Let us talk about Zhine (peaceful steadiness) here, a Tibetan Buddhist practice to gain control over the mind. It is useful while practicing Sambavi Mudra.
The Tibetans speak of three stages of Zhine, the forceful, natural and ultimate. The practice begins with focusing the mind on an external object and goes on to the fixation of mind on an objectless state.
You can sit in a chair for this practice. Cross your legs under you. Place the hands folded in your lap with palms up one over the other. Hold the spine straight but not rigid, head slightly tilted to keep the neck straight. Keep the eyes open (This is the main reason I am talking of this technique. It teaches us the Poornima Drishti.)
The eyes should not strain, it should neither be wide open or too shut, but just open enough to keep them relaxed and steady. The object on which you are concentrating should be dead ahead of you, not over or below the line of vision. Don’t move or blink, even if tears stream down the face keep the eyes steady on the object. Breathe naturally.
I would suggest the letter Aum in Sanskrit script or Aum written in English as the object of meditation. If you are using the English version make the A big and inscribe U and M within it.
The Tibetans inscribe the picture of the letter on a paper an inch square and fix it on a stick with a base to hold it on ground. This is a good idea. You can carry it around and practice the technique where ever you want. Make the letter white on a black background. Place it just a foot and half in front of the eyes while practicing.
If something strange occurs during practice think they are natural and continue practicing. In forceful shine you make your mind concentrate on the object. It would wander, but try to bring it back every time. If you can’t break session and try to concentrate on a quality you would like to develop, like compassion, truthfulness etc and return to your practice. You can do it as many times as you want. (If you have no tool to concentrate on you can also visualize a ball of light in the forehead.)
Never waver for a moment. Keep your attention steady on the object and breathe steadily. Slowly the breath would begin to thin and become un noticeable.
Just be aware of the object and don’t think about it. Slowly concentration would intensify and you will begin to get absorbed in the object. This is the time to start meditating without object. Look at the space in front of you and not at any object. Take an imaginary point in before you and focus on it. Then even forgetting it allows the mind to dissolve. This is called ‘merging the mind in space’. This leads to the next stage the Ultimate Zhine.
This is the natural next stage in the practice. Thoughts would not enter the mind and you will remain in a relaxed and tranquil state.
You should not involve in intense physical activity just before practice, this would agitate the mind and make concentration difficult. Then while you are practicing sleep might come. Stop it with your mind by concentrating more strongly.
The most troublesome problem of all is a lax state of mind while in meditation. Your mind would be calm and passive with no power to it. This can be very pleasant but is not conducive to reaching higher levels of consciousness. Strengthening your posture and alerting your mind would be effective in combating it.
Practice it always till you can consciously reach a state of steadiness of mind. This is the preliminary practice on Raja Yoga; the Tibetans learned it from Padmasambava a Tantric Yogi who came to Tibet sometime in the thirteen hundreds. It would lead you towards the attainment of Sambavi mudra.
I suggest this for those who are struggling to fix the mind at Trikut (the fore head, at the point between the eyes, the ajna chakra) without any previous experience in meditation. Sometimes props such as these might become useful to them.
I will discuss similar practices as we go on. Our mind tires easily and might welcome variety while involved in spiritual practices.