Meditation is a very important technique used in Yoga. It is very important to understand what meditation really means before attempting it in one way or the other. Like yoga, this too is a very misinterpreted concept and perhaps, if definition of meditation is asked there would come out as many numbers of answers as there are people. This is because it is a practice whereby the practitioner is seen just sitting quietly in one place and no physical movements can be deciphered; so all his experiences are left to be best explained by him only. No other person can actually fathom them in any way. Since different people experience different things while meditating. This also makes relating the experience to others an arduous task.
The best definition for understanding of the people uninitiated in the art and science of meditation is that it is a process whereby the thoughts are trained to be directed towards the present. It may seem like a very simple sentence but the task is certainly not simplistic in any way. The mind is flooded by numerous thoughts all at the same time. Many old adages say that the mind moves faster than the speed of light. This is very true. To understand this, just try to focus the mind on the any simplistic task that you may be presently engaged in. It may be anything, even a simple routine act of watching television or in this case the act of reading this article. While you are reading the thoughts would be constantly wandering. This goes unnoticed almost always.
Now try and consciously keep the mind on the words that you are reading now. Do not let the mind think of anything else at all. Just focus on the words that you are reading now. Do not even let the mind picture the meaning of these words. Just continue doing this simple act for a few minutes. And try to also check yourself when your mind wanders. It may be getting distracted by the simple word “wanders”. It may be picturing the meaning of the word. A picture may have come into your thought focus instead of the word “wanders” or even the scenes of a trip you may have taken some time back with your family. Just a simple word may actually be able to let your thoughts wander and without even you noticing the whole thing. This is what it means when we say that the mind is constantly flooded with many thoughts all at the same time. This goes unnoticed and in many cases thinking too many things at the same time is such a habit that it cannot be broken easily.
But mediation is a process by which the mind can be rested and relaxed and controlled by focusing on one thought only at a time. This calms the mind considerably and helps a person reach out within himself to understand the true inner nature. Most of the time when we need relaxation and need to take a break from our constant activity at work, we tend to take some rest or listen to music, or watch a film, or read a book, or indulge in any other such process of relaxation. While doing this the body may be sitting in one place and actually resting but think about the mind for a moment. Is it still not being indulged in thinking many things at the same time? Are we really relaxing our tired minds or are we simply distracting it from work related thoughts and indulging it in some other kind of thoughts. More often than not the latter is true. Without even our realizing it the mind gets distracted and starts to think in a different direction. But the process of thinking is never stopping. It just goes on and on and on.
Meditation is the process whereby the thoughts are stilled and focussed on one thing only. That thing is the present. This is done for a reason. The present time is the time that is most still if we come to think of it. Let us take another exercise to understand this more deeply. Suppose instead of the present, we focus on any incident that happened in the past. Let us picture the same trip your thoughts were wandering to in the earlier part of this article. Try to focus on that say, for two minutes. What was the outcome after those two minutes? Were you able to focus on one single thought? Was it really possible to focus on one particular incident that happened at that time? Or did you find that your thoughts were constantly wandering, picturing the trip that you perhaps took for a whole week, reliving it in just two minutes. You will notice that the same thing happens if you try to focus your thoughts on anything that you want happening in future. Suppose you want to buy a new car in the near future. You have chosen the model and worked out every single detail. Suppose you try to focus your attention to this thought only. Is it really possible to focus the attention just on the steering wheel of the stationary car? Or did you constantly let your thoughts wander to the scenic beauty around and the envious glances you were getting while you were behind the wheel?
This is the reason why during meditation process the thoughts are focussed on the present. It is really quite impossible to focus the thoughts on past or future. The present is the only thing that can be made totally still. It is the present moment that one can do something about. This present can also be utilized to hold the thoughts. This too is certainly not an easy task, but with a little practice it can be achieved. This is what is really done during the process of meditation. In very simple terms this is the true definition of meditation.
Meditation – Basic Principles:
There are certain principles to be kept in mind constantly at the time of meditation. Initially meditation may be difficult for everyone. But with a little practice the process becomes easier. It is necessary to follow a certain constant pattern and not make many changes in it while meditating.
