>"Fifth Spiritual Instruction" by Swami Chidananda

Posted: January 12, 2010 in 20 Impt Spiritual Instructions, Chanting, Discipline, Effort, Japa, Meditation, Mind, Ritual, Sadhana, Swami Sivananda, Yamas and Niyamas


Meditation Room

Have a separate meditation room under lock and key.

Blessed Atman! The next few instructions apply more specifically to people who are living in the secular world. Maybe they are in the grihasta ashram (householders), if not householders maybe they are in the udyog kshetra (working field), working, earning, spending, supporting their families—father, mother, younger brothers and sisters. It applies more to such people. It says: “Have a separate meditation room under lock and key.” This of course, may not be possible for monastics living in a monastery or university or college students living in a hostel where perhaps they have to share a room with others. Therefore, the essence of it has to be taken namely, have a particular spot in your own room which is used exclusively for meditation, prayer, japa—for spiritual sadhana only.

Do not keep changing your place everyday. If you do not wish to meditate inside your room, perhaps you can go for a walk and end up by sitting on the banks of the Ganga on some stone. If that is the practice, let it be the same stone day after day, week after week, month after month, as long as you stay there, because there is something about the same place and the same time—a certain vibration, a certain atmosphere is created in that spot. A time cycle is created and this cycle brings about a similar cycle within you which they call a “bio-rhythm.” At that particular time, the entire being, the entire organism is biologically, psychologically and spiritually keyed, geared and oriented towards that particular process only.

In a rather crude and purely gross way, the Russian scientist Pavlov suspected such a connection between time and body processes and that body processes bring about certain mental moods, expectations, impatience. So they experimented upon dogs, and I was amazed to find that there is such a thing called a particular time bringing about a particular phenomenon within the living organism, and that affects the behaviour of the being also.

So he proved that if he fed dogs at a particular time everyday, after a certain period, some days or weeks, the whole biology of the dog became geared to that particular experience and when the time came, the stomach began to secrete digestive juices, the salivary glands began to secrete saliva and the dog expected to be fed. It behaved in such a way that it demonstrated its desire for food. His experiments—to prove the presence of this type of inner reaction due to a habitual time rhythm being brought about in a particular activity, which required a certain particular biological process within the body became world famous.

Therefore the same applies psychologically also. If at a particular time everyday you sit in a particular place and do japa or meditation, it invokes the same mood and inclination in the mind when that time comes. And to support it with external factors Gurudev has suggested the repetition of certain slokas or keeping quiet for sometime or doing the pranava—OM—a number of times. Then immediately the whole mood becomes indrawn, meditative and uplifted. Such is the force of regular repetition of a particular process exactly at a given time, day after day. Therefore Gurudev has many a time stated in His practical instructions: “Regularity is of the utmost importance.” This is an oft repeated sentence in His teachings. So, one has to understand this in those terms.


A separate meditation room under lock and key means that it should be used for that purpose only. No other type of vibration should be allowed to intrude there. If others with dissimilar vibrations are allowed to enter they will evoke inharmonious vibrations, and you will not be able to take advantage of your own atmosphere or vibrations in the akasha (space).

Therefore, we should not allow other people to come inside our room and gossip and spread their inharmonious vibrations around. It is a very good rule for those who live in a single room to receive people outside. There are any number of places where one can meet and talk. We should try to see that this is done. People of like vibrations, on rare occasions, may be allowed to come inside. Otherwise it is better, if you are really serious about your sadhana, and want to protect the atmosphere and vibrations of your room to see that very sparingly others are allowed to enter. Then the integrity, the atmosphere of your room is maintained, it is kept intact.

It is not everyone even in the householder’s set-up that is fortunate enough to have a house with many rooms where one room can be set apart for meditation. No! They are the few. It is only affluent and upper middle class people who have a big house or those who have retired from Government Service with a good Provident Fund who can afford to plan a house with a separate meditation room which they can keep under lock and key. I have known families of seven or eight people living in only one room—one corner for a kitchen, and the whole floor for a bedroom which also becomes a dining room when it is time to eat. That is their house, that is their home. So you cannot under these circumstances say: “Swami Sivananda has said to have a separate room for meditation.” It is asking for the moon! It is just impractical, impossible. Not that Gurudev was not aware of such circumstances. It only means that those who can afford to have a separate room should have it.

However, the best meditation room is your heart, the interior of the mind. The advantage of this is you can enter into it wherever you are, at any time you like. Even in the midst of a General Body Meeting, you can retire into yourself and be in meditation for a little while if the meeting is going out of bounds. Even while you are commuting in a bus or a train, instead of looking out of the window, you can be in meditation. Such a meditation is possible anywhere because you are yourself the meditation place, you are yourself the meditation room, your heart is a little corner where you can withdraw and meet the Being who dwells within.
There is a Bengali saying: “Where to meditate? Which is the ideal place? Bane, kone, mane.” Bane—the ideal place, if possible, is to go and sit in the jungle; otherwise kone—in a corner of your room; otherwise mane—in your own heart, your own mind. 

Close your eyes, enter into your secret closet where you and God alone dwell within your own being. Close the door—that means close all the senses. Do pratyahara (withdrawal), do not allow the senses to tempt you to go hither and thither, control rajas and be at peace. For in truth, you have neither rajas nor tamas nor sattva. You are the Atman beyond the three gunas.
Therefore, it should not bother you where to meditate, if only you can cultivate abiding in your own Self, being aware of your own swarupa, that is the key solution to all the problems of the human individual. The human individual itself is a product of moving away from the Self, from the swarupa. It is the moving away from the Self that creates the individual, who creates all the problems. Therefore, enter into your secret closet, close the door and there be alone with God. Listen to what He has to say. That is the sanctuary—the inner sanctuary. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said: “Do you know what the sattvic man does? He pretends to go to sleep, gets under the mosquito curtain and switches off the light and everyone thinks he is sleeping. There he sits and meditates. So, no one can see him under the mosquito net,”

Gurudev used to say: “Use your common-sense. In spiritual life, in Sadhana, in the path of Yoga, always use your common-sense.” Among the training given to scouts there is a thing called Improvisation. Whatever you can find, make the best of the situation—improvise. I have known people living in a small city or town where near the outskirts there are secluded places. After their work is over, they go home, have a cup of coffee, chat with the children, then get into the car and drive out of town to be alone by themselves under some tree in natural surroundings. They spend an hour or so, then go back home. So where there is eagerness of heart, conditions can be created by using common-sense and a little bit of imagination.

They say you must have yantra, mantra and also tantra. Not only bhakti (devotion) but also Yukti (imagination). If yukti is positive, then it is good.

So, we have found that having a separate room for meditation is not within the means of everyone. May Gurudev bless you to carry out this instruction according to your circumstances.

[TWENTY IMPORTANT SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTIONS, A Series of talks on Swami Sivananda’s Twenty Important Spiritual Instructions.] 

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