How to meditate is a question that often arises as to whether one is meditating correctly or at all. In yogic meditation, Patanjali left us a clear definition of what meditation is. How we ourselves are able to understand the state of meditation and thereby achieve deep meditation more effectively.

Meaning of how to meditate according to Patanjali

In summary, Patanjali defines the state of meditation as letting go of physical and mental tension and turning the senses inwards to concentrate on an object. We then deepen the process of concentration on an object, which leads to a flow between the meditator and the object. This is already the entry into meditation, whereby meditation itself has no clear boundaries. The next step is when person and object disappear through this flow, fall together, so to speak. In this state we disappear, so to speak, and are already in deep meditation.

Meditation is like the stock market, it goes up and down all the time.

Mingyur Rinpoche

Derivation of three theses

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras contain three theses relating to meditation.

  1. The meditation object should be individually tailored to the meditator and their needs.
  2. Uninterrupted concentration on the object of meditation leads us to meditation.
  3. After the phase of uninterrupted concentration, we become as passive as possible.

The three states of mind

We should know the disposition of our mind in order to choose the appropriate object of meditation. These states are defined in yoga as tamas, rajas and sattva.

  1. Sattva: Sattva stands for clarity and balance. A mind in a sattvic state is calm, peaceful and serene. A sattvic mind is associated with virtues such as wisdom, patience and love. This is the state of meditation and there can be various methods to bring us to this state.
  2. Rajas: Rajas stands for activity. A mind in a rajasic state is active, restless and ambitious. Rajas is associated with ambition, desire and passion. A suitable meditation object brings our mind to rest and thus into balance for meditation. A meditation object could be the breath, for example.
  3. Tamas: Tamas stands for inertia, darkness and sluggishness. It is the quality of inertia, ignorance and resistance. A mind in a tamasic state is sluggish, lazy and confused. Tamas is associated with inertia, ignorance and negativity. A suitable meditation object could be an energizing mantra.

How to meditate on a meditation object

If we have a restless mind, we should choose a meditation object that brings us to calm. In this way, we already achieve balance before we enter meditation. Even if we manage to enter meditation with a state of mind that is too restless or too heavy, we will not stay in meditation for long. We see this in scientific research on monks in deep meditation. The brain waves, heartbeat and breathing come to rest and even stop. Any energetic vibration in rajas or tamas would stop this process. Sattva is therefore the ultimate balance and should already be sought through the application of the means before meditation.

How to meditate on one object

Learning to let go

We should first learn stability through meditation. Even when it comes to achieving mindfulness and alertness, we should first develop a foundation. The best case scenario is the same time, same place, same technique and same meditation object. As with playing the piano or any activity that we want to improve, we need processes that we get used to and that we use to reach the state of meditation more quickly. So before we worry about meditation, we should first start to master the following principles.

  • Creating mental balance by choosing the right meditation technique
  • Bring physical and mental processes to rest
  • Achieve stable concentration

When we have reached a stable and well-established foundation, we no longer need to worry about meditation. Meditation will have already happened in the meantime in so many different ways that it is impossible to describe them. The last phase where we can still actively intervene is to keep the object of meditation as passive as possible. Once we have set everything up and our mind has settled peacefully, we learn to let go again. This is an attitude that we have forgotten in our lives. Total surrender enables us to activate natural healing processes in the depths of our being, right down to the soul.

Just relax

Deep-seated blockages prevent us from revealing our natural nature. This is a completely natural process. We accumulate karma and store emotional impressions down to the deepest layers of our being. In turn, we are constantly working through these, as they emerge from the subconscious and want to be heeded. We support this natural process through meditation.

So how to meditate?

According to Patanjali, we can say where meditation begins. When we concentrate on an object without interruption of thoughts, we are at the gateway of meditation. When this concentration becomes a flow and we are able to become more passive, we enter meditation. What happens then is no longer under our control. You should therefore not worry about whether you are meditating, but simply learn the basics and try to follow your path intuitively. If you need personal instruction, please contact me.