How Concentration Leads to Meditation
You have mentioned that we should concentrate between the eyebrows and watch the breath during meditation.
But,Sir, is really meditation a form of concentration? No it is not.When we try to focus in between the eyebrows, we are only making the meditation process effort full. And i know meditation is completely EFFORTLESS. All we have to do anchor ourselves on the breathe and watch the thoughts and emotions since identification with t is the real cause of suffering on earth.Am i right?
—Nihar Ranjan Bhuyan, India
When practicing the technique of watching the breath as taught in the Ananda Lessons, your physical eyes should be gently inclined upward with your “inner gaze” directed toward the point between the eyebrows. Your concentration should be upon the breath, not upon that physical point toward which your eyes are directed.
At first, be aware of the breath wherever it is most dynamic to your attention: in the diaphragm, chest or perhaps the nostrils. Eventually, as the body relaxes and your attention becomes steady, feel the breath moving in the upper nasal cavity in the general area behind the point between the eyebrows. This will help correlate your inner attention upon the breath with the physical direction of your eyes toward the seat of concentration at the point between the eyebrows.
Maintain your attention on the breath and, in time, it will become slower as you begin to disassociate yourself from it. Notice the extended pauses between the breaths and enjoy the feelings of peace or stillness.
Paramhansa Yogananda defined meditation as one-pointed concentration upon God or one of His aspects. You are correct in pointing out that placement of our attention upon the breath is a form of concentration rather than meditation. But, as you practice and the breath slows, you will begin to feel a deep peace and calmness, which are both divine aspects, come over you. The breath itself becomes a flow of peace. Bathe yourself in these feelings until your consciousness is immersed in them and the little self recedes. Thus, concentration leads to meditation.
True meditation, once achieved, is “effortless,” as you say, but it takes a great deal of “effort” for the beginner to come to this state. The undisciplined mind must first learn to concentrate, and for this, watching the breath is very helpful. Watching thoughts and emotions while anchoring oneself in the breath, as you suggest, can also be termed a form of concentration so long as one’s “seat” of observation is still rooted in the ego self. True meditation begins only when that little “I” is transcended in absorption in God and/or His aspects.
If your practice is to watch (to be mindful of) the fluctuations of the mind and feelings, do so from a position of complete inner detachment. Anchoring yourself in the breath is very helpful but it demands effort and cannot be passive, or else the tendency of the mind toward mental involvement will predominate. While “watching”, do so from a level of superconscious peace, deep calmness or joy to achieve self-understanding.
May you have ever deeper success in your practice.
Nayaswami Jaya Helin