Meditation occurs when an aspirant is fixed in contemplation on the Infinite with a pure heart. In contemplation, you are in spiritual contact with the unchanging light. You are cleansed of all the impurities. This light cleanses the soul which touches it. The sun-glass is exposed to the light of the sun and the straws that are underneath catch fire. So, if you have an open heart devotedly lifted up to God, the light of His purity and love, illumining this open soul, will consume all your shortcomings in the fire of divine love. The light brings enhanced energy and great comfort.
In meditation, new grooves are formed in the brain and the mind moves upwards in the new spiritual grooves. When the mind becomes steady in meditation, the eyeballs also become steady.
A yogi whose mind is calm will have a steady eye. There will be no winking at all. When you enter into very deep, silent meditation, the breath will not come out of the nostrils. There may be occasional slow movement of the lungs and the abdomen. During normal exhalation the air comes out for 16 digits. When the mind gets concentrated, it will become less and less. It will come to 15 then 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 and so on. From the nature of breathing, you can infer the degree of concentration of an aspirant. Watch the breath very carefully.
People get various types of spiritual experiences during meditation. There cannot be a common experience for all. It depends on the temperament, mode of sadhana, place of concentration and various other factors. Some hear melodious sounds. Some see lights and others experience ananda, spiritual bliss. Some people experience both light and bliss. During meditation, you may even experience that you are rising from your seat and flying in the air.
Lights: In the beginning the aspirant may perceive many different forms and shapes of light. But the divine light comes not through open doors, but through narrow slits and the aspirant sees the divine ray as a sunbeam passing through a chink into a dark room. It is like a flash of lightning. This sudden illumination chokes all sounds and words. The aspirant is spellbound in ecstasy and awe. He trembles with love and awe, just as Arjuna did when he had the Virat Vishwarupa darshan of Sri Krishna. So bright and glorious is the light environing the divine that the initiate is dazzled and bewildered.
Crossing body consciousness: Aspirants eager to get spiritual experiences are awfully alarmed when they go beyond body consciousness. They entertain a passing wonder whether they will come back again or not. Why should they be afraid at all? It does not matter much whether they return to body consciousness or not. All our attempts are mainly directed towards getting over this body consciousness.
We are used to certain limitations or body consciousness and when these limitations suddenly drop away, we feel that there is no definite base left to stand on. That is the reason why we are afraid when we go above body consciousness. That is a novel experience. Courage is needed. It is said in the scriptures, Nayam atma balahinena labhyah. This atman can hardly be attained by weak or timid persons. All sorts of forces have to be encountered on the way. A dacoit or an anarchist can easily realize God, because he is fearless. Only a push in the right direction is necessary for him.
Visions of spirits: Sometimes, bad spirits will trouble you. They may have ugly, fierce faces with long teeth. Drive them away with your strong will. Give the word of command: Get out. They will go away. They are vampires. They are elementals. They will not do any harm to the sadhaka. Your courage will be tested here. If you are timid, you cannot march further. Draw power and courage from the atman within, the inexhaustible source.
You will come across good spirits also. They will help you in your onward march. During meditation, some of the visions that you see are your own materialized thoughts, while some others are real, objective visions. If you see a blazing light during meditation and get spiritual visions of angels, archangels, sages, gods or any other extraordinary spiritual experiences, do not fall back in terror. Do not mistake them for phantoms. Do not give up the sadhana. Plod on. Persevere diligently.
Dreams: Some aspirants are much troubled by various sorts of fantastic dreams. Sometimes, there is a mixture of meditation and dreams. The presence of dreams denotes that you are not yet well-established in deep meditation, that you have not removed vikshepa, tossing of the mind, and that you have not done constant, intense sadhana. As the phenomenon of dreams is very peculiar and inexplicable, it is very difficult to control dreams unless you wipe out all the samskaras in the causal body and control all thoughts.
There are many benefits derived by yogic students who practise meditation systematically. They are shanti, peace, santosha, contentment, abhaya, fearlessness, ananda, spiritual bliss, nishchala sthiti, unruffled state of mind in worldly difficulties, steadiness, inspiration, intuitive perception, sattwic qualities and absence of anger, egoism and raga-dwesha, like and dislike.
If you can meditate for half an hour, you will be able to engage yourself with peace and spiritual strength in the battle of life for one week through the force of this meditation. Such is the beneficial result of meditation. As you have to move with different minds of peculiar natures in your daily life, get the strength and peace from meditation and you will have no trouble and worry.
All actions, whether internal or external, can be performed only when the mind is united with the organs. Thought is the real action. If you have control over the mind by steady practice, if you can regulate your emotions and moods, you will not perform foolish and wrong actions. Meditation will help a lot in checking various emotions and impulses.
Meditation acts as a powerful tonic. It is a mental and nerve tonic as well. The holy vibrations penetrate all the cells of the body and cure diseases. Those who meditate save doctors bills. The powerful, soothing waves that arise during meditation exercise a benign influence on the mind, nerves, organs and cells of the body. The divine energy freely flows like oil from one vessel to another from the feet of the Lord to the different systems of the sadhakas.
If there is any error in meditation, at once consult senior sannyasins or realized souls and remove the mistake. If your general health is sound, if you are cheerful, happy and strong, physically and mentally, if the mind is peaceful and unruffled, if you get ananda in meditation and if your will is growing strong, pure and irresistible, think that you are improving in meditation and everything is going all right. March on boldly. Do not look back.