What everyone must know about meditation and adopt this early.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is defined as a Progressive quietening of the mind till it reaches the source of mind which in spiritual tradition is called soul or spirit.
Meditation is known as a long duration of intense concentration. The meditator with daily practice can sit more than an hour without getting distracted by the external world.
Meditation can be compared to an oil which is poured from one vessel to another, one can observe that the flow is constant and uninterrupted. When the flow of concentration is uninterrupted, the state arises is dhyana( Dhyana in Sanskrit is meditation)
The word meditation is defined with different meanings like contemplation, concentration, devotion, and chanting.
Meditation is considered to be a healing process emotionally, mentally and also physically
Meditation is also referred as:
1. The training of consciousness and the exercise for awareness.
2. Meditation is a process of rediscovering, relishing, and using the positive qualities already dormant in us.
3. It is a method of self-realization.
4. A systematic practice of mastering ones own mind.
Why should we meditate?
One of the major activities we do on a daily basis is thinking. We keep constantly thinking and study indicates that we get around 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day which is 2500 to 3500 thoughts per hour.
The thoughts may be :
Positive: The positive thoughts are about planning your career or something which is a requisite and yes we must do it.
Negative thoughts: The thoughts such as fear, anxiety, jealousy, and sadness which could put our energy levels down.
Random thoughts: Random thoughts are the one which could be like daydreaming which has no productive purpose.
Among the thoughts above most of the thoughts today dominating an individual is either negative thoughts or random thoughts. Such thoughts which we are exposed always affect our emotions and mold our character.
It is imperative that we keep control of negative and random thoughts and gain mastery over the mind
Meditation is a means to control the mind or gain mastery over the mind.
Benefits of Meditation.
Meditation increases the size of certain parts of the brain which are related to happiness, focus, memory formation, learning ability, and ability to empathize. Research has been carried out and have concluded that long term meditators can process the information faster than nonmeditators.
Meditation is helpful for students to excel in their studies and also for people working at management level as they are often needed to strategize and execute the actions to meet the expected level of performance
Manage Stress: When we are stressed we encounter various problems like sleeplessness, troubled relationship, we may face the biological effects such as high blood pressure, heart rate speeds up, the immune system gets compromised.
The practice of meditation is known to reduce various mental issues like anxiety, pain, depression, neurosis which are the consequence of a high level of stress. The positive effect of meditation is controlled emotions, improved immune function and ability to focus.
Meditation helps in injury recovery: Meditation is highly recommended for people who are active in sports as they are known to get injured due to high-intensity training for long hours. Practicing meditation speeds up the recovery process.
How to start the meditation when you are a beginner.
“You can stop wind from blowing but cannot stop the mind from thinking”.
Meditation is easy and also difficult. Meditation is easy when you follow a systematic approach and take one step at a time before directly attempting to contemplate.
Patanjali clearly enumerated this in his work Yogasutra as how one can gain mastery over the mind by practicing ashtanga yoga.
The ashtanga yoga or 8 limbs of yoga teach us the systematic and efficient way of reaching to a stage where you can meditate easily.
Patanjali first explained has how one must live ethically in society by practicing Nonviolence, speaking the truth, nonstealing, non-hoarding of wealth.
In the second step, he described the methods of self-improvement by cultivation habits such as internal and external cleansing, being content, put burning effort to achieve the desired result, self-study to gain the right knowledge and trust in the lord, and be non attached to the results of your action.
The practice of asana and pranayama helps an individual to stay fit and healthy and free oneself from fear of disease which could be an obstacle for set goals or journey towards spirituality.
Next is Prathyahara where one is able to control the senses and learns not to depend on the external world for happiness.
When a person is able to follow the above steps he will be able to concentrate intensely and meditation comes easily.
Now when we decide to take a shortcut and skip all this step and try to meditate what would be the result.
We are not following ethical guidelines like nonviolence our minds are not set free to focus and meditation requires sitting in padmasana and if I have not practiced asana to gain physical strength, I may complain about backache even sitting for few minutes.
With all these problems its too difficult to meditate. It is imperative that I follow the 8 limbs of yoga and reach to the stage called dhyana( meditation )
Simple technique to start meditating.
There are no hard and fast rules as to how to meditate as it is all about contemplation and set your mind free from all disturbances. Some might contemplate by focusing on breathing, chanting the mantra or listening to music, and many others.
The simplest technique is to focus on your breath which is called mindful meditation.
Follow the guidelines below:
1. Select a place that is free from distraction like sound or noise.
2. You can do some stretches to free your body and bring your attention to the mat.
3. Try sitting in padmasana ( Lotus Posture ) or folding your leg on the mat keeping the spine erect.
4. You can place your palms on knees or adopt chin mudra or Gyan mudra.
5. Keep your eyes closed and focus on breath ( each inhalation and exhalation)
6. On an average, we breathe 15 times per minute so try breathing a minimum of 75 times (5 minutes) initially and you can increase up to 300 Times ( 20 minutes ) later with regular practice.