This can be better understood by taking a simple example. Suppose we want an advertisement to have some results and project it on the national network at a certain time of the day everyday for the consumers to see. And suppose every time the projection happen the network makes some changes in the advertisement, either by adding something, causing an interruption or deleting something. Will the advertisement still have the same effect on the audience? No certainly not. It will definitely not have as much impact as required. It will also give rise to a lot of disappointment. And it will give rise to various questions regarding the investment one has made on the advertisement. Same principle works while meditating also. One has to keep in mind the regularity aspect. This means that the exercise has to done at a certain time of the day everyday. It is important to follow the same timing as a routine because it helps to calm down the mind easily. Also one has to follow a regular pattern constantly even if it does not seem to give results instantly.
It is necessary that one keeps a certain place for meditation in the house and not change the place frequently. This is very important as the mind starts viewing and relating with the familiarity of the place and it becomes easier for the thoughts to concentrate. With constant changes in the perception the mind has difficulty in relaxing as every day it has to cope up with new surroundings. It is the basic nature of the mind to take in all that is surrounding it. Even with the eyes closed one can easily visualize all the familiar surroundings. So if the surroundings are kept the same the mind gets bored and does not explore them anymore. This eases the situation of diverting the thoughts inwards.
It is also important to choose a time of the day when the mind is free from all concerns. It should certainly not be in the middle of the day when the mind is involved in numerous other tasks. The seasoned practitioners suggest that the dawn or the dusk times are the best for the practice of meditation. This is because there is least amount of disturbance during those times of the day. In yoga the time of dawn is called Brahma Muhurat or the auspicious time and is considered to be the best time of the day for any practice related with meditation.
Care should be taken to not cross the magnetic lines of forces of the earth with an adverse sitting position. It is always advisable to sit facing the north or the east direction to avoid this situation. Care should also be taken to keep the back erect the head, neck and spine all in one straight line. These are many postures that can be used while sitting. These are covered in detail in the section of Postures for Meditation.
It is necessary to focus the mind on the present. This is best done by focusing the mind on the breathing pattern. Initially a few deep breaths are taken for a period of five minutes and then the breathing pattern is slowed down to a more relaxed pace. The breathing pattern has to follow certain regularity so that the mind becomes used to it.
Just focusing on breathing also does not initially calm the mind. In such a situation the mind should be allowed to wander for sometime rather than trying unnecessarily hard to tame the thoughts. This leaves the thoughts more liberated at first but soon they tend to fall in a pattern. Some deep breathing exercises done at the beginning also soothe the body. It is also easier for the thoughts to concentrate with the relaxed breathing. The ultimate idea is to remove all sorts of tensions from the body and concentrating on the inflow and outflow of the breath. This becomes easier to achieve with the relaxation and no stress situation that the body comes in after a few deep breaths.
For the beginners the next step is to try and concentrate the thoughts on some focal point of the body. Yoga advises these focal points to be Anja or Anahata Chakra for the beginners. Later with more practice the thoughts can be taken to other chakras of the body also. It is necessary to keep the thoughts focussed on the chosen spots throughout the process of meditation. The actual experience of meditation starts when the thoughts focused on these spots become clear and pure. It is important to not be disturbed and keep the thoughts focussed at this point in time. Concentrating deeply on these results into further purity of thoughts and finally a stage is reached which is called Samadhi or the attainment of enlightenment.
Meditation- How it Works:
Meditation is a process of controlling the mind. It is a process by which the thoughts are concentrated to focus in one direction. Many people who vouch for the benefits of meditation have experienced upgradation in some way or the other in their lives. There have been many researches to explore the beneficial effects of meditation by various scientists in the recent times. Some conclusive factors that the process of meditation actually and positively works have been deduced. Some people who practice mediation say that the process has given them nothing less than miraculous benefits.
Scientists have always found that the treatment of any kind of ailment is always most imperatively dependent upon the state of the mind of an individual. The positive energy generated into the human system by thinking positive thoughts can be the most powerful driving force behind any healing process. It has been seen through many comparative studies that the human mind responds very well to all the treatments when the patient thinks that they are beneficial to him. It has been very commonly seen in the case of illiterate patients in rural India that they insist that the doctor gives them an injection, because they are convinced in their mind’s eye that the injection would make them better faster. Sometimes the doctors admit to injecting the patient with distilled water or glucose solution. And without any medication the patient responds to the so- called treatment and actually gets better. This has been seen in patients who are chronic hypochondriacs also. They feel well only if they are convinced that the treatment given to them is beneficial to them. The doctors also know that the patient is not really suffering from any disease as such. He also knows that despite not suffering from any disease the patient may be able to manifest all the symptoms of the disease. This is because the mind is such a powerful organ that it can affect all the systems of the body exactly in the way one wishes to. This may sound tricky but it is also so completely true.
