Questions and Answers on Meditation
Maharaj Charan Singh answers satsangis’ questions on meditation in Die to Live
Q: Maharaj Ji, I think it was Jagat Singh Ji Maharaj who said, “Eat less, sleep less, speak less,” and I’ve had a question: I understand the eat less and I understand the speak less, but I don’t understand the sleep less, because when I sleep less, it seems to interfere with my meditation. Could you explain that?
A: You should control your sleep. We shouldn’t try to sit in meditation at the cost of sleep. We should cut down other engagements of our life, but the body must have six to seven hours sleep.…
“Sleep less” means that you shouldn’t unnecessarily go on sleeping. Some people sleep ten hours or twelve hours, so for them, six or seven hours is less. If you will eat less, you will automatically sleep less. If you will speak less, the mind will not be so scattered. Speaking tires you and scatters the mind, and eating too much makes you sluggish.
Q. In the Indian scriptures the hours between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., or generally the hours of the early morning, are called the “nectar hour”. Is there an inner mystic advantage to that hour?
A: No, no. I follow your point. There’s no particular time for meditation. Whatever time you can attend to meditation is to your credit, but the morning time has certain advantages over other times. When you get up in the morning, the first thing is you are absolutely fresh. Your tiredness is gone. Your mind is not scattered, and you are not distracted by outside disturbances. There’s no telephone ring, there’s no knock at the door and there’s no hustle and bustle of traffic outside. So it’s a quiet time. And then, when you are going to start a day, why not start it in the name of the Father? That atmosphere of bliss which you build by meditation should go with you the whole day to help you face the ups and downs of life without losing your balance.
Q: If one wakes up, let’s say, at one or two o’ clock and is very refreshed, and you know that if you’re going to get up and sit for meditation, you have to go back to bed again before six or seven o’ clock, is it better to try to sleep and then get up again later, or still to get up and take advantage of the time, knowing you’re going to have to go back to sleep again?
A: Do take advantage of that time and attend to meditation. No opportunity for meditation should ever be lost under any circumstances. After that there is no harm in going to sleep.
Q: Is it better, if it’s possible, to sit without leaning against something?
A: The main thing is, our spine should be straight, from the health point of view, from the alertness point of view. If your backbone is straight, you’re more alert and you are not easily lured to sleep. But if your back stoops when you sit, then there’s always a danger of getting sleepy, and if we lean against something, sometimes the backbone is not straight. Even if you work sitting in a chair and your backbone is straight, you can work much better. The main thing is, one should try to keep the spine straight.
Q: I’ve heard that meditation on a full stomach is harmful because in meditation the blood goes to the head and therefore does not allow the food to properly digest. Is this true?
A: We don’t say meditation is harmful, but if you meditate with a full stomach, you may feel sleepy. Otherwise, you can do meditation at any time – with a full stomach, with an empty stomach; it is all right. But naturally with a heavy stomach you’ll be yawning, you will go to sleep, you’ll be lazy, so you may not be able to concentrate.
Q: If we sit for meditation, but in the two and a half hours we fall asleep for part of the meditation, and if we don’t try to make up that part during the rest of the day, is that breaking the vow to do two and a half?
A: Brother, the vow means that it is our good intention to give that much time to meditation. That is the vow. But when we take a vow on ourselves and we don’t attend to meditation, we carry a sense of guilt, that we have not done our duty. That sense of guilt will help you to sit in meditation again, and then you will be able to give more time to meditation. But don’t be too rigid about these things. If you have not been able to give the full time in the morning, give more at noon or in the evening, whenever you feel like.
Q: Maharaj Ji, it is often said that we should do more meditation with punctuality, regularity, and love and devotion. But love and devotion seem to be out of our hands.
A: Unless you have that faith, you will never practise meditation. If I know that a road leads to New York from Washington, I’ll go on driving at full speed. If I have no faith that the road will go to New York and I feel that it may go in some other direction, it becomes very hard for me to drive. I have to ask people for directions at every step. Sometimes I look at the map, sometimes I look at the road signs, sometimes I ask pedestrians; then I go astray.
Faith doesn’t take you to the destination. Practice will take you to the destination, but faith will make you practise. Without faith, you can’t practise. You will not be able to drive at full speed without faith. Full speed will take you to the destination, but faith is helping you to drive at full speed. Similarly, love and devotion is to have faith in the path and the Master. Then we practise also, and then we get the results from that practice.