Continuing our series on the four yogas, we introduce the fourth Yoga which is Raja Yoga, the path of meditation. In this episode, we explore:
・What is meditation?
・The difference between meditation and visualization
・What is Raja Yoga?
・The real purpose of meditation
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Debra Maldonado 00:02
Hello, welcome to Soul Sessions. This is the last of our series on spiritual paths in Vedanta.
Robert Maldonado 00:09
We’ve been talking about the four yogas, of course, from our perspective, which is Jungian perspective. We’re looking more at the philosophy, the psychological aspects of what are these yogas doing in our mind and how are we experiencing them from the inside.
Debra Maldonado 00:35
Our background has changed a little, we are actually moving this weekend. We broke down our office. The next couple Soul Sessions you may see a different background if you’re watching it on the video. Let’s review what we went over the other three yogas. We started with Karma Yoga, which is the path of action. It’s about non-attachment, very good for the everyday person to apply, a simple way to apply a spiritual path in their life.
Robert Maldonado 01:11
I think it’s useful for all of us because we all have to act in the world. Even if we’re living in a cave, we have to somehow find food and shelter.
Debra Maldonado 01:24
We talked about jnana yoga, which is higher knowledge. Jnana Yoga is about understanding intellectually what the higher knowledge is, what looks like studying basically. When you listen to lectures, or you read books, then you have to have a direct experience of that higher knowledge. It’s not just reading something and saying “That makes sense, I believe it.” It’s reading it, wrestling with it, contemplating it, trying it out, seeing if you can have a direct experience.
Robert Maldonado 02:07
Whereas Karma Yoga is about selfless action, getting the I out of the action, Jnana Yoga is about understanding the nature of the mind and the nature of your experience in the world. Of course, there is higher knowledge, which is the knowledge that leads us to the realization of our true nature, the self, and lower knowledge, which is pretty much every other knowledge, scientific knowledge, psychological knowledge, philosophy, it’s all considered lower knowledge, not in a pejorative sense, but just that it’s not leading us towards that realization.
Debra Maldonado 02:48
For example, when people have an insight, when they’re understanding their patterns, that’s not higher knowledge, that’s just psychological knowledge, which is lower knowledge. It’s not the whole thing, it’s a piece of the pie. The bigger higher knowledge is really the concepts of the mind consciousness. I know you have a pattern, but who are you in the big picture, who is the one experiencing this and witnessing this. That’s really the questions that are answered, you need them both. You can’t just practice spiritual work without understanding the higher philosophy of why you’re doing it. In a religion that’s different, you just follow what they say, you do the rituals, you don’t understand and you don’t have to, you’re just going along. But in philosophy, it’s much different. You’re understanding something at a different level.
Robert Maldonado 03:44
We also talked about bhakti yoga, which is devotional. If you look at most religions, they’re essentially practicing bhakti yoga, which is focusing on a numinous symbol, like Jung would say, that has that spiritual element. When you devote your life to it, you worship it, you pray to it, you use it as a symbol of the Divine, of God, that’s bhakti yoga. In the Gita, it says that it’s the easiest one to practice, it’s the easiest one to teach people because it’s in our nature. Any tribe in the world that even hasn’t really evolved that much have something like that, a tree or a rock or a place that they worship.
Debra Maldonado 04:48
We get to now the last of the four, which is Raja Yoga, it’s the path of meditation. Adi Shankara, who is a guru back in the days of Vedanta, said that it’s really for more evolved people. The more evolved you are on your spiritual path and self awareness, meditation actually becomes very important. You could do karma yoga, understand the intellectual and higher knowledge, you can work with non-attachment. You don’t necessarily need to do meditation. When you’re ready for it, the meditation is more advanced. I think because there’s so many different ways people use meditation, the way the Vedanta teaches is non-dualistic. It’s for self realization versus trying to de-stress or trying to create or visualize something in my life. Let’s talk about what is meditation.
