The word meditation covers a wide range of different practices. The following answers relate mostly to the silent meditation practices taught by Chopra Global, such as Primordial Sound Meditation. These answers are intend as general guidelines, please consult one of the Chopra certified instructors if you have more specific concerns.
I’ve grouped the questions to make it easier to find those of interest to you.
Q. Are there different types of meditation?
A. There are several different types of meditation, each having its own purpose. Some people consider prayer or contemplation types of meditation, where we meditate on something. Meditation essentially means to be aware so anything we do with awareness can be a form of meditation. If we eat, walk or practice yoga asanas with awareness, they become a meditative experience. Most commonly, we think of meditation as a practice of sitting quietly with our eyes closed. In Guided Meditations, we are given a series of instructions, guiding us through different experiences. In silent meditation, we use a vehicle to take our awareness inward. This might be simply observing the breath or the silent repetition of a mantra.
Q. What is the purpose of silent meditation?
A. Silent meditation takes our awareness from activity to inner silence. It allows us to settle to quieter and quieter levels of the thinking process until we slip into the spaces between thoughts. This space is both silent and a field of infinite possibilities. When we come out of meditation, we bring these qualities with us and begin to integrate them into our lives.
Q. Is learning to meditate difficult?
A. If you can think a thought, you can meditate, it’s that simple. Meditation is best learned from a qualified teacher who will give you some basic instructions. If you follow those instructions, you should be meditating successfully in no time.
Q. Is meditation an Indian religion?
A. Meditation is a spiritual journey rather than a religious experience. It comes from the Vedic Tradition which is body of knowledge encompassing all aspects of life. Just because it comes from India doesn’t make it Indian. It is universal and can be practiced successfully by people of all religions.
Q. Why do we need meditation?
A. Everyone can benefit from meditation. On a physical level, meditation helps us to release stress, fatigue and toxins from our mind and body, bringing greater health and happiness. On a spiritual level, meditation allows us to re-connect with our true Self so we can begin living a life of Higher Consciousness, which is prefect in every way.
Q. What is stress and where does it come from?
A. Stress is what blocks the free flow of energy and information in the nervous system. It is the result of overloading the nervous system and, if not released, will accumulate over time. It can come from a variety of areas such as not getting enough rest or good quality sleep; being under too much pressure at work or in your home life; taking on too many responsibilities; threats to your security, for some people this can come from watching the evening news; having toxic relationships with family, friends or at work.
Q. How does meditation help us release stress?
A. During meditation, the mind and body enter a state of deep rest. Rest is how the body naturally heals itself, which is why, when we’re sick, we go to bed early, get extra rest, lighten our responsibilities, etc. The body naturally heals itself by throwing off what’s not supposed to be there, the stress, fatigue and toxins.
Q. What should I expect when I meditate?
A. Most people notice some settling down of the mind and body but it’s best not to have any expectations. The experience you have in meditation will be the experience your body needs at that time. It’s best to approach every meditation with an innocent attitude. Meditation is a tool to enrich your life so look for the changes there.
Q. I understand that we are all connected by a non-local field so what makes us different from each other?
A. We are all part of a non-local field of silence and infinite possibilities. However, we each choose our own possibility, which is what gives us our individuality. The choices we make are based on our memories and desires, which have been created as a result of our past actions.
Q. I’ve tried to meditate but it didn’t work for me.
A. If you’d stopped trying, the meditation would have worked for you. Meditation is to take us from activity to silence. Trying, focusing, concentrating all involve activity and keep us at a superficial level. The less we do in meditation, the greater the rewards.
Q. How many mantras are there?
A. In the Vedic tradition alone there are thousands of mantras and presumably many more in the other traditions of the world. In Primordial Sound Meditation there are 108 different mantras
Q. Why do we need mantras?
A. At its most fundamental level, everything in creation is sound or vibration. Any disruption to these vibrations results in some loss of harmony, creating a challenge in our body, life or the environment. If we know the correct vibration, we can reintroduce it in the form of a mantra and begin re-establishing harmony in that area. The Primordial Sound Meditation mantras re-establish our connection with our true Self.
Q. Can I use more than one mantra?
A. Different mantras are for different purposes so you might choose to use more than one mantra to achieve different results. However, it is not recommended to use more than one mantra during the same meditation as this could lead to confusion in the mind.
Q. What’s the difference between Primordial Sound Meditation and Mindfulness meditation?
A. Mindfulness meditation is a mental practice to bring us and our thoughts into the present moment, perhaps focusing on emotions, thoughts, and sensations that we’re experiencing “in the now.”. It often involves breathing practices, mental imagery, awareness of the body, mind and body relaxation. Primordial Sound Meditation uses a mantra, repeated silently and effortlessly, to take our awareness from activity into silence, which is the “now”.
