This is Why Meditation Will Not Be Enough For Your Growth
It’s time to take a holistic look at meditation.
“Which meditation technique do you use?” my friend asked me last night.
Because I’ve been blessed enough to be consistent with meditation for some time, he was curious to know which technique I’m using.
“I use multiple techniques. The main is Kriya Yoga popularised by Paramahansa Yogananda in the last century,” I replied.
Then he started telling me about his experience. He first used meditation apps like Headspace. After not liking it, he switched to a course by another institution which he was able to practice for quite a while before you know, life happened.
Over the past year, seeing a change in me, I’ve had many such conversations with my friends. Most people think the secret is the technique. To some extent it is.
Kriya Yoga is confidential because it’s given only after a preparation period of almost a year. The seeker needs to prove his/her sincerity towards the path.
This is why you won’t find it in a book or a blog post. And even though Yogananda called it the “airplane route to God” it’s still not enough on its own.
Modern meditation practices have spread around the world like wildfire. The time when it was considered for hippies is long gone.
It’s not just a fad. In fact, in places like Silicon Valley, it could make your career.
Take Google for instance. Thousands of Googlers have gone through various forms of meditation training. They conduct classes like ‘Neural Self-Hacking’ and ‘Managing Your Energy’.
They’ve built a labyrinth for walking meditations. Then there is the company’s bimonthly series of “mindful lunches,” conducted in complete silence except for the ringing of prayer bells, which began after the Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh visited in 2011.
On the face of it, it seems that the most advanced humans in the western world are taking on Eastern traditions. But that’s far from the truth.
Entrepreneurs and engineers are taking millennia-old traditions and reshaping them to fit the Valley’s goal-oriented, data-driven, largely atheistic culture.
Forget past lives; never mind nirvana. The technology community of Northern California wants a return on its investment in meditation. “All the woo-woo mystical stuff, that’s really retrograde,” says Kenneth Folk, an influential meditation teacher in San Francisco. “This is about training the brain and stirring up the chemical soup inside.”
It’s understandable why this runs through the veins of Silicon Valley. After all, many founders and revolutionists of the tech industry were hippies. Most notably, Steve Jobs. But the Valley has little patience for this “hippie bull**”
The reason people are stripping these ancient practices off their teachings is simple. They want to appeal to the grumpy silicon valley engineer who may be an atheist or a rationalist.
I get that.
And even though this has done an amazing job of bringing meditation to the masses, it makes me uncomfortable.
Why? Because the Eastern traditions of Hinduism of Buddhism aren’t learned in the way these are being taught to modern rationalists. Meditation has historically been an important part of every teaching — but it’s only a part nonetheless. It can never be the whole.
**This culture has made meditation transactional. Instead, meditation is best done in the spirit of self-offering. **Offering yourself to the Ultimate Reality or God.
To put it simply, they’re taking a rather narrow view of meditation. But to advance spiritually (which trust me, you want to), you need much more than that.
Right Attitude is Everything
“Mankind has always been somewhat prone to mistake technique for inspiration, forgetting that technique is merely a vehicle for inspiration.” — Swami Kriyananda
Driving the car is a technique. But is the technique useful if you don’t know where you want to go?
And more importantly, what good does it do to have good driving techniques if your driving attitude is anti-social?
Apparently, the better you get with your techniques, the more you need the right attitude. A skilled driver with wrong intentions can do serious damage to himself and others.
The same is true for meditation in spiritual growth. If you focus on meditation just as a technique to improve concentration, or regulate emotions, you’ll not go far. If you have such a narrow outlook towards mediation, you’ll not develop any power within yourself over time.
What use is meditation if you get stressed the moment adversity strikes? What good is meditation is you shout at the barista for putting a little more sugar in your coffee?
It’s no surprise that a person who takes the right action with the right attitude may still grow more than the person who meditates every day.
You need to combine meditation with the right attitude. This will kickstart an infinite cycle of positivity. The more you meditate the more you perform the right action. And the more right actions you perform, the more you want to meditate to expand the peace you feel.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Adiyogi or Shiva (the first yogi) taught the principles of Yoga to seven sages — called “Saptarishis.” *(“Sapt” means seven and “rishi” means a sage). *Shiva taught different segments of Yoga to each of them. Over a period of time, these seven segments led to the evolution of various other teachings.
Before 400CE, Patanjali combined these teachings into his [Yoga Sutras](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga_Sutras_of_Patanjali).
Many people think that it’s his system or that it’s limited to Hinduism. Yet, it’s the same for all human beings regardless of their religious beliefs.
It isn’t a system that one needs to follow step by step. Here are the eight limbs you should explore to develop the right attitude.
Yama: These are the don’ts of the spiritual path. It includes nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-lust, and non-possessiveness.
Niyama: These are the dos. It includes cleanliness & purity, contentment, austerity, the study of self, and devotion to God. Note: Tha Yamas and Niyamas are not steps one follows. These are the traits that people naturally develop as they advance spiritually. You can read more about Yamas and Niyamas here.
