Why doesn’t meditation work for me?

You are the best person to know why meditation does not work for you.

Let me ask you this question: Does sleep work for you? It may seem like a silly question, but meditation is an elder brother of sleep. No effort is needed for either sleep or meditation. When you sleep, you wake up feeling refreshed, recharged, and peaceful. Meditation provides these same benefits plus you experience the bliss of your own divinity. For this reason, turn within with full awareness and with great interest. Only then meditation will become easy.

Before one can understand why meditation doesn’t work, it is important to understand what meditation really is. Once you understand what meditation is, you will not have to make any effort to mediate. A human being —with a body, mind, and spirit—can experience three states of mind – waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. Right now, you are experiencing a waking state. What is the peculiarity of this waking state? You are aware but not thoughtless. What happens during your deep sleep state? You are thoughtless but not aware. In meditation, you are both aware and thoughtless.

In waking, we use the physical body, mind, and prana (breath or vital force). In dreaming, we use mind and prana; we no longer use the physical body. In deep sleep, we use only the prana; we no longer use the physical body and mind. The turiya or fourth both permeates and transcends the three states of mind — waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. The turiya is where the true Self resides. True meditation means being aware of the true Self, your intrinsic nature. Through meditation, the bliss of the innermost Self is experienced. Meditation happens in turiya, which is beyond your deep sleep state.

At the deepest level of turiya, the mind is watched, not controlled. Meditation is not a doing; it is a state of being — not swimming but floating. You are truly resting in meditation.

Commonly translated as meditation, the word “dhyāna” cannot be translated into English. The English word “meditation” is derived from the Latin verb meditari, meaning “to think, contemplate, devise, ponder, to exercise the mind.” Anything within the realm of the mind is not dhyana.

How to meditate?

Your meditation practice itself teaches you how to meditate. Keep meditating to learn meditation. Here is some guidance:

Salute all sages to receive their grace as you begin to meditate. Close your eyes. Turn your mind within. Relax your physical body. Calm your mind. Let go of everything. Have this understanding: Inner witness is in meditation at all times.

If any thought arises, do not meditate on the thought. One who watches the thoughts is entirely different from the thoughts. Your goal is to focus on your pure I-awareness, which, being aware of all your thoughts, watches your thoughts come and go. You are like the sky and thoughts are like clouds that come and go. The sky remains unaffected or the same whether or not there are clouds. Therefore, switch your awareness to the seer/witness/watcher/observer of those thoughts.

Remember — the goal of meditation is to go beyond your mind to experience your true nature. Identify yourself with the I-awareness within, not with your physical body or mind.

Focus your attention on your breathing. Keep listening to the sound (called mantra) of your in-breath and out-breath. Follow the flow of your breath.

You may think there are only two steps in breathing – inhaling and exhaling – but there are actually four steps. After you inhale, there is a gap. The same is true after you exhale, there is another pause. Four steps: Inhale, a gap, exhale, and a gap. Meditate on the gap between inhaling and exhaling.

That moment of total stillness after you inhale is most significant – a state of total awareness but beyond thoughts. Feel the deep silence descending as meditation happens on its own accord within that gap. You do not need to do anything; just allow yourself to experience this gap.

At the deepest Spirit level, you experience that you are pure, sinless, and divine. Then, you realize that “I am not the body, not the mind; I am the innermost eternal Self, Awareness.”

If you are still not able to meditate, ask yourself: Are you aware of your physical body (“I am a man” or “I am a woman”)? Through meditation, you should be able to get to the pure I-awareness within you. Know that this pure “I” is always there within you, regulating your breathing. All you need is to become aware of the pure “I” and maintain this awareness.

This pure “I” is the witness of your mind — thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Do not meditate on your mind. Instead, meditate on the witness of your mind.

Meditation is witnessing. Witnessing means not judging, not evaluating, always remaining neutral. This witnessing/watching is the key to meditation. As you go on watching, your thoughts gradually go away. This is how you get into absolute silence. Experiencing this absolute silence is the goal of meditation.

Be fully aware, alert. Meditation means to remain aware of the inner witness. Never lack awareness. If you lack awareness, how would you know that you are meditating? If there is any Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Buddha, and Jesus, the same one lives in the form of the inner witness. Be fully assured of this truth.

When you do slip into the innermost I-awareness, you will experience the profound bliss, which is your innermost nature.

Have firm faith in your true Self. Explaining what a firm faith can do, Swami Muktananda (1908-1982) said, “I receive so many letters from people who were reading Play of Consciousness and received shaktipat from the book. They put the book against their hearts and began to meditate.”

Every religion has meditation as its base. For example, if you are a Christian, you are meditating on your own innermost Spirit, not on any religion. No belief/ritual/dogma is involved in meditation. Meditation is pure science — it explores the inner world.

I would suggest a book that I wrote myself, called Building a Noble World. In the book, I give an insight into spirituality, meditation, yoga, and true Guru. In it, you will find my own experience of Kundalini awakening: transcending one’s physical body and mind and experiencing absolute reality. I also answer questions about body, mind, and Spirit as well as the fundamental truth we all share.

May you delight in your own being!

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