Q. What is the difference between Primordial Sound mantra meditation and a guided meditation.
A. The purpose of Primordial Sound Meditation is to take our awareness into silence, to go beyond activity and connect with the field of Infinite Possibilities. As a result, balance and harmony is recreated throughout the mind and body. Guided meditations involve following a series of instructions so the mind always remains in activity. Their purpose is generally, to bring balance in a specific area of the body, mind or emotions.
Q. Can I chant mantras aloud?
A. If the purpose of a mantra is to create balance, peace and harmony in the external world, they can be chanted aloud so the vibration is sent outwards. However, the same effect can be created by repeating the mantra silently, with the intention of sending its vibration to a specific person or area. Mantras to take us into silence, such as the Primordial Sound mantras are always repeated silently
Q. Are the meanings of mantras important?
A. It may be useful to know the meaning or intent of a mantra which is being used for a physical or external purpose. However, mantras such as used in Primordial Sound Meditation, whose purpose is to take us into silence, have no particular meaning. Associating a meaning with them would tend to hold the awareness at the active level of the mind.
Q. How will meditation affect my health? Will it cure a particular disease or illness?
A. Meditation is a natural process for restoring balance and harmony in the physiology by re-enlivening the body’s own healing mechanisms. It helps us to restore wholeness within our mind-body system. Many people have noticed dramatic improvements in their lives and in their health situations as a result of their meditation practice. However, meditation should not be looked upon as a cure for any particular health problem, and you should not discontinue the advice or medication that your are currently receiving from your health care practitioner.
Q. What is the difference between meditation and spending time in silence?
A. We cannot create silence. We can only create noise and most of us are pretty good at that. However, when we allow the noise to subside, the underlying silence will reveal itself. Meditation is a systematic way of contacting the silence of our inner self. Practicing silence can mean almost anything depending upon the state of consciousness of the person in question. For some rare individuals it can be simply closing the eyes and connecting to silent awareness beyond thought and mind. For most people it might be closing the eyes and thinking about silence in the midst of thinking other thoughts. But thoughts of silence are still mental activity and not actual silence or stillness. Without a traditional technique like meditation, that takes the mind beyond itself, silence is usually just another thought, not a transcendental experience.
Q. Will I need less sleep when I practice meditation?
A. Not necessarily. Some people find they sleep less with meditation, some sleep more but for others their sleep patterns don’t change at all. Sleep gives us a level of rest to release the fatigue and mental stresses accumulated throughout the day. Meditation takes us to a much deeper level. Sleep is restful dullness whereas meditation is restful alertness. Nowadays it is recommended to get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night. Meditation is not a substitute for sleep. We need both regular sleep and a regular meditation practice to live a happier, healthier, more balanced life.
Q. Are the goals of meditation and yoga the same? If so, why meditate instead of doing yoga and why do yoga instead of meditation?
A. The word yoga means union. The union of one’s body, mind, soul and spirit. The ancient practice of yoga has always been considered a mental technology of consciousness, primarily involving meditation. In the last few decades the West has come to associate the word yoga with the physical postures, or asanas. Originally, asanas were practiced to prepare the yogi for sitting still during long periods of meditation so they compliment each other. Nowadays, the different yoga practices have taken on other meanings and purposes. In his Yoga Sutras, the great sage Patanjali tells us that we only need to perfect one yoga asana. When we reach that state of stillness within the pose, it becomes a meditative experience. Meditation gives the direct experience of unity of the individual mind with cosmic mind. Some gentle yogic stretching leading to a silent meditation, is an excellent practice.
Q. Is meditation like being asleep or in a trance?
A. Not at all. In fact meditation is to wake us up from the sleep and trance of our everyday conditioning. Being asleep and being in a trance are both usually a state of dullness. There is very little awareness there. When we meditate we are at a heightened state of awareness. The state of meditation is referred to as a state of restful alertness.
Q. How can my meditation help people around me?
A. Everything we do affects everything else in creation, even if on some very subtle level. By practicing meditation and increasing the coherence in our own life, we affect the coherence for everything else in the world on some level. As our own lives become more balanced and harmonious we become happier and healthier, and then we radiate the effects of that to everyone around us.
