Most of you have heard meditation, it’s a popular word for all of us today, but only a few of us truly know what meditation is.
“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.” – Swami Sivananda
Meditation has a one common goal – to stop the incessant activity of mind by transforming it. Meditation is the real antidote to our own personal sorrow, the anxiety, fear, hatred, and general confusions that beset the human condition. It gives us a deep rest, and the real meditation is deeper than the deepest sleep that you can ever have. When the mind becomes free from agitation, is calm and serene and at peace, meditation happens.
Common Myths about Meditation
For some people, meditation is mainly about establishing a focus or a concentration on a particular thing, or object, but for others, it is simply an imagination that provides us an inner peace or satisfaction. But these days it is commonly understood to mean some form of spiritual practice where one sits down with eyes closed and empties the mind to attain inner peace, relaxation or even an experience of God. Some people use the term as “my hobby is my meditation” or for jogging or art or music, hence creating confusion or misunderstanding. Some people think that the purpose of meditation is to stop the mind. They sit, and they try. Soon they get into a fight with their mind, a fight that they lose. Frustrated, they give up!
Before we take an insight into what Meditation is, let us understand what it is not.
Concentration is fixing attention on to a particular object for a long duration of time. It means staring at something incessantly for a long time. Meditation is not concentration, instead it is de-concentration.
2. Loss of Control
Involuntary movements or sounds are not at all related to meditation or spirituality. Instead they are symptoms of loss of awareness and control over some parts of ourself.
Meditation is neither about breathing nor exercises and postures. Yoga exercises and postures are for a healthy balance and wellbeing of your body and is no way related to meditation.
4. Mental Effort
To get rid of the mind blockages that prevent our thoughtful awareness, we should introspect but never use our mental effort. We cannot continuously enchant something in our mind to get rid of this awareness, we simply cannot.
What is Meditation?
The word meditation is derived from two Latin words: meditari (to think, to dwell upon, and to exercise the mind) and mederi (to heal). Its Sanskrit derivation ‘medha’ means wisdom.
Meditation is a process of transforming the mind. It is a technique to encourage and develop clarity of life, emotional positivity, and seeking a true nature of things around us. Meditation serves as the food for our soul. It nourishes the universal values of compassion, caring and sharing, responsibility, non-violence and peacefulness.
Meditation has been practiced since antiquity in numerous religious traditions and beliefs. Since the 19th century, it has spread from its Asian origins to Western cultures where it is commonly practiced both in private and business lives.
“Meditation is the way towards a stress-free life!”
1. It is ‘Universal’
Meditation is a universal process. It is not Eastern or Western, but is universal in its approach and application. The way it is practiced across various countries might be different in its form, but the ultimate goal of Meditation still remains the same everywhere.
2. It is ‘Awareness’
Meditation means Awareness and what you do with Awareness is Meditation. Watching your surroundings is meditation; listening to the birds is meditation. As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation.
3. It is ‘Observing your Thoughts’
Meditation means cessation of the thought processes which roll into our minds from day till the night. It describes a state of consciousness, when the mind is free of scattered thoughts and various patterns. It means watching your own mind, neither fighting with it nor controlling it. Just being there, observing the thought processes without any judgment.
4. It is ‘Being Calm’
Meditation is being calm in any situation, despite of what others do or not do. It is just about letting things be, even letting people be howsoever they are and whatsoever they do. Not bothering about your surroundings, just being unrelated with the world.
5. It is ‘Effortless’
An effective Meditation is when the empty spaces and voids begin to develop inside you, and you tend to move into those spaces as and when you want to without an effort. This is refreshing and rejuvenating thus making you more aware of who you are.
Now as we already know what exactly meditation is, it’s time to understand why it is needed.
By most of the researchers, meditation is seen as one of the effective forms of stress buster and reduction. Studies show that people practicing a short course of Meditation of about 6 months have ended up paying significantly fewer visits to physicians and doctors. This implies that the use of medical care was significantly less for meditators compared to the non-meditators.