Robert Maldonado 05:59
A lot of people have meditation practices, if it’s working for you, by all means, continue in that practice. What we’re presenting is essentially our perspective as students of the mind, the students of world philosophy, we’re interested in these systems because they pertain to working with the mind essentially. They teach us a lot about how people have approached this question of how do I work with my mind? What do I do with this awareness that I have? Meditation has been around forever, for thousands of years. We know it’s an important human practice. From our perspective, meditation is not for stress management. It does have that side effect, it makes you calmer, makes you more focused, helps your brain function, even your physical function as some of the research indicates, but it was developed essentially as a way to realize the true self, your true nature, meaning, the nature of consciousness in you. Meditation was that direct path inward that led you to that realization, to a direct experience of that.
Debra Maldonado 07:25
Adi Shankara also talked about meditation. He said that for householders — the way they talked back in the day, in the time of Buddha, there were gurus that studied this higher knowledge, and what they called householders, which are like you and I, the non-monk part of human beings. So how does the everyday person apply these principles. He said this type of meditation for householders can’t be used for dealing with life, understanding yourself in life when you’re working with the material world and interacting this object of your body through Self Realization, but the other piece has to be there, the Self Realization. He said that the mistake people make is that they use the meditation just for stress management, visualization, or to create material things and deal with their material life. They forget about the self, the higher purpose. He said that will lead you to nowhere. Meditation is great if you’re having issues with your life, and you want to be there, but you don’t want to use it to escape the world or to use it to create a better world only, you want to have that self realization.
Robert Maldonado 09:04
That’s a good point. I remember when I first learned about meditation, I rushed home and sat in the meditation posture, waiting to see what would happen. But meditation on its own is simply a tool. It’s like a practice, like a prayer, you can pray to all kinds of entities or even physical objects. By its own or on its own meditation is not a spiritual practice. It has to be in the context of a philosophy or religion that is guiding you to what is the purpose of that meditation, and how are you using it.
Debra Maldonado 09:54
So you’re saying that all meditation is not created equal? Meditation is an experience. Then it’s really what you do with that experience.
Robert Maldonado 10:05
What was your experience early on?
Debra Maldonado 10:08
I liked to use meditation to escape which is not really the ideal. I wanted to create this other world because I didn’t really love my life, I was always trying to find my purpose, to find love. Life was like a struggle for me. I used meditation, I would spend all Saturday in my little apartment, put on candles, I would listen to the nice new age music, lay down and just visualize myself floating on a cloud. It was really more of an escape in a fantasy. While it was calming for me and a stress relief, it really wasn’t getting me anywhere. It wasn’t leading me to self knowledge, it was just fun in my imagination. When I started doing hypnotherapy as a hypnotherapist, the guided meditations would take people through the hypnosis session of guided visualization. It still is focusing on the attachment to the material results. What is my life gonna be like when I fall in love? What is it gonna be like when I live in that mansion or find my purpose? While those things are really great to work with your mind, it’s not true meditation, it has a different purpose. When we went to a Zen Buddhist center, actually both Buddhist centers, they had a really great meditation, where it’s just empty, there’s no note, no words at all, no guidance. It made me so uncomfortable in the beginning because I was like “I want to do something.” But after a while, I felt this purification happen, it was like watching myself, just empty itself. It was just such a different experience. As you grow in your spiritual development, your personal development, you’ll cultivate higher states of meditation, then of course, that will create higher states of consciousness.
Robert Maldonado 12:17
From the psychological perspective, we know that zoning out, altered states of mind, states of consciousness are part of our human nature. Every human being in the 24 hour cycle goes through very different states of mind. We’re awake for a while, and even in the waking state, there’s different states of awareness, different moods. Then we fall asleep, which is like, we fall into a coma essentially. It’s a very altered state of consciousness, we tune out of the external world completely. Not only that, we then start to hallucinate, what we call dreaming, and spend a lot of time in this REM sleep, having incredible experiences that are very much like simulation where we get to experience all kinds of things, emotions, people, situations that when we are in the dream appear to us to be real. Then of course, we wake up. In a 24 hour period, the mind goes through very different fluctuation state of consciousness. So it’s already built into us. A lot of people think “Those are exotic practices” or “They’re too difficult.” The mind doesn’t have any problem doing these kind of activities because again, it’s part of our nature. One of the oldest documented instructions on how to meditate comes from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. He talks about these eight limbs of yoga which are the basic instructions for going into deep meditation.
