By Yogeshwari (Lissa) Fountain
I used to make assumptions about what a “good meditation” should look like, not realizing I was setting myself up for disappointment. I was frustrated by not being able to instantly “drop in.” Yet an hour later, I’d be startled by the ring of the chimes.
I thought I must not be having deep meditations. I still pretty much track along with my mind all the way in. When I lose the mantra, I pick it up again. Yet now I realize that, no matter what, I’ve experienced a profound inner shift. In the moment I open my eyes, I feel full, from the inside. I am rested and alert. I know there’s been a change in me, beyond my mind’s understanding. I’ve accessed my Self deep within. How does this happen?
In Flow State, Swamiji and Vidyadevi reassure us that meditation is a three-stage process: dharana (silent mantra repetition on the way in), dhyana (mind in an uninterrupted flow towards the Self) and samadhi (a deep inner absorption beyond time and space). Before reading this article, I hadn’t realized fully the benefit of not “passing in.”
I perceive the inner shifts while they are progressing. My breath opens and flows with the mantra. Kundalini climbs my spine in subtle swirls of energy. I see my mind thinking thoughts, but without being bothered. My perceptions begin to arise from the background of my own Self. It may take a while, but I find myself going with the flow. My experience corresponds to Vidyadevi’s descriptions of dhyana:
You’re not merely repeating mantra but you are flowing in the mantra:
easily, smoothly, like flowing down river in a steady current.
Patanjali says, “The destination is samadhi: immersion into the Consciousness that you already are.” Now I see that how I get to the destination matters. Noticing the steps along the way gives me a most powerful effect. That process reshapes my mind in Consciousness. Yet, when I meditate in my Guru’s presence or receive Shaktipat from her, I “fly” inward all the way to Self, heedless of the intervening stages.
In a weekend workshop a few years ago, I progressively prepared students for the closing hour-long meditation. Our space was in a boathouse in a public park. As soon as we began, a rock band set up right outside. Playing a medley of 60’s hits, they blasted “Mustang Sally” full volume. My mind oscillated between repeating mantra and worrying about my students’ reactions. Wonderfully, at the end, all shared how the mantra helped them stay inside, despite the noise.
Imagine my surprise when a first-time meditator reported: “I don’t know what you all are talking about. I didn’t hear any music the whole time.” Clearly, she had dropped into samadhi right away! But her mind was not part of the process. How would she then be able to carry her own Self back into her life without the experience of step-by-step, glide-by-glide mantra repetition?
Ours is a tantric path: the interweaving of the divine with the mundane. Swamiji dares us to repeat mantra all the way through our entire meditation. Staying on point, we can ride along the current of grace, all the way in, without going unconscious. “Going with the flow” becomes flowing with Guru’s Grace. What a divine way to meditate. What a divine way to live, while fulfilling the goal of yoga: “to be conscious in the ever-deepening realms of your own being.”