Dharana: Fear in Meditation

Fear in the deep ocean of the Mind

Meditators experience fear and discomfort in the early stages of meditation, technically called Dharana. This article explains how meditators can deal with their fear and discomfort.

Beginners on the path of Raja, the royal path of meditation, expect that meditation should bring them instant joy, peace and calmness. It does eventually. However, in the initial stages the mind is being purified.Toxins such as repressed fears, unfulfilled desires and unhealthy emotions are purged from the mind. If the meditator is not ready for this he is bound to be disappointed and even harmed by the intensity and quality of some of his thoughts and emotions. The greatest discomfort in meditation is caused by the expectations of the meditator from his meditation.



Self Condemnation is not useful in Meditation

Meditation increases our awareness of the mind and its nature. It brings us in touch with our feelings and innermost desires and expectations. When the beginner, who is not aware of the different levels of consciousness meditates, he discovers the changing nature of the mind, the chaotic disconnected thoughts and he condemns himself for it. Stronger the identification with the thoughts of the mind, the greater the self-condemnation. As hidden motivations and suppressions appear and become conscious the meditator may feel guilty and thus hurt himself. The awareness of many unfulfilled desires and expectations can make the meditator angry and frustrated. This is the first layer of unacceptable qualities that every meditator must go through. 

Many beginners become afraid and stop meditating. This is a serious mistake. Meditators must understand the complete process of meditation so that they can prepare themselves for this first layer of unacceptable qualities. One of the guiding principles in meditation is Ahimsa or Non-violence. 

Be Gentle to yourself in Meditation

The first layer of unacceptable qualities can be crossed once the meditator learns the importance of Ahimsa or Non-violence. If increasing our self-awareness is Satya or Truth, then accepting a thought as merely another thought, without hurting oneself is Ahimsa. It means we do not condemn ourselves for our thoughts, desires and feelings. Ahimsa is understanding that guilt and self-condemnation are not useful. If means that we need not keep feeling shame, guilt and regret for our past mistakes and that for others to forgive us, we must first forgive ourselves. 

The process of meditation involves going inward. To get to the Divine, to the Self, to Atman (or whatever you wish to call it), we have to go through the mind.There is no other way. The mind is complex and even treacherous. Thus a meditator must be courageous, indeed, he must be a warrior. To reach his goal the meditator, must have determination and a strong desire for knowledge. In meditation, the meditator is alone with his mind. No one can help him. So, it is important that he cultivates a friendship with his mind. The mind is a powerful instrument, it is not our enemy. It is what you make of it. The meditator may make mistakes and the mind may trick him. Making mistakes is part of the process, it teaches the meditator to learn to forgive himself and not to compete with himself. 


Meditation is a skill to be learned and practised

As the process of self-discovery continues the meditator discovers that the mind is like a battlefield. Feelings and thoughts of a contrary nature are tearing the mind apart, his desires take him in opposites directions. The meditator becomes intensely aware of all the conflicts in his mind. If the meditator has not practised Ahimsa and has not learned to be non-attached, he may suffer and hurt himself. Meditation is a skill and is perfected with practice. 

With the practice of Ahimsa and Vairagya (non-attachment) the meditator can safely cross this first layer of unacceptable qualities. He then accepts himself fully. We might say that it is from this point that true meditation starts, as the thoughts, feelings and energies flow. Dharana, the early stage of meditation then leads to Dhyana, the flow of meditation.