Debra Maldonado 14:36
When you introduced this concept to me, I think we, Westerners, don’t really do anything intentionally. We’re always reacting to life or rushing from one thing to the next. I love these eight limbs to prepare you. We never prepare ourselves for something. When we have an interview, we get nervous, we’re calming ourselves at that. Why don’t we do that with meditation? What if we calm ourselves, then get in a state so we can enter into it, not using the state itself to get us out of something? It’s like preparing our body and mind to go to this sacred space.
Robert Maldonado 15:18
He starts out with no brainers — you want to be a good person. Primarily because again, people may use meditation for other purposes, you can meditate on wanting to levitate, something egoistic. He talks about cutting out the bad parts of your life and living a moral life. Again, that’s a no brainer, we all want to do that. We all naturally do those things before we start to really practice meditation. Then the second part, he says, we start to use asanas, meaning we’ve started to actually practice physical disciplines to temper our body, to prepare it for the meditative state. The way we practice yoga in California, that’s essentially what he’s talking about. Practicing asanas, bodily postures that prepare the body. Then we do pranayama, which is the breathing. We bring the breath under the control of the higher mind because we know, even in psychology, breath is tied to emotional states. If you’re not able to manage your breathing, the emotions will take over and run your meditation session.
Debra Maldonado 17:10
When you’re panicky and go to the hospital, they say “Take some deep breaths.” It’s really interesting how taking a deep breath and exhaling, you’re bringing more oxygen into your body, and that relaxation response begins.
Robert Maldonado 17:29
Now, these are only preparations for meditation. A lot of people use these techniques, of course, for health benefits and maintaining good mental hygiene and so on. There’s no problem with that. That’s a good way to use them. But they’re not designed for that, that’s not the ultimate aim of these practices. Remember, the aim was self realization. In other words, these guys were going for the good stuff. They weren’t interested in just being better human beings and having better health, or having better lives. They were interested in realization of the true nature of the mind and the true nature of reality. The next four is really where it gets interesting. After the body is prepared for meditation, the breath is under control, he says “Now you have to withdraw the senses from the external world.” These are highly psychological practices, meaning that with practice they were able to really disconnect from the external sensory objects.
Debra Maldonado 18:52
Like what we do at sleep, we retrieve our senses from the world, we slowly do it at night as we go to sleep. We forget that we have a body, we’re floating around in a dream, then we go to this deeper states. So we know how to do that.
Robert Maldonado 19:08
To peer inward, to look inward, that introspective method of looking into our mind, you have to detach from the external world. Otherwise, you’re too distracted. You’re focusing on what you’re going to have for lunch or what happened last year. All these things come up in the mind to try to distract you actually in meditation. Anyone who has tried to sit even for a few minutes, you’ll know that the mind resists it.
Debra Maldonado 19:45
Someone asked Shankara about walking meditation, does that count as meditation. He said the optimal meditation is to sit, not lay down because you can fall asleep, but sit up. Because when you’re walking there’s so many distractions that you’re getting pulled back into the world, it’s too distracting for the mind. I’m not saying that walking meditation is bad. It’s great. I love walking meditation. But for the goal of this level of meditation, you can’t just be walking. In some ways, I think people try to fit their meditation into their daily walk, trying to do two for the price of one. It is really uncomfortable to sit, withdraw the senses and just be, so a lot of people, especially Westerners, resist that. Or they don’t know why they’re doing it. They think they’re shutting their mind off, or they have those misconceptions of what it is. They say “I tried to meditate, I can’t do it.”
Robert Maldonado 20:51
I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’re trying to stop their thinking. It may be in some meditations, that the goal is to stop the thinking. But Patanjali is aiming for bigger stuff. After you’re able to withdraw the senses, of course, through practice, through having a teacher and a guide to do this, once you get to the point where you’re able to withdraw the senses from the external objects of the world, you start to experience that inner world of the mind. You start to center your awareness in the mind instead of the awareness of the external world, you’re sitting in meditation.
Debra Maldonado 21:49
If you think about everyday life, we’re always putting ourselves as an object connected to other objects in the world. We’re always attached to them in some way. The money means something, the relationship means something, the boss means something, the title means something. When you’re pulling inward, you’re letting go of all those objects that you define yourself by. It’s really starting to see yourself beyond the ego. That’s really the goal.
