In a comment to one of my most recent posts, ‘Meeting the Divine on the Road’, I have been asked for a more precise description of how to concentrate in the heart the way Sri Aurobindo and the Mother recommended to do it. After researching again some of the texts that I myself found very useful when I started long ago, here is the one I feel I can post here for that person, and of course also for anyone else interested. Sri Aurobindo explains how to ‘Concentrate’ in general, and then how to do it in the Heart:
“Ordinarily the consciousness is spread out everywhere, dispersed, running in this or that direction, after this subject and that object in multitude. When anything has to be done of a sustained nature the first thing one does is to draw back all this dispersed consciousness and concentrate. It is then, if one looks closely, bound to be concentrated in one place and on one occupation, subject or object – as when you are composing a poem or a botanist is studying a flower. The place is usually somewhere in the brain if it is the thought, in the heart if it is the feeling in which one is concentrated.
The yogic concentration is simply an extension and intensification of the same thing. It may be on an object as when one does Tratak on a shining point – then one has to concentrate so that one sees only that point and has no other thought than that. It may be on an idea or word or a name, the idea of the Divine, the word OM, the name Krishna, or a combination of idea and word or idea and name. But further in yoga one also concentrates in a particular place. There is the famous rule of concentrating between the eyebrows – the centre of the inner mind, of occult vision, of the will is there. What you do is to think firmly from there on whatever you make the object of your concentration or else try to see the image of it from there. If you succeed in this then after a time you feel that your whole consciousness is centred there in that place – of course for the time being. After doing it for some time and often it becomes easy and normal.
I hope this is clear. Well, in this yoga, you do the same, not necessarily at that particular spot between the eyebrows, but anywhere in the head or at the centre of the chest where the physiologists have fixed the cardiac centre. Instead of concentrating on an object, you concentrate in the head in a will, a call for the descent of the peace above or, as some do, an opening of the unseen lid and an ascent of the consciousness above. In the heart centre one concentrates in an aspiration, for an opening, for the presence of the living image of the Divine there or whatever else is the object. There may be Japa of a name but, if so, there must also be a concentration on it and the name must repeat itself there in the heart centre.
It may be asked what becomes of the rest of the consciousness when there is this local concentration? Well, it either falls silent as in any concentration or, if it does not, then thoughts or other things may move about, as if outside, but the concentrated part does not attend to them or notice. That is when the concentration is reasonably successful.
One has not to fatigue oneself at first by long concentration if one is not accustomed, for then in a jaded mind it loses its power and value. One can relax and meditate instead of concentrating. It is only as the concentration becomes normal that one can go on for a longer and longer time.”
Perhaps I can add a few words of explanation regarding the ‘japa’ mentioned above by Sri Aurobindo; ‘japa’ is the sanskrit word meaning ‘repetition of the Name’ of the Divine. This can be in any form one happens to be receptive to as an individual. So those who would like to try that way could choose any name that ‘works’ for them, even if it is from a religion they are not part of, as long as that aspect of the Divine is the one that moves them most, the one towards whom they feel the most attracted inwardly. For the important thing through the japa – and through the whole practice of the Concentration in the Heart as well – is to establish a personal link, a true relationship of love between us and the Divine. This is what truly matters, and whatever helps for that is welcome.
In the Integral Yoga, some central elements of spiritual practice which have been known and used since long in most religions are very much kept and remain part of what can help for the new, more complete spiritual endeavor that Conscious Evolution is. Mystics the world over have used this repetition of the Name, for example, to arrive at a closer, more intimate contact with whatever form of the Divine they adored and longed for. Even after the Inner Meeting has taken place, the repetition of the Name can still be one of the sweetest and most efficient ways to keep the relationship alive at all times, until it becomes permanent. In India Krishna is the Name given to the Divine as the Lover of our Soul, and the Soul’s’ name is Radha, irresistibly and eternally attracted to Krishna the Wonderful… After my own Psychic Being was reached in its own dimension first, and then came to the front for taking the lead of my being, all within a few weeks in 1975, I discovered several books written by some Christian or Muslim mystics, which overjoyed me; I had the feeling of meeting true brothers and sisters beyond time and space. I remember particularly the little book by an anonymous ‘Russian Pilgrim’ which brought tears of soul-joy to my eyes, so wonderful that real life, simple story was. This humble man had been using precisely that way, the repetition of the Name – in that case, a short prayer to Jesus – and to watch the results happening gradually in him and in his life is one of the sweetest things I have ever read, I can only recommend it to others. If one is able to separate the religious specificity of the words used, from the universal mystic experience that is described, any mystic book can become a blessing to read for the soul hungry and thirsty of the Divine.