Social reformer and author Sri M on meditation, comics and more
In the midst of Delhi’s never dying cacophony and its people who are constantly coughing up (be it due to season of viral infections or due to overwork), a lookout for a quiet corner to collect yourself, your thoughts and de-stress might be too much of a task. So, when the topic of ‘meditation’ is brought up, to counter the challenges of our mundane lives, we often shush the suggestion with one repeated excuse – there is no quiet place to meditate. But, social reformer and author Sri M says it’s just a matter of practice, and then one can even mediate while on a flight or when in a busy place such as Khan Market!
‘You can practice even in Khan Market’
“In the beginning, it may be better to start your practice in a quieter place. Once you have become kind of adept, keeping your mind focused on one point, then you can practice it anywhere. Even sitting in Khan Market, in a small chair, you can meditate… Once you learn, you enjoy meditation like a good addiction,” he says, on his recent trip to the Capital, for the release of his new book titled On Meditation.
Having previously written his autobiographical memoir and even a novel among other published works, Sri M says he chose to write on the subject in question because of two broad reasons.
He elucidates, “First thing, I want to demystify this thing called meditation. I have been meditating all my life; I’ve been in the Himalayas with my master Maheshwarnath Babaji and have meditated for years together. But, I feel meditation is a real science, and can be done even without a guru or a super figure. What happens is [when] people teach meditation; they say ‘You follow me.’ Actually, there is no need to follow… Second, people ask me a number of questions on meditation, all the time. Sometimes, they repeat the questions [that have been already asked], and sometimes they ask silly questions. So, I took up all the questions possible, and put them together. Now, if somebody asks me again, I’ll say, ‘Please read the book’. Also, I wanted to write this book to show that there are complicated meditations and there is also simple meditation, and you don’t have to take sanyas or go into a cave to meditate. Anybody can do it to increase their potential; it can open up their minds.”
Dharana and Mindfulness
The journey of Sri M’s life from a young boy to a yogi has awed many. But, in this book, he shares how human beings can meditate with a small dose of ‘dharana’ and some spoonfuls of ‘mindfulness’, thus paving the way for a discourse.
“The main idea is to dehypnotize the brain from thinking that it is weak and it cannot do it (meditation). We live in a world where we have been kind of hypnotized through circumstances, parentage, exposure to education, that this is your limit. Meditation is also to remove these layers of the mind, and make it understand that if a person feels one-pointed attention, which is called dharna – he or she can certainly achieve. There are obstacles and pitfalls, but we can overcome them. Also, when I say mindfulness, I mean two kinds of mindfulness. The inner mindfulness is to watch your breath and allow your mind to settle down. It’s a fact; sit for 10 minutes and watch your breath, you don’t even have to control it, just give complete attention to your inhalation and exhalation, as you do it normally. But, there should also be outer mindfulness, which means even in life, when you live outside in this world, you must be mindful of what you do, what you say, what you think… you shouldn’t hurt other people and their feelings. When both these mindfulness go together then you are a free person.”
Lone Ranger, Phantom, Tin Tin and Asterix/ Love for comics
But, does this yogi find his freedom only when meditating? He says, writing is another state of his mind that makes him explore his inner self.
“I have not seriously given it to anybody to publish, but I always loved to write down my impressions. I went to English medium school and college, and had very good teachers and read a lot in the libraries. All these factors helped me to develop a language, simple but clear and concise. When I was in school, I used to draw and write my own comic books; mostly of some adventure. I used to read Lone Ranger and Phantom. Recently somebody sent me a collection of Tin Tin, I’m reading it now, and I also like Asterix,” says Sri M with a smile, and adds that he next intents to publish a collection of 13 short stories.
Interestingly, a tinge of humour comes across both, his personality and his writing. Does he intentionally let it pass through this book, too? He replies, “When I’m happy, humour comes to me. Also, my father was very humorous so it’s part inherited. My guru was a stern man, but at times he was so funny and some of his jokes were so rustic that I cannot repeat them. So, I picked up from both of them. In fact, my favourite reading is PG Wodehouse. In the night, before sleeping, I prefer to not read the Gita but read PG Wodehouse because it’s so funny! If you don’t have humour in your life, life is not worth it. Even Mahatma Gandhi used to say so.”