Robert Maldonado 22:21
We don’t stop there. The next step is, once you’re able to withdraw the senses, you can focus and make your mind one-pointed as Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, then you’re able to concentrate. Because again, we see this difficulty in concentration because people aren’t preparing. They just sit and try to meditate. Their mind is scattered all over the place, it’s very difficult to get it to focus on one thing, or one object or one idea, or one point of focus.
Debra Maldonado 23:08
It’s so hard. I would tell people, even for a minute, sitting in silence and not thinking of anything, just focusing on a dot on the wall, just letting yourself stare at it — that one minute goes by so slow because the mind is so used to wanting to grasp on to these other objects and identify with them. It gets very uncomfortable. It’s like when we go to sleep, we disconnect from the objects of the world, we’re giving ourselves that state while we’re awake, which is really powerful.
Robert Maldonado 23:44
If we think about the bigger picture, meditation was designed to take the reins of the mind. Instead of letting the mind direct you and call the shots, meditation was designed as a practice for you to take the reins of the mind, for you to steer it, for you to direct it. That ability to focus, to make it one-pointed, to place it wherever you desire to place it. Of course, in the larger context of the philosophy, remember, the aim was to realize the true nature of the self or you as the self. once you were able to focus, you could direct it towards that purpose. Or only after you’re able to focus and direct it in that way.
Debra Maldonado 24:46
Your hands are on the wheel of your mind versus in regular life we’re conditioned and reacting to the stimulus of the external, just being thrown away. They say the cork on top of the ocean, being bashed by the waves and the storms, not having any power, we’re just kind of floating. Then we become the ocean where we can focus on something. That focus and concentration helps us realize how connected we are to everything and how everything’s us. Of course, you have to study higher knowledge to understand what you’re really experiencing and understand it in a deeper way. But through meditation, it helps you have a direct experience of it. For me, it was something I couldn’t read directly, I don’t know what it’s like for you. When you’ve had those knowing moments, where you’re in meditation, you’re just contemplating and then things just arise, not even in words, but it’s just awareness of remembrance, or it’s kind of a numinous idea. I tried to explain it to you, and you’re just like “What are you talking?” You are just having a knowing, it’s beyond words. Have you had those experiences?
Robert Maldonado 26:06
Here’s one of the reasons we don’t study this process that much in western psychology. It’s because it’s a subjective experience, you cannot reach that state of mind and show somebody else.
Debra Maldonado 26:23
That’s what I’m trying to say. You know it but you can’t put it into words. It’s knowing versus just like I always say, you’re going from your head to your heart. You know it intellectually but your heart embodies it. It’s just this trust in who you are on a deep level. That’s really what meditation can bring you to. Then there’s nothing to be stressed about, if you have that realization.
Robert Maldonado 26:52
We haven’t gotten to the actual meditation yet in Patanjali’s method. Once you’re able to discipline your mind body, where you can withdraw the senses, then you can focus it or concentrate it, you get to meditation which he describes as a steady stream of consciousness. Have you ever seen water in the faucet when it’s pouring straight out, unbroken? He describes it that way, we’re aiming to create a steady stream that’s unbroken by thoughts and fluctuation, or emotions. We’re in a constant steady state where consciousness is coming through. We’re experiencing that beautiful state of power, it feels liberating to say the least because we’re not experiencing the conditioning of our mind or personal life.
Debra Maldonado 28:03
That’s the importance of focus because you need to focus to get to that. Your body needs to be able to be sitting and relax, all the preparation. Of course, you need to be a good person. That’s why I said it was really effective for me to pick a spot and even have my eyes open. Because when I close my eyes, my imagination would spin. But opening my eyes and looking down at a spot or looking at a spot on the wall gave my mind something to do while this other flow started happening. You’re like “Ego, I’m gonna give you this job, we’re gonna look at that spot.” Then step aside while this other flow comes through.
Robert Maldonado 28:44
That state of meditation is what we’re aiming for. But we have to prepare for it, we have to discipline the mind. Again, that discipline, it’s a practice, it’s a way of training our mind. If you think what’s happening here is the mind working on itself. It’s a complete loop where the mind is able to redirect the focus on itself to discipline itself. That would be the seventh limb. Jnana, or meditation is the seventh. But after that, why do we practice that steady flow of consciousness? So that we can liberate ourselves which is Samadhi, the state of liberation.
