all pervading bliss in God-consciousness) and what is unreal (ego). We learn to identify what is true and to be non-reactive to anything false, in an increasingly subtle revelation of God, hiding within us in plain sight.
Patanjali's eight-step path to enlightenment is:
1. Yamas – Five ethical standards which relate to our behaviour and how we conduct ourselves in life. Through these we learn to live with integrity in all our dealings with others, and towards ourselves. The five yamas are: ahimsa (nonviolence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (nonstealing), brahmacharya (continence) and aparigraha (noncovetousness).
2. Niyamas – Five standards of self-discipline and spiritual observances. The five niyamas are: saucha (cleanliness), samtosa (contentment), tapas (heat; spiritual austerities), svadhyaya (right study of the sacred scriptures), isvara pranidhana (surrender to God). (The yamas and niyamas will be explored and developed later within the spiritual qualities in Part 3.)
3. Asanas – The postures practised in yoga which honour and care for the physical body as a temple that the soul is housed in during an incarnation. Through the practice of physical asanas, we develop the habit of discipline, physical stamina and the ability to concentrate. However, it should be pointed out that the ultimate goal of asana is God-consciousness, therefore to practise yoga postures mindlessly, is not to be practising yoga. Neither is asana true yoga (divine union) if it is executed with ego fixated on our outer appearance to others.
Some asana or exercise prior to meditation is beneficial in order to quieten the mind, so that it will allow you to sit. The sole reason for asana is to prepare the physical body to sit for longer and longer periods of time in absolute immobility (even stilling the breath eventually). Indeed, Patanjali referred to the ultimate asana: the seated posture for meditation. Complete motionlessness in the seated position for an hour or more indicates a mastery of the mind and body. During meditation, any tiny movement of the physical body gives feedback to the mind (manus) via the senses of where the body is in space, which is counterproductive to moving beyond false identification with ego (ahamkara). Holding asana postures helps to build that focus and stamina.
As a natural part of spiritual development, the ratio of importance of asana to meditation shifts from 90% asana: 10% meditation to 90% meditation: 10% asana. This development is not necessarily related to the physical age of the person but is concerned with one's spiritual commitment to becoming God-conscious.
4. Pranayama – This is often mistakenly translated as 'breath control'. Prana meaning 'life' strictly means 'life control'. This fourth stage is a focus on breath techniques intended to change the brainwave patterns from the normal beta waves into the theta and delta waves of deep meditation.
Beta (14-30 waves per second (Hz)) is the normal waking state when attention is directed to the outer world. When the brain is in Alpha waves (9-13Hz) you feel truly relaxed. This is where meditation starts and you begin to access the creativity of the astral world. However, alpha is also the state of sleep which is why some people need to guard against falling asleep as the brain makes the transition from beta to alpha. Theta (4-8 Hz) is deep sleep state or super-consciously in meditation. Theta brings forward flashes of dreamlike imagery, intuition and a sensation of floating in a waking dream. When you learn to traverse this inner astral landscape without being distracted, you move into delta waves (1-3 Hz), which is the slowest of brainwave activity found during deep, dreamless sleep and present in very experienced meditators.
In this book, you will learn how to consciously change the oscillations of the brainwaves as you move into deeper meditation by using the breath as a tool to slide consciously into deeper and deeper experience of controlling mental brainwave fluctuation. Thus, by focusing on the breath, we learn to slow the brain, the mind and the body processes into a state conducive to meditation.
Focus on the breath will increase prana, or life force, in the body and reverse the decay of the physical body. Most importantly, we learn that the breath contains a bridge between consciousness of the physical body and the inner reality of the astral and causal universes. Or more specifically, the breath is the entrance to the bridge, between small 'I' or ego consciousness and God. The bridge itself is sandhi, the junction of awareness, stillness and cosmic presence.
