Distinguishing the Location of the Conscious Awareness from the Object of Meditation

It is a somewhat frequent occurrence that the instruction to meditate on the space behind the heart, or between the eyebrows is taken to be the meditation itself. There is a difference between where one “seats” one’s consciousness during meditation and the object of the meditation. Sri Aurobindo makes this difference clear. As one gains insight into the internal space within one’s being, it becomes clear that the location of the awareness is something different than the subject upon which one is concentrating or focusing. We find, in fact, that at different times we naturally feel the center of our awareness variously either in the head or the heart, depending on the situation, mood and immediate focus of the meditation. A devotional aspiration will naturally seat itself in the heart centre. A will for knowledge will naturally occur in the head. In each case, the object of meditation is the Divine.

Depending on where the consciousness seats itself during any particular form of meditation, there may be a vastly different opening or type of receptivity that is experienced by the seeker. Thus, a concentration in the head may lead to a descent of a wideness, or a vast calm or peace into the being, while a concentration in the heart centre may bring about a feeling of devotion, love or the bliss of oneness with the object of one’s seeking.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “There is no harm in concentrating sometimes in the heart and sometimes above the head. But concentration in either place does not mean keeping the attention fixed on a particular spot; you have to take your station of consciousness in either place and concentrate there not on the place, but on the Divine. This can be done with eyes shut or with eyes open, according as it best suits you. … You can concentrate on the sun, but to concentrate on the Divine is better than to concentrate on the sun. … At the top of the head or above it is the right place for yogic concentration in reading or thinking.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Work, Meditation and Love and Devotion, Practical Advice About Meditation, pp. 154-156

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