Q. What should I do when I encounter negative people who are obstructing my meditation practice?
A. Ask yourself, if these are the people who you want to be spending your time with? Are these the people who are supporting your journey? It doesn’t have to be a negative thing, you can just thank them for the friendship or the time you were with them and part ways. Begin to surround yourself with people who are more like-minded. This doesn’t mean abandoning your family, but maybe don’t bring up the subject of meditation at meal time if you know it will cause discomfort. Don’t expect everyone to do the same thing as you, that would be boring. It’s nice to have a little variety with your friends and within your relationships. You can share what you know with those who are interested but don’t force your ideas on those who are not. You’ll find that maybe your circle of friends starts to change over time, and if it’s comfortable then you just move in that new direction.
Q. What should I do if I continually forgo meditation to accomplish the things that need to get done in my life?
A. Life is about priorities. You must decide what is most important for you. For many people, meditation is a top priority and they always make the time to do it. For other people it may be less of a priority, particularly at the start, because it takes time to see the benefits. Make a commitment to be as regular as possible with your meditation for at least 4-6 weeks to give the benefits the opportunity to emerge. Remember that something is always better than nothing so try to include even a short meditation in your daily schedule.
Q. How will I ever find an extra hour of time in my life to meditate?
A. It is normal to believe that finding one hour in your life is a colossal amount of time. However, if you believe there is value in meditation, you will discipline yourself and find the time to meditate. Many people discover that, with meditation, they begin to get more organized, and creative, in their lives and become more efficient with their time. When you make the time to meditate you will find that you are still able to accomplish all the other necessary things. Do the best you can and if you don’t always have the full time to meditate, then meditate for whatever time you do have. As your meditation practice becomes more important to you, it will be easier to find the time for a committed routine.
Q. Do I use my present name or name given name at birth when repeating the I am sequence of the Chopra meditation program?
A. As this process is to help release the personality, stories and worldly attachments, use whichever name you most identify with.
Q. Is it possible that some people are not able to meditate?
A. The mantra is a thought so the only thing you need to be able to meditate is the ability to think thoughts. Anyone who can think a thought can meditate. However, because of their accumulated stress, doubts, worries and over-active mind, some people might find it difficult to sit still. With a little discipline anyone can meditate. In a few instance however, meditation might not always be appropriate for people with certain psychological conditions.
Q. Can I practice Primordial Sound Mediation and Deepak’s 21Day Meditation Experience at the same time?
A. Yes, during the actual 21 Day session you may use the mantras recommended in that program. Depending upon how much time you have, you may practice your Primordial Sound Meditation twice daily as normal and the 21 Day Meditation at some other time of the day as a bonus meditation. Alternatively, you could practice your Primordial Sound Meditation once during the day and substitute the 21 Day Meditation for the other session.
Q. Where is the best place to meditate?
A. Walking meditations are best practiced in a quiet area such as in nature. Most other meditations can be practiced anywhere you can sit down and close your eyes. While it’s preferable to be in a quiet, settled environment, if that’s not available, make the best of what you have. Don’t use the excuse that you’re not at home in your favorite chair for not meditating. You can meditate at work, on a plane, in a parked car, anywhere. While noise can be distracting, it is not an obstacle. If you can think a thought, you can meditate.
Q. Can I meditate with my pets and/or my children?
A. If the children are old enough to meditate then of course, we can meditate with them.
Generally we don’t recommend meditating with pets or young children as they can be distracting. However, each person decides what is most comfortable for them.
Q. Is it okay to meditate outside?
A. When we are outside, we have less control of the environment and may tend to be disturbed more easily. However, many people enjoy meditating in nature, so try to find a quiet place, out of the direct sunlight.
Q. Can I meditate extra if I’m in a stressful situation?
A. Meditation shouldn’t be used as a crutch that we run to every time something uncomfortable happens. If we meditate regularly, we should be better prepared to deal with life’s challenges. However, once in a while, if you find yourself in a particularly stressful situation, it’s okay to do some meditation as is comfortable.
Q. What do I do if something disturbs my meditation?
A. If the disturbance is slight, then just go back to your meditation. If the disturbance requires you to open your eyes and move, deal with whatever it is and, if possible, return to finish whatever time of meditation you had left, as soon as possible.
Q. When are the best times to meditate?
A. First thing in the morning and late afternoon coincide with our body’s quieter rhythms. Our body knows how to be still, we just have to give it the opportunity. Meditating first thing in the morning gives us the freshness and alertness to enjoy our day and again late afternoon enriches our evening’s activities. In the morning, try to meditate before you check your emails, etc. We recommend meditating before eating, if possible, so the activity of digestion doesn’t disturb the meditation. However, if these times aren’t possible, any time that works for your schedule is a good time.
