I wrote this post on doing Dhyan using the Ajapa mantras Soham or Hamsa or OM. I have in fact written several posts on spiritual practice and the mantra you use when you do these (do use the index page to locate them). There were some questions so will write a bit more in this post.
‘Look’ at your third eye chakra while doing Dhyan.
The mind has to be trained to stay still, to stop its continuous whirring. So you have to focus at one single point, ie the point where the Sushumna, Ida, Pingala Nadi merge, ie the third eye chakra. The Ajnya chakra आज्ञा चक्र is the only point where you have to focus on always and ever. This will grant stability to the mind/ Manas with time. Ajnya आज्ञा is a Sanskrit word which means authority, unlimited power, command, to order, rule, to grant permission, to perceive, principal, assurance etc. Your lower 5 chakras are controlled by the Ajnya chakra in ever way possible. So when you focus on your Ajnya chakra and do your Dhyan, you power it here. Then the Ajnya chakra automatically distributes the power generated to the lower chakras as per requirement in the gentlest and safest manner. The lower chakras then distribute it in their associated nadis. So the entire energy body benefits.
Some people have this misconception that while doing Dhyan, the focus should shift, ie they focus on each one of the lower chakras in sequence, up and down the back! This is not how it works. Such a practice creates instability in the mind and causes jerks in the flow of pran in the nadi/ chakras which ultimately damages them. If you do this up and down thing or focus on specific lower chakras while doing your 108 breath/mantra combo, there is a clear danger of overloading the lower chakra and causing its associated nadis to fry. Always focus on the Ajnya chakra for your Dhyan and not on the lower chakras.
(You can do focussed chakra healing. This is different from Dhyan. I have written on doing the chakra healing in this post here.)
Then there is a particular Dhyan method given in the Vidnyan Bhairav tantra where you focus only on the Brahmarandhra for the 108 breaths. But do not do this unless your Sat-Guru sits before you physically and guides you while you are doing it. Else you can mess up your nadi/chakra system so badly that you might not only kill yourself, but also spend the next few lives insane recovering from the damage. This is a very intense method taken up by Sanyasis who have formally left the material world. It is not for householders like us.
Dhyan is not ‘mediation’, you do not relax when you do Dhyan. You do not float up in dreamy clouds as shown in popular culture. What you are doing is very actively and intentionally manipulating the Pran in your Nadi/Chakra system. Pushing more and more pure Pran into your energy body, the pran-mai-kosh. Doing Dhyan is the same as fighting the War of Kurukshetra within, it is called Karma-yog and the entire Bhagwat Gita talks about this internal war.
So do not experiment, be very alert, focus your attention at your third eye, do your 108 mantra/breath combo. And do your practice regularly.
Next is how to ‘look’ at the Ajnya chakra. If you have noted, I always use apostrophes around the word ‘look’ like ‘look’ at your Ajnya chakra. This means that you are supposed to inwardly focus your attention at your third eye. You are not supposed to roll your eyeballs up and try to physically look at the middle of your forehead! If you do this, you will get eye-strain and create problems for yourself. So imagine that you are sitting on a mountain and looking straight at the far horizon. Your physical eyes have to remain straight, relaxed and unfocussed. Do not force your eyes to go cross eyed or roll them up or squint, scrunch your eyes or anything. If you think your eyeballs are rolling up, bring them back down gently. Do not strain your eye muscles. Dhyan is an internal thing, your physical eyes are nowhere in the picture. People who are blind or do not have physical eyes also do Dhyan as it has nothing to do with the physical eyes.
And its a two step process.
I have stressed in all my posts that you should do your 108 breaths with your mantra as a first step. Then sit for some more time in the same pose, ideally for 30mins at least. This second part is an important part, do not skip this. You have trained your mind with your 108 breaths and now you have to immediately test it. Has your mind learnt to focus? Has it absorbed the efforts of your 108 breaths? In this second phase think of nothing. The mind has to be blank. You are enjoying the energy of your 108 Mantra-breaths, the mind cannot be allowed to interfere in this. The mind cannot think anything, not even your Dhyan-mantra. It is a truly delightful phase as the constant whirring of your mind slows/ stills and you are refreshed from the inside. You are brought to the possible state of internal health and happiness. You absorb pure pran while you do Dhyan, and this refreshes you more than the sleep, Swapna and Sushupti states.
Also you will see visions from your past lives, future events, your deity may give you a Darshan, bursts of color, white lights, geometric stuff, sounds, anything. You might see things which might make you emotional, secret stuff might be told to you etc. Just observe and let it go. Do not let the mind start working while you are enjoying this part two. This part two will test how well you did in your part one of the Dhyan process.
Now which mantra to use.
