Here's the thing: What has always inhibited me about meditation is the loftiness of the concepts, the instruction to cease mind chatter, and the discomfort of sitting cross-legged on the floor with no back support. A couple of nights ago, I attended a class in the Brahmrishi Yoga tradition in meditation and philosophy. There were about twenty of us seated on pillows on the floor in an empty social hall. The teacher, Bill Milcetich, has been at this for a while and has thought long and hard about his place in the universe. It was obvious that Bill is a beloved and respected teacher. Those in the room who knew him were a bit in awe. After all, the man had studied with Swami Bawra in India, talked about the transformation of his life like I'd talk about switching brands of sneakers, and seemed to be in on intimate terms with enlightenment. His book, Kapil's Samkhya Patanjali's Yoga, actually the second edition of his book, is an attempt to clarify the teachings of Patanjali. This is a serious man with a serious task.
The descriptor attached to Brahmrishi is realize oneness in all. As Bill spoke about this concept, in a deep and thoughtful way, he discussed many concepts in great detail: the place on top of the skull where energy enters and reflects consciousness and nature (Chitta), how our bodies are made of particles and energies that have been cycling and recycling until they form our bodies, our temporary containers of our soul. He spoke about happiness as an end goal. I think he didn't mean happiness, per se, but a peaceful state where a person finds their comfortable place in the context of the universe.
He gave us a mantra to say as we all struggled to sit for fifteen minutes cross legged on the floor. Soham ( pronounced so hung) is a Sanskrit term laden with meaning and vibration. Im not so clear how the vibration occurs in a word that is not spoken aloud, but never mind. The words meant nothing to us newbies, we were to inhale to so and exhale to hum for the next fifteen or so minutes. We did our best.
There was no cheer leading here. No encouragement to treat ourselves as small children, to tell ourselves to go ahead and try again. We'll get it the next time. No explanation that it's natural for a mind to click away in thoughts, mundane and profound.
Meditation does encourage us to think about concepts beyond the ordinary, to understand the extraordinary, to realize the oneness. I admire Bill's grasp of the philosophies surrounding meditation, but I also think that allowing oneself to sit in the quiet can help get to the philosophical places more handily than the philosophy can get one to the meditative.