Quiet Mind: Tips for Meditators
February 20, 2023
Certain physical positions, mudras of hands, face, and eyes can help us achieve quietness of mind both during sitting and during daily activity. Hriman shares a few things he's learned over the years that are not necessarily in classes or books.
Hello, my name is Nayaswami Hriman. And over my many years of practicing meditation and sharing the techniques of meditation with students, there are some things that I've learned that I don't necessarily find in even any of the books that I've had access to and found inspiration and training or that even my teacher Swami Kriyananda, who represented the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda.
The wonderful thing about the modern age in which we live and the interest that science has shown in the practices of yoga and meditation is that we can learn many new things about how to improve our yoga and meditation practice.
Tip # 1 - Finding the Sweet Spot of Meditation
There are a few little things I'd like to share with you. Probably those of you viewing this already know that teaching is so pervasive in India, but also especially in the lineage of Paramhansa Yogananda, that when we close our eyes to meditate, we lift our gaze through the point between the eyebrows. I'm not going to explore that because I'm going to assume you probably know that already. But a few things I'd like to add to that is to try to find what I call the sweet spot.
When I was a boy and played baseball, I, you know, the baseball bat, or a cricket bat, which I've never played, there's a score in a tennis racket with a tennis ball. There's a sweet spot on the bat, which, when you connect with the ball coming at you, just soars high in the sky for a home run. And so it is; there’s a sweet spot when you look up [to the Spiritual eye]. You can experiment with it. How high do you lift your eyes? Do you gaze, how far in the distance?
Swami Kriyananda said put your thumb up. I have a short arm, so my eyes tend to cross when I do that a little bit. I tend to look at the opposite wall. But whatever it is, lift your eyes, generally not too high. Generally not looking down. Of course, we say the point between the eyebrows is sort of a flat, bony part here; at least, on my head there is. And I press in there, I feel that. So experiment with eyes open to find that perfect [spot]; you almost want to smile when you hit that sweet spot. And in fact, that's my next point.
Tip #2 – Value of a Smile
I don't think this is in any book that I know of. But it's a product of the; it’s intimated in the teachings that have been given through Paramahansa Yogananda. And what is that, Smile. Yogananda gave this charming talk that he gave, the title of which was given “Be a Smile Millionaire.” So he talked a lot about smiling. So I don't mean that kind of smiling so much. But I think of the Mona Lisa or something like that. I find where this came from is over years of meditation, when I got into a deeper state, I couldn't help but smile. And then I realized the functional relationship between the smile and the quietness of the heart and the mind. And so you can enable that; that’s how Yoga works. You move the body, and a certain amount of quality of energy can be felt. When we do this or meditate like this, as opposed to like this, these are mudras; these are positions that have an energetic impact on our consciousness if we're subtly aware enough to notice it. And so don't go out right and smile like this, but just relax the mouth and open the mouth just a little bit. Another way of describing this is what happens when you're about to speak. The mouth relaxes. You haven't said a word yet, but you're about to speak. So the relaxation of the mouth, whether into a noticeable smile or just relaxed, the mouth open, you'll find just practicing this. When you do this, the brain stops awaiting a command or waiting for you to speak or whatever it might be, but it's kind of a transitional spot and the hard wiring of the brain, as is the lifting of the eyes.
Tip #3 – Lifting Your Gaze
Another point I want to make is, with the lifting of the eyes. I learned this online with some crazy guy, but it does work. It has to do with when you look up and try it with your eyes open at first to get an experience of it; you look up and see if your peripheral vision is expanded. As opposed to looking up at an object, you want to look up with relaxed eyes; there’s probably a technical term for it, but it doesn't come to my mind right now. Doesn't matter. Look up; the mouth is relaxed. The Bible says, look unto the hills from which I cometh with my help, I help cometh from the Lord. That looking up softens the heart and clears the mind.
Tip #4 - When to Practice These Meditation Tips
And here's another key. I think I’ll end with this now. The other key is don't wait for a sitting meditation to practice these simple tips. Throughout the day, between phone calls, look up. And you've been seeing me raise my hands. Well, I haven't spoken about that, but this is a powerful mudra. Raise your hands if you can, if it doesn't disturb anybody or make you self-conscious. During the day, look up at the stoplight; maybe you can't put your hands up, but at the stoplight, rather than be nervous or anxious, or impatient. So, in other words, if you practice this mudra, this position of quietude at different points throughout the day, you're training the mind to get gradually more comfortable with being present without having to have an internal narration going. You know that internal narration like people who turn on the television in their house, even though they're not watching it, or the radio in their car, is sort of a nervous response. It's like the little child who nervously laughs when you play peekaboo because they're not totally sure whether you've vanished into thin air when they don't see you. It's a nerve-wracking thought if you put it that way. And so we are conditioned by the body and by nature actually, to be always looking out for, you know, rhinoceroses and threats to our well-being and survival, I suppose. And so, the brain is conditioned to be constantly on the alert through the senses and through its own mental activity. So we gradually train the mind in a very natural way, to be quiet, to observe, to stop talking mentally, listen and feel. I like to tell the story of my upbringing. In our rural area, when a train crossing on the grade was there, there had a sign it said, “Stop, Look, Listen.” And that should be, can be, a little mantra of your own, especially when you get anxious or stressed. Stop what you're doing. Look, Listen.
Tip #5 – How to Clear Your Mind and Listen
By the way, I'm going to add another thing. When someone speaks, and you say what you say, you move your body in such a way as you tilt your head slightly to the side. This is another mudra that clears the mind to listen. Now in meditation, we don't want to be doing this particular, but it can be very helpful to sort of get into this space of stop, look, and listen. Practice this throughout the day and when you sit for meditation, but be patient. Patience is the fastest route to success in everything. Okay? What does patience mean? Relax, okay? Okay, that's it for today. That's a lot of stuff there. So you heard it first.