This is the fundamental of psychosomatic disorders. Here the symptoms are not faked but are completely true and the only apparent reason for such a strange thing to happen is that the mind is completely convinced about the condition. Many old adages say many things in this context. The implication of all of them is that if a person thinks that he can or cannot do a certain thing, in both situations he is actually right. This is the basis of all corporate trainings, all self help courses, all counseling and all practices of psychosomatic therapy.
This is the basis of meditation also. In the process of meditation the mind develops a lot of positive energy through many changes in the basic brain wave patterns. The study of brain waves during the process of meditation has clearly shown that there is considerable development of alpha type of waves in the brain during the process of meditation. These brain waves have long standing beneficial effects on the entire human body. Several electro magnetic marker tests have shown that the brain shows considerable decrease in many physiological and biochemical processes as a result of the process of meditation. There is considerable decrease in the heart rate, respiratory rhythm and metabolic rates while meditating. The mind is also deeply relaxed and experiences a unique state of calmness. This too has deep effect on the entire system and the whole system feels refreshed and thoroughly rejuvenated.
The oxygen consumption of the body is seen to be reduced by more than twenty percent in many cases while the person is in a state of deep meditation. This is very beneficial for the control of diseases like high blood pressure. The respiratory system gets deeply relaxed and becomes considerably stabilized after the session of meditation. This has long term impact on increasing the lung capacity and has shown immense benefits in curing incurable diseases like asthma. The nervous system gets energised by meditation and many disorders related with the brain, spinal chord and rest of the nervous system have shown many favorable changes.
There is also an increase in awareness about self and association of self as an extension of the divine. This has been seen to have enormous impact upon the creativity of a person. The people in creative professions who meditate have always been known to say that the meditation sessions help them in achieving the depth of their chosen field of work. This is because the state of inner awareness of the mind increases manifold while meditating. It is a process by which a person experiences his own depths and learns to explore them.
Meditation – Types:
It is very difficult to assign a certain technique of meditation to any practitioner. Different people use different techniques that they find are useful to them in some way or the other. In fact the goal is very simple and that is to concentrate the thought process in one direction and focus all the energy into the present thought. How this is achieved by different people is something that cannot be easily put into a capsulated form. However there have been identified certain broad methodologies based on the final outcome that is desired from any meditative practice. This seems to be a relevant method to analyse the results instead of the process itself so that certain broad guidelines can be given to the beginners and they can decide which methodology to adopt as per the requirement of the practitioner. The following categories of methods of meditations have been identified thus
Concentration Techniques: This is a more pure form of meditation. In this technique the thoughts are controlled and made to concentrate in one place or object. The mind is consciously emptied of all irrelevant thoughts and the entire thought process is directed towards one focus. This is perhaps most difficult to do for most people. But with practice this is achievable. It is also required for completely making the mind still. This is really the process of creating a vacuum in thoughts and is very relaxing as the pattern of the brain waves get very coherent during this process and better results in physical and mental relaxation are achieved.
Goal Oriented Meditation: It is seen that most of the people who want to attempt practicing meditation do so with a certain reason. This is the easiest and most definite form of meditation where the thought process is channelized towards the attainment of a desired quality that is both positive and interesting to the practitioner. These desires can be different for different people. Some may want better self esteem. Some may want improvement in their life in some way or the other. Some may want to get rid of some bad habits. Some way want to be cured of some diseases. Some may simply want to forgive someone or forget some bad experiences. The list of desires is as endless as the number of humans on this planet.
This is a creative method of meditation where people can achieve all that they want to achieve. The possibilities are unlimited and as much as a person can think and desire he can achieve. This comes very close to something that is known as creative visualization and self hypnotics and self imagery in psychiatry. It has been in use in many ways. It is about emotionalizing the thought of desired result. In yoga this is a much undiluted form of exercise and it is used with the method of complete silencing of all other thought processes.
