By Carolyn (Karuna) Beaver
It’s a DIY world. You can retile your bathroom or create a garden oasis in a weekend. Television home and garden shows assure you it can be done. I love a good home improvement project. But I am not naïve enough to think I have done it all myself. Yes, I picked out the materials and followed the directions, but I had help from those who described how the project should be done, step by step.
I used to meditate in the same way, picking up how to’s from books, videos and CDs. While these meditations offered fairly clear steps, they never stuck with me. I’d get tired of them and move on to something else. They made me feel better, but they didn’t stick.
They were quick fixes, seemingly like the one offered in Swami Nirmalananda’s September Teachings: Meditate As You’d Like. She cites Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.39:
yatha-abhimata dhyaanaad vaa.
Or meditate on whatever you like
[when your mind is distracted or disturbed]
She suggests that you meditate for just a minute and says it will make you feel better. It likely will not provide a deep or mystical experience, she adds, nor will it lead to Self-Realization. Still, the beauty of a quick fix is that it is an anywhere, anytime practice. You can use it when your distractible mind needs it the most. You can always stop for a minute and meditate on something you like. Patanjali suggests this will ease your disturbed mind.
Swamiji says you can meditate on what you want, for the length of time you want. You can be in any physical position, using whatever methodology you want. And it will make you feel better. Swamiji’s quick fix, based on Patanjali’s sutra, differs from my early quick fixes. Her quick fix is a prelude to the kind of meditation that takes you all the way to Self-Realization.
But how much better do you want to feel? I have discovered that I want to feel a lot better, and all the time! I can still use a quick fix occasionally, but the long-term fix is to meditate longer.
This month’s quick fix has deepened my knowing. If I want the experiences that lead to Self-Realization, I need to sit upright. I need to use a time-tested methodology. It should be given by a teacher who has been trained and authorized to share it with me.
That’s why the books, videos and CDs didn’t work for me. They didn’t have the energy of a meditation master behind them. They were the products of unenlightened beings. Luckily, I have a master teacher in Swami Nirmalananda. She’s given me the enlivened mantra Om Namah Shivaya. She was authorized to give it to me by her teacher, who was authorized by his teacher. It’s been handed down from generation to generation in a lineage of Shaktipat Gurus. The Grace of our tradition ensures that meditating with our mantra is the fix that sticks.