All the theory and eulogy in the world regarding a meditation practice mean virtually nothing. But practice is everything. In meditation more than anything else, practice certainly does Make Perfect. And the practice is so marvelously simple.
Krishna told Arjuna: “One, perhaps, in thousands of men strives for perfection; and one perhaps, among the blessed ones, striving thus, knows Me in reality” (Bhagavad Gita 7:3). To enable each one of us to become “one in a million,” yoga was given by the sages to the human race. Its sacred methodology ensures that not a moment of our endeavor is wasted or ineffectual. Those who pursue the path of yoga unto the death of ignorance will be crowned with life. Those who cast aside the false life of the ego shall enter into the true life of the spirit.
Many have heard of the philosophy and practice of meditation, many have enjoyed lectures and books on the subject (some have even given the lectures and written the books), and yet have never taken up the practice to any degree. They simply did not make the connection between the beautiful theory and the actuality of their own lives. This is pretty much the trouble in all “spiritual” matters–people do not make the connection or transition from the theoretical to the practical. Consequently, as a friend I urge you in every sense of the expression to take this practice “to heart.”
It is essential in yoga, as in ordinary matters, to realize that all goes according to precise laws. Wishing, wanting, hoping, praying, believing–or their opposites–have no effect at all. When speaking of meditation, Patanjali says: “Its application is by stages” (Yoga Sutras 3:6). That is, meditation keeps moving onward in its effect when regularly practiced, just like the taking of a journey. It all goes in an exact sequence. Therefore we cannot expect that meditation will produce enlightenment in a random way like a slot machine in its payoffs. Meditation produces steady growth if there is steady practice.
The secret of success is regularity in meditation. “A diamond is a piece of coal that never gave up.” Paramhansa Yogananda formulated a more spiritual version: “A saint is a sinner who never gave up.” If you meditate regularly, every day, great will be the result. Water, though the softest substance known, can wear through the hardest stone by means of a steady dripping. In the old story of the tortoise and the hare, the tortoise won the race because he kept at it steadily, whereas the hare ran in spurts. He ran much faster then the tortoise, but the irregularity of his running made him lose the race. Meditation keeps moving onward in its effect when regularly practiced, producing steady growth through steady practice. The more we walk the farther we travel; the more we meditate the nearer and quicker we draw to the goal.
Yoga, the spiritual state, is produced by yoga the practice. Those who persevere in their yoga practice find unfailing and abundant happiness, peace, and fulfillment. Certainly the goal is not reached without much practice through the years, but every step of the way is blessed and brings rejoicing to the yogi’s heart. Then at last no more steps are needed, and he enters the ocean of Satchidananda. “A tiny bubble of laughter, I am become the Sea of Mirth Itself,” wrote Yogananda.
So it really is all up to you. The sane and sober voice of the Upanishadic Rishis assures us that through the simple japa and meditation of Om all possible spiritual attainments will be realized.
“He who knows Om need know nothing further,” declares the Mandukya Upanishad.
“Through Om the Lord is met face to face,” Shankara assures us in his Commentary on the Yoga Sutras. And in his commentary on the Taittiriya Upanishad: “Wishing to attain the supreme Self one does japa of Om; and he does indeed attain Brahman through that Om.”
The Mundaka Upanishad avers: “Om is the bridge to immortality. May you be successful in crossing over to the farther shore of darkness.”
The Mantra-Yoga-Samhita, verse 71, calls Om “the best of all mantras,” adding that all other mantras receive their power from it. And later in verse 73:
When people hear the Pranava they hear the Absolute itself.
When they utter the Pranava they go to the abode of the Absolute.
He who perceives the Pranava sees the state of the Absolute.
He who always has the Pranava in his mind has the form of the Absolute.
Read the First Appendix to Om Yoga Meditation: The Glories and Powers of Om