Blank state or meditation?


During meditation, I will enter into a blank state. I can withhold that blank state for few seconds and again minds starts to become active. I would like to know how to progress further after reaching this thoughtless phase or blank phase?

—Dinesh, India


Dear Dinesh,

Dinesh, let me start by making a distinction between a “blank state” and a “meditative state of stillness.” I admit that this distinction is one possibly of mere words but it’s worth making.

In a “blank state” of consciousness, the sense of self-awareness vanishes much like when we are in the state of dreamless sleep at night. When you return from a blank state, you don’t remember anything about the experience and about all you can say is that you were in a blank state! This is not a state we should seek to enter.

By contrast and I think the state you actually are referring to is the state of stillness that occurs (all too briefly, unfortunately) when our thoughts finally subside and the mind is clear and quiet. During this state we are fully self-aware, and, indeed, vibrantly and intensely so!

It is this state of meditation that we seek but we find, in the beginning, very difficult to sustain beyond a few seconds or minutes. Paramhansa Yogananda said one should be able to do this for one hour to demonstrate marked ability and progress in our efforts to meditate.

I find that the practice of kriya yoga (as taught by Yogananda and as taught by the Ananda kriyacharyas around the world, including throughout India) is extremely beneficial to achieving this state of inwardness and stillness. It is a state that could be said to on the level of the fourth and fifth stages of the 8-Fold Path: pranayama and pratyahara. There are certainly deeper aspects to this but being able to sustain one’s relaxed concentration in stillness is certainly a precursor to the state of dharana wherein one or more of the eight aspects (peace, wisdom, prana, love, calmness, astral sound or light, or soul-bliss) are held in unbroken focus with self-awareness.

The mindfulness technique of breath awareness using the mantra Hong Sau is readily available to all and a powerful technique to achieve inner stillness.

Keep in mind that this still state of Being is but a beginning: a kind of doorway through which or a platform on which the higher states can appear. While this stillness is indeed an important goal or intention in our meditation practice, it is not the “end of the road.” It is, in fact, the beginning.

Yet, at the same time, it is blissfully rejuvenating and energizing to the body, nervous system and soul. Learn to enjoy this state. Understand that it is through deep relaxation and not tension-filled concentration that it appears. Know, too, that it is the result of grace being drawn to you be your sincere efforts to achieve it.

When stillness comes, commune with it joyfull in your heart, mind, and soul. Wordlessly offer yourself with devotion into it. Invite peace into your life. Then, at the end of meditation, take this peace into daily activity. Offer it silently, vibrationally, to all those people and circumstances in your life.

Joy to you!

Nayaswami Hriman