Thursday, March 10, 2016

Silent contemplation exercises


These are some exercises that I proposed for participants in a silence retreat in the Om Shanti Retreat Center outside Delhi, in March, 2016. They are based on the practice of Raja Yoga and they cover the most basic aspects. You will observe that the first step is very similar to what people call Mindfulness.
Practice the following exercises again and again, so the gradually you don't need to see the text, and they become recorded in you.

1. Centering in the present

Sit with your eyes slightly open. Become aware of the world around you. Listen to the sounds you can hear. Perceive the colors  and forms. Feel the air as you breathe in and out. Feel that you are in the center of 360° of activities around you. The past has finished and the future hasn't happened yet. You are literally in the present moment. The present is the only real time you have. Enjoy it for five minutes without thinking too much. Just have full attention on what is happening around you.

2. Centering in soul consciousness

Just as you are sitting on your seat physically, imagine a subtle seat behind the eyes, a few centimeters back from the spot between your brows. This is the seat where the  conscious energy or soul sits. All thoughts, feelings, desires and ideas, as well as sensations from the body come to this point to be processed. Sitting on this subtle seat you appreciate and decide about the direction you want to take. Spend a few minutes in this awareness of being the soul working through the physical body. Enjoy the sense of command this gives you.

3. In the center of your life

As a spiritual being, you are not only in the center of everything that is happening around you, but you are in the center of your life. There is a network of roles, relationships and responsibilities which spread out from you. You are connected through them to people, objects and situations. Just as the center of a circle doesn't move, you are still and calm in the center of your life and activities. As you become calm, this has an immediate effect on everything  that is connected to you. Without moving internally, enjoy serving your whole network with peaceful vibrations. Be aware that you are the creator of the reality of your life.

4. Experiencing your eternity

Become centered in the consciousness of being the soul in the body. Observe the  physical world around you without thinking too much. Observe the  present situations in which you find yourself, as if you are watching the scenes of a film. As a spiritual being going through a human experience, be aware that at some point in the past, you came into this physical body when it was  still in the womb of your mother. You were born, grew up, went through many experiences and now you are meditating on your true nature. At some point in the future, you, the soul will leave your body and continue on your journey.  This life then becomes a chapter of a book. You are the energy that gives life to the whole book and not just to this chapter. You are the conscious energy that continues. You have come from forever. You will continue forever. Because you do not have any size or physical dimension, nothing can destroy you. You are eternal. Stay in this consciousness for a few minutes.

5. The inner state of peace, love and happiness

When you are in a state of rest as described above, it has a chance to experience the deeper qualities which are innate in the soul. Become the detached observer and experience that when you are still, there is  natural peace, love and happiness. These are qualities which have always been in the soul. As we move from one life to the next (or one chapter to the next), many things are recorded on top of these original qualities. With time, you forget them. They become buried by the momentary desires and considerations. Since you have gone back to your inner center, you can now appreciate the difference between what you really are deeply and what you have become at this time in your life. Remain a few minutes in this deep state of spiritual enjoyment.

6. Connection with God, the Source of spiritual power

As a soul, you are not made of material energy. Your existence is in another dimension as well. There is a dimension of subtle light beyond this physical universe, that the different religious traditions call heaven, nirvana or simply, the home of souls. The one who we call God, Allah, Yahweh or Shiva also resides there. We try to connect up with that One in prayer. 
As you become centered in soul consciousness and aware of your innate qualities of peace, love and happiness, you gradually move away from the physical dimension and become a silent observer. Internally, you become aware of this dimension of light and come closer to that One who is like a subtle sun, radiating spiritual power. Mentally, visualize the meeting between the soul and God. Open yourself to receive the rays of that spiritual power. You will feel as if your battery is being recharged, that your love, peace and happiness are really being activated. Stay in that state of deep appreciation of your connection with the Source, for a few more minutes.

7. Relationships with God

That One, is not only the Source of spiritual power, but is also the essence of all relationships. Become centered in soul consciousness and  mentally connected with God as in the previous exercise.  Start a conversation with that One in any one of the relationships that you consider important. He is the Mother, Father, Teacher,  Guide, Friend, Beloved and so on.  imagine that the connection between you and God revolves around that relationship. Initiate and continue a conversation for as long as you want from your side as the child, student, follower, friend, lover and so on. Leave yourself open for the answers that come to you in the conversation. Remain in this loving interchange for a few minutes and come back recharged and ready to face the situations of your life.