The practices of Ananda Marga encompass a wide range of techniques for physical, mental, and spiritual development, the central practice being meditation. Meditation means to look within your mind to feel the bliss that is the essence of your existence. That bliss is within you, just as it is within everybody and everything.
Meditation means to look inside yourself for the infinite source of peace and happiness which lies within; to feel the bliss which is the essence of your existence. That bliss is within you, just as it is within everybody and everything.
So as to be able to focus the mind on the feeling of bliss, we use a mantra. Man means “mind,” and tra means “that which liberates.” So mantra means a word or phrase which “liberates the mind.” Although we rely mostly on our eyes, sound actually has the most powerful effect on the mind. So the internal sound of a mantra is the most powerful way of focusing the mind. It concentrates the mind on a particular idea – the idea (or rather feeling) of infinite peace and happiness.
The mantra has three qualities which empower it to do that:
1. Concentrative: It acts as an object of concentration, because the mind has to have something to focus on; it cannot be objectless.
2. Incantative: Everything has a particular vibration. You like music with a congenial vibration to your own. You like someone when their vibration suits your own. The mantra also has a particular wavelength, and that wavelength vibrates the mind with the feeling of infinite happiness – bliss.
3. Ideative: “As you think, so you become.” This powerful psychological principle is the mainstay of meditation. If you think negatively, your life will be negative; if you think positively, your life will be positive. We are continually in the process of becoming the object of our ideation. So the meaning of the mantra is vital. It must be the most uplifting ideation; the most positive of thoughts. Again: infinite happiness; perfect peace and contentment – bliss.
By ideating regularly on the thought of bliss, one’s mind gradually expands, and that expansion continues until one’s limited sense of existence merges into the infinite cosmic existence. One’s individual experience of pleasure and pain eventually gets transformed into the constant experience of cosmic bliss, just as a river attains total freedom when it merges with the sea.
Meditation is an essential tool for self-transformation and spiritual development. One of the goals of Ananda Marga is to make meditation available to all people free of charge throughout the world. Specially trained teachers give personal instruction in the process of mantra meditation, but you can try a simple technique for yourself now:
Find a comfortable place on the floor and sit with your legs crossed. Place your hands one on top of the other in your lap, keep your back straight, eyes closed and tongue on the roof of the mouth. Your breathing should be calm and relaxed, through the nose.
Now imagine that you are sitting in the most peaceful place that you can think of. Feel that you are sitting there in complete peace, and imagine infinite happiness is surrounding you in every direction. Feel that you are completely surrounded by that infinite peace and happiness, and start to repeat within your mind the following mantra:
Bábá Nám Kevalam
Bábá means “beloved”. It refers to your deepest self: the Supreme Self, the source of infinite peace and happiness. Nám means “name” or “to identify with”, and Kevalam means “only”. So Bábá Nám Kevalam means “Only my Beloved”. Think of the meaning as you’re repeating it, and feel the infinite peace and happiness all around you and within you. Continue for as long as you like, then open your eyes.
Yama And Niyama – An Ethical Base For Meditators
It is said that without a firm base, progress in meditation is impossible. Yama and Niyama, as a base, is more than 7500 years old and still provides meditators with a framework of how best to conduct oneself internally and externally. As a part of learning the practise meditation, you are asked to read and try to adhere to these principles as far as you can.
Five Yama (Introversial Conduct)
- Ahiḿsá: Not to inflict pain or hurt on anybody by thought, word or action, is Ahiḿsá.
- Satya: The benevolent use of mind and words is Satya.
- Asteya: To renounce the desire to acquire or retain the wealth of others is asteya. Asteya means “non-stealing.”
- Brahmacarya: To keep the mind always absorbed in Brahma is Brahmacarya.
- Aparigraha: To renounce everything excepting the necessities for the maintenance of the body is known as Aparigraha.
Five Niyama (Extroversial Conduct)
- Shaoca: Maintaining cleanliness of both body and mind – mental cleanliness involves kindliness towards all creatures, charity, working for the welfare of others and being dutiful.
- Santośa: Being content with what one has and trying to stay cheerful.
- Tapah: Doing regular service – undergoing some hardship or sacrifice to help others.
- Svádhyáya: Keeping good company of both people and books/media – studying/watching good media and literature with proper reflective understanding. Sva’dhya’ya is also done by attending group meditation regularly and keeping spiritual company.
- Iishvara prańidhána: Maintaining faith in the guidance of the Infinite Consciousness (Iishvara) in pleasure and pain, prosperity and adversity. Considering oneself as the instrument, and not the wielder of the instrument.