The Learn to Meditate program of the Australian College of Classical Yoga
This is a structured eight week course that has been developed by Swami Shantananda after meditating and contemplating over 20 years, and is taught by Sally Dawson under licence. We start off simply and progress to methods that ask a bit more concentration and alertness.
Meditation methods are almost although not quite all concentration methods that replace idle thoughts. Examples are breath awareness or mantra. However, meditation is not the method: Meditation is stillness of mind. Meditation is what happens when the method falls away. And ideally, the meditator learns to take the peace of meditation into daily activity, not just the formal sitting times. The program helps you establish a meditative way of life.
You will be encouraged to establish a practice that you can continue independently without the necessity of aids or props or becoming reliant on a guide. However, it is also recommended that you find a group of like- minded people to sit with from time to time, as the company of others reinforces your motivation to keep your practice up. See Ongoing meditation
What is NOT Meditation?
Visualisation and guided fantasy are not meditation. Trying to have visions and unusual phenomena is not meditation. Meditation is stillness of mind.
Keeping the mind still for regular periods gradually brings about fundamental change. Keeping the mind active, as it is when visualising is more of the same old processes we have always known. It is useful in its own way, it is pleasant and relaxing, but it is not meditation. Meditation is stillness of mind.
Trying to become a better person is not meditation.
Meditation is often thought of as having religious aims, or at least the aim of self- improvement. But meditation is not religion. Meditation is stillness of mind.
Usually people who meditate do become more pleasant and more cooperative. That is because they give up the personality games that they might have played when they were trying to be this sort of person or that sort of person. In meditation, there is no trying this or that, there is only stillness.
How so? Well think about some of the ways that the meditation state has been described by various traditions over centuries. “The void”, ”Emptiness”, “No-mind”, “Beginner- mind”, “No self”, “Nothingness”. An ancient text from India says, “Meditation is stopping the things that roll over in the mind”. A medieval Christian text calls meditation “the cloud of unknowing” into which the mind must be cast in order to experience something much, much different from the idealism of the religious mind.
Meditation is deeper than relaxation.
When you meditate, normally you are also relaxed. However, normally when you are relaxing you are not meditating. Relaxation is a by-product of meditation, not an aim. Meditation is deeper than relaxation.
If Meditation is Stillness of Mind what are the implications?
In a state of stillness there is no talking about it, at least not while you are in it. In a state of stillness, there is no certainty, no taking control, no being right, or wrong. In fact there is no being anything. There is just “being”! The mind doesn’t necessarily look forward to that. It likes control and certainty, but control and certainty bring about a lot of stress.
By practicing stillness, eventually a curious thing happens – you begin to see the mind objectively. You see the things it does and you realise that you have an awareness which is not a product of all the things it is aware of, including the minds urges and personality habits. It is a quiet unspeaking awareness. And then, even more curious, you realise that the awareness feels more like your true self than thoughts and feelings. It seems much richer and more stable. And then, somewhere deep inside yourself, you find that there is a chuckle bubbling away, and that “being” is a pure source of pleasure, and neither your thoughts, nor the ups and downs of life can either generate or obliterate it.
Note: If you are under the care of a mental health professional you must get his/her approval before enrolling in the program.
You can read all you like about meditation, but the benefits are in the practice.
Come and join us and see how a practice of meditation can improve your experience of living your life.
You won't regret it.