How to Meditate, Article – March 10, 2010
I had a friend in Northern California back in ’01 try to tell me about this man, but I wasn’t paying attention. It wasn’t until ’08 that I was apparently ready for him. He is beautiful. I will likely say that about all of these meditation teachers, but I have a particular affinity for Ramana. I believe this is because his techniques I find extremely effective and helpful.
There seems to be a natural timing to what we find interesting. It is like two shapes meeting—the need and what will fill it—even when that need is as subtle as a developing awareness. Ramana has a few great books and the first one I came across was a thick book full of daily questions posed to Ramana along with his answers. Someone recorded these question and answer sessions word for word over the course of years, providing side notes on what was going on. The book is titled “Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi”.
There are many books and many sages—masters—teachers out there, past and present. Very few of them actually offer suggestions and techniques that address the subtler processes engaged in during meditation. Most of them have simple straightforward advice that gets you started but that is it. Ramana Maharshi goes into great and specific detail in regards to stilling the mind.
I was finally ready to begin to still the mind—the operative word here being “begin”. The technique I am referring to here is his “I” thought technique. This technique is incredible and it absolutely works. It took me some time to really understand what he was talking about but eventually it clicked. I will offer links to further described techniques at the bottom of this article once these “technique descriptions” have been written.
I want to point out the difference between advice and techniques. Advice is something we can find plenty of—some good and some bad. Ramana’s advice is incredible. Some of his assertions are a little “out there” and yet impeccable. On the other hand, techniques are practical and usable descriptions of practices and mental or physical tasks that bring one success in the realms of deeper meditation.
From the foreword of "Be as You Are—The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi:"
In 1896 a sixteen year old schoolboy walked out on his family and, driven by an inner compulsion, slowly made his way to Arunachala, a holy mountain and pilgrimage center in South India. On his arrival he threw away all his money and possessions and abandoned himself to a newly-discovered awareness that his real nature was formless, immanent consciousness.
His absorption in this awareness was so intense that he was completely oblivious of his body and the world; insects chewed away portions of his legs, his body wasted away because he was rarely conscious enough to eat and his hair and fingernails grew to unmanageable lengths.
After two to three years in this state he began a slow return to physical normality, a process that was not finally completed for several years. His awareness of himself as consciousness was unaffected by this physical transition and it remained continuous and undimmed for the rest of his life.
Ramana Maharshi becomes a great meditation and spiritual teacher on this same holy mountain for many years. He attracted many students from all over the world and his lifestyle was extremely simple in terms of things. He had a special relationship with the animals in and around the Ashram. There are videos of him, and many books that feature his teachings. I will go into a few of his ideas that I found particularly beneficial at some point on this site, as well as providing links (as I begin to collect them).