Calming the Mind in Meditation


Sir, I am meditating since January this year but I still can’t concentrate more than 2-3 seconds. My mind chatters all the time whether I am meditating or not.

But on the other hand, in spite of my failing in meditation, I am getting a lot of benefits. e.g., I am now less short-tempered and my attitude has started changing. I am becoming closer to God. My relationships are a bit better now... Why is this so?

How long will I take to succeed in meditation?

—ela singh, India


Dear Ela,

These are your first six month of meditation. Meditation for you is still young, like a child. It needs some time to grow up. One of the secrets of success is patience. Patience, it has been said, is the shortest way to God. “Keep going” is the best advice I can give you.

How long does it take to succeed in meditation, to “grow up”, so to speak? There is no definite rule, but if you keep going, results will come, for sure. There will be better times and more difficult times with the unruly mind. But slowly slowly the mind will calm down more and more.

Fortunately you have already discovered that even if you had a restless meditation, still good results manifest in your life. This is true. Actually success in meditation is not measured by inner visions etc., but “in the cold light of day”: in your relationships, reactions inner peace, and by our closeness to God in all situations. It happened to you, so pat yourself on your shoulder and say, “Well done!”

There are many things you can do, to help to calm your mind which rebelliously wants to concentrate for only 2 or 3 seconds. You have to work in the outer life and inwardly, in meditation.

Outer Life:

– Try to be as little emotional as you can, practicing to be “calm and cheerful at all times”. Emotionalism is the death of spirituality, Yogananda teaches. Relax.

– Avoid spicy food, coffee. Alcohol is a “de-concentrator” too. Sugar doesn’t help much either, I have found.

– Avoid TV, it makes our mind very restless.

– Avoid restless music, listen to calm melodies

– Avoid restless environments of all sorts if you can. Be in Nature whenever possible.

– Participate in group meditations and spiritual satsangs.

In Meditation:

– Try some yoga postures with deep breathing before meditation, they relax. Tensions in the body result in a restless mind.

– Yogananda taught recharging exercises. It would be good to learn them and do them before meditation. They have a calming effect.

– Pray for help at the beginning of meditation.

– Practice a pranayama after prayer. Our breath can wonderfully influence the mind. Try the even breathing: inhale, hold, exhale, all for the same length, with deep long breaths, for 12 cycles.

– Do short meditations. Quality is better than quantity. In time expand them with quality.

– Try to meditate with half open eyes, it might help you a lot.

– You may use inner visualizations, to capture your mind – use whatever image inspires you. Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda wrote such visualizations.

Remember: if your mind got distracted a 100 times, and a 100 times you brought it back to focus, that was a GOOD meditation, as you have trained your mind and concentration, like a muscle. If your mind however started wandering and you never got back to your meditation, well, that was less good. Just always try, and try again. Never give up.

In time you will be able to follow this advice of Yogananda: “Every time you meditate, sit calmly for a long time after doing the techniques. It is during this period that you will be able to deepen your awareness of God’s presence within you. Go ever deeper in your enjoyment of that presence.” Your life will be blessed.

“Doing, doing, one day done!”

In divine friendship, jayadev

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