We have given many classes over the years, and we see that one thing separates the people who succeed in meditation from those who do not. It is a very simple thing – the people who succeed are the ones who give meditation importance in their lives.
At the beginning, giving meditation importance means setting aside the time to do it every day. It does not even need to be for long at the beginning – if you start with just five or 10 minutes and do this consistently, then this is a very good start. Yet in order to have the willpower to do this, you should ask yourself why you are doing it, and what you want to get out of it. If these reasons are really sincere, then they will make it much easier for you to meditate.
Video: Our friend Pradhan Balter has been giving meditation classes for over 30 years – he describes very nicely the importance of having a sincere reason for meditation.
Then, when you start meditating, you realise that there is a part of your being, inside the depths of your heart, that is always wanting this experience of peace and joy that meditation gives. Inside each of us, there is an inner flame, an inner cry for Light, an inner hunger for a deeper experience, an inner need to constantly change and move beyond your present limits. This inner yearning is called aspiration. The more you stay in touch with this aspiration, the easier it is to meditate – it will be as if your heart’s aspiration is driving your meditation all by itself.
Sometimes life is risking everything for a dream that no-one can see, but you – Anonymous
This inner aspiration for something deeper and higher is not the same as our usual wants and desires for material wealth and security, for recognition or fame. In fact, it is quite the opposite in many respects. Fulfilling ordinary human desires give an immediate sense of pleasure, followed by a need for more of the same. These desires promise happiness, and they deliver emptiness. But this feeling of aspiration delivers a fulfilling happiness – just by feeling it. You may not yet have arrived at your goal, you may not yet have conquered your thoughts, but you get a feeling of joy just from knowing you are headed in the right direction.
Another big difference between aspiration and ordinary human desires is that we try to make human desires go away by getting the thing we are craving for. We know how painful human desires can be; we would never think of increasing them! But aspiration is actually something we can actually work on increasing. Why is that? Well, the more your aspiration increases, the more your inner being comes to the fore and starts ‘taking over’ the meditation. At the beginning of meditation, you have to exercise a little conscious effort through various exercises; but when your aspiration is strong enough, it will be as if your own soul is leading the way and showing you how to meditate. This is when you can have your best and highest meditations.
An exercise to increase your aspiration
Our meditation teacher, Sri Chinmoy, was once asked how one could increase their aspiration:
Imagine that you have a small flame, a tiny flame, inside your heart. Just visualise it. What is this flame doing? It is trying to climb up. It is trying to illumine the unlit part of you. If you can appreciate that flame, then your aspiration will increase…
..Each time we appreciate something, we expand it and increase its capacity. If you can imagine that inside you a flame is burning, and if you can appreciate it, then that flame will increase, and its capacity will also increase. Eventually it will become big enough to illumine your heart and finally your entire being. So, in order to increase your aspiration, please appreciate the burning flame inside you. While you are appreciating it, you will see that your inner cry is increasing.
The power of group meditations
In group meditation, the aspiration of everyone in the group comes together. It is recommended to have both individual meditation every day, and also meditate in a group. Even though the individual meditations are a little more difficult at the beginning, it is those meditations that will really enable you to develop true aspiration. And in the group meditations, we help each other have the high meditations that give us confidence to go forward.