In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. ~ American baseball player Yogi Berra
Enlightenment may come as an epiphany, or from a near-death experience. For most people, quietude culminates from subduing the mind. Understanding the ground in which enlightenment sprouts helps, but becoming enlightened, if not delivered to you, is a matter of discipline. Regular meditation is essential practice. There we begin.
When thoughts cease, the mind naturally turns to what is truly beyond the mind: the infinite Ĉonsciousness. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The state of enlightenment is one of inner peace: being in the moment without the prattle of nattermind as an incessant distraction. In enlightenment you live in meditation.
Every skill is acquired by practice. Instructing and disciplining the mind are no different. Meditating daily fertilizes the soil of the soul, allowing enlightenment to blossom.
How to Meditate
Find a comfy chair or prop yourself up in bed with cushions. The room should be quiet, and preferably dimly lit.
Spend a few moments quieting the mind-body by sensing your body’s rhythms, such as the breath or heartbeat. Breathe through your nostrils, not your mouth.
Begin meditating with the intention of quietude. When thoughts arise, smother them by bringing your mantra to mind, making it the mental focus. You may meditate without a mantra, using your breath as a seat of attention.
Repeat the mantra as if calmly breathing it. Do not concentrate on the mantra. The aim is to clear the mind, not hold it captive. A mantra merely expedites the process by mesmerizing the mind, and so sending it to sleep. A mantra is a lilting lullaby for the mind.
In a comfortable repose of both body and mind, following intention, your consciousness communes with Ĉonsciousness: you transcend.
Meditate 20–30 minutes, time permitting. Even a short session of a few minutes is beneficial. Transcending or falling asleep for a longer period is perfectly natural. Your mind-body takes whatever rest it needs when it can.
Some meditation sessions might feel busy, others serene. Regardless of seeming quality, meditation is always helpful.
At the end of meditation, lay down or slump in your chair. Spend 3 to 5 minutes relaxing with your eyes closed, allowing yourself to ease back to the waking state.
Do not abruptly end meditation. It may give you a dull headache.
Begin every day with a meditation session if you can. Meditate twice a day if possible, preferably at the beginning of the day and in the early evening (before dinner). You may meditate more if have time and inclination. If the mind is restless when the body is ready to sleep, a short meditation may sooth the system sufficiently to slumber.
Do not meditate on a full stomach. Meditation slows the bodily system, and so can degrade digestion.
Do not exercise shortly after meditating. Let the calm settle in.
After extensive practice as a meditator, the mantra may become superfluous. Having acclimated to transcending, the sheer desire to do so may suffice.
Choosing a Mantra
A mantra is a focal wave to ease you toward transcendence: a mental breath that gently takes one’s attention away from nattermind’s prattle.
A mantra is made of 1 or 2 meaningless syllables, relating to nothing: solely a vehicle for quieting the mind through whispering repetition. Attach no associative meaning to your mantra.
Choose a mantra with 1 or 2 vowel-based sounds, perhaps with a soft consonant, such as ‘m’, ‘n’, or ‘s’, to assist in resonance. If you like a hard consonant, such as ‘d’, ‘g’, or ‘k’, soften it by sanding the sonic kick down.
The basic idea is a calming vibration, as in the classic ōm. As breath is a crucial aspect of being, mantras are often chosen as in-out breathing representations.
Think first of vowel sounds you like, perhaps as if they were musical notes, then maybe add lyrical consonants to them. You should be able to draw the syllables out, so that they may stretch as your mind eases off.
You may at first try a few different mantras to evaluate their quality. Do so during a meditation session, not as an abstract exercise among your other mental tasks.
You cannot choose a wrong mantra: if it resonates with you, it’s right for you. Once you find a pleasing mantra, claim it as your own and let it be a centerpiece for your meditation practice. Keep your mantra to yourself, unspoken, using it only as a meditation device.
Breath can harmonize the mind-body with consciousness. Prāņāyāma are yogic breathing techniques which originated in ancient India. The term prāņā is Sanskrit for life force or vital energy; yāma is to extend or draw out.
(Yoga is a bodily meditation practice. Through physical postures, yoga aims to focus the mind and so silence it, allowing moments of transcendence. A detriment to some modern yoga teachings is making the poses the locus of practice, rather than yoga being a form of meditation.)
Practicing prāņāyāma may be used to settle the system before easing into meditation. One technique is alternating breathing through alternate nostrils.
With the right nostril blocked by your finger or thumb, slowly breath out the left nostril, then breathe in. Then block the left nostril and breathe out-in through the right. Focus on your breathing. Repeat breathing out-in through alternate nostrils for a minute or 2, then begin meditating.