I stress on the Ajapa mantras, Soham/ Hamsa or the pure OM, as these are naturally embedded within every breath you take. These are the easiest, most natural, the most powerful yet the gentlest mantra which you can do while a living householders life. If you can do a proper Dhyan twice a day it would be great. But even if you cannot find the time you can mentally recite these with your breath at any time, eg while travelling etc. as even this helps. Convert every breath you take into Soham/ Hamsa/ Om and you will realise the Eternal.
But if you wish, you can do Dhyan on the following mantras. (I do not use them as I feel it unnecessarily complicates the process. I prefer the pure energy of the two Ajapa mantras Soham/Hamsa or OM.)
- Om Brahmane namah
- Om namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
- Om namah Shivaya
- Or you can choose the Gayatri mantra as your Dhyan-mantra.
If you want to use any other mantra, then its your wish. But be very careful, choose a Vedic mantra linked to the Saumya gentle form of your adored deity. Do not choose mantras of the Ugra terrifying forms. Best stick to the well-known mantras. If you focus with something incorrect, you will damage your Nadi/ Chakra system. Damage here not only affects the immediate present but also the future lives. (I had written somewhere about a woman who was doing Dhyan using some ‘brzeee’ mantra and causing harm to herself and the people around her.)
If you choose a longer mantra, then you should recite the complete mantra once with every inhalation and once with every exhalation. Example, if you choose the mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ you have to recite it once completely as you inhale and recite it again completely as you exhale. Do this for the usual 108 breaths. Obviously one inhalation and one exhalation is one breath.
The mantra can change sometimes spontaneously. Ultimately all Dhyan-mantra will merge into OM.
While you do your Dhyan-mantra with the 108 breathes, you are training your mind with it. Mantra means ‘manah tarayati iti ‘, ie the mantra is used to save, entrain, clean, enlighten etc, the mind. So naturally the mantra is of use as long as the mind is still whirring out of control. Once you achieve the unmani-avastha, ie the mind becomes still, the mantra will change its form and purpose.
Or if you are doing a longer mantra then as you reach the seed of the manifested it will convert to the Ajapa mantras or directly to the OM. Every mantra has a specific level of energy, once you have absorbed it all, it will change its form. This mantra changing thing is not really relevant if you are using one of these three, Soham/ Hamsa/ Om mantras. These three will take you to the highest Advaita as they are at the very deepest creation point of the manifested Universe. Once you have absorbed their immensity only the Self remains. This is the reason why I suggest you choose any of these three as your Dhyan-mantra. These are the fast-tracks, they work at the very core of your existence.
Ultimately all the Mantras merge into OM. Then as you pierce the Bindu that OM is, you reach the undefinable indescribable Advaita.
Outer forms of pujas, pilgrimages, satsangs are all junior school. Dhyan is senior school. What is desired is the Eternal Advaita.
Suppose you have hurt your legs and cannot walk properly, and have to use a crutch. The crutch is essential but you do not love it nor do you wish to use it forever. You wish your legs get well so that you can walk without support. Similarly the practice is a crutch, you are going to need it as long as your mind misbehaves. But you cannot get attached to the crutch. You should study your mantra, check out how you can use it most effectively, maintain it, respect it, learn about its functions etc get the most use out of it. Use it. Be dispassionate about your practice. Your mantra is a tool, you have to use it. It will get you till a point in your journey, but after its work is done later you will discard it.
Another way of looking at it is this. In your journey, you travel in a boat, then go in a bus, travel in a plane and then trek a bit depending on the route. You keep on changing your mode of transport, you do not remain attached to the boat or the bus you travel in. The boat-ride is not your objective. Yes, the boat helps you travel a particular stretch of your route but once that stretch is over you change your mode of transport. You are not attached to the route you travel nor the act of travelling. Neither the journey or the route or the vehicle is your final objective. Will you keep sitting in the car when you reach home? You get out of it and enter your house.
Your final destination is what inspires you. Rest of it, the route and the vehicle, just is, it is incidental. Your deepest desire is to get to Your Self, this is the source of your faith.
And finally even if you are just learning astrology do you need to do Dhyan in the first place?
Yes, you have to. Astrology is actually Jyotish, the science of the internal illumination. It is a Veg-Ang, it is connected to the Ved, it is a part of Sanatan Dharma aka Hinduism. And it is a Vidya. Vidya is a science which studies conscious intelligence. You cannot learn a Vidya unless you are connected to the Advaita within your own self. I remember when I was a child, about 5yrs old, my Dad made me learn the Ganapati Atharvasheersha. Only then did I start on the Nakshatra, the Graha and the Rashis of Jyotish. So if you want to become an exceptional Jyotishi you must power yourself with these 108 breaths + Dhyan-mantra.
So do your Soham or Hamsa or Om with every breath you take. Choose one of these and practice regularly. And if you have time for yourself, do your Dhyan at least once a day. It will heal you at the core of your being and eventually give you Eternal Happiness.