Meditation is primarily of two types. One is called concentrative meditation, also referred to as fixed attentiveness, and the other one is called contemplative meditation, also known as analytical investigation. A good meditator is skilled at both. It is the meditator’s ability of staying on one thought for as long as he wants that determines the quality of his meditation. An important point to remember is that meditation is a skill, it is an art. It can be learned by the determined and mastered by the persistent.
There is only one way to learn this skill, that is: practice, careful practice at that. And, there is only one way to master this art, that is: intense practice, persistent intense practice at that. Guided practice increases your chances of success multifold provided such guidance comes from a practical source, from an experienced teacher and not just a preacher, from an expert doer and not a smooth talker. If your guide cannot sit with perfect stillness, he may offer you a wealth of bookish knowledge but will remain incapable of guiding you from practical standpoint, much less impart any wisdom on the subtleties of meditation.
In this post, I am going to briefly explain the difference between the two types:
In this type of meditation, the meditator stills his thought and settles his mind on an object of concentration. Refer to the previous posts on many exercises on concentration. This method is specifically designed to help the practitioner achieve stillness of the body and mind. Until you are able to achieve perfect stillness, you will not be able to lose body-consciousness, that is, you will continue to have distracting awareness of your body during your sessions of meditation. And till such time that you are able to completely rise above your body, you are not going to experience any cosmic oneness. Until you are able to achieve perfect stillness, all your experiences are mere intellectual fabrication.
They have no intrinsic value and remain mostly meaningless. Such experiences are not replicable. They do not purify, cleanse, guide or strengthen you. This is the harsh truth. An intense practice of concentration stills the ten vital energies in your body helping you gain complete control in sitting still like a rock with ease.Concentrative meditation is the first step. If you are unable to concentrate on the desired object for as long as you want, you are not ready for any contemplation or analytical investigation. Predominantly because the mind is still restless it means.
A restless mind is incapable of carrying out penetrating analysis with discerning wisdom. Once you master concentration, supranormal awareness and super-consciousness emerges naturally. My goal is to share with you the methods, obstacles, ways to clear them, deviations, aberrations, and various stages of this practice. If you are truly serious about becoming a great meditator, I strongly recommend that you reread all posts under Mental Transformation so far. Do not rush; take your time. This is the foundation. Even if you are sure that you have the messaging figured out, read them still. Once done, read the ones on concentration one more time. Unless you grasp the importance of those practices, you will find it hard to champion concentrative meditation.
After you have attained the ease of body and ability to settle your mind, anytime at will, anytime at your discretion, for however long you want, are you ready for contemplative meditation. When practicing meditation of this type, you will automatically gain remarkable insight into the true nature of things, the realities of different planes of existence and into many things beyond words. Super knowledge will sprout. There is a term used in meditation texts called acala vipashayana, insight devoid of mental activity.
Monier Williams Sanskrit dictionary defines vipashaya as unfettering, or without a trace. And that is the key: when no trace of conditioned mind is left, when you gain an insight rising above your intellect, above all calculations, above logic, that is transcendental knowledge, true insight. It has come from within. It is not the product of some conditioning, cogitation or deliberation. This is the output of contemplative meditation. This is an advanced practice. I will shed some light on it in due course.
Coming up next in the series…The actual practice of concentrative meditation.