The Essence of Meditation: Advanced Practices for New and Experienced Meditators
Almost everyone is familiar with the concept of meditation, but with so many meditation paths to choose from, it’s difficult to know which direction to take. Should we limit ourselves to passively witnessing our thoughts or breath or should we actively repeat a mantra? If we rely on a mantra, how exactly do we engage with it? Does meditation require phenomenal feats of concentration or is it something that should feel effortless? Is it best to stick to one method or should we try different things as we go along? What is the ultimate purpose of the practice?
The Essence of Meditation answers these questions by teaching a simple yet highly effective approach to meditation that is as powerful as it is direct. While the practices are not drawn exclusively from any school of yoga, they draw generously from the great Indian, non-dual traditions of Kashmir Shaivism and Advaita Vedanta.
The Start of a Lifetime of Meditation
People are drawn to the practice of meditation for different reasons. Some individuals meditate to promote general health and well-being. Others meditate in response to a deep yearning for spiritual knowledge. Whatever our motives, The Essence of Meditation offers something for everyone.
The practices taught in The Essence of Meditation are universal in their appeal since they focus on the innate awareness at the heart of our being, i.e., our I-feeling that lives with us from moment to moment. This awareness is both the seat of meditative power as well as its goal. In Tantric philosophy, the entire universe is seen as a reflection of consciousness contained within an endless expanse of pure awareness. This awareness, which is our true identity, is experienced as perfect peace and bliss. Through the practices taught in The Essence of Meditation, you will learn how to recognize and experience your own vibrant and blissful awareness—the great Self at the heart of your being.
Challenges & Solutions
If you are new to meditation, the issues below are of no concern. But if you’ve been meditating for some time, you might have run into the following challenges:
- No matter how much time I dedicate, my meditation practice is not yielding any significant results
- I’ve been told to see everything as consciousness (Kashmir Shaivism), but I haven’t experienced any lasting inner change
- I’ve been taught in Mindfulness meditation to watch my thoughts or breath but I cannot move past the surface of my mind
- I’ve been told to shun my questioning mind and to shun all spiritual experiences because the person having them is to be viewed as unreal (Advaita Vedanta), which leaves me with nowhere to turn
- I’ve been told that the best meditation practice is to simply let go and “do nothing,” but I’m not sure I’m even meditating
The Essence of Meditation resolves these obstacles by teaching you how to recognize your own awareness and how to gently still your mind through time-honored and proven methods.
It took what I knew to whole different level…I would recommend this book to anyone who meditates (no matter what their level is) and to anyone who has ever wondered what it is all about.Maria
Pelenur’s passion for his subject makes you want to begin, or continue, the meditation process immediately.Timothy
I thank Andres for showing me the way to use yoga to find my inner self.Marilynne
The Essence of Meditation opened my eyes to what is possible through meditation.Conan
What’s Inside? 210 pages of yogic wisdom to allow you to sidestep obstacles and attain the bliss of your own consciousness.
1: A Review of First Principles
Our Greatest Obstacle
A Word of Caution Regarding Scriptural Traditions
Further Observations Regarding Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism
2: Is a Living Guru Necessary?
The Nature of the Guru
Self-Effort versus Grace
Self-Awareness: Now or a Hundred Lifetimes from Now?
3: I-consciousness Is Behind Everything
I-consciousness in Its Current State Is Known as the Ego
Shifting Attention Away from Thoughts and onto I-consciousness Is the Fastest Way to Attain Self-Awareness
Sadhu Om’s Objections Regarding Traditional Practices
Qualifying Sadhu Om’s Teachings
4: Exactly Who Attains Liberation?
Working with the Mind
Thoughts Are Both Sticky and Seductive
5: Meditation Instructions
Preparing for Meditation
Approaching Our Meditation Seat
Taking Our Seat
Preliminary Practices: Dhāraṇās to Help Center the Mind
The Essence of Meditation
6: Kriyās and Other Distractions
Purification of the Breath and Tapas
7: Meditation Phases and Landscapes
8: Samādhi as Described in Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra
Five-Step Model and Patañjali
9: The Role of Celibacy in Support of Samādhi
Strategies in Support of Celibacy (don’t worry, you don’t have to be celibate. This advice is for advanced practicioners)
Further Observations on Celibacy
10: Yoga Means Change
Here is what you will learn:
- Establishing a strong conceptual foundation that will allow our meditation to significantly deepen
- Establishing the right bhava (feeling) that will allow our meditation to become heartfelt and expansive
- How to work with our thoughts in a positive and non-combative way
- Understanding the difference between concentrative and so-called effortless approaches to meditation
- Understanding the difference between guided meditations/visualizations and meditation proper
- How to meditate without a mantra, if that is our preference
- How to employ powerful dharanas (short contemplations) at the start of our meditation session to enable the mind to become profoundly still
- The secret behind the power of attention
- How to determine what the proper target of meditation should be
- Understanding key tantric concepts, including how to work with the flow of shakti (spiritual energy) that is drawn into the body as a result of deep meditation
- Why we should not worry about awakening our kundalini (coiled one) energy
- Understanding kriyas (spontaneous actions) and their significance
- Understanding visions, intense feelings, and other phenomena that can arise during meditation
- An overview of the five key phases that unfold during a lifetime of meditation
- Establishing proper posture, alignment, and breath
- How to manage physical pains and discomforts while we are meditating
- How to integrate our formal meditation session with the rest of our daily life
- How to overcome perceived “dry-spells” and the feeling of lack of progress
- Avoiding common hindrances that can adversely affect our meditation practice and more
Andres Pelenur has been meditating and studying yogic scriptures for over twenty years. He is the founder of the Mahāsāra School of Meditation and a disciple of the great saint Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri (1897–1961), having been initiated directly by Bhagawan in what is termed sankalpa dīkshā (initiation through the will of a Guru). Andres received mantra dīkshā (initiation into mantra) from Gurumayi Chidvilasananda and received training in multiple yogic disciplines at her ashram in South Fallsburg, New York. He has traveled extensively throughout India, meditating in numerous ashrams including Bhagawan’s ashram in Kanhangad, Kerala, and in Ganeshpuri, Maharashtra. Andres holds a BA in English from McGill University and a JD from the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law.
Get the foundational knowledge and practical teachings necessary to begin a lifetime of deep and joyful meditation. Because The Essence of Meditation is written for beginners and experienced meditators alike, it’s a guide you can return to again and again as your meditation blossoms. (PDF, epub, and mobi files.)
Get The Essence of Meditation and Paths to Perfection for only an extra $4.99 (PDF, epub, and Mobi files).
In Paths to Perfection, you’ll gain a solid overview of six of the world’s most important meditation traditions: Theravada Buddhism (Vipassana, aka Mindfulness Meditation), Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhist Meditation), Zazen (Zen Buddhist Meditation), Ashtanga Yoga (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra), Advaita Vedanta, and Non-dual Shaiva Tantra.
“Some people believe their minds are too restless to meditate. They don’t appreciate the fact that the mind is as naturally inclined toward stillness as it is toward restlessness. When we teach the mind how to turn inward, it transforms the energy of restlessness into the energy of concentration, which yields deep bliss and contentment.”