Insight Meditation: This is a methodology that is based on simple acceptance and not conflict. Through this process every attempt is made whereby the practitioner tries to accept his thoughts as they are. There is no conscious effort to negate any thoughts no matter what they are. The thoughts are allowed to come as they are. There is no effort to stop them. The final process involves analysis of the thoughts so that there is realization of the self and its contents. The person comes close to realizing what he really is and may be capable of. This is the reason why this methodology gives better results to people who have no prior formal education or inclination in the field of meditation. The Vippassana technique falls under this category. It has been successfully utilized in the Indian prison situations with great benefits.
This methodology emphasizes the fact that there is no judgement activity involved so the practitioner comes to believe that whatever be the outcome of the exercise he will not be asked to judge himself, neither will this be done by anyone else. This gives a unique insight to the person about his own actions. Yoga believes that every human being is a part of the divine. Most other religions also believe in this principle. Most people know when they have done something wrong. This is the voice of the divine that speaks to us in the form of human consciousness. It may have been killed for various reasons, but with practice it can be energized again. When the consciousness about the wrongs done develops the insight further teaches how to follow the path of the right.
Contemplation and Self-Research Method: This can also be called an extension to the insight meditation because the problems that appear in the process of insight meditation are dealt with while using this method. Without any external counseling it is given to the people to decide, and if they find it necessary, to make amends. Thinking about the wrong habits or actions initiates a process of self improvement. Therefore this methodology has also been used successfully in Indian prison situations to guide and counsel the prisoners with grave criminal records.
Meditation has great benefits for the human system as a whole. Many people vouch for the fact that meditation has caused marked improvement in their health situations both physical and mental. This has been proven true scientifically also. Meditation is a process by which there is a marked change in the pattern of the brain waves. These have long term healing effects. Scientists have started realizing the importance of meditation in various healing procedures. Many doctors have started to recommend the process of meditation in the cases of people suffering with chronic disorders and also the cases of terminally ill patients. The practitioners vouch for the healing effects of meditation all the time.
The benefits offered by the process of meditation can be broadly classified under three categories:
Physiological Benefits: Meditation gives complete rest to the entire system, especially to the brain that keeps functioning even during the time we sleep. It invigorates and relaxes the brain so that it can start again afresh. In meditation the metabolism of the body is considerably lowered so the heart does not have to pump the blood with its regular speed. This lowered heart rate is very important for the heart because heart is a vital organ of the body, which also keeps functioning always. The blood pressure is also considerably reduced. So the people suffering with high blood pressure and anxiety related disorders benefit immensely with meditation. There is a reduction in the cholesterol levels of the body, thus reducing the chances of cardio-vascular diseases. These days there is an increase in the free radicals in our environment. These are basically unstable oxygen molecules that attack various organs in the body to stabilize themselves and in the process cause organ damage. The damaging effect of smoking one cigarette can be understood by the fact that it releases millions of free radicals in the system. Meditation is a process that can considerably reduce the tissue damage due to free radicals.
Stress related disorders are reduced with the practice of meditation. Stress releases lactate and cortisol in the blood stream. They have damaging effect on various organs. Meditation helps reduce these chemicals in the blood stream. Meditation has been found to be extremely useful for the patients suffering with respiratory disorders because the process of breathing gets stabilized and relaxed with meditation. Generally people suffering from diseases considered to be incurable, for instance asthma benefit a lot with the practice of meditation.
Psychological benefits of meditation:
Meditation has many psychological benefits to offer. In fact the healing process that is often talked about with meditation refers to the psychological benefits more than the physical ones. Meditation process immediately gives a better and altered self image to the practitioner. This in itself causes a boost in ego and hence the success levels of the practitioner are also improved. This is the reason why it is difficult for the practitioner to explain it to others. This is mainly caused by the improved brain wave pattern. It reduces the levels of depression and anxiety related disorders. It brings about a marked positive change in the image of the practitioner.
The enhanced self image also results in new vitality and vigour. This helps in achieving things that were earlier considered impossible or unachievable by the practitioner. This brings about rejuvenation of the entire personality as the person progresses on the path of self actualization. The above processes bring about increased happiness and better emotional stability.
Meditation is also a process that is known to enhance the creativity of a person. Many artists and creative people in other fields constantly harp on the fact that they get better inspiration in a trance like state of mind they attain during the process of meditation. This may also be attributed to increased brain wave coherence.
