Meditation means the practice of thinking deeply in silence, especially for religious reasons or in order to make your mind calm. Meditation is the natural process of withdrawing attention from environmental, physical and mental processes and consciously directing it inward to a chosen focus. But not many people know how to practise meditation for personal benefit and spiritual growth.
It needs neither focus nor concentration to a number of points together. There are different schools of meditation, different methods and systems. There are systems which say: “Watch the movement of your big toe, watch it, watch it, watch it”. There are others which advocate sitting in a certain posture, breathing regularly or practicing awareness. All this is utterly mechanical.
Another method gives you a certain word and tells you will have some extraordinary transcendental experience. It is a form of self-hypnosis. By repeating ‘Amen’, ‘Om’ or some other religious word indefinitely, you will obviously have a certain experience because by repetition, the mind becomes quiet. It is a well-known phenomenon which has been practiced for thousands of years under mantra yoga.
Practically, meditation is not following any system; it is not constant, repetition and imitation. Meditation is not concentration. It is one of the favourite gambits of some teachers of meditation to insist on their pupils learning concentration – that is, fixing the mind on one thought and driving out all other thoughts, which any schoolboy can do because he is forced to. It means that all the time you are having a battle between the insistence that you must concentrate on the one hand and your mind on the other which wanders away to all sorts of other things; whereas you should be attentive to every movement of the mind wherever it wanders. When your mind wanders off, it means you are interested in something else.
Meditation demands an astonishingly alert mind; it is the understanding of the totality of life in which every form of fragmentation has ceased. Meditation is not control of thought, for when thought is controlled, it breeds conflict in the mind; but when you understand the structure and origination of thought, and then thought will not interfere. That very understanding of the structure of thinking is its own discipline, which is meditation. Cultivation of inner contentment prevents us from getting swept away by circumstances. Engaging in self-examination and self-discipline is important in order to clear away any of the psychological conflicts that might pose a problem. Study of ‘lower’ or secular knowledge helps us function effectively in the world. Many get educated so that they can live more effectively. But also important is the acquisition of higher knowledge or metaphysics to inquire about God, cosmic mind, manifestation of universe, our relationship with God: Why are we here, and for what purpose?
Then the formal practice of meditation begins. First, decide to practise meditation for at least 30 minutes a day. Sit upright in a comfortable chair or assume a cross-legged posture on the floor. Hold your head erect, with attention flowing into the area situated in the front region of the brain which is related to creativity, will power and discernment. Next, inhale and exhale deeply once or twice to elicit physical relaxation. Remain still for a few minutes until you feel calmly poised. If you have a devotional temperament, invoke the presence and blessings of God or your favorite deity or object of worship. If you have a guru, reverentially acknowledge him.
Make a conscious effort to be aware of your natural breathing rhythm. When inhalation occurs, mentally recite a chosen word or mantra such as God, peace, joy, or any other pleasant word that is agreeable to you. When you exhale, feel happy and peaceful. Feel the sound of the mantra spontaneously emerging into your mind and awareness. Continue this procedure without any anxiety about the results of practice. When a state of mental calmness is experienced, disregard your breathing, listening only to the mantra. Eventually, allow even the mantra to fade away and rest in a state of mental peace and clarity of awareness for a while, until you feel inclined to conclude the session.
For optimum results, meditate once or twice a day do this for at least 30 days before trying to evaluate the results. When you are proficient in the practice of meditation, you could extend the session by calmly contemplating the essence of your being – your true Self – and your relationship with the Infinite. Or you may just sit longer in that calm state until you feel fulfilled.
When engaged in daily activities and relationships, endeavor to maintain a state of mental calmness and Self-awareness. Cultivate cheerfulness and optimism. Maintain your emotional balance. Adhere to wholesome routines of activity and rest. Maintain a healthy lifestyle: choose a nutritious diet and exercise regularly.
Meditation is to be aware of every thought and of every feeling, never to say it is right or wrong, but just to watch it and move with it. In that watching you begin to understand the whole movement of thought and feeling. And out of this awareness comes silence. Silence put together by thought is stagnation, is dead, but the silence that comes when thought has understood its own beginning the nature of itself, understood how all thought is never free but always old – this silence is meditation.
Meditation is a state of mind which looks at everything with complete attention, totally, not just parts of it. And no one can teach you how to be attentive. If any system teaches you how to be attentive, then you are attentive to the system and that is not attention. Meditation is one of the greatest arts in life – perhaps the greatest arts in life – and one cannot possibly learn it from anybody. That is the beauty of it. It has no technique and therefore, no authority. When you learn about yourself, watch yourself, watch the way you walk, how you eat, what you say, the gossip, the hate, the jealousy – if you are aware of all that in yourself, without any choice, that is part of meditation. That will give you an opportunity to improve further if you find something wrong. So, meditation can take place when you are sitting in a bus, or walking in the woods full of light and shadows, or listening to the singing of birds, or looking at the face of your spouse or child. It does not wish to bind you within some schedule or posture to attain. It gives you liberty to explore yourself more and more but with some regularity.
The beneficial effects of regular meditation include stress reduction, strengthening of the immune system, more orderly thinking, improvement in powers of concentration, and a slowing of the aging process. Meditation practice is recommended by doctors as a harmless way for patient-clients to be more responsible for their own total well-being. The primary purpose of meditation practice, however, is to bring forth clear states of awareness that will make authentic spiritual growth easier to experience.
Let all of your thoughts, feelings and actions be wholesome and constructive. You will, then, be empowered to live enjoyably, effectively and successfully.
Be Happy - Meditation Has Simpler Forms.