Ekanath, Raja Janaka and others realised by doing spiritual Sadhana while remaining in the world. The central teaching of the Gita is to realise in and through the world. This is plausible, sounds all right, but not feasible for the vast majority. It is easier said than done. How many Janakas and Ekanaths have you had? These people were really Yoga Bhrashtas. It is absolutely impossible for the vast majority.
Lord Jesus was missing for 18 years. Buddha went into seclusion for 8 years in Uruvala forest. Swami Rama Tirtha was a recluse in Brahmapuri forest for two years. Sri Aurobindo teaches that one should realise amidst activity, but he had shut himself up in a closed room for 40 years. Many had taken up seclusion during Sadhana period. You can make the beginning in the world but when you have made some progress, you must shift yourself up for advanced practices to a suitable place where you will find spiritual vibration and solitude.
As the will-power in many persons has become very weak, as they have no religious discipline or training in schools and colleges when they were young, as they are under the sway of materialistic influences, it is necessary for them to go in seclusion for some weeks, months or years to practise rigorous Japa and undisturbed meditation.
Calm the bubbling emotions, sentiments, instincts and impulses through silent meditation. You can give a new orientation to your feelings by gradual and systematic practice. You can entirely transmute your worldly nature into Divine nature. You can exercise supreme control over the nerve-centres, the nerves, muscles, the five Koshas or sheaths, emotions, impulses and instincts through meditation.
Those who have fixed up their sons in life, who have retired from service and those who have no ties or attachment in the world, can remain in seclusion for 4 or 5 years and practise intense meditation and Tapas for purification and Self-realisation. This is like entering a University for higher studies or post-graduate course. When the Tapas is over, when they have attained Self-knowledge, they should come out and share their knowledge and bliss with others. They should disseminate knowledge of the Self through lectures, conversations, discourses or heart to heart talks according to their capacity and disposition.
A householder (Grihastha) with Yogic tendencies and spiritual inclinations can practise meditation in a solitary and quiet room in his own house or any solitary place on the banks of any holy river, during holidays or throughout the year if he is a whole-time aspirant or if he is retired from service.
If you want to retire into solitude for the practice of meditation, if you are a householder with spiritual thirsting for intense Sadhana, you cannot all of a sudden sever your connection with your family people. Sudden severance from worldly ties and possessions will give you intense mental agony and induce shock on your family people. You will have to break the ties gradually. Stay for a week or a month in seclusion to begin with. Then gradually prolong the period. Then they will not feel the pangs of separation.
The aspirant should be free from hope, desire and greed. Then only he will have a steady mind. Hope, desire and greed make the mind ever restless and turbulent; they are the enemies of peace and Self-knowledge. He should not have many possessions also. He can only keep those articles which are absolutely necessary for the maintenance of his body. If there are many possessions, the mind will be ever thinking of the articles and attempting to protect them. Those who want quick progress in meditation during seclusion should not keep any connection with the world by way of correspondence, reading newspapers, or thinking of the family-members and possessions.
He who has reduced his wants, who has not a bit of attraction for the world, who has discrimination and dispassion, burning desire for liberation, who has observed Mouna for months together, will be able to live in seclusion.
The aspirant should possess serenity. The Divine Light can descend only in a serene mind. Serenity is attained by the eradication of Vasanas or desires and cravings. He should be fearless also. This is the most important qualification. A timid or cowardly aspirant is very far from Self-realisation.
The aspirant need not bother about his bodily wants. Everything is provided for by God. Everything is prearranged by Mother Prakriti. She looks after the bodily wants of all very carefully in a more efficient manner than they themselves would do. Prakriti knows in a better manner what the requirements are and provides them then and there. Understand the mysterious ways of Mother and become wise. Be grateful to Her for Her unique kindness, grace and mercy.
Semen or vital juice tones the nerves and brain and energises the system. He who has preserved his vital force by the vow of celibacy and sublimated it to Ojas-Sakti, can practise steady meditation for a long period. He only can ascend the ladder of Yoga. Without Brahmacharya no iota of spiritual progress is possible. Brahmacharya is the very foundation on which the superstructure of meditation and Samadhi can be built up. Many people waste this vital energy-a great spiritual treasure indeed-when they become blind and lose their power of reason under excitement. Pitiable indeed is their lot! They cannot make any substantial progress in Yoga.
