It is a slow affair, and slow and steady wins the race. – Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems
At the time of prayer or meditation, many of us have experienced difficulty in concentrating our attention, due to the avalanche of distracting thoughts assailing us from every possible direction. Sometimes it even feels as though the mind is running at a speed of a mile a second! It becomes an absolute to sit still and focus on the task at hand. Maharaj Sawan Singh, in Spiritual Gems, sheds light on our predicament:
Spiritual progress primarily depends on the training of the mind. In ordinary man, the soul is under the control of the mind, and the mind is controlled by the senses, and the senses are lead away by the objects of the senses (material objects). The attention this remains wandering from object to object. The right way should be that the sense does not run after the objects, the mind is not led away by the senses, and the soul has a grip on the mind and uses it as a tool to serve its purposes. The soul is to re-establish its supremacy over the mind instead of remaining its slave.
In another letter he writes:
The mind needs vigilance of a higher order than is given by parents in bringing up their children. It is a very wayward child. So long as it is not trained, it is our worst enemy; but when trained, it is the most faithful companion. And the point is that one has to train it to get the best out of it and to realise his spiritual origin. This can only be done in human life. We are lucky that we are human beings and have the opportunity to go within now, in the cycle.
Despite the obstacles we encounter in meditation, if we keep practicing regularly, it will become almost habitual for us to meditate. Just as we have regular routines for other aspects of our lives, meditation will become a set of routine for us. This, in turn, will make the task easier to accomplish, as the mind is known to be the creature of habit. The Masters also emphasize that it is only by obediently sitting in meditation that the disciple can subdue the mind. Even if the mind rebels, one has to sit. It is its nature to rebel. At first we have to fight with the mind in order to sit, but eventually, meditation itself will create the desire in us for more meditation.
In meditation, as in the rest of our lives, it is important to approach it with the right attitude. The mystics have advised that, among other things, humility, faith, love, and reverence should be present in us when we sit for our prayers. The understanding that we can do nothing of our own strength must be instilled in us so that we may adopt an attitude of ‘surrender’ to the Lord.
To a struggling disciple, the path of the saints may seem difficult at the onset. But ‘one’ is the only to persist in looking inside ‘one’s own self’ with unflinching determination instead of looking elsewhere. Although the difficulty lies in having minimal influence over the mind, we should persistently remind ourselves that, there is nothing that man cannot achieve with patient and diligence.
As Maharaj Sawan Singh in Spiritual Gems advices,
“There should be no break in your daily meditation… There is proverb here:’If you are going fox hunting, go with the preparation of a lion hunter.’ The same applies to mind hunting. Every day one should be on the job with renewed determination.”