Hi all :-)
First post, so i'll tell a little about myself, why I am writing about Samadhi:
I'm a meditation teacher. Seriously into yoga and meditation since 2001. Picked up the meditation technique i'm practicing now in India, a year and a half ago. After a year of meditating 45 minutes a day, the thoughts pretty much stopped. It happened after I tripped twice in 4 days. I guess my mind was prepared as it didn't happen in previous trips.
The default cognitive experience became stillness, with only occasional thoughts surfacing. It's not an enlightened state, just a "here and now" experience. A few people I know have this cognitive state from birth, I didn't - my thought stream was compulsive, nonstop. Now it's not. It's a very big change in life, extremely harmonizing. Everything improves significantly, including relationships and sex. That alone is reason to develop a meditation practice. For further reading on compulsive thought vs. stillness I recommend reading the first chapter of "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle.
IMHO the technique outlined below is the most useful for quieting down the mind, and ultimately for becoming enlightened. Zazen is also an effective technique, I have a friend whose thoughts stopped after 2 years of practicing Zazen. But he is practicing for 10 years already and has stopped at this stage. One friend of mine practicing the technique below became enlightened after 6 months! So read on, it's important info... if you're lucky to have a good starting point (I didn't - I had a high level of subconscious stress that regularly made falling asleep a 2-hour process) this might be the technique for you :-)
80-90% of Indian people who study this technique leave the practice. They don't understand the implications, have never experienced or heard too much about the mystical state, and so they give up mid-way. You don't need to have actual experience with acid to understand that the potential for self transformation is huge. "The Power of Now" was #1 on the NY Times bestseller list - lucidly describing the enlightenment experience. To indians, enlightenment is a religious affair, it's for saints. But in the west influences of higher cognitive states rippled through the culture and are harder to ignore. So be aware. Living life to the fullest means living it with as much awareness as possible. Awareness is everything, it's personal experience, it's consciousness, it's who we are. Expanded consciousness is good for you. Meditation can take you there. 'Nuf said.
About the technique:
First off, this is not the Buddhist Samadhi. The Buddhists have their own definition of the term and I won't touch that here.
In yoga, meditation is categorized into 3 stages:
- Concentration, which is a fixed attention on an object
- Meditation, a deep kind of concentration to the point that the EEG reading changes and the breath slows down
- Samadhi, a deep kind of meditation, where the object is nothing; the void
Since in Yoga "thoughts" are defined as "what you are aware of", including body sensations, then being in Samadhi means having no awareness of the body - in addition to having no discursive thoughts, which is easier than losing the body.
Raja yoga lore goes, that if you practice Samadhi regularly you become enlightened in a very short time (days/weeks). So when we speak about a Samadhi practice we don't speak of actually doing Samadhi. That is extremely advanced. We do a regular meditation practice, but one that can potentially bring you into Samadhi if you become proficient in it. Meditation is an approximative practice, this is not an instant solution - the timescale for change in how deep the meditation is is generally measured in weeks.
If you want to experience Samadhi, you can perhaps get to it on LSD. Lie down comfortably and concentrate on a point 4 fingers below the naval when you are at the height of an LSD trip (psychedelic dosage: 200-250mg at least). Deep meditation will happen spontaniously. If you relax enough (take care not to be disturbed - setting is important), chances are you will dissociate from at least part of your body in 10-15 minutes. Chronic neck pain is a hindrance.
Alternatively, build or get a floatation tank. It looks like a very promising venue.
Traditionally, methods for approximating Samadhi were taught to very advanced yoga students. Since 1983 this is not so. There is a technique called SSY (look it up) that anyone can do if they persist. Within 2 months you can expect dramatic results in your level of calmness. And as I said, the sky is the limit. It's a good system and belongs in the mainstream.
How to do it
Practice 3 times a day before meals, for 12-15 minutes each time.
You must be: slightly hungry, slightly tired, have no expectation, and dead to the world.
You can do it around people as long as they know not to disturb you, but no children or pets around.
It's best to abstain from: Spicy food including garlic and onion, aerated drinks, tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, caffeine, meat (esp. red meat). If you have an addiction to one of the above that you can't give up it will seriously slow your progress. Consuming now and then is not so bad, but don't think it won't hurt you - you will feel it in the practice. This is part of what is called the yogic diet, the full diet is eating only uncooked vegetables and fruits. While I still miss bongs (the rest was easy for me) I feel what I got is something much better. When you are [finally] enlightened you are allowed everything!
Sit with your legs crossed at the ankles, palms one over the other facing up, at your lap.
Exhale while taking your stomach in. Then let go of the stomach to allow the breath to go back in. This is the last physical voluntary action you do in the meditation.
Relax for one minute.
Take the mantra RHIM. Chanted, it sounds like a decaying bell sound. By 'taking' it I mean HAVE it sound in your mind, like a song from the radio that invades your brain later in the day. You don't utter it, it sounds inside your brain. But you are not involved with the sounding of it, just with the initiation of the sound. The DECISION to have it sound in your mind is the only active thing you do. You are listening to it passively, and this takes a bit of practice. You don't decide when to shift from the 'R' part to the 'M' part and from the 'M' part to the stillness that comes after the mantra ends. That stillness is the rope thrown to you by the mantra, to help you get started with object-less meditation. So some mantras you will hear will have a long R part and some will have, for instance, a very long M part. It doesn't matter, as long as you're passive about it.
Don't say the mantra. And don't take it in everyday life. And if it comes to you - let it go. This mantra is a seed mantra (bij mantra) - you don't take a seed out every 5 minutes to see if it sprouted. Let it be, use it in meditation only.
There are but 3 directives for the actual meditation, and they are all negative. This is because you can't let go of everything (be in Samadhi) by concentrating on something. So there is no actual focusing, just a let go. The practice is passive. Students ask me all sort of questions about whether they are doing it right, but Samadhi practice is not something you do. It's passive. You have to let it happen. If you are doing 60 on the freeway and you turn off the engine it will take some time to settle. If in doubt, the 3 directives are all the instructions you need, along with the administrative and mantra guidelines, which are easy to understand. So don't ask me - just re-read the directives. The negative directives are:
- Don't object to the thoughts
- Don't hold the thoughts
- Don't pursue the thoughts
(remember, thoughts are everything you are aware of, including body sensations)
If you become aware that you are pursuing the thoughts (3rd directive), take the mantra again. This can happen nearly constantly in the beginning of the practice, don't worry about it. And don't neglect this rule, it's a part of the system.
After 5-7 minutes of settling time, you will be doing 5-6 minutes of meditation. If you want to practice more do 30 minutes in the morning instead of 12-15. Don't neglect doing 3 times a day! Not practicing 3 times a day is not doing the system. I verified this on students of mine - progress is much slower.
To get out, lower your head gently. Open your eyes slowly for 10 seconds. Close them and open them again. Then wait 20 seconds. Blink slowly one last time. Rub your hands, your face, your neck and shoulders, your arms and your legs. Get up s-l-o-w-l-y and stretch your arms up twice. Put your hands on your hips and twist your body to the sides - twice. You're done.
You can expect significant (but gradual) change in cognition in 2 months.
Subconscious stress can slow the progress. I would recommend rebirthing, a breathing technique for venting off subconscious stress. Around 10 sessions will get you up the curve to the point you'll know if you want more - 2-3 sessions with a therapist is recommended but then you can practice it by yourself with a sitter.
A body that is not in good shape can also be a problem. Rolfing (a 10 session treatment) followed by yoga or pilatis is best, but yoga or pilatis by themselves are also very good - it will just take longer.