Spiritual Benefits of Meditation: Meditation is a process by which a person experiences inward directed thoughts. It is a process that is like self interrogation and getting into the deeper realization of the self. According to the ancient practices of yoga this is just one step less than the final communication with God. Although there may not be any scientific researches to prove the fact, it is inevitably seen by the practitioners that they become more spirituality oriented. It becomes visible in their daily acts also and in all the simple matters in their life. This may be because with the process of meditation the person gets an insight into the real meaning of his existence and somehow after this interview it somehow becomes irrelevant to indulge in petty matters that really have no significance. Thus, it is invariably seen that people become better persons after the practice of meditation for a long time in their life. Many patients suffering from terminal situations also benefit a lot as they seem to be in a state where they are no longer fearful of the inevitable. They come in a state of mind where they are in a way, ready to embrace the unknown with open arms and an open mind. This makes the end easier and more positive for them and others as well.
According to the ancient texts there are just two different types of meditation. These two forms of meditation that exist can best be described as meditation with the seed and meditation without the seed. There are various forms that exist within each category. The first methodology, which is the meditation with seed, is significant of the processes of Dhyana, Samapatti, Samprajnyata Samadhi or Sabija Samadhi. The seedless form of meditation is significant of just one process known as Nirbija Samadhi.
The word bija is derived from Sanskrit which means seed. These are various stages of meditation and they can also be called as different practices of meditation according to the ancient texts.
Various great thinkers of modern times are of the opinion that many new forms of practices of meditation have been invented recently in order to enable the practitioner to cope up with the contradictions and conflicts arising in the lives of the modern era. The root foundations of all these meditative practices preached blatantly in the name of ancient yogic practices has been the escalated trends of social achievements and combative tendencies of the modern life. The intense desires of acquiring all that one wishes to, coupled with a powerful yearning to feel arrived in life have given birth to various newer versions of meditative practices. They have in some way or the other been derived from the ancient practices only. This also has an added influence of the latest social trend which can be very simply put across as the excessive display of flashily termed ‘attitude’, which is nothing else but arrogance personified and magnified in quantum. This attitude influences the person’s behaviour in all respects especially his behaviour in social situations. This influences him to excessively indulge in boastful behaviour and his attempts at so called meditative practices also have no other benefit than to become an able subject of societal attention. But this whole practice negates the entirety of the concept, rather than adding any value to it. It is akin to resisting the very act one wants to master. It is completely antagonistic. And it perhaps takes a person down the ladder of spirituality instead of taking any steps further up.
The ancient texts say that any deliberate effort put into the act of meditation is the denunciation of meditation. This can be further used to explain the two stages or processes of meditation, which are meditation with and without seed. Meditation with the seed is a method which is like cultivating a discipline in the life that is directed towards the goal of attainment of freedom from the cycle of life and birth. Meditation without the seed is not a means to an end but an end in itself. In the process of this kind of meditation there is nothing sought or attained with any deliberate effort. There is nothing to achieve or effort to be put into it. This is the most difficult form of meditation to be exercised as it cannot be explained to anyone. This is attained at a time when all the effort to achieve seizes to exist. This comes automatically and at any point in time when every other desire becomes non existent. There is no longer left a desire to evolve, improve or graduate to any other level of existence. This is a purest form of existence which has no beginning and no end. There is no set path for its attainment. It comes uninvited but perhaps not unexpected. This is the most occult of all that is known to be occult. Yet it is not dark. It is indeed deep and gives a sense of fulfilment unsurpassed by any other sensation ever experienced in life.
The meaning of the word seed is basically related with the seed of ignorance that manifests itself in many negative emotions like jealousy, hatred and anger and in turn leads to a lot of misery. For the seedless meditation to come up and present itself it is necessary for the seed of ignorance to be destroyed completely. This gives rise to another belief that the seedless meditation cannot be led to by any other form of meditation with seed. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali has references that state in essence the basic fundamental that seedless meditation cannot happen unless and until an individual breaks the bondages that bind him to all that has happened in the past. He has to crush all the seeds and then the seedless state just happens to him.