Asana: Asana is usually understood as an exercise or a posture to stay fit, Patanjali used asana to prepare the body for meditation. The aim is to train the body so you can sit still for long periods without physical distractions. It’s mastered by freeing the mind and body from tension and restlessness.
Pranayama: Prana is the life force inside us. Another name for it in the Chinese text is Chi. Pranayama, therefore, is the control of that life force. The life force is correlated with the breath and thus people interpret this as the control of the breath. Proper practice of pranayama helps to calm the mind and makes it easier to breathe and concentrate.
Pratyahara: Pratyahara is the withdrawal of energy from the senses. A deeply meditating yogi can shut off all his senses and turn all his attention inward. It’s an intense state of awareness without distraction because it no longer matters if your legs are paining or your nose is itching.
Dharana: Dharana means concentration. The goal is to bound the mind in one place to still it. When you focus on one object like the breath, you lose awareness of time — this is how many meditators distort their sense of time and achieve (in a perfect state) timelessness.
Dhyana: Long periods of concentration leads to a state of actual meditation. It’s not about focusing on nothingness, rather it’s a heightened state of awareness and a feeling of oneness with the universe. This state can also spill over into your daily life even as you’re driving or sitting in a stressful boardroom meeting.
Samadhi: This is the goal of the spiritual path — absolute bliss. The is pure superconsciousness and what people call enlightenment.
These are not eight steps, rather eight limbs that work in tandem. As you can see even with the Yamas and the Niyamas, you need much more than meditation to progress spiritually.
It’s not about a certain technique that can liberate you. You need a wholesome attitude — the right action combined with meditation practice.
Perhaps the most underrated, yet the most important piece of the puzzle is devotion.
Devotion, as mention in Patanjali’s last Niyama Ishvarapranidhana (fixating your mind on God), comes in many shapes and forms.
But there needs to be that spark in one’s life towards spiritual progress.
Think about living near a beautiful restaurant. You know it has good food, ambiance, cutlery, variety, kind staff, and so on. But if you’re not hungry, what use is it to live near it?
Devotion to God, to our practice, gives us that hunger. It’s what gives us the willpower to deny everything else and prioritize meditation in the first place.
This is, as I mentioned above, a great delusion amongst many modern meditation practitioners and teachers. If we try to separate meditation as just a focus-enhancing technique, of course, it will be boring.
In the last two decades, people took Yoga and started using it for slimmer hips and stomachs instead of a way to achieve higher awareness. The same is happening with meditation.
There’s too high an emphasis on the physical benefits and the spiritual principles remain unknown to the majority of people.
“Devotion is the secret key, for God cannot resist the outpourings of great love from a true devotee’s heart.“ — Paramahansa Yogananda
The aim of devotion is to open our hearts. Many of us stimulate ourselves intellectually. We think an intellectual understanding is of utmost importance.
But true inspiration and intuition cannot come if the heart is closed to receive it.
Don’t fret though. I was in the same place one year ago. I thought of meditation as just another skill. My relationship with it was transactional!
If I felt good after my meditation, I’d do it the next day. If not, I’d be less motivated to continue.
Over time, however, the following steps have helped me develop more devotion
Chanting are prayers put to music. And the right music has the power to lift your consciousness.
It also does a great job of focusing the monkey mind when you’re distracted and raising your spirits when you feel low.
There are both short and long chants that you can pick. Here’s an example.
Initially, sing in a loud voice and as you go deeper, soften your voice until you only repeat it mentally. This is done to take the chant into your consciousness, subconscious, and superconscious mind.
Pick a chant that reminds you of the Higher Power (whatever you’d like to call it). Work with it for a week or two to see how deep you can go with it.
Chanting has become my constant companion throughout the day no matter what situation I am in.
Make Your Mediations Devotional
How often do we sit for meditation thinking about what we can gain from it?
Instead, all the great ones recommend meditating in the spirit of self-offering.
Offer your desires, ambitions, and energy up to your higher Self. Let go of any desire for fruits of your practice. As you adopt this attitude, you’ll find yourself becoming peaceful and happier over time.
Don’t judge yourself if you can’t concentrate. Don’t think if you’re a good meditator or not.
All that time spent in determining your progress can be better spent progressing even further.
In conclusion, if you make devotion your priority, you’ll find all troubles vanishing and situations becoming easier.
Meditation Never Plays Solo, It’s a part of the Orchestra
It’s time we think about integrating the right attitudes and spiritual principles that come with meditation into our practice.
Contrary to what most people think, it’s not about being a “hippie.” It’s about a deeper spiritual connection in tandem with emotional, mental, and physical growth.
Meditation supports and is supported by a lot of factors. It never plays solo, it’s part of a larger orchestra inside our own being.
Struggling to meditate? Get your free 5 Day email course — [**Meditation 101: How to Start Meditating](http://bit.ly/meditation101-course)