Meditation is not for sainthood but for everyday life
Almost everyone today has heard about meditation. People are practicing meditation for different reasons. Some common reasons for which people meditate are – it is good for mental peace, it helps in spiritual growth, it is a way of worship, it improves concentration etc. But this is not all. Meditation, if understood well, can prove a way to improve the entire quality of life. We must know what meditation is, how it is to be done, what its benefits are and why it should be part of everyone’s life. Before understanding what meditation is, let us see how it can help us.
Benefits of Meditation
- It helps in development of mind and its functions like concentration, memory, intelligence, judgment, creativity etc.
- It improves self control over mind as well as minds control over body.
- It improves the state of consciousness
- It improves awareness and power of observation.
- It improves self understanding & understanding of environment and world.
- It helps in understanding the mystery of life & death and purpose of living.
- It helps in understanding the logic behind do’s and don’ts of life thereby improving the effectiveness of behavior.
- It helps in self growth and realizing best of self potential.
- It helps in spiritual growth and realization of self & truth.
- It relieves stress, gives calmness, acceptance, compassion and better relations.
- It improves health through better choice making and through mind body relationship.
- It even helps in treatment of physical & psychological diseases.
What is meditation ?
There is lot of confusion about what is meditation. Confusion is also there because of the fact that there are innumerable ways of meditating. For a beginner it is difficult to decide which method to adopt and this sometimes result in disappointment with the progress. Therefore, to progress well, it is important to understand what meditation is. Before understanding meditation, it is necessary to know what is mind.
Every human being is in a state of consciousness. This consciousness, which we refer to as ‘ I ’, is dynamic, functional and progressive. It has both material and non material component. The material component is referred to as – My Body along with its sensations and functions. The non material component of ‘I’ is referred to as Mind which is expressed as – I Think, I Feel, I Love, I Understand etc. Some of the functions of Mind are Perception, Awareness, Thinking, Feeling, Memory, Intelligence, Judgment, Creativity, Understanding, Will etc. Mind should not be confused with brain, the organ through which mind carry out its functions. In a broad sense Mind can be divided into three zones.
- Input – Perception & input of information picked up by senses like vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Past memory also serves as source of input.
- Assimilation – Assessment & assimilation of information by Thinking, Feeling & Understanding. This could be Fact, Incident or Abstract oriented with Intellectual or Emotional predominance. Information and its meaning are saved as Memory which is later used to understand further information. This entire process forms the basis of organization and reorganization of self.
- Output – Output is the resultant behavior based on input and assimilation and is effected through Judgment & Will
In order to function in good capacity, mind requires development. And this process of development of Mind is called Meditation. Without development, Mind works in a narrow range of awareness with less / faulty input, poor assimilation, distortion of reality and poor output which is unhealthy and negative behavior. Thus the person feels problem with self or the world around and which can range from mild day to day problem to severe mental sickness. Meditation helps to prevent this state and improves functioning of mind. Mind if developed has enormous potential which in most of us remain untapped. You can very well appreciate that with a developed mind how well you can have better awareness & understanding of world around, better relations, better performance & efficiency, better growth in life with happiness, and with such inclination, better spiritual growth. Spirituality is nothing else but better understanding of self & life and realization of truth.
Types of Meditation
Meditation can be done in a number of ways. Most of the methods can be put under multiple types. These can be broadly divided into three types depending on the aspect of mind it is working on. It can be based on :
- Input of Information like perception. For example focus on an image, listening to mantra, observing breath etc.
- Assimilation & Assessment of Information. For example thought watching, observing inner self.
- Output like behavior. For example activity meditation, chanting of mantra, yogic posture meditation etc.
Other ways of describing types of meditation can be :
- Intellect Predominant / Emotion Predominant. It can be based on intellectual function of mind or on feelings / emotions.
- Active / Passive Meditation. It can be done by active effort as in fantasy visualization or it can be done in passive manner like done in observation of breathing.
- Dualism / Oneness Meditation. It can be done in a manner in which distinctiveness of everything is maintained or it can be done in a manner in which oneness of everything is seen.
- Focus / Wholeness Meditation. It can be done by focusing like meditating on an image / object / thought or it can be done towards universality as done in thoughtlessness.
- Past / Present / Future – It can be done by meditating on past, present or future.
- Concrete / Abstract – It can be done by meditating concrete objects / facts of life or by meditating on abstract thoughts or ideas.
- Structure / Non Structured. It can be structured in time, place, way etc or it can be non structured.
- Mind training / Awareness / Spiritual Meditation. Mind training meditation is done to train specific mind faculties like concentration, creativity, learning etc. Awareness meditation is done to become more aware about self, world around, life process etc. Spiritual meditation is done for spiritual growth and realization of self & truth.
How to Meditate
- Chose your way. How to meditate depend on many factors like how it relates to your personality, your lifestyle, your need to meditate, the aspect of mind you wish to develop etc. No method is ‘better’. It all depends on your choice and suitability. But do not change your method too often.
- Start now. Do not wait for time when you will be ‘ready’ for it. Meditation is an ongoing journey. Begin it now and keep progressing.
- Have patience. Do not expect great results immediately. With patience and regular practice you can progress well.
- Enjoy the journey instead of meditating in a monotonous manner.
- Be fully involved in meditation; do not meditate in a mechanical manner.
- Initially structured method may help more, select appropriate time and place, be free from distraction. It is better done on empty stomach but one should not be too hungry to get distracted. Wear comfortable clothing.
- Basic posture is sitting comfortably with straight but relaxed back, hands on lap and eyes gently closed. Take regular, deep breaths and relax your body. Select the technique and practice regularly.
Some Popular Techniques
- Meditation on observing the breathing. Both active and passive.
- Meditation on body relaxation.
- Vision Meditation. Focus on some object / picture.
- Meditation on hearing. Focus on sound, mantra etc.
- Thought Meditation. Thought watching, thought wandering, thoughtlessness etc.
- Fantasy meditation. Meditating on imaginary objects, incidents, light etc.
- Self awareness meditation. Meditating on self (physical / emotional self), past and present.
- Real life meditation. Meditating in day to day activity with present mindedness.
- Activity meditation. Meditating with dance, painting, playing music etc.
- Kundalini meditation. A powerful technique which combines various other techniques to meditate on energy centres called chakras resulting in activation of kundalini (yogic) energy.
- Other popular techniques are Preksha meditation, Vipassana meditation, Transcedental meditation, Mindfulness meditation, Zen meditation, Buddhist meditation, Yogic meditation, Tantra meditation etc,
There is lot of commercialization of meditation these days. But you need not spend big money to meditate. The real power of meditation is always there within you. Every human being is given unlimited capacity of mind. Only thing you need to do is to start the journey, it does not matter which path you take. Do not worry about result. Enjoy the journey. Every step, every second spent on meditation will unleash the inner energy. The world of success, freedom, joy, love and happiness is waiting for you.
Get going !!