There are some schools of meditation which has their centers spread across the world and the availability of trained teachers enables one to get proper guidance for how to start meditation and later adopt this wonderful habit.
3 Best schools of Meditation:
1. Simple Kundalini Yoga Meditation:
The Simplified kundalini yoga meditation was begun by Shri Vethathiri Maharishi, a spiritual leader.
The Simplified kundalini yoga comprises
1.Simple workouts focusing on health.
2.The practice of meditation for inner peace.
3.The anti-aging concept for kayakalpa
4. Self-analysis to remain happy.
The simplified kundalini yoga is the habit to utilize life force for the object of meditation: merging the mind with the life force takes one to the subtlest frequency, which enhances awareness and promotes intellectual sharpness and understanding
If this method of meditation is done honestly, the senses remain in control of our mind and we do our actions with continuous awareness of the cause and the effect system.
Benefits Practicing Simple kundalini yoga meditation:
1.Reduces the mental frequency
3.Improves intellectual sharpness and understanding
4. Increase will power and concentration.
5. The minimum age to practice simplified kundalini yoga meditation is 14 years.
2. Vipassana Meditation:
This method of meditation was started by Gauthama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal therapy for all illnesses.
Since the time of Buddha, this meditation technique has been handed down to the present day by an unbroken chain of teachers.
The current teacher in this chain is Mr. SN Goenka who was an Indian but raised in Burma ( Myanmar ). Mr Goenka had an opportunity to learn this technique from his guru while living in Burma.
After learning this technique for fourteen years, Mr Goenka is settled in India and went on to teach this to all races and religions.
Method followed in Vipassana meditation:
Vipassana is a Ten days residential course available in different places in India. The technique follows three steps
1. The first step is to refrain from killing, stealing, sexual activity, speaking falsely, and abstain from intoxicants. When a person does this, the immediate effect is his mind is calmed which otherwise is too agitated.
2. The second step aims to gain mastery over the mind by learning to fix ones attention on the natural reality ever-changing flow of breath as it enters and leaves from nostrils.
3. After following the above steps the mind is much calmer and more focused then it is better able to undertake the practice of vipassana by observing the sensations throughout the body.
The transcendental meditation was initiated by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Maharishi Mahesh yogi comes from a great lineage of masters in which Adi Shankaracharya too was one of the preceptor.
It was Shankaracharya who established 4 mutts to preserve the sacred Vedic teachings. Jyothir mutt is one of those four, which is nested in the heights of Himalayan mountain ranges. Maharishi Mahesh yogi brought this divine knowledge from Jyothir mutt to the modern generation.
The principle of transcendental meditation is a simple technique that is practiced silently and effortlessly thinking a mantra or a sound. The mantra is unique and kept secret for each individual which has been taught during personal instruction by a fully trained teacher following careful guidelines laid by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Research findings on Transcendental meditation:
Due to the growing demand and its popularity the scientist got attracted to conduct research on Transcendental meditation at the scientific level.
They used the most modern methods of science and technology in their research to know how this meditation benefitted humans.
The scientist who first did research on this was Dr. Robert Keith Wallace from the USA. He declared that during the Transcendental meditation the mind remains to be in a state of full alertness but the body goes in a state of complete relaxation as in deep sleep.
This state of body and mind was termed as “ Restful Alertness”.
The practice of meditation has been helpful for all ages and professions.
1.Students – Students are in pressure to score better grades so that their career aspirations are fulfilled in the future. They need intense concentration studying hours and stay away from distraction.
2.Celebrities – Meditation is necessary for celebrities like a movie actor or even a sports person due to the huge competition they face.
This is what Hugh jackman ( Wolverine in movie X Men ) had to say about meditation.
“ I Found that with meditation, my anxiety levels dropped considerably. It seems to me that the mind is fuel to the fire of fear. The mind can make us worry about things beyond their measure. And the great thing about meditation is that twice a day, the monkey mind just calms down".
3. Managers – The COVID-19 crisis has made middle managers face tremendous pressure due to unexpected events like taking a pay cut, layoff employees, and may have to deliver bad news up and down in the organization hierarchy.
The managers are in constant fear as failing to meet the serious deadlines is likely to impact on his reputation and also may harm the career prospects. In this situation, the managers may be forced to work long hours which could result in stress.
Meditation along with gentle stretches helps managers to cope with the situation and deliver the best without losing the physical and mental health.
I have given just a few examples of how the meditation is helpful for all hence start early to witness the benefits.
" In about everything you consider doing for your betterment, it is better to start now than later ”.