Ananda Marga

Meditation: Going beyond positive thinking

Meditation: Going beyond positive thinking

Beyond Positive thinking

There is an old adage in yoga psychology which is at the heart of the phenomenon of positive thinking.

‘The mind takes the shape of its object’.

When you pour water into a container, it will take the shape of the container. Our mind stuff, that most subtle of all substances, acts in a similar way. If you think of a camel then there is a portion of your mind that takes the shape of a camel, which is another way of saying that the mind forms an image of a camel. Now as we learned earlier, each and every expression of the universe is vibrational in character. A thought is a mental wave composed of psychic energy or mind-stuff. Because it is vibrational in character that mental wave has a particular wavelength. The wavelength of the thought-image of a camel will not be the same as the wavelength of the thought of a vast ocean or a feeling of compassion. Some thoughts are subtle in character and some are less so. Subtle or expansive thoughts, as you might suspect, have a long, steady wavelength while crude thoughts have a much shorter, erratic wavelength. Our mind as a whole has its own characteristic wavelength which is the composite of all the waves active in the mind at any one time. While our mind’s wavelength is constantly changing as different thought-waves rise and fall in our mental ocean, it never changes very much because we each have our own habitual style of thinking, our personality, which determines the nature of those recurring individual waves.

Now what happens in nature when two interact? There is a clash between the two waves and each is influenced to some extent by the other. The stronger the wave is, the greater the influence it exerts, and the less it is affected by the other wave. When two waves are similar in character then there is very little clash. They vibrate sympathetically. On the practical level we experience this as a natural affinity or dislike for the people and things we come into contact with. Our feeling of like or dislike depends on the degree of sympathetic or non-sympathetic vibration between our mental wavelength and that of the object we come in contact with. ‘Good vibes’ is exactly that, the good vibrations that come when we experience a parallelism between the wavelength of our mind and that of the person or object or environment we are in contact with.

As the mind stuff gathers to take the shape of the mental object the wavelength of that thought-form is going to affect the overall character of mind. To some small degree it will influence or alter the characteristic wavelength of that mind. If the thought object is very subtle then the mind will be benefited. If the wavelength of the thought is cruder than the mind is accustomed to then the mind will be affected for the worse. Over time the constant repetition of a thought of either a crude or subtle nature will either degrade or elevate the mind. It is for this reason that the yogis teach that excessive preoccupation with crude physical objects such as money gradually crudifies the mind. Our mental power diminishes, and our capacity for happiness, enjoyment of life, and Self-expression is decreased. But if we fill our minds with expansive, more subtle ideas, it will stretch and expand and grow to accommodate these new lofty ideas.

Changing the mind from crude to subtle is the task of meditation. In order to accomplish this we think about the subtlest object possible, consciousness, with the help of the mantra. By raising subtler and subtler waves in the mind through the constant and concentrated repetition of mantra, the mind gradually expands and becomes more subtle. It gains the capacity to transmit and perceive subtler vibrations. The regular practice of meditation opens the mind up the higher realms of experience — the awakening of intuition, a deep appreciation for art and aesthetics, profound emotions of love and compassion, feelings of sympathy and oneness with nature, and a yearning to realise the inner Self. The world around you changes from a world of fixed and immovable boundaries to one of infinite possibility.

Looking at it from this perspective underscores once again the importance of what we meditate on. History is full of examples of individuals who developed psychic powers through the practice of concentration techniques, but who eventually became degraded by that same practice because they allowed their minds to become crudified.

 

Source : Ananda Marga Ra’ja’dhira’ja Yoga

Characteristics of Mantra by Ananda Marga Founder Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii

Characteristics of Mantra: Ananda Marga Founder Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii

The third characteristic of a mantra is that it is rhythmic. What this means on the practical level is that it has to be able to align itself with our breathing and hence all mantras for meditation consist of two syllables.

Our breathing exerts a great influence over our thinking. The more rapid and irregular our breathing is, the more difficult it becomes to concentrate or to think deeply. When our breathing slows, our capacity to think deeply increases. For example, take a person who has just finished some hard physical exercise and is breathing very heavily. If you ask them a question that requires some concentration you are bound to get an answer like: Hang on a minute while I catch my breath. Conversely, whenever you are deeply concentrated on any subject you will notice that your breathing has become very slow and regular.

