How to prepare the mind for meditation? With a whole bunch of desires for this and that thing, person or situation, the mind can never be quiet on the seat of meditation.
Sri Adi Sankaracharya gives a list of things to renounce to be able to experience a meditative state.
Cut out expectations. Asha is the word used for expectation or hope. It is commonly understood as desire. There is a subtle difference between desire and expectation. Expectation is unfounded and illogical desire. For us to be able to get something, the variables and controls are not in our hands. There are many events and people that go into each and every experience of ours. So to hope for something specific to happen that we like can sap us of our precious energy as the result is not something that we decide. The master hence compares vain hope to a poison of the mind.
Expecting to achieve some sense object of our liking—words, sights, smell, taste, touch, thoughts and feelings—is as harmful as expecting the very form of death.The next thing to give up if the mind has to rest in meditation is an appreciative identification with one’s own caste, lineage, the stage in life as a student, householder, recluse or renunciate; throw far away from our person anything fidgeting with restless actions which do not have the welfare of the larger good as its goal.
The other important thought that has to be given away is the identification of oneself as the body alone. Set the mind on the true self alone. In reality you are only the pure consciousness which is non-dual, beyond all names, forms and qualities and the Seer of all that is. The thing that has to be done before any process of tidying is to discard that which is unwanted. Having focussed on removing the qualities that impede meditation, the teacher now outlines the methods by which we can meditate.
The first step is to keep a steady focus of the mind on that supreme reality—the Brahman. The next is to keep all the sense organs resting in their respective places in the body. The power of seeing stays in the eyes and that of hearing stays in the ears only, someone may argue. True, they do not move about. However, the mind moves out through the eyes to touch the forms of objects we like and through the ears to the most desirable sounds and noises. If we can imagine a cartoon image of ourselves, we can see the eyes popping out to the forms of our choice or the tongue stretching long towards a taste it craves. The skin can expand for several miles to feel the object it longs for. Keeping the sense organs in their respective slots means not allowing the mind to travel far through them.
Keep the body still and give up all worrisome thoughts about its care and maintenance. Keep the thought in that one unbroken state of Brahman alone and drink that essential sap and rejoice. What else is there beyond this? Every other activity we may pursue in life is a big void devoid of life.