What to do in Meditation :-)

Last Friday I was having the customary drink at the bar with a friend who wanted to discuss his start up idea with me. It’s like a game we play may be once a few months. He gets his ideas and I get mine and we create companies  and close them as drinks keep pouring in. By the time we are done a UBER or an Air BNB or a Spotify has breathed it’s last 😊

At some point in the discussion my friend told me that he has this rush of ideas and emotions all the time. The urge to do something, to make something happen and when he is not “doing” something he feels restless. Almost like he is wasting his time or He is not getting anywhere in life. Intuitively, I said – You should meditate. To this he asked a question which I thought was amusing but coming from someone who is totally un initiated it was a genuine enquiry. He asked me”What do you do in Meditation?”. I was so tempted to tell him that it’s meditation not medication that you have to pop a pill and things will be all right. But I restrained my thought and told him:

” Well, you do nothing”

“But how can you do nothing !”

I was in no mood to drag the discussion on a serious subject like this after 2 glasses of Jacob’s Creek inside me. So I just said “You need to practice. I will tell you how.” We let the discussion end there.

Today morning while practising Zazen at Cubbon Park something remarkable happened. Sitting gently and quietly on a bench I could see a number of people of all shapes,forms and sizes walk past me. Once I finished the session I decided to make a small two minute video of what I had been observing. I think it will make it very easy for me to explain to my friend what one should Do in Meditation.

Most people think that meditation is all about closing your eyes and relaxing. But that is exactly what it is not ! When introduced to the technique by many teachers who themselves have little idea the immediate reaction of someone trying to meditate the first time is – Wow it was so relaxing. Of course, it was relaxing because you were dozing off :-)and the effect is the same as a power nap. The real meditation which is Concentration Meditation where you focus on an imagery for long periods in time is actually quite exhausting. Also, the constant fight to remove thoughts from barging in so you can achieve a thoughtless state can be quite challenging. Although, that is the wrong way to approach the practice. So what exactly should a beginner do ? The answer is just sit and observe what is happening around you. Now watch this video as if you were watching your thoughts. Imagine each passer by to be a thought. Let’s start :

  1. A group of thoughts
  2. No thought for a second and then one thought rushes on a bicycle
  3. No thought and then one lonely thought and then another
  4. Thought of you as a kid on a bicycle followed by some more random thoughts
  5. Some more random thoughts then a green thought filled with envy rushes past
  6. A thought of you with a friend then a healthy 🙂 thought
  7. Some more thoughts then a thought of a girl
  8. A moment of thoughtlessness and then a lot of thoughts( constant chatter of crows too)

Now if you keep observing for half an hour, you will find that a pattern will emerge. It’s the same as what you will see above from point #1 to point# 8. This is the nature of our mind. Cubbon Park may be a good place to do this exercise from 8-9 AM because slowly the morning crowd starts thinning and at around 9 AM you will find the number of thoughts aka people are half of what they were before. Imagine they shut out the entry and then there is no one. You are all alone- peaceful, easy, no rush to go or come, no one to bother you. At this point you may get a feeling that I have the entire park to myself. This is your first glimpse of ecstasy. Of enlightenment.

On the other hand suppose you start calling out to passers by. Start to talk or engage with them in some manner or the other what do you think will happen? You will talk to one person for some time and then the other one and then the other and so on. Let’s say you find someone quite interesting and you ask him for a cup of coffee or breakfast together. You will go “with” them and will no longer be present. You may take the opportunity to know the person(thought) quite well and then drop the idea of any further relationship. This is again a good way to meditate. Take that one thought and follow it till the end. Watch it threadbare. Where did it come from ? What do I want from it? Am I feeling good or bad about it? who is thinking this thought? If the thought is not me then who am I ? If I am the thought then how can I drop myself?

You will realise with practise that like waves in the ocean thoughts do not have any existence of their own. They rise and fall ipon the infinite sub stratum of our consciousness. Consciousness by itself is pure like the surface of lake in which we can see everything very clearly -as it is, when it is calm and still but as soon as there is some disturbance ripples arise the picture gets distorted. This is the illusion of maya.

Ok enough gyan for today. I will leave you with this beautiful song that incidentally started playing on my headphones after I finished the meditation session. I think the nature rewarded me with something that reflected my state of mind and it was just beautiful. Irshad Kamil has penned such beautiful lyrics. Listen in :


रंग बिरंगे वहमों में मैं उड़ता फिरूं..