This however does not mean that one form or stage of meditation will automatically lead to another. In fact it is believed that practicing the meditation with seed is just one form of exercise to control and calm the mind and it does not lead to meditation without seed. Even the highest and most dedicated form of Sabija Samadhi cannot really lead to Nirbija Samadhi . It is a little difficult to grasp but the past experiences of even the highest form of Sabija Samadhi attained through self wisdom or Gyanaprasada have to be destroyed completely before Nirbija Samadhi can happen. It is because it is believed that even the experiences of attainment of highest forms of meditation are Vighnas or obstructions in the path of total enlightenment.
Meditation- Recommended Postures
Meditation is the practice of controlling the thoughts in order to make the thought process directed inwards so that the self realization happens and a person becomes guided towards the supreme. It is an excellent form of imparting deep and long lasting relaxation to the entire body and the mind. This is the reason why meditation has immense curative value for the entire system and people suffering with stress related disorders have derived tremendous benefits from the process of meditation.
There are many misconceptions regarding the process of meditation prevailing in the modern day society. These have been dealt with under many different topics. One of the misconceptions is regarding the correct postures that may be utilized during the process of meditation. In the ancient times the practices of meditation had different connotations than what it entails today. The modern practitioner may not necessarily be looking for attainment of Samadhior the final merger into the divine. He may simply be looking for some respite from his stress levels. Or he may be looking for some relief from the ailments he may be suffering from. In the ancient times the concept of Tapas existed which has perhaps very little or no relevance whatsoever in the modern day society. So the hard practices of the ancient times may not be very significant these days.
There are various postures recommended for the practice of meditation. The most important thing that should be kept in mind is there are no set guidelines for the practice of meditation. In the modern scenario all the ancient practices are being re-interpreted to suit the needs of the modern practitioner. This does not diminish the beneficial aspects of the basic science of meditation. Meditation remains to be utilized as an advantageous and favourable practice for everyone.
The basic postures that are regularly recommended for meditation these days are:
The Lotus Posture or Padmasana
Padmasana is often used as the most recommended posture. This is mainly because in their posture the body is most upright and firmly rooted to the ground. In this posture the person sits in a very symmetrical way. He is like a rock or a mountain rooted to the ground so the energy flow throughout the system is in perfect order. The radiation emanating from the body in this posture is that of assertiveness and positive attitude. This is also the most traditional posture used for meditation.
But in the modern context the body of the people is no longer as flexible as it used to be in the olden days. Sometimes it becomes difficult for the practitioner to sit with the legs crossed for longer durations of time. It is also not recommended for the people who have problems of circulatory system as in this asana the flow of blood to the lower limbs is slowed for a long time. Some people may feel pain in the lower limbs and lower back in if they sit in this position for longer durations of time. People with nervous disorders are not suited to do meditation in this posture. The undue duress caused because of any physical discomfort can unnecessarily obstruct the process of meditation.
Half Lotus Posture
This is the position where complete Padmasana is not attained. Only one leg is folded and kept on the thigh while the other remains on the ground. The knee is also advised to be kept touching on the ground. This posture is more relaxed than the complete Padmasana and the people for whom sitting in Padmasana is difficult this can be an easier option. This is much more relaxing to the people who suffer from the disorders of the circulatory system and nervous system.
The Burmese Posture
In this position one leg is folded and touched with the body while the other is kept stretched on the ground in front. This is a more relaxed posture and in this the knees may or may not be touching the ground depending upon the convenience of the practitioner. But if the knees can be trained to be kept on the ground the body becomes more stabilized in this posture. In this posture it is advisable to change the position of the legs after sometime so that the body does not become excessively tired.
The Tailor’s Posture
In this both the knees are folded and kept near the anus one ahead of the other. This is the extension of the Burmese posture where only one knee is folded and the other leg is kept stretched. This is a posture which is considered to be very good for meditation and a lot of people use it.
Sitting on a Chair
This is a posture recommended for people who cannot sit on the ground. It is advised to sit on the chair with the legs placed on the ground. The feet should not touch the bare ground to maintain proper energy flow in the body. Care should be taken to keep the back and head straight. The chin and navel should also be kept in a straight line. Many people find this posture very comfortable for sitting for long duration meditation sessions.
It is very important to keep the comfort level of the body in mind no matter which position is chosen for meditation because a person has to sit for long durations of time in this position. Also the process of meditation includes deep concentration and the so the mind should not be cluttered with the thoughts of uneasiness.
