How to Control Thoughts While Meditating

Question

How to have control over your thoughts while meditating?

—Sweta, India

Answer

Dear Sweta,

Paramhansa Yogananda, defined meditation as “deep concentration on God or one of His aspects.”

Swami Kriyananda says in Meditation for Starters, “Meditation, properly speaking, begins once the thoughts and emotions have been stilled. It is a state of intense inward awareness, a state in which one’s attention is … wholly engrossed in the superconscious experience.”

I don’t think there is a meditator, including Paramhansa Yogananda, who hasn’t had intruding thoughts at times during meditation. Thus, he taught us a technique to still the mind with the breath, Hong Sau. Then he taught the Aum technique to become absorbed in the aspect of God as sound. And finally he gave us through initiation, the Kriya technique, which helps us to interiorize and still the breath further while electromagnetically uplifting our consciousness.

All of these techniques when practiced with deep attention and absorption help us to have actual God contact and yes, unfortunately, thoughts do intrude! It’s been suggested that we watch the thoughts like drifting clouds that come and go while maintaining a mental detachment from them. It’s also very helpful to chant prior to meditation so our heart’s feelings are directed to God alone. In addition, it’s helpful to call on God, “Reveal Thyself! Reveal Thyself! or to chant Aum guru, Aum guru”. What has often worked for me is asking my guru to meditate through me and to focus on letting him enter my being and guide me ever deeper in superconscious awareness.

As I was thinking about how to answer your question, another idea came to me. I am a doctor and need to focus on one patient at a time when I am with each patient. I decided I will think of meditation as my appointment with God and to give my full care and attention to God during our “appointment”.

May one or all of these strategies help you to be successful in your meditation practice!