Debra Maldonado 29:54
So eight is really the goal. It’s interesting because eight is infinity too.
Robert Maldonado 30:00
In yoga it’s a little bit different than Vedanta, because in Vedanta they don’t consider special states of mind to be the aim, the Jnana yoga. But in Patanjali’s yoga the aim was certainly the special state of mind. Because it gave us a taste of freedom from our individual encapsulated experience, the universal mind.
Debra Maldonado 30:40
It connected us with the whole, the self. When we sit in meditation, the intention we always want to intend to, is that the goal of that meditation is to get to Samadhi. How would you describe Samadhi for people? Is it floating on a cloud? Do you feel it in your body as an emptiness of feeling? How does one know they got there? That would be my question.
Robert Maldonado 31:13
It’s tricky because we don’t want to use it as a bait to get people to meditate saying “You’re going to experience this beautiful state of mind.” Because again, that attachment, wanting to reach that is ego itself. It takes you back to the beginning.
Debra Maldonado 31:42
So it naturally arises. I was just saying, how would someone know they got there?
Robert Maldonado 31:50
You know, there’s no mistaking it. It’s not like “Did I miss something? I blinked and I missed it.” No, it is transcendent state of mind. Like when people talk about dissolving the ego, through hallucinogenics, or through religious experiences.
Debra Maldonado 32:14
Is that like ecstasy, religious experience?
Robert Maldonado 32:18
We can use the Upanishads a little bit here to help us describe that sensation. It says the self is pure bliss. If you can imagine, take the bliss that you’ve felt through lovemaking, or through enjoying a beautiful, delicious meal and multiply it thousand times. That would be or come close to the bliss of the self. It says, then it’s pure awareness, pure consciousness, there’s no bounds to it. There is no bounds here, which means you feel expansive because you’re not identifying with your ego or individuality. You are experiencing the transcendence in you. Then, of course, pure beingness, meaning there’s no sense of you needing to be anywhere else than where you’re at right now. It’s completeness or wholeness. Jung describes a little bit of this, when he says, it’s a feeling where there is no up and down. There is no duality. The Upanishads say that this is our true nature. It’s not something you’re obtaining through the meditation, the meditation is helping you peel back the illusion that you’re not that. Everyone right now is already that state, is already the self. The illusion is that you’re not.
Debra Maldonado 34:30
The ego’s covering the state that’s available to us. I like to always think about it as the pure awareness, this witness mind, it’s with us all the time, if we could just step back and be aware of what’s aware. You are starting to get a tiny pinprick of what’s behind the veil of the ego, it’s there with us all the time. Just there’s so much distraction but the meditation is really there to pull us away from that distraction, move inward, so we can find that state. There’s nowhere to go, there’s nowhere to fall, there’s nothing to change. It really is freedom. A lot of times we think if we just set up our life the right way, we can have that kind of bliss. No, you can have it right now, you don’t need to acquire all those things. If you can go to those states, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have those other things in life, it’s not like you would be disinterested in them, you just won’t be as attached. It does serve that purpose of creating your life and all those things that we all want in the Western world. But like Shankara said, we do need to not get so attached with the material and not forget the self realization, that’s the reason why we’re meditating.
Robert Maldonado 36:00
For those interested, you can look up Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga. A useful way to break it down for our everyday experience is to go back to these three levels of awareness that we go through every day. The waking state, the gross experience of the world, meaning we experience the world in our waking state as this material reality. That’s considered the gross manifestation of consciousness, in the sense that it’s the most dense, or it appears to us to be the most dense, solid. The physical body, our sensory experience of the the table, the computers, the cars, the houses, all this stuff. But going inward, we were talking about closing your eyes and turning the senses inward. We experience the subtle mind, a subtle mind body, or some people call it the subtle body. If you think about when we dream, in your dream, usually you have a body. But it’s a subtle body.
Debra Maldonado 37:37
It feels solid when you’re dreaming. But when you wake up, you’re like “That wasn’t really me going to that place physically.”
Robert Maldonado 37:44
In the subtle world, you’re able to move through walls, you’re able to fly, you’re able to be in two places all at once, or be another person. So really, what’s happening in our dreams is we’re experiencing the subtle mind. It’s actually here with us every moment. But it’s covered over by the sensory experience, because it’s so loud, it’s so bright, it covers over the feeling of the subtlety of the mind. It feels like we’re experiencing just an external reality.
