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:
- 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
- Take a video of yourself meditating.
- 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.