From the teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

If you want to get rid of the pains and afflictions of this samsara, worldly life, you must practise meditation. Meditation is the pathway to divinity. It is the royal road to the kingdom of Brahman. It is a mysterious ladder which reaches from error to truth, from darkness to light, from pain to bliss, from restlessness to abiding peace, from ignorance to wisdom, from mortality to immortality. Meditation leads to knowledge of the self which brings about eternal peace.

Regular meditation opens the avenues of intuitional knowledge and makes the mind calm and steady. Meditation develops strong and pure thoughts. Mental images are clear-cut and well defined. Good thoughts are well grounded. Through clarification of ideas, confusion vanishes, doubts are cleared. You will feel the way to place your footsteps on the next rung of the spiritual ladder.

If you wind a watch at night, it will run smoothly for twenty-four hours. Even so if you meditate for one or two hours in the brahmamuhurta (one and a half hours before sunrise), you can work very peacefully throughout the day. Nothing can disturb your mind. The whole system will be charged with spiritual vibrations.

Meditation is a powerful tonic. The holy vibrations penetrate all the cells of the body and cure its diseases. The powerful soothing waves that rise during meditation exercise a benign influence over the mind and the nerves. If you can meditate for half an hour daily, you will be able to engage with peace and spiritual strength in the daily battle of life. As you have to move with different minds of peculiar natures in your daily life, get the strength and peace from meditation and you have no trouble and worry.

When you sit for meditation, all sorts of worldly thoughts will crop up in your mind; this will disturb your meditation. You will be astonished. Old thoughts, old memories of past enjoyments will bubble up and force the mind to wander in all directions. The trap door of the vast magazine of thoughts and memories within the subconscious mind is opened up and these thoughts gush out in a continuous stream. The more you attempt to still them, the more they will bubble up. Do not be discouraged. Through regular and constant meditation you will purify the subconscious mind and thus control the thoughts and memories. The fire of meditation will burn all thoughts. Be sure of this.

If the thoughts trouble you much, do not suppress them by force. Be a silent witness, as in a bioscope. They will subside gradually. Then you must root them out by regular silent meditation. The practice of meditation must be constant. If you practise meditation in fits and starts for a few minutes daily, you will not be able to achieve any tangible success in yoga.

The mind is compared to quicksilver because its rays are scattered over various objects. It is compared to a monkey because it jumps from one object to another. It is compared to a furious elephant because of its passionate impetuosity. It is known by the name ‘great bird’ because it jumps from one object to another just as a bird jumps from one twig to another, from one tree to another.

Through dispassion, pratyahara and the practice of concentration, the dissipated rays of the wandering mind are slowly collected. Through steady practice it is rendered one-pointed. During concentration the mind becomes calm, serene and steady. The various rays of the mind are collected and focused on the object of meditation. There will be no tossing of the mind. The whole energy of the mind is concentrated on that one idea. The senses become still.

Complete control of the mind can be attained when all the thought waves are thoroughly rooted out. After one-pointedness is attained you have to achieve full restraint. In this stage all modifications subside completely. The mind becomes quite blank.

In meditation, new grooves are formed in the brain, and the mind moves upwards in the new spiritual grooves. In the early stages, the practice of concentration is tiring. Beginners fall down from meditation into their old grooves. They must lift up their minds again and again. Concentration purifies and calms the surging emotions, strengthens the current of thought and clarifies the ideas.

In meditation, do not strain the eyes. Do not strain the brain. Do not struggle or wrestle with the mind. It is a serious mistake. Many beginners commit this grave error. This is the reason why they get tired easily. Make no violent effort to control the mind, but rather allow it a little freedom for a while and let it run and exhaust its efforts. The mind will jump like an untrained monkey at first. Gradually it will slow down. Then you can fix your mind on your point of concentration.

Through regular and constant meditation you can purify the subconscious mind and control all thoughts and memories. Meditation acts like dynamite and blows up all thoughts and memories in the subconscious mind. If they trouble you much, do not suppress them by force. Be a silent witness. They will subside gradually. Then try to root them out through regular, silent meditation.

Meditation gives a lot of spiritual strength, peace, new vigour and vitality. It is the best mental tonic. If a meditator becomes irritated often, it shows he is not having good uninterrupted meditation. Try your level best to keep a serene mind always. Meditation can proceed from a serene mind only. Through regular meditation build a strong spiritual fortress and a magnetic aura around you which cannot be penetrated even by the worst evil.