Sathya Sai Baba (1926-2011) started performing miracles at a young age, when, according to legend, he manifested school supplies and candies for his amazed and delighted classmates… and won footraces simply by disappearing suddenly from the starting line and reappearing instantly at the finish line. (Read more… )
While he continued to manifest miracles through adulthood, he spent far more time and energy helping thousands of people to advance spiritually… to adopt various practices and behaviors that helped them detach from their spiritual blemishes (karma), carnal illusions, and other pesky anchors that keep us all trapped in worldly drama.
One especially useful lesson is Sai Baba’s simple formula (published in the October 2015 issue of Amruta Vahini) that explains how concentration can lead to contemplation, which can then lead to meditation that opens a conscious connection to the source of all love, wisdom, and knowledge.
Concentration is the ability to focus unwaveringly on something for 9 or 10 seconds. Focusing 9 or 10 times longer (about a minute and a half) is contemplation. Focusing 9 or 10 times longer than that (about 15 minutes) is meditation.
So, stilling the mind for…
- 00:10 (10 seconds) is concentration,
- 01:30 (a minute and a half) is contemplation, and
- 15:00 (15 minutes) or more is meditation.
How to concentrate? The mind, says Sai Baba, is like water, and the body is like a bowl. If the bowl shakes, the water inside it shakes. Here, then, are the steps to concentrate, contemplate, and meditate:
- Sit in a steady, comfortable position, eyes closed, slow deep breaths. Don’t move.
- Wait for the mind to calm down.
- Help it calm down by patiently observing your thoughts, as a mother observes her playing child. Notice how the thoughts resist turning inward. They prefer to “go out and play.”
- Don’t chase them, as they’ll only run faster.
- Simply wait for them to tire out and return to you… ready to rest.
At that point you begin to concentrate. The longer you can concentrate (through contemplation into extended meditation), the more profound will be the benefits to your body, mind, and spirit.
(Thanks to my friend Upidi Madhvanath of Bangalore for background materials on Sathya Sai Baba.)