If you look into the benefits that meditation brings into your life, it feels that it is all the more relevant, all the more needed. In ancient times, meditation was used for enlightenment, to find the Self. And meditation is a way to get rid of misery, to overcome problems. Meditation has been the way to improve one’s abilities. Leaving aside enlightenment, you see the social ills of today. The stress and tension call for one to meditate.
The more responsibility you have in life, more is the need for meditation. If you have nothing to do, you may not need meditation as much – because you have nothing to do. The busier you are, the less time you have, more work you have, more desires you have, ambitions you have – all the more you need to be meditative. Because meditation not only relieves you of stress and strain, it enhances your abilities to face challenges.
Meditation brings better health to us. It is an energizer for the mind. It is a lifeline for the body. It keeps your body in shape, helps your nervous system, helps your mind, your alertness, improves your perception and helps you to express yourself properly. What more do you want! Basically, you can say if you want to be happy you need to meditate. Happy and healthy! If you want to be happy and healthy, you got to be meditative!
Meditation helps to change your perception, perspective. Meditation helps you to alter the way you perceive things. It improves your perception and brings clarity in the mind. And it helps you in your relationships with people around, you know how you interact with people, what you see, what you say and how you act or react in different situations. So, in general, it helps in creating a violence-free society, disease-free body, confusion-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma- free memory and sorrow-free soul!
Important Things to Consider
Practicing Meditation is easy but at the same time it is difficult to not let your mind and thoughts wander. Especially for beginners, it becomes a lot difficult to overcome the problems of lack of appeal and it seeming to be daunting. People start with meditation but generally fail to practice it regularly. Thus we have kept the above challenges in mind and have summarized few important things which, if considered, can help you to regularly pursue this practice.
1. Start small with 3-5 minutes or less
For the beginners who are willing to practice meditation, it is recommended and important to start only with a 3-5 minute session. Even a 3 minute long meditation can seem to be like a darn long time when you first start. So, there is no wrong in starting with lesser duration than 3 minutes. Directly pushing yourself too hard with a 10 or 15 minute long meditation can be cumbersome as it would be difficult to retain the focus on your mind and thoughts for such a long duration.
2. Understand the concept and the power of Meditation
Everything is done with a defined purpose in mind. For most of the people, this is valid in case of Meditation too, specifically for the novice. Meditation can never be a hobby, definitely cannot be a hobby, and if something is not a hobby, it entails an aim, a goal, a target or a reason. Thus, it is important for a meditator to first understand why he chose meditation, the reason behind it and then evaluate how he can eradicate his problem with the power of meditation. It is highly important for a person to understand the purpose for meditation. Only if he understands the problem, he can find the solution.
3. Understand the principles of Meditation
Beginning meditators often think the goal of meditation is to get to the point that they can focus without becoming distracted. A more useful goal is becoming aware of when your mind has drifted sooner. You can’t restructure your thoughts if you haven’t first developed the ability to identify your thoughts. Another principle of Meditation is to redirect your attention back to your point of focus without criticizing yourself.
4. Do it as you like, choose your own way
Since walking helps people concentrate and reduce distractibility, a meditation that involves walking can be a great place to start. Some people even choose mp3’s to practice meditation. Apart from that, even the place where you are meditating matters. You can do it indoor or outdoor; in the midst of nature, or on your couch. It is totally up to you how you want to practice it.
5. Reduce All-or-Nothing Thinking
Realistically, there are only a small amount of people who will be willing to meditate on a regular basis. Another approach is to do formal daily practice of meditation for an initial period, and then start just incorporating meditation into your day in informal ways. Doing a sustained period of formal daily practice when you begin meditation will allow you to try different types of meditation, give you enough comfort and familiarity with it.
Undoubtedly meditation is good for you. It can help you feel calmer and happier. It’s end goal is to focus and quiet your mind—eventually reaching a higher level of awareness and inner calm. It may seem challenging at first, but by learning the basics of meditation, you can begin your journey on the path of enlightenment and bliss. With practice, you’ll be able to achieve a sense of tranquility and peace no matter what’s going on around you. It helps people to become more peaceful, more focused, less worried about discomfort, more appreciative and attentive to everything in their lives.