Q. Is it okay to get up early to meditate and then go back to bed?
A. The yogis in India get up in the early hours of the morning to meditate when there is a still, calm silence. They then continue into their day’s activities. There is a special quality to the air, early in the morning, but listen to your body. Don’t force yourself to do something. If you need to go back to sleep after meditating or find that you are falling asleep in your meditation, need to take a nap later in the day, or find yourself reaching for the coffee midday because you’re drowsy from rising so early, maybe don’t get up so early. The dullness of sleep will negate the alertness gained in meditation.
Q. How long do I need to meditate?
A. With guided meditations, you should complete the times instructed by the person guiding the session. To receive the maximum benefits from a silent mantra based meditation practice, such as Primordial Sound Meditation, we recommend meditating thirty minutes, twice daily. If you don’t have a full thirty minutes, we encourage you to meditate for as much time as you have time. The only rule is that something is always better than nothing
Q. Is it okay to meditate with other people?
A. Yes. While most of your meditations will probably be alone, there is an advantage to meditating with others. When we meditate we create a certain coherence, or positive energy around us. When we meditate with other people, we share in everyone’s coherence and positive energy. It has been reported that the effect of meditating with other people—the amount of coherence that is generated when we meditate in a group—is greater than the sum of the individual parts. We not only share in the group harmony but the effects radiate out to everyone in the environment. If you enjoy meditating with other people, we recommend doing it on a regular basis.
Q. Is it okay to move and change my position during meditation?
A. Yes. Anytime you feel discomfort during your meditation simply change your position. If you have an itch, go ahead and scratch it. Just know that your meditations will be more restful if you start off in a comfortable position, where you are less likely to need to move.
Q. I work different shifts. What time should I meditate during the day?
A. It is always best to meditate when you first wake up, whatever time of the day that might be. This is usually when we are the freshest and, therefore, the meditation will be the most rewarding for us. Depending on your schedule, you will need to decide when to do your second meditation. It is best to allow seven or eight hours between your meditations. You decide what works best for you.
Q. Is it okay to meditate in the bath or in my hot tub?
A. This is not recommended because the movement of water and change of temperature of the water against your skin will keep your attention on the surface of awareness. This will draw your attention outward rather than allowing it to move inward.
Q. Should I control my breathing during meditation?
A. The less we “do” during meditation, the greater the rewards. Don’t try to control your breath during meditation, simply allow it to do whatever it wants to do. As the mind settles, you may notice the breath settling down. Sometimes, with the release of stress it may speed up. No matter what the breath does, simply notice it and effortlessly bring your attention back to the mantra. At times, you may experience no breath at all. This is a sign that you had slipped into the gap. Thoughts and breath mirror each other. When we slip beyond thought, the breathing is also briefly suspended.
Q. How do I set intentions prior to my meditation?
A. Before your meditation, formulate your intention or desire into one simple sentence. Close your eyes and silently repeat the intention two or three times. Then let the intention go and begin repeating your mantra. As you meditate, the seed of the intention gets carried into those deeper levels and planted in the field of Infinite Organizing Power.
It’s important to detach from the outcome of the intention and let the Universe handle the details. Detachment is like saying, “This is what I think I want. However, if there’s something even better, it’s okay to send that along instead”.
You can also repeat the intention, while resting, at the end of meditation and just before going to sleep at night.
Q. Is more time in meditation more beneficial?
A. The fastest growth on all levels comes through balance and integration. Meditation gives us the experience of silence and connects us with the field of Infinite Possibilities. Regular activity allows them to be integrated into our lives. In general, 30 minutes of meditation twice daily gives us the balance of deep rest alternated with normal activity, which is how we progress as quickly as possible. Once in a while, if you are under a lot of stress, are unwell or away from your normal responsibilities, it’s okay to do some extra meditation. However, always only do what feels comfortable for you.
Q. What is the best way to time my meditations?
A. When starting a meditation practice, it is a common concern that you may lose track of time and worry about being late for something important in your life.
Initially, use a timer that is quiet. We suggest one that is not too jarring. Set the timer for as many minutes as you want to commit to your meditation. You can use an app on your smart phone or iPad.
If you meditate for approximately the same amount of time, at approximately the same time every day, the body becomes accustomed to that. For example, if you always go to bed at 10:00 pm and get up at 6:00 am, eventually you find that you don’t need an alarm clock. Your body gets into that rhythm and knows when to feel sleepy and when to wake up in the morning.
It’s the same with meditation. If you meditate for approximately the same time, at the same time every day, you won’t need a timer. You’ll find that you sit down to meditate, and after about 30 minutes or whatever your time is, you’ll have that thought, “I wonder what time it is?” Open your eyes and look at the clock. If you have come to the end of the time, rest in silence for a few minutes and you are finished. If you have opened your eyes too early, close your eyes and gently continue repeating your mantra.
