A few years ago, I was being filmed for an advertisement. The clip was a high definition video of me meditating. No problem, I thought, I meditate every day. When the video was released, I was appalled: there was an up-close high definition video of me fidgeting about, instead of meditating! This experience made me wonder two things; one, where was I going wrong in meditation, and two, how important was stillness in meditation? After all we still have to breathe, right?

A short while later, I read this line from The Art and Science of Raja Yoga by Swami Kriyananda: “Many people meditate for years without achieving any notable results, simply because they have never trained their bodies to sit still. Until the body can be mastered, higher perceptions, so subtle that they blossom only in perfect quiet, can never be achieved.” After reading this, I knew it was time to take getting still in meditation seriously.

In the summer of 2017 I had a wonderful time with the Next Wave or younger generation of Ananda in Portland Oregon. As a promotion tool for one of the events we were participating in, a time lapse video was made of us meditating. This made me think that technology could be a tool for all of us to become aware of how deep our meditations actually are. I saw it was possible for any meditator to do a reality check every once in a while, on how still he actually was.

Here’s a simple way you can check how still you are in meditation:

  1. Download any time lapse video app or software for your phone or laptop. I chose an app called Hyperlapse for my phone. It was very simple to install and use on my phone
  2. Take a video of yourself meditating.
  3. Use the software to speed up the video. It may come out looking something like this:

Is your posture as good as you thought it was? Did you move at all? I did. But don’t worry. We have hope. I’ve found now that there is a real solution to the problem.

I have taken the word pairing “Technological Yogi” in the title of this blog from Chapter 26 of the Autobiography of a Yogi. In this chapter Paramhansa Yogananda tells us that Kriya Yoga will help us learn to withdraw the life force from the body. This makes the body become motionless. The great exponent of yoga, Patanjali, has listed Asana as the third limb in Ashtanga Yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is known as the 8 stages or the path to union with God. A sign of perfection in Asana is the ability to sit still for 3 hours without moving a muscle. Thankfully we don’t have to master this before moving on to Patanjali’s fourth stage of Pranayama. In fact Kriya Yoga which is a form of Pranayama, will help us master the third stage of Asana. The more we can master Pranayama, or in other words the more we can master the breath, the more still we can become. This to me seems to be the key for achieving perfect stillness.

I still have a ways to go, but I have found Kriya plus certain reality checks every once in a while to be very helpful and very beneficial. I hope you too will find this helpful in some way. Best of luck to you as you progress through all of the stages of Astanga Yoga.

18 Comments

  1. Mediation is knowing or feeling about physical with energy? How do we know we are really meditate. Isn’t meditation focusing on something. What do we focus on breath?, physical? Or sensations? I am confused. Is there appropriate guidance for meditation as the sensation work without meditation at all moments. Seeker.

    1. Hi Saroja,

      Meditation is focusing on something. It is best to focus on one of the 8 aspects of God: love, joy, peace, calmness, power, wisdom, light, or sound. By first focusing on the breath a seeker can learn to transfer his consciousness from the physical realm to more subtle realms like those of energy. Once energy is controlled, one can learn to focus on God as a feeling like peace.

      Joy to you!

  2. Will try this Jemal ji, thank you for the insights and inspiration ☆
    {{{Look forward to many more blogs from you}}}

  3. Trust God He is the Doer ? We only have to Trust, Relax and Focus on what really matters ✨ “Be so drunk with the love of God night and day that you will know nothing else. And give that love to all.” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda

  4. I am not sure how and what to say Jemalji.In our long Christmas meditation.My visual perception was that you were perfectly still which most of us were not.But yes there is a difference between perfectly still and somewhat still.Well it is interesting to read this. Thanks for sharing ??

  5. Thank you Sir, really awesome to know about improving ourselves, watching our progress in meditation.

  6. If you are staying conscious about your doing meditation, then you are not meditating. It is about surrendering once independently functioning conscience and losing it to cosmic conscience when you do not feel the presence of anything around you. I have felt that only once, for about a minute. Other times I have not been able to achieve it. In my opinion any attempts to see it and measure it make us more mindful of what is around us and would defeat the purpose, rather than losing us to the cosmic conscience, which requires complete withdrawal from physical world around us. I am so well read about this science, but have been practicing it intermittently for a long time. Hence my observations be seen as opinion based in single data point and may be wrong if the objective of meditation is different than attaining oneness with Supreme Conscience. For example, hyper active people can use mediation to become mindful. Under that circumstance, your method will be helpful as they do not want to achieve the larger objective but better working in physical world. Thanks.

  7. It just not only takes hatha yoga but it takes classical hatha yoga. I insist everyone to bring stability and balance in body by learning classical hatha yoga from Isha foundation. My posture has dramatically changed become better because of it. Which allows me to be in certain confort and stillness when I am seating for longer duration. The thing is that hatha yoga is being largely taught as physical exercise everywhere so we miss the spiritual and Meditative aspects of it. That’s why classical hatha yoga becomes important.

    1. Muhammad Al-Muhajid it’s the same as when your nose goes on strike. Picket.

  8. Thank you Jemal. Yes, it’s inspiring, as you ever. I will try the app too. 😊

  9. Wow Jemal! I am not a techie at all but this article reinforced in me the supreme value of stillness in meditation.

    Thank you for writing this!

  10. Dear friend,
    I wonder how trying to be still may lead on constrictions of the body.
    On the contrary there may be some energies that needs to come out?
    If someone has repressed something he/she will never be still without throwing out.
    How kriya yoga approaches that?
    Greetings!
    Francesco

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