Debra Maldonado 38:20
This subtle might also be our imagination. When we do visualization or even imagining a future state, that’s the subtle mind because it’s not physically in the world that we can touch with our senses. But we have an experience of it in our mind.
Robert Maldonado 38:39
We can think of it as going deeper into ourselves. There’s this external shell of the world and our physical reality, then there’s a subtle mind which is the imagination, dreams, thinking, emotions, all that is happening in that subtle realm.
Debra Maldonado 39:04
I know a lot of people think the emotion happens in the body, but the body is actually just reacting to what the mind is doing. An emotion is actually an idea. The physical body’s just responding to that idea. It’s the mind body, obviously, that’s why we connect it. But the emotion and what we think about it, and how we relate to it subjectively, and thinking, all that is in the subtle mind.
Robert Maldonado 39:33
The subtle mind is always with us because it’s how we make meaning out of our physical experiences. If the subtle mind was not there, we would just be like robots interacting with other objects in the world. But because the subtle mind is there, it’s giving us this experience of the world in a meaningful emotional way.
Debra Maldonado 39:56
If you remember your dreams, you know that you have some other experience that’s not physical every night. There must be something besides just this body and brain functioning in the world, bumping up against things there. There’s another element of us beyond the physical. I don’t think people realize how mystical dreaming is.
Robert Maldonado 40:22
Just being alive is mystical. One click deeper we have the physical, or the gross reality, the subtle mind, then deeper than that is the causal mind, which is what we experience in deep sleep. When you’re asleep and not dreaming, meaning you’re not caught up in the subtle mind, you experience the experience of absence, that there’s nothing.
Debra Maldonado 41:11
There’s no objects for it to bounce off of. I was thinking about this the other day, I was reading about the causal mind and I was wondering, in the physical world, in the universe, the idea of a black hole — scientists can’t figure out what is a black hole, it’s the absence of objects, absence of light, there’s nothing to bounce it off of. And I was just wondering if the black holes are really the self disguise?
Robert Maldonado 41:43
Everything is related, obviously the universe works in these patterns. As it is in the heavens, it is in us. We’re a microcosm of the universe. But anyway, what happens in this state of nothingness that appears to us as nothingness in deep sleep is that we’re restored. This is a verified by research that if you prevent a person from going into this deep sleep state, they will die. It is the source of our life essentially, it’s where energy comes from, our prana, from this restorative deep sleep state. We need to touch that space within us every 24 hours to be restored. We all know how it feels to wake up from a good night’s sleep. There’s nothing like it, it’s like we’re reborn, renewed.
Debra Maldonado 42:50
I fall asleep really quick. But sometimes when I’m falling asleep really slow, there’s such a blissful feeling as you just drift off, and you’re, like you say, drinking the nectar of immortality. There’s some beautiful place that we know we’re going to, we’re driving to every night. And people that can’t sleep, it’s really hard. It affects everything, physically and mentally.
Robert Maldonado 43:17
A simple way to think about it for our practical, busy lives is that there are these three states of mind. Meditation is simply a way to access that deep state while we’re awake. If I’m in the middle of my day, and I’m going to sit and meditate, what I’m doing is I’m touching that causal state of mind. I’m being restored. That’s why meditation is so beneficial, we’re essentially gaining the benefits of deep sleep, but in a shorter time and in a conscious, directed way.
Debra Maldonado 44:03
Then we can enjoy life in a more conscious way. Because we’re getting that awakening mind where we’re understanding concepts that we read in our higher knowledge and we’re studying. We go through life and things that don’t work out, you’re just “Ah, okay.” It makes life easier, not for you to be not stressed. But it’s the deeper understanding or the wisdom that comes through meditation. Not the voice coming “You’re gonna make it”, it’s more of a deeper feeling of solidness, you feel connected to something. It’s so solid, and maybe that’s that stream, that line of consciousness that you just tap into. Like this silence on the base of the ocean, that really calm place where the waves are flashing on the surface, and then there’s that calm underneath, that’s within us all the time, we just get distracted.