Q. What do I do if I miss a meditation?
A. If you miss a meditation or perhaps don’t meditate for several days, accept it for what it was for that day or week and try to be more regular in future. Never feel guilty that you missed a meditation. Once you begin to experience the benefits of meditation, you’ll want to make it a regular part of your daily routine.
Q. Should I use breathing exercises prior to or after meditation?
A. There are various breathing exercises in the Yoga tradition, each of which has different effects. Some are calming and some increase activity in the body. If you want to do some breathing exercises before meditation, they should be calming.
A gentle breathing exercise is often a good idea before your afternoon/evening meditation. Activity from the day is still with you and breathing exercises allow you to settle the mind and prepare you for meditation. Take a few minutes to sit quietly, relax in your meditation chair, and do a gentle, calming breathing exercise such as alternative nostril breathing. Just breathing normally and effortlessly observing your breath for a few minutes will also help you to settle, before beginning your mantra.
If you’d like to do more vigorous breathing exercises, we suggest doing those after you finish your meditation.
Q. Can I listen to music while using my Primordial Sound mantra?
A. It is not recommended to listen to music while practicing Primordial Sound Meditation. Music can be very soothing and restful, but in Primordial Sound Meditation we want to go into the silence. In Primordial Sound Meditation we use sound in the form of the mantra to take us from activity to silence. Playing music would be a distraction keeping us in activity.
Some meditations, like the 21 Day Mediation Experience use music. That’s a different type of meditation. Music is fine for many types of meditation, however we recommend, in Primordial Sound Mediation that you simply use the sound of your mantra to go within. There are enough other things outside the mediation that will disturb you without creating more.
Q. What do I do with my hands during meditation?
A. There are various hand positions known as Mudras which can be used during meditation. However, the most important thing is to be comfortable so you aren’t thinking about your hands through the whole meditation. For most people simply resting the hands, palms up, one on top of the other, in the lap or resting them on the thighs is most comfortable.
Some people like to rest their hands, palms up, on the creases where the top of the leg meets the torso. This has the effect of pulling the shoulders back, helping to straighten the body. But again, be comfortable.
Q. What is the ideal posture to sit in while meditating?
A. The classic yoga posture for meditation is sitting on the floor, crossed legged, spine erect without back support but please don’t attempt this unless it is perfectly comfortable for you. The important thing is to be comfortable so you aren’t disturbed by your body complaining, during meditation but not so comfortable that you fall asleep. To allow the energy to flow smoothly through your body, it’s best if your spine can be upright. However, don’t strain, use pillows and cushions as needed. If you’re sitting on a chair, place your feet flat on the floor. If you’re sitting on the floor, try to have your hips raised so that they are level or higher than your knees. This will prevent any strain on your lower back.
Unless you cannot sit up, we don’t recommend lying down to meditate as the body associates this with sleeping.
Q. Do I need to repeat the mantra the entire meditation?
A. When using a mantra for meditation, the preference should to repeat it throughout the practice. However, this should be done easily and effortlessly, without focusing or concentrating. Periodically we will drift away from the mantra, distracted by other thoughts, a noise or a physical sensation. When we realize we have drifted, we gently return to the mantra.
Q. Sometimes in meditation, I feel I’m in the silence. Can I just remain here without returning to the mantra?
A. If you’re feeling or thinking you’re in the silence, then you’re not. True silence is beyond any conscious thoughts or feelings. Sometimes, if we are at a very settled level, it may feel like we are almost in the silence. We may have the feeling of peace or expansion. However, any time there is a choice, choose to return to the mantra.
Q. Are the thoughts I have in meditation different from the thoughts I have during the rest of the day?
A. The thoughts we have during the day are usually generated by a situation or experience. In meditation, the mind settles down causing the body to settle down. The body receives rest which allows some stress to be released. The release of stress increases the physical activity which increases the mental activity. Mental activity is thinking thoughts. So the mind has to start thinking something and usually it will grab onto the most recent thought that it was thinking before the meditation. Sometimes the stress being released may influence the type of thought in some way. In general, the thoughts we have in meditation are similar to the ones we have during the day. The main difference is how the thoughts are generated.
Q. I have a difficult time staying awake when I meditate. Do you have any insights or recommendations?
A. If you fall asleep during meditation, it means that you’re tired. Go ahead and let yourself sleep if you feel a strong urge to nod off during meditation. It’s not a good idea to force yourself to stay alert. Sometimes you may go through a period of several meditations, where your body requires an experience of sleep in order to release a particular stress or fatigue. However, if you find that you regularly fall asleep during meditation, look at your lifestyle, make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night, not under too much pressure and eating a healthy diet. If you’re ill or, in the case of ladies, pregnant, your body will require more rest and you may have a tendency to fall asleep during meditation. Meditation always gives us the experience we need at that time.
