The 3 gunas of Nature, Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas are active in all things, even in the approach we take to the practice of meditation. Understanding these modes and the specific types of energy they each represent can aid us in tuning the meditation practice for ultimate positive results. Tamas acts through darkness, sloth, torpor and indolence. When Tamas is in the ascendent, there is an inclination to avoid meditation through tiredness or inertia or a sense of it being useless. When Rajas rules, there tends to be an effort to control and dominate the process, an active pressure to succeed, which results in ruffling the ‘mind stuff’ (citta), thus defeating one of the primary goals of meditation. Sattwa provides a calm, focused and effortless poise that is an optimal basis for achieving receptivity and responsiveness to the light and peace of meditation.
Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is quite natural to want to meditate while reading yogic literature — that is not the laziness. The laziness of the mind consists in not meditating, when the consciousness wants to do so.”
“It is not a fact that when there is obscurity or inertia, one cannot concentrate or meditate. If one has in the inner being the steady will to do it, it can be done.”
“Effort means straining endeavour. There can be an action with a will in it in which there is no strain or effort. Straining and concentration are not the same thing. Straining implies an over-eagerness and violence of effort, while concentration is in its nature quiet and steady. If there is restlessness or over-eagerness, then that is not concentration.”
“It is certainly much better to remain silent and collected for a time after the meditation. It is a mistake to take the meditation lightly — by doing that one fails to receive or spills what is received or most of it.”
“The best help for concentration is to receive the Mother’s calm and peace into your mind. It is there above you — only the mind and its centres have to open to it.”
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