Meditation & Yoga
The Bhagavad Gita is the most treasured and famous of India’s spiritual texts. Composed of 700 verses, the Bhagavad Gita was written in the third or fourth century BCE as part of the epic text the Mahabharata. The Gita, as it’s commonly called, is a dialogue between Prince Arjuna and Sri Krishna, Arjuna’s charioteer, friend and council.
The Bhagavad Gita is a unique scripture in that it is considered both Shruti (divine revelation) and Smriti (ancient stories). The Gita serves as both an ancient story of Krishna leading Arjuna into battle and a spiritual text on the inner struggle for self-mastery and the attainment of happiness through yoga.
One of the main reasons the Bhagavad Gita is so cherished is due to its promotion and discussion of the middle path of yoga. Krishna recommends the path of Karma Yoga or selfless service, once one is established in Karma Yoga, then one can proceed with the deeper practice of meditation.
Krishna explains that both processes of yoga, the contemplative and the active, begin with learning how to control the mind, which is essentially dhyana, or meditation: When the yogi, by practice of yoga, disciplines his mental activities and becomes situated in transcendence—devoid of all material desires— he is said to be well established in yoga.
It is difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by suitable practice and by detachment. Krishna elaborates on the "appropriate means," and we begin to see how truly difficult it is to perform this kind of meditation. The yogi must learn to meditate continually, without interruption, in perfect solitude. Free of wants and possessiveness, the yogi must fully restrain his mind; restrict any extraneous thoughts or sensual distractions. The yogi should practice such meditation for his own purification only—without any ulterior motive. Firmly holding the base of his body, his neck, and his head straight, looking only at the tip of his nose, he must be serene, fearless, and above any lusty thought. He must sit in this way, restraining his mind, thinking only of God, Krishna says, fully devoted to the Supreme.
This contemplative form of yoga, systematized in Patanjali's yoga-sutras and popular today as hatha-yoga, is too difficult for most people, at least if they are going to perform it properly. Krishna recommends elements of contemplative yoga along with the yoga of action, or karma-yoga.