Q. How long will it be before I start to notice the benefits of meditation?
A. The benefits will start to accumulate from the first time you start meditating. If you continue to meditate on a regular basis the benefits will grow at whatever speed and at whatever rate is easiest for your body to assimilate them. Everyone progresses at his/her own rate. If you ask how long it will take to get to the top of the Empire State building in new York, it will depend on which floor you get onto the elevator. Some people get on at the 10th floor and some people get on at the 25th floor. So it is with meditation, we all start and progress at our own speed.
We all grow and evolve at whatever rate is most appropriate for us. Sometimes we notice the benefits immediately. Sometimes it is weeks or months before we really notice the changes. Sometimes it is other people who notice the changes in us before we notice them. As long as you are meditating regularly, be patient, the benefits will be there.
Q. What experiences should I be having when I meditate?
A. The experience you will have in meditation is a reflection of what’s going on in your physiology at that time. If you are tired, you may fall asleep. If there’s a lot of stress release or emotional clearing happening, then you may have a lot of thoughts, feel very restless, or fidgety. If not, you may settle down and have quieter experiences.
Do not judge your meditation by what’s happening in meditation. Meditation is a tool to enrich your life. If you want to judge the value of your meditation, look at the changes that are happening in your life. You may start to feel more comfortable with your life, less stressed, happier, and more accepting, your desires may start to get fulfilled more easily.
The experience in meditation is whatever it will be. Follow the simple process – repeat the mantra effortlessly and gently, when you realize you’ve drifted away, easily come back to the mantra.
Q. Will I have profound, insightful thoughts during meditation?
A. Not necessarily. The thoughts you have in meditation are generally associated with the release of stress. If you do have thoughts in meditation which you think are profound or insightful, it is not recommended that you stop your meditation to act on them. We don’t know which are meaningful or which are just the garbage being taken out. After finishing your practice, if something still feels profound and insightful, use the clarity you’ve gained from the meditation, to decide what you would like to do with such thoughts.
Q. What if I see colors or pictures during meditation?
A. Some people are more visual and see colors or images. Some people picture their mantra. These are just visual thoughts. Once you realize you are watching colors or pictures and not repeating the mantra, turn your awareness back to the sound of the mantra.
Q. What is happening if I feel discomfort in the body while meditating?
A. When you meditate, you are releasing stress. Usually this happens effortlessly without you noticing it. However, occasionally the physical release of stress may be experienced as a sensation in the body. If the sensations are mild, notice them and return to the mantra. If they are uncomfortable, ease off the mantra, sit easily and when the sensation diminishes, gently go back to the mantra.
Q. Why do I sometimes feel pressure in my head during meditation?
A. Your meditation practice should be effortless. If you put any effort into meditation it will increase activity. Primordial Sound Meditation takes us within. Any effort increases activity and has the effect of taking you out, creating a kind of tug-of-war effect. This may be experienced as pressure in the head. Anytime you feel discomfort, tightness, or tension in the head, that began during meditation, stop repeating the mantra for a few seconds and then begin again effortlessly. Remember it’s more like listening to the mantra rather than saying it.
Q. I sometimes find that my eyes twitch or water when I am meditating.
A. This is probably just the release of stress or tension and will pass in time. Most of us tend to overtire our eyes from reading, sitting in front of a computer, watching television, or just from the amount of stimulation that we take in through the sense of sight. A lot of stress and fatigue is accumulated in the eyes and when we start to meditate that stress begins to be released. Be easy with it and it should pass. Make sure you’re not over tiring your eyes during the rest of the day.
Q. Sometimes when I meditate, I get a slight ringing sound or whistling in my ears.
A. This is, most probably, the indication that some stress is being released. Some changes are happening in that area and this is causing this slight noise. This should pass in a short amount of time. However, as with any unusual physical changes, if they continue, it’s always best to seek medical advice.
Q. When I meditate, sometimes I feel a tingling throughout my body, or it may feel as though energy is rushing up and down different parts of my body.
A. According to Ayurvedic medicine, we have approximately 72,000 channels or Nadis, throughout our body. Most of them are subtle and are used to transfer energy and information to different areas of the body. Many of these channels get blocked with stress and toxins, and this can cause our system to break down. This shows up as illness, discomfort, a sense of feeling unhappy, and an inability to live a fulfilling, contented lifestyle.