5. Pratyahara – The fifth limb means withdrawal or sensory transcendence. It is the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the illusion of the external world. The five senses operate to give us continuous feedback to the ego. We are housed in an illusory body in an illusory external world. In order to realise the truth, we learn to divert our attention away from outside stimuli and towards inward focus.
6. Dharana – The practice of concentration, which precedes meditation, where we learn how to hone the thinking process by concentrating on a single mental object. This is single-pointed focus. It takes great attention to keep the mind focused on one thing to the exclusion of all thoughts which will certainly plague the beginner. This is also called mindfulness.
Dharana is practised during all of the eight limbs of yoga: if there is not concentration in the present moment, then there is no yoga.
7. Dhyana – Meditation or contemplation is the uninterrupted flow of concentration on God. Although concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana) may appear to be one and the same, dharana practises one-pointed attention, in dhyana we increasingly move into a state of greater awareness of God as bliss. At this stage, the ego-mind has been quieted, and in the stillness it produces few or no thoughts at all. It takes great persistence, strength and stamina to reach this state of peace and inner joy. This is the penultimate experience before attaining yoga (divine union) for at this stage the yogi still experiences duality of the soul and God as separate. Attention has been withdrawn from external physical senses and is wholly fixed within.
Patanjali referred to meditation as 'chitti vriitti nirodhah' which means, Restraint from Mental Fluctuations. You may reflect on the stability of your mental state in a normal day. When do you feel clear, aware and stable? Is it a particular time of day? Or do you feel stable only when life is going your way? Are there any particular triggers to emotional mood-swings or mental fluctuations? What if mental fluctuations were not real? What if you could nullify mental fluctuation through a conscious act of will? By developing great inner control and focus through long periods of meditation, you will learn to de-invest in inner mental fluctuation and just learn to Be who you truly are. These treasures are all in store for you when you dive deeply for prolonged periods in meditation.
8. Samadhi – Being totally immersed, a state of ever-new bliss or God-realisation. At this stage, the yogi realises as experiential truth, a profound interconnectedness with all living things. You realise that you are God. There is only unity: there is no experience of 'other'. This divine union is experienced as bliss: a deep 'peace that surpasses all understanding' and being at one with the whole of creation.
There are two distinct phases of samadhi. With reference to advanced stages of realisation, in savrikalpa (with difference) samadhi, there still remains some duality between the knower and the known, such as in the phrase: 'God and I are One.' But in nirvikalpa (without difference) samadhi, all distinctions are resolved into One Spirit. God is the only reality. This latter stage of samadhi is the highest yoga or union manifested by fully liberated masters or those on the threshold of soul freedom.
Patanjali goes on to divide the earlier stage of savrikalpa samadhi into four levels: Firstly, savritarka (with doubt) where intuitive experience is mixed with a doubt-ridden mind. Secondly, savichara (with reasoning) where intuitive experience is mixed with discrimination guided intellect. Thirdly, sananda (with joy) as interiorised intuitive experience as joy-permeated feeling. Lastly, sasmita (with 'I'-ness) as intuitive experience mixed with a pure sense of Being. There can be some movement between these levels with experience of duality until there is permanent union in nirvikalpa samadhi as God.
Enlightenment can neither be bought nor possessed. This ultimate stage of yoga can only be experienced. Ever-lasting, ever-new joy and divine bliss is the result of the continual devotion of the aspirant on God. God is Love and love is the language of God's creation. While there is still an illusion of separateness of I and God, it is love which gets the attention of God. God can bestow divine grace (anugraha) which can come to anyone at any time, regardless of one's efforts. However, as in all things worthwhile, practice makes perfect or rather, through practice we can realise inner perfection and become more receptive to grace through the stilling of the mind.
