Experiencing Heart-Centered Meditation
Have you ever wanted to meditate but just didn’t know how to start? This month’s Inner Balance can put you on the right path—and it’s easier than you’d think.
Excerpted from the new book Effortless Mind: Meditate with Ease by Ajayan Borys. Published with permission of New World Library (newworldlibrary.com).
The mantra you will use in this meditation is an especially powerful one for positive life-affirming transformation. It is the mantra Hrim (pronounced Hreem). In some of India’s spiritual texts, this mantra is called Devi Pranava. Devi refers to the feminine Divine, the Goddess. Pranava is a term denoting Om (or AUM), the primordial vibration from which all other vibrations emerge. So the Devi Pranava is extolled as the equivalent of Om, which is declared in the Upanishads to be the supreme mantra. But whereas Om represents the silent, unmanifest principle, Devi Pranava represents the principle of creative, nurturing, loving energy … Now let’s directly experience settling the pranas by meditating on the heart center using Devi Pranava.
Steps of the Meditation
Read the following steps through before actually meditating. In fact, you may want to read the steps through several times so you are thoroughly familiar with them before closing your eyes to meditate.
1. Sit comfortably and set your intention: “May the merit and benefits of this meditation be multiplied infinitely to bring peace and happiness to all beings.” Close your eyes and feel this intention for a few moments. Allow yourself to feel a few moments of gratitude for the sacred gift of meditation you are about to enjoy.
2. Do your chakra meditation. This will set the stage for you to have a deeper, clearer experience of meditating on your heart center. [Editor’s note: for a full explanation of the chakra meditation, see chapter 3 of Effortless Mind.]
3. Once you’ve finished your chakra meditation, allow your awareness to effortlessly rest in the center of your chest—let it be a very light, easy, abstract awareness. You need not visualize anything or feel any distinct sensation, just a gentle, faint awareness resting in the heart center.
4. Begin to easily think the Devi Pranava mantra, which is Hrim (pronounced Hreem), without expectation or effort. Remember, even at the conscious level, thought is not a clear pronunciation, and meditation will take the mantra to deeper, more abstract levels, so don’t try to think the mantra clearly and don’t worry about pronunciation. That would only interfere with the process. Allow the mantra to dissolve as you mentally repeat it very easily. Allow it to become just a faint feeling, or perhaps you will feel it as a faint, steady tone. Simply enjoy this.
5. You will have thoughts; they are a part of the process. As they come, let them go without minding them. Just return to the mantra at a fine level, with your awareness still resting in the area of the heart center. Think “Hrim” gently and allow it to dissolve to a faint feeling or tone.
6. If at any time your awareness strays from the general area of the heart center, gently bring it back. Resting in the heart center is a faint, effortless awareness. If it’s not effortless to allow your awareness to rest at the heart center, then just enjoy the mantra wherever it is, even if it seems to have no relationship with your body. This will still be an effective meditation. It won’t be long before you find it easy to rest in the heart center, but in the meantime, just enjoy whatever comes easily.
7. Continue to meditate in this way for three to eight minutes, depending on how much time you want to allot to meditation. Don’t bother timing the meditation, and don’t worry about going a little longer, if it happens. Finish when you feel like you want to.
8. End the meditation by lying down in the corpse pose for five minutes to come out slowly. Lie on your back, feet apart about shoulder width, arms relaxed by your sides, palms up and slightly away from your body.
9. Finally, before you get up, close your meditation with an expression of gratitude and set an intention for the day, to be an instrument in the hands of the Divine: “Thank you for this life, my wife [or husband], my family, this beautiful earth, my job, [and so on—name whatever you feel grateful for]. May I be an instrument of healing and peace in your hands.”
Congratulations. You have just had your first experience of heart-centered mantra meditation. Make a mental note of your experience. Was it peaceful? Did it seem to go on almost by itself, without effort? Did you have lots of thoughts? If you did, that is entirely fine … What else did you notice? Did your breathing become fainter? Did you feel any sensations in your chest? How about deep stillness or silence, moments of sweetness or love, expansion of awareness? Any one of these is an indication of successful meditation. You may wish to keep a journal of your experiences in meditation. This can help deepen your meditation and support your regular practice.
What Was That?
By now you may have had one experience that I haven’t yet described. Many people experience this during either the chakra meditation or the heart-centered mantra meditation. I’m speaking of the experience of, well, no experience. That is, a point where you realize that you were neither thinking thoughts nor practicing the meditation, and you’re pretty sure you weren’t asleep. Have you had such an experience, even if only momentarily?
This happens when you transcend the subtlest state of thought. You are still aware, but there is no object of awareness. You are simply abiding in awareness itself. The reason it seems to be an absence of experience is that it is just that; there is no object of experience. However, as you gain more clarity at subtle levels of awareness over time, you’ll begin to appreciate this state of simply abiding in your innermost Self, the state of pure awareness. Simply practice with patience, without expectation, and gradually you will find that it is a state of indescribably blissful unboundedness, wholeness, clear light, and pure intelligence.
Ajayan Borys has been exploring and teaching meditation since 1970. He is a registered hypnotherapist, reiki master, and certified enneagram teacher. His latest book is Effortless Mind: Meditate with Ease.