When we meditate these stresses and tensions start to dissolve. We begin to reopen these channels and as this happens there is a surge of energy through the channels. Sometimes we experience this in our meditation as a tingling, surging of energy or mild movements of the body. This is the experience of our physiology starting to wake up again.
Q. Sometimes during my meditation I feel so restless and frustrated that I want to stop the meditation and get up and do something else.
A. This is just the time when it is best not to get up. The restlessness and frustration are indications that a lot of stress is being released, and this is one reason why we are practicing meditation. When you have this experience be gentle with yourself. Continue with your practice and, if it becomes too much, pause and just allow the frustration and restlessness surge through and leave your body. When this dissipates resume your meditation. This is not the time to quit your meditation practice. This is the time to continue with the meditation so that you can get rid of those stresses. If you stop, the stress will be still waiting for you next time.
Q. How do you get past the mental chatter and the thoughts while you’re meditating?
A. It’s not possible to consciously stop thinking. Have you ever tried to stop thinking? It’s impossible. If you say to yourself, I’m not thinking about anything right now, that’s a thought.
Thoughts are part of the meditation process. The mantra is a thought, it’s just a special type of thought that has no meaning. The other thoughts you are having in meditation are the result of the release of stress. When you think the mantra, the mind settles down, which causes the body to settle down, which allows you to start to release stress, fatigue, and toxins. This causes an increase in physical and an increase in mental activity, which is thinking thoughts.
Don’t struggle against the thoughts. At some point, you will have the thought, I’m supposed to be thinking my mantra. I’m supposed to be meditating. At that point, you have a choice. You can choose to continue thinking the thoughts, and if that’s what you choose, you are wasting your time in meditation. You are just daydreaming. If you choose to come back to the mantra, that’s correct meditation. It doesn’t matter how many times you drift away from the mantra. When you realize you’ve drifted away, you come back to the mantra. Come back very effortlessly. That’s the process of meditation.
Q. I expected to feel more energetic but am actually feeling tired and sleepy both during meditation and afterward in my activity.
A. Sometimes meditation can stir up stress and fatigue. That stress and fatigue comes out whenever it is ready to emerge. If this is your experience, try to get some extra rest during this time. Maybe go to bed earlier or work a lighter schedule during this time. However, if it becomes a problem and affects your activity or lifestyle in some way, perhaps reduce the duration of your meditation period to slow down this release of stress.
Q. Now that I have learned to meditate, I seem to have so much energy that I want to take on many new tasks that I have been putting off for years.
A. Increased energy is one of the benefits we expect from meditation. However, be careful not to overdo things in the early stages. Don’t rush out and take on so many new responsibilities that you end up expending more energy than you are gaining. Be regular with your meditation and move ahead gradually. Remember that balance is the key to success in life.
Q. How/when will I know I’m in the gap between thoughts?
A. We are actually slipping in and out of the gap all the time. The gap is there, between every thought we have. Most of the time our thoughts are happening so quickly that we don’t notice the gap but, in meditation, as things settle down, the gap may become longer. However, we can never know when we are in the gap because it’s beyond thought, beyond space and time. We only experience something when we localize it as a space-time event. The gap is awareness of everything at the same time rather than awareness of anything in particular.
Because we don’t know we’re in the gap when we’re there, it’s easy to miss however, during meditation we may sometimes have the thought, “Where was I?” We know we weren’t thinking thoughts or the mantra but some time has passed, we were in the gap. Coming out of the gap, we may feel some expansion, peacefulness and joy.
It’s important not to spend your meditation looking for the gap or wondering if you’ve slipped into it. Follow the process effortlessly and know that the gap is always there.
Q. How do I know if I was in the gap between thoughts or asleep?
A. It doesn’t really matter because meditation always gives you the correct experience for that time. Don’t waste your time analyzing the experiences.
Q. When solutions to my problems arise in meditation, where do they come from? Are they an interruption, a disruption, or a benefit that I’m receiving during meditation?
A. The thoughts you are having during meditation could be generated from anywhere. We don’t really know. They could be insightful thoughts that are coming from that field of silence where all thoughts originally come from, or they could just be the product of some release of stress that’s going on.
We recommend when you have thoughts in meditation, whatever the thoughts are, even if they seem to be the solution to some problem you’re dealing with, just treat them like any other disturbance and return to the mantra.
At the end of your meditation, you may turn your attention to those thoughts in the light of fresh clarity and increased creativity that’s resulted from the meditation. Then you can decide if it was insightful and something you want to act on or not. If you don’t remember them at the end of the meditation, they probably were not insightful thoughts.