The length of the task to achieve the results of peace and self-realisation may seem daunting. However, I would like to reiterate that the Universe around you will support you in finding Oneness. God wants us to know that Oneness and Bliss, which we once consciously knew, has placed an irresistible longing in our hearts to be in that state of being once more. No matter how many eons and incarnations you have been pleasure-engrossed in, ego-driven desires and illusion or what karma you may have garnered, that inner longing is calling us home. We find, when we start to meditate deeply, that we were never away from God's Love and blissfulness, we just chose to let the ego, with its earthly desires and earth-bound beliefs, have sway over our higher conscious self.
There is nothing that you have done which exempts you from God's Love, for does not a father love his child, even if that child errs and falters at times? God has Unconditional Love for you that does not judge or falter but waits patiently for you to turn to Him, at last heeding the call of your soul's longing to turn away from the glittering baubles of materialism, by going within.
Fixing thy mind on Me, thou shalt by My Grace overcome all obstacles.
(Bhagavad Gita 18:62)
And at some point, early on, most people find that they get quick positive feedback as a reward for meditating. Call it beginner's luck. I personally think that God wants us to be drawn back to Him and every day he calls to us to sit and face inward to reconnect with our inner God-spark. It is part of God's plan that there is easy payback or dividends after one or two sessions of sitting in the quiet. Namely: increased peacefulness, less agitation, a sense of homecoming, bubbles of joy, spontaneous laughter etc. This is to help us to establish that routine and a discipline to maintain meditation.
In this book we will be using a tried and tested yogic approach to God-realisation. This includes specific breath practices (pranayama) to calm the mind and senses and to channel prana (life force) within the energy channels of the psychic anatomy away from physical, emotional or mental distractions. As a starting place for meditation, the breath practice sets the scene. You will learn that within 12 or more easy breaths, you will have loosened ties to physical awareness and ego-led thoughts, to create a platform with which to dive deep into meditation. 'Yama' means 'control' or 'restriction' and 'prana' means 'breath' or 'life force'. Pranayama means literally: 'control of life-force'. That is to say, we learn to move beyond an unconscious process of breathing in order to supply the physical body with air, to consciously breathing and moving the life force in the subtle body. It is only by being consciously present and aware of the breath that the truth of the Reality of Life and who you really are is revealed. Ask yourself, how many breaths in the day am I conscious that the body is breathing? When we master our breath, we are in control of our bodies and minds. Early on in your meditation practice, you will experience a noticeable indication that your attempt to sit in silence and go within is creating results. These, I am sure, are designed by God to show us clearly that the path we are embarking on is the right path. A trail of breadcrumbs if you like. Common experiences are a deeper sense of peace than hitherto, a sensation of heat in the hands, an awareness of tingling in the body, a perception of blue or gold light or hearing high pitched sound. Each person's experience is as unique as their fingerprint. While one person may see dancing blue light from their first attempt to meditate, just trust that something is happening, even in the absence of any feedback to the contrary. Be aware that it is the ego which needs constant verification of where it is in space or external events all the time in order to exist within the human experience. An expectation of having a certain 'experience' creates a mental wave of agitation which is a hindrance to making deep conscious contact with your inner self or God. If you can sit still without moving physically (apart from the breath) the ego will eventually be quiet. It is my experience that if you persevere in your practice, you will become aware of a deepening peace and lasting stillness.
There will be times, dear hearts, when you feel that you are not making any progress with your meditation practice. It may often feel that nothing is happening at all. Be prepared for times when you apply Faith and keep going in trust, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. Just know that you are on the right trail. Treat each moment with a fresh anticipation that a greater depth will arise as you are blessed with another breadcrumb. There is no guilt on this path. Even if you should fail from the ideal, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again.
Let 'keep on, keeping on' be your motto.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Divine Meditations"
Copyright © 2013 2018.
Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
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Table of Contents
Part 1 Yogic Meditation 7
Part 2 Taking it Deeper with the Bhagavad Gita's Twenty-Six Soul Qualities 25
Part 3 Meditations on the Twenty-Six Qualities 39
Part 4 Transcendence through Devotion 209
Inspirational Reading 220