My experience in Hridaya, the meditation school of Ramana Maharshi
Hridaya is a school of Yoga and meditation that is based on the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, yogi who lived the last century and whose teachings are aimed at experiencing what in Hindu philosophy is defined as the Supreme Reality.
I had the opportunity to do a Hridaya meditation and silence retreat for 10 days at the end of last year, and I want to share with you some of what I learned.
One day they asked Buddha, “what have you gained on the spiritual path?” And the Buddha replied, “nothing.” But let me tell you what I have lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity and fear of old age and death”.
The practical principles of this school are:
1. There is a Supreme and absolute reality, which is not relative or subjective to the observer (you or me) We are accustomed to experiencing reality from our limited point of view, which is only one of billions, or infinite views. This school affirms that there is a “reality” that does not depend on the observer, but is absolute in itself.
2. The nature of this reality is Consciousness
3. The human beings has an essence
4. This essence can be revealed
5. When we reveal our essence, we discover that it is the same as that of the supreme reality: the consciousness, which makes up the entire Cosmos
So, if this essence that makes up the whole Universe is the same as ours, why look outside of us? This Reality, or Force, can be experienced by looking within us, through meditation.
What is meditation? Meditation is a practice performed to educate the mind on one side, and on the other to experience this Supreme Reality (It has been called in many ways: Here and Now, Cosmic Consciousness, Enlightenment, Buddhahood, Kingdom of God on Earth ), consisting on the understanding that all things are what you are, and IN you.
For Richard Buke (1837–1902), cosmic consciousness is a new faculty that the human race acquires through evolution that has already occurred in known cases as Gautama, Jesus, St. Paul, Mohammed, William Blake, and Balzac. This faculty wiill present more frequently until the whole of humanity leaves the individual consciousness, and lives in the cosmic consciousness.
To experience this supreme reality, Ramana Maharshi proposed three tools to be used within meditation:
1. Concentration technique in what he called the Spiritual Heart (in the center of your chest, two centimeters to your right).
2. Attitude of Observer, all the time.
3. The constant question: who am I? As a tool to detach ourselves from the illusion of our mind that believes that we are something separate from what we observe. This illusion is called duality, and the secret is to dissolve that duality is to understand that there is no separation between the observant and the observed. We are all One.
Finally, these are the 7 steps that the Hridaya school proposes to make a more beneficial and effective meditation:
1. Attitude of Witness: it is the same as the attitude of observer. Before starting to meditate assume this attitude not to identify with your feelings, thoughts or feelings, but only to witness them. This attitude should accompany you during all meditation (and throughout your life).
2. Enter the pose with attention and awareness: enter into the pose of meditation you prefer, slowly, aware of what you are doing, carefully. Buddha said that one can meditate in three ways: sitting, standing, and lying down. I do not recommend lying down meditating because it is very easy to fall asleep, a different teaching is necessary.
3. Enter a complete immobility of the body: do not yield to the impulses of your body that ask you to move, or rearrange. We all feel it. The trick is to sit still, watch those impulses, not identify with them and wait for them to pass.
This has an important effect on the mind: for just as your discomfort WILL PASS, so will your negative or positive thoughts during your meditation, ALSO WILL PASS. It is an exercise to experience the PRINCIPLE OF IMPERMANENCE, which dictates that in life, nothing is permanent (not even life itself), everything happens and everything changes constantly and we must learn to accept that reality.
4. Practice the open ATTENTION: imagine that you are an owl, observing what happens in the place where you are, inside your body, inside your mind and inside your heart. It observes maintaining the EQUANIMITY (equality and constancy in the spirit, impartiality of judgment, observe without judging, or qualifing as good, bad, annoying etc). Attention and equanimity are the fundamental tools of another type of meditation the Vipassana (technique taught by Buddha), of which we will speak in another delivery.
5. Attention and awareness in the chakras and energy points of the body: deepen the sensations of your body, even if you do not know the exact location of the chakras. Experience these sensations with attention and equanimity.
6. Consciousness about the universal dimension of energy: synchronize with the energy of the Universe through our heart. It is to become aware that we are made of the same energy as the rest of the universe, which we can subtly experience with meditation to finally dissolve into the whole, like a drop of water in the ocean.
7. Opening to the infinite dimension of our Being: Who am I? Leave the identification with the body and with the mind. YOU ARE THE OCEAN.
Finally, since you have done these steps, stop struggling and start relaxing by maintaining the attitude of witness AND OBSERVING the blank spaces that exist between each thought, which will become more and more prolonged. This will improve your ability to feel, momentarily turning off your ability to think, until one day you feel EVERYTHING.
Try it, even 10 minutes a day for 7 days.
Do not despair, it is normal to identify momentarily with thoughts and sensations, in fact, every time you retake the attitude of observer you are exercising your capacity to be AWARE of what goes on inside and outside you, and that is what it really is to meditate .
Do not do it for yourself, do it for all the sentient beings of the Earth since in exercising your consciousness, you are doing everything that really corresponds to you to raise awareness of the body to which you belong called the human species.
This is a very superficial insight of what i learned there, if you want more information, do the retreat. Why not? Worth every second of it (and its a beautiful place in Mazunte, Oaxaca).
For more information on the retreat: http://www.hridaya-yoga.com/
Art by Luminokaya