Meditation By Eknath Easwaran: Chapter One Book Club Notes

Book Club October 13, 2012
Meditation:   A Simple 8-point program for translating spiritual ideals into daily life.
by     Eknath Easwaran
Thank you to all who joined us today to discuss this interesting and informative book.  It was fun to get together and discuss some of the ideas Eknath Easwaran addressed in the Intro and Chapter 1.
Eknath Easwaran is from a small village in India and came to live in New York City in the 1970’s.  Coming from such a small village where people moved slowly, he was shocked to see how rapidly Americans moved from place to place.  He states that the first time he rode in a car on the Freeway, he thought there was a race going on and he was in it!  We take as normal our everyday rushing about, driving fast, eating fast, multi-tasking, meanwhile as a nation we are getting sicker, more stressed, more depressed and generally going about feeling unfulfilled.  This book is about slowing down, living mindfully and finding inner peace.
Eknath states that Meditation is a systematic technique for taking hold of and concentrating to the utmost degree our latent mental power.  Pg9   It consists in training the mind, especially attention and the will, so that we can set forth from the surface level of consciousness and journey into the very depths.  Pg 10 As we become more and more adept at this our “fits of emotion begin to lose their power to dictate our behavior.”  We begin to see choices, we live more in the moment and we feel freedom.    Pg 11 He goes on to state “all that we are is the result of what we have thought”.  By changing the very mode of our thinking, we can remake ourselves completely.  Pg 11.
This Eight Point Program consists of:
Meditation
Repetition of the mantram
Slowing down
Giving one-pointed attention
Training the senses
Putting the welfare of others first
Spiritual companionship
Reading from the scriptures and mystics of all religions

Discoveries of meditation are that we are not the body (stage one), we are not the mind (stage two) and in the third stage of meditation we find out who we really are and in doing so we develop a skill in living that brings out the beauty to your relationships, you discover that you and others are one. Pg 27

Chapter 1 Meditation
Eknath suggests it is virtually impossible to have a blank mind, so he suggests that we use a prayer with which to meditate, it needs to be spiritual, positive and with the idea of putting others first.  The prayer that he uses and suggests that we start with is the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.  “This beautiful prayer has an almost universal appeal, holding so much spiritual wisdom he (St. Francis of Assis) drew upon as he undertook the almost total transformation of character, conduct, and consciousness. “ Pg 29 The prayer itself is also on page 29.
He recommends that we be seated with eyes gently closed, then having memorized the prayer, we recite it silently at a slow and steady pace.  It is important that the pace is slow, as if the pace is quick, the mind does not slow down.  “Concentrate on one word at a time, and as you concentrate on the sound you will automatically be concentrating on the meaning as sound and sense are one. “ Pg 33
The mind will try to distract us with jumbling the words, replacing the actual words with silly words, thinking of what needs to be done today, but do not be distracted, go back to concentrating on the prayer and the rate at which you are repeating it.
The reason for an inspirational passage is to focus the mind first and foremost and getting it focused on something that will help us when in real life we are in a difficult situation.  It helps us determine the essentials from the non-essentials.  The second reason for an inspirational passage is so that we begin to resemble and actually become whatever we give our attention to.  Pg 38 “all that we are is the result of what we have thought.” Pg 39
The best time for meditation is first thing in the morning.  “The dawn brings freshness, renewal.  Birds and other creature know this; we the “crown of creation’” do not seem to.”  Pg 41” Strike a bargain with yourself, no meditation-no breakfast.”  Pg 42 “Half an hour every day at the same time until it becomes a reflex, this is the best way to meditate. “ pg 44  The place should be calm and clear and should be the same every day.
“The correct posture for meditation is to sit erect with the spinal column, the nape of the neck and the head in a straight line.” You may place your hands wherever they are comfortable.  You can sit in a straight back chair or cross legged on the floor, sitting on a cushion or rug.  Pg 46
When you feel yourself getting drowsy, as so often happens as you start to relax,” move away from your back support and give your full attention to the prayer.“  Pg 48 “If from the earliest days you can remain awake throughout meditation, you will be able to descend from the surface level right into the unconscious and walk about completely aware.” Pg 48
It is important that we get enough exercise, eat a well balanced diet and get enough sleep if we want to meditate without so many distractions.  The mind will still try, so it is important to once again go back to the words of the prayer.  Pg 51
It is important to meditate for 30 minutes at a time and no more or less.  Staying in meditation longer than 30 minutes may trigger deeper emotional responses, so stick with the set time.  If in that period of time you feel fear about what is happening, open your eyes for a moment, go back to the prayer and then when you are comfortable close your eyes again.  If you see bright lights, hear sounds, just keep focused on the prayer, do not be distracted by these images.
To make progress in meditation you must be regular.  Put your meditation first and everything else second.  “…learning to control your mind is difficult…(yet)what you are seeking is glorious beyond compare.” Pg 56
Come join us next week October 20th  at 2PM for Chapter 2.  Also, next Saturday Sandra will be leading a meditation class at 11 so come join us as we share our meditation time together.  Contact Sandra if you plan to be at the Meditation Class.  Have a great week and peaceful meditating!

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