Q. What should I do if I feel bored and impatient during meditation?
A. Impatience and boredom are common experiences during meditation and are the result of some release of stress and toxins. Release of stress is a physical thing which can sometimes make us fidgety and irritable. Be disciplined with the time of your meditation. When you sit down to meditate, decide how long you are going to meditate for, whether it’s 15 minutes, 20 minutes or 30 minutes. You have nothing else to do during that time. Whatever experience comes, notice it and gently come back to the mantra. Stay with the time.
Q. Why do I sometimes want to give up in the middle of my meditation?
A. The ego wants to control everything. The process of meditation is to take us beyond the ego, beyond control and into unlimited freedom. The ego may sometimes feel a little threatened when we sit down to meditate and it is always going to come up with reasons to stop your meditation. Be a little disciplined and stay with the time.
Q. How do I know if I’m meditating correctly?
A. As long as you are repeating the mantra effortlessly and come back to it whenever you notice you’ve drifted away, you are meditating correctly.
If you’re following those basic instructions, there’s no such thing as a good or bad meditation. Every meditation is a good meditation because it gives you the experience you need at that time. If you want to judge your meditation, then look at your lifestyle. How are things starting to change in your life? Meditation is to enrich our lives not for any particular experience during the meditation.
Q. Sometimes my head or my body wants to sway and rock when I meditate, what does that mean?
A. When we practice meditation, we make that inward journey. The mind settles down, the body settles down, and when we get to a certain level of rest, we release some stress.
Stress is a physical thing. We feel the knots of stress in our shoulders, our neck or feel the stiffness in the body. When that stress is released, there has to be some physical activity involved. Most of the time this release of stress is very smooth and comfortable for us, but once in awhile we might hit some of those bigger stresses, and they all start to come out at once. When that happens, the body may move to facilitate the release. As long as these movements are not uncomfortable just notice them and come back to your mantra. Have a neutral attitude towards them, neither resisting nor encouraging them.
If at any time the movements become uncomfortable, stop thinking the mantra. If you need to, open your eyes and look around the room. This will bring you out of the meditation and the releases stress and movements will settle down. When you feel comfortable, close your eyes and effortlessly return to your mantra.
Q. I experience strong emotions when I meditate and sometimes cry or laugh out loud. Is this normal?
A. These emotions are the release of stress or tension. Anytime emotions well up during meditation, allow them to flow through you and be released without resisting or encouraging them.
Most of the time these emotions will release smoothly, but sometimes a stronger one may cause you to feel some sadness, maybe start crying or laughing out loud. This is a normal experience due to the release of some stress. If it is not uncomfortable, come back to the mantra and continue with your meditation. If the experience becomes too strong and you are unable to continue, stop meditating and just sit easily for a few minutes until the emotion settles down, and then resume your meditation.
The great thing about meditation is that you’re in charge. It’s not like swallowing a drug and just hanging on for the ride. You can stop and start your meditation anytime you wish. Enjoy the meditation and don’t take too much notice of these things. They’ll eventually sort themselves out.
Q. The meditation instructions seem very simple, isn’t there something else I should be doing?
A. The great thing about meditation is that it is simple. Please keep it that way and don’t complicate things. Unfortunately we’ve been trained all our lives that to be successful, we have to try hard. No pain, no gain. Meditation is the complete opposite. The less we do, the greater the rewards. When we slip into the spaces between thoughts, we are doing nothing but have the potential for anything.
Higher States of Consciousness
Q. How do I know if I’m evolving?
A, Look for the positive changes in your life. Are you feeling happier, more contented, less reactive? Are you able to deal with challenges more creatively? Are your desires being fulfilled more easily? In general, do you experience more peace and joy?
Q. How will Primordial Sound Meditation help me evolve and reach higher consciousness?
A. Regular practice of Primordial Sound Meditation removes the blockages which prevent us from realizing that we are already Enlightened. It reconnects us with who we really are. It
allows us to integrate the Silence and field of Infinite Possibilities back into our lives and break out of the self-made prison of limited possibilities. All of which open the door to higher consciousness.
Q. What’s meant by a “space-time event”?
A. Everything we experience with our senses has a location in space and a duration in time and thus is a space-time event. Even a thought which may be difficult to place in a specific location, still has a duration in time. Everything in the relative world and in our life is limited by space and time. Through regular meditation, we are able to contact Infinite Possibilities, beyond the boundaries of space and time.
Q. Who is the experiencer?
A. The experiencer is the real you. We are not the experience, we are the one who is having the experience. When, through meditation, we are able to detach from the experiences, we become the witness to them. We can still enjoy the experience but are no longer over shadowed by the good scenes and the bad scenes. We become like the sky, endless and eternal, with experiences like the clouds that drift in and out, to be enjoyed but leaving no lasting impression.