You should have perfect control over the body through regular practice of Asanas before you take up serious and constant meditation. You cannot practise meditation without a firm seat. If the body is unsteady, the mind will also become unsteady. There is intimate connection between the body and the mind. You should not shake the body even a bit. You should attain mastery over the Asana by daily practice, viz., Asana Jaya. You should be as firm as a statue or a rock. If you keep the body, head and neck erect, the spinal cord also will be erect, the Kundalini will rise up steadily through Sushumna. You will not be overpowered by sleep.
If you are well established in the practice of Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), if you have the senses under your full control, you can find perfect solitude and peace even in the most crowded and noisy places of a big city. If the senses are turbulent, if you have not got the power to withdraw the senses, you will have no peace of mind even in a solitary cave in the Himalayas. A disciplined Yogi who has controlled his senses and the mind can enjoy peace of mind in a solitary cave. A passionate man who has not controlled the senses and the mind will be only building castles in the air if he lives in a solitary cave in the mountains.
You should steadily direct your gaze towards the tip of your nose (Nasikagra Drishti) and keep the mind fixed in the Self only. In Sloka 25 of chapter V (Gita) Lord Krishna says, "Having made the mind abide in the Self, let him not think of anything." The other gaze (Drishti) is Bhrumadhya Drishti or gazing between the two eyebrows (Ajna Chakra). This is described in the Gita (V-27). In this Drishti direct the gaze towards Ajna Chakra with closed eyes. If you practise the Drishti with open eyes it may produce headache. Foreign particles may fall into the eyes. There may be distraction of the mind also. Do not strain the eyes. Practise gently. When you practise concentration on the tip of the nose, you will experience Divya Gandha (divine fragrance). When you concentrate on the Ajna Chakra, you will experience Divya Jyotis (divine light). This is an experience to give you encouragement, to push you up in the spiritual path and convince you of the existence of transcendental or superphysical things. Do not stop your Sadhana now. Yogins or those Bhaktas who meditate on Lord Siva concentrate on the Ajna Chakra. You can select that Drishti which suits you best.
Make the mind one-pointed by collecting all the dissipated rays of the mind. Withdraw the mind from all sense-objects again and again and try to fix the mind on your Lakshya or point of meditation or centre. Gradually you will have concentration of mind or one-pointedness. You must be patient and persevering. You must be very regular in your practice. Then only you will succeed. Regularity is of paramount importance.
You should know the ways and habits of the mind through daily introspection, self-analysis or self-examination. You should have knowledge of the laws of the mind. Then it will be easy for you to check the mind-wandering. When you sit for meditation, when you deliberately attempt to forget the worldly objects, all sorts of worldly thoughts irrelevant and nonsensical thoughts, will crop up in your mind and, disturb your meditation. You will be quite astonished. Old thoughts which you entertained several years ago, old memories of past enjoyments will bubble up and force the mind to wander in all directions. You will find that the trapdoor of the vast magazine of thoughts and memories within the subconscious mind is opened or the lid of the storehouse of thoughts within is lifted up and the thoughts gush out in a continuous stream. The more you attempt to still them the more they will bubble up with redoubled force and strength.
Do not be discouraged. Nil desperandum. Never despair. Through regular and constant meditation you can purify the subconscious mind and can control all thoughts and memories. The fire of meditation will burn all thoughts. Be sure of this. Meditation is a potent antidote to annihilate the poisonous worldly thoughts. Be assured of this.
During introspection you can clearly observe the shiftings of the mind from one line of thought to another. Herein lies a change for you to mould the mind properly and direct the thoughts and the mental energy in the Divine Channel. You can rearrange the thoughts, make new association on a new Sattvic basis. You can throw out useless worldly thoughts just as you remove the weeds and throw them out. You can cultivate sublime, Divine thoughts in the Divine garden of your mind or Antahkarana. This is a very patient work. This is a stupendous task indeed. But for a Yogi of self-determination, who has the grace of the Lord and iron-will, it is nothing.
Meditation on the Immortal Self will act like a dynamite and blow up all thoughts and memories in the subconscious mind. If the thoughts trouble you much, do not suppress them by force. Be a silent witness as in a bioscope. They will subside gradually. Then try to root them out through regular silent meditation.
The practice must be constant. Then only one can attain Self-realisation, surely and quickly. He who practises meditation by fits and starts for a few minutes daily will not be able to achieve any tangible result in Yoga.
How can sense-control be tested in a lonely forest, where there are no temptations? The Yogic student of the cave (seclusion) should test himself after growing sufficiently by entering the plains. But he should not test himself every now and then like the man who removed the young plant daily after watering to see if it had struck deep root or not.
May you all attain success in Yoga and enter into Nirvikalpa Samadhi or the Blissful Union with the Lord by controlling the senses and the mind and practising regular and constant meditation.