Meditation- The Process
We have already established the basic meaning of meditation. For all practical purposes it means to fix the thought process on the present. It is also popularly known as the process of being in the now. It is to be done as a conscientious effort. The process can be gradually learnt and eventually mastered in a certain span of time with regular practice. But before beginning one must also have a clear idea as to what is expected out of the practice. For most people this ultimate purpose is to have some sort of relief in the daily thought process and to rest, relax and rejuvenate the mind by the practice of meditation.
Meditation can also be called as a process that helps one concentrate more in the present. This is very advantageous as most of us are constantly handling too many things all at the same time. This is currently the latest trend in the busy corporate world. It is very fashionably called multi-tasking. It is something without which most people cannot survive their busy schedules. Although on one hand this factor has increased the human capacity to maximise the returns in all fields, on the other hand it has also taken away the core capacity to relax and rest, or like the younger generation calls in their trendy language, to chill. Communication has widened avenues with the technological advancement. In almost all businesses keeping up the pace of communication is extremely important. The world is presently moving on the concept that revolves around the fact as to how fast a certain communication can reach from point A top point B. This is powerful, fierce in own way and also very important for survival in the present day cut-throat competitive world.But this has taken away or rather subdued the innate human capacity to be in the moment and enjoy it with full intensity. We are becoming a race that either keeps living in the past or the future. The present is simply being used to create better future so that when the future becomes the past, it can be revelled upon as a fantastic memory. This has also established an unrelenting path of constant worry about the future, whereas towards the end of life it is often realized that the life that was lived was never enjoyed. The dreams were realized but not cherished, the past has memories of achievement but the memories of togetherness and emotional attachments are lacking. This is the factor that creates despair and problems many times. Most of the conflict seen during these days in the life of various people all around the globe can be traced in one way or the other to inter-personal relationships. Is it really so that humans do not want successful inter-personal relationships? Because this is the very fabric upon which our success as a race was based and the quantum of our success was determined.
The human beings could not have survived the harsh realities of life without the factor of bonding and togetherness. We were not blessed with extra physical strength. We did not have any specialized offence or defence mechanisms. In fact humans as creatures are perhaps the most vulnerable compared to the rest of the modern day animals. Our ability lay in our brains, which we could use to overcome all of our deficiencies. And our ability to organize and lead groups played a very important role in our success as survivors and also as a ruling race. For us the inter-personal relationships were important to survive the competition posed by other human groups as well as other animals.
In the modern day we are still surviving the competitions, perhaps even beating them fair and square but we are compromising on our inter-personal relationships, hence the conflict. This is mainly because the humans are constantly living in either the past or the future and not noticing the present. Most of the relationships are being sacrificed because of this strange situation. The process of meditation teaches us to live in the present, to live in the now. Once habituated, meditation makes us more aware of the surroundings so that we become more observant and sensitized of the things that are happening around us all the time.
The basic process of meditation involves three stages:
To concentrate on an object or motion in the present: The most commonly used process here is to concentrate on the breathing. It is a constant process and it is generally used for visualizing essentially the entire system with the flow of air in the system by means of vital prana. Generally focusing on the breathing alone makes us come in the present and remain there.
Bringing the thoughts back to the present: We find after some time of intense focus, the mind starts to wander again, this happens to everyone who starts to meditate. Many people get disheartened by this too soon. They start reprimanding themselves without realizing that this is a common thing and is mandatory to happen. So there is no point in discomforting oneself for something that is bound to happen. It is best to start the focus all over again. Concentrating on breathing is a good exercise as this is a process that happens without our voluntary realization and it is easy to bring back the attention to it when the thoughts wander.
Ignorance really is bliss: It is best to remain a little ignorant about the process of meditation and not to fill up the mind too much as to what is going to happen. This keeps the mind from getting unnecessarily distracted. Also it is important to ignore all the distractions that occur in the process of meditation. This is necessary because if the thoughts wander and the person goes looking for them in order to tame them, he is bound to get lost in a maze of further thoughts. So any distractions are best left ignored.
This is essence establishes the process of meditation. Followed to the core it is bound to let the person attain many extra ordinary experiences. These experiences are preordained and predestined. Any effort to control or modulate them will lead to distractions and disappointments.