Robert Maldonado 45:07
It’s a source of our being. If you peel away all the layers of existence, what you find is that experience of pure awareness, pure consciousness.
Debra Maldonado 45:22
To wrap it up, we recommend you sit, be a good person, make an intention to want to have that self knowledge, the knowledge of the big self, your true nature. Sit down because you don’t want to be standing or walking, settle the mind. You start with the breath, work on concentration, then move into an object to concentrate on. Or like I said, you could just find spot on the wall, or an image in your mind, and just your breath. Sometimes they say focus on breath going in one nostril, it’s so weird but it actually does calm you. Or a place on your body, maybe holding your finger, and just be there focusing on the sensation, eventually just staying with that. As the thoughts come, you’re not trying to push them away. You’re just letting them go by and not hooking into them. They’re finding that stream, it’s like I want to fight. You’re just not grasping at the stream, but allowing the stream to surface. You’re looking for it to arise. How many minutes? Say, someone is just starting out meditating, what do you recommend as far as how long to do it?
Robert Maldonado 46:49
20 minutes is really a good starting point. If you really want to practice meditation, I think you can find 20 minutes in your life somewhere or in your day to meditate. Again, don’t be hooked into trying to obtain a certain state of mind, but more focus on the steps and practicing them, like a routine, practicing reaching calm your mind, so that you can start to take the reins of it.
Debra Maldonado 47:33
Do you recommend maybe doing some yoga poses before meditation?
Robert Maldonado 47:37
The main yoga pose is what the Buddha is illustrating in the back there, the lotus position, or the half lotus position. It’s an Asana, meaning it’s a physical discipline, it expresses the idea that you’re putting the physical body under the direction of the higher mind, the higher mind has presence over the body. The mind is in charge and is directing it
Debra Maldonado 48:22
The higher mind, not the ego mind.
Robert Maldonado 48:24
What happens with repeated practices, as soon as you get into the meditation position, your mind also clicks into that relaxation mode, it starts to recondition, or decondition you to where you start to experience that natural state of mind.
Debra Maldonado 48:48
When you close your eyes, naturally your brain alters to go into that meditative state just by closing your eyes. We’re so used to sleeping every night, that pattern is already there. We already have the physical mechanisms to prepare ourselves. We just have to stay awake. So we don’t recommend lying down because you can fall asleep, and you don’t want to fall asleep during meditation, that’s not the goal. You want to be awake for the Samadhi, you don’t want to be sleeping through it. You don’t want to miss the good stuff. But it is really a beautiful practice. I think it’s a way for self love. It’s to bring you back to your own power versus feeling the powers and objects or people out there. You’re reclaiming your own power, your own inner connection to your spiritual wisdom, it’s a beautiful process. Next week we’re taking the week off because we’re moving, but we will be back on August 13. We’re changing the time because we’re going to be on East Coast time, we’re going to be changing the time. We’ll be announcing that soon. And we’ll be doing another series on Buddhist philosophy, not religion, but Buddhist philosophy.
Robert Maldonado 50:13
Very rich philosophy, one of those schools that grew out of the Vedas and the Upanishads but took a very interesting direction. If you read the early Buddhist texts, he’s definitely a psychologist and interested in working with cognition, with emotions, with the mind.
Debra Maldonado 50:43
It’s a little different but all come from the same foundation of the ideas. I’m reading this book “In the Light of the Self.” It’s like a commentary on Adi Shankara. He came about right after Buddhism started taking off in India, and he reformed Advaita Vedanta to bring it up to speed, to make it more practical for people. He would constantly have Buddhists come in and talk to him and ask him questions. What happened is they realized that they were really talking about the same thing. The emptiness and the self are basically the same thing. They’re just using different terms and ways to get there. But very interesting. I love learning about different philosophies and how they can impact our modern life, and how it relates to Jung because he’d studied all the Eastern philosophy as well.
Robert Maldonado 51:49
Buddhism has had a huge influence on the West. We’ll talk a little bit about that too.
Debra Maldonado 51:57
Great. I hope you enjoyed today. I hope you all take up meditation if you haven’t already. And if you have, maybe this will help you improve your practice. We’ll see you in two weeks.
Robert Maldonado 52:11
Thanks for watching. See you next time.
Debra Maldonado 52:15
Take care. Bye bye.