The alignment of the mantra with our breathing has two principle benefits. First of all, it helps to naturally regulate and slow our breathing, which in turn deepens our concentration. Secondly, we develop an association between our breathing and the repetition of mantra which helps us to remember the mantra. When a meditator becomes accomplished in the practice of mantra they start finding the mantra going on with their breath even when they are not formally meditating. Their mind remains in a meditative state even while performing its daily activities. When they sit for meditation they find it easy to remain concentrated because the mantra is rising and falling with the breath. Almost no effort is required.

Now that we have some theoretical understanding of why mantras are so effective as an object for meditation let us look at how the daily practice of mantra affects our day-to-day thinking.

Your Mental Object.

Thinking, as we normally understand it, is an activity which involves a subject and an object. We can take it one step further, however, and distinguish between one’s mental object, the image you have in your mind of something external to you, and the object itself (bear in mind that concepts, such as fame or good health, are also mental objects). The thing your mental object refers to (that new car, your name in all the fashionable magazines) may not exist yet in reality. It may never exist. But the thought exists. Your mental object is quite real. This is indicative of what we talked about earlier, that thoughts are real, significant events involving movements of powerful energy. When the human mind, the mind which has invented and which controls nuclear weapons and space shuttles, thinks something, it is a tangible expression of the most powerful machine in the universe.

Mental Objects tend to become a reality.

According to yoga psychology, mental objects tend to become expressed in the external world. What we think about tends to happen.

If you think you’ll succeed, you’ll succeed. If you think you    will fail, you will fail. Either way, you are right.                                                                         — Yogananda

Indeed, nowadays there are few people who will deny the significant effects on our lives of a positive Self-image and a positive mental attitude, or the crippling effects of negative thinking. By thinking we are happy, healthy and successful, we tend to become happy, healthy and successful, and the reverse is just as true.

Coincidence? Or incidence?

You were thinking of someone when the phone rang and guess who was on the other end. You want to go to a concert but can’t get a place; suddenly a friend tells you he or she has an extra ticket to the show and wonders if you would like it. Has anything like this ever happened to you? Were these coincidences or were they rather small examples of the powerful connection between thought and physical reality? Meditators everywhere notice a startling increase in the number of such ‘coincidences’ in their lives after they start meditating. Whether it so happens that meditation speeds up the process by which thoughts are translated into physical reality, or whether it just makes us more aware of our thoughts and how they shape our lives, this phenomena points directly to tendency of our mental objects to find expression in the external world.

Let us examine more closely the pathways a thought takes to find expression in the external world. Suppose a desire arises in your mind. That desire activates your imagination. Your mind paints a picture for you of the desired object and, consciously or unconsciously, you visualise yourself achieving it. Spurred on by that power of that thought-wave, you apply your will power and determination towards the materialisation of your desire. This is the driving force — desire, imagination and will — which enables you to translate a thought into reality, though often most or all of this process is unconscious to you and you are only aware of your sense of surprise when you find your desire materialised.

Our desires can fail to find material expression for many reasons, but perhaps the most common is that the negative side of our imagination gets in the way, sabotaging our fondest desires. Our imagination has tremendous power and when this power combines with fear, or its counterparts — doubt, anxiety, worry, insecurity, anger, resentment — it can quash all positive expressions of the will. It is somewhat like driving with the handbrake on. Part of you pushes you forward while another part restrains you, and the result is a trip to the mechanic.

Meditation teaches us a style of thinking which is conducive to the synchronisation of our imagination and our will. We raise a positive wave (or mental object) in our mind and then exercise our will to move towards it. Whenever negative thought-patterns arise and threaten to pull us in a different direction we redirect our mind back to that positive wave, thereby training it to overcome the distracting or inhibiting influence of such thought-patterns. Through regular practice this style of thinking becomes habituated and starts reflecting in other areas of our lives, hence the common experience of regular meditators that they start finding their desires quickly and easily materialised in the external world. Of course, this is not always a positive experience, as everyone soon discovers. Often what we desire is not what is best for our growth, and meditators soon learn that they must exercise control over their desires for the simple reason that they so often come true.

This aspect of meditative practice has much in common with traditional and more modern schools of positive thinking, but with several critical exceptions. Rather than utilising numerous mental objects (for example, different affirmations) and thereby diffusing the mind, we meditate on one object and one object alone, which enables us to develop the full power of the mind. And that object is the subtlest object available, consciousness itself, which leads us to the greatest possible growth and expansion of mind. By a dedicated program of positive thinking we may develop a strong, positive self-image and a sense of well-being. We may even become rich or influential, if that is what we tell ourselves we will be, but we may not realise our inner Self.