The concept of meditation:
Meditation has become a common term in the society right now. It has spread its roots deep down starting from the corporate world to the common mass.
The number of yoga institutions has boomed recently and numerous terms for meditation practices are coined to attract people in this path.
The categories are several in numbers. Some are listed below.
- Classical Meditation
This is the generic one which doesn’t follow any specific guidelines. It generally emerges from belief and personal trend.
- Instructed Meditation
These are personally prescribed by spiritual guides or Guru’s and follows a definite method.
- Guided Meditation
In this process; somebody gives live instructions (vis-à-vis or through digital media) to a single or a group of people to get into a trance state where thoughts seem to slow down and mind becomes dormant.
- Mantra Meditation
Chanting of a specific syllable (e.g. “OM”, “HUM” or some vague sounds) repeatedly stops the chatter of the mind and dissolute it. This method is quite prevalent in Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity etc. and avidly followed by the common people.
- Zen Meditation
This meditation is also known as zazen. It was done in a seated position (As the word Zazen depicts: Seated meditation). It is widely practiced in Japan and China but its origins connect to the Buddhist in India.
It is “Pali” word which means clarity of insight. This method gives stress on breathing pattern or on conscious breathing. This is effective is stilling the mind.
There are much more techniques like “Metta”, “Self-inquiry”, “Kriya Yoga”, “Tao”, “Qigong” and so on.
Whatever the techniques may be; the goal is the most important of all. But, there are few misconceptions related to this wonderful faculty. I shall try to clear five amongst them.
1)Meditation can be done!
The term meditation relates to the term “Dhyana” in Sanskrit. “Dhyana” is the seventh stage of the “Patanjali Yoga Sutra”.
Patanjali Yoga Sutra is the most ancient and vivid documentation depicting elaborately about the psycho-physiological connections and analyses the minute strata’s of mind and intellect.
According to this 8-fold system, meditation (Dhyana) is the stillness of mind with an active consciousness. The “I” awareness slowly dissolute into the consciousness and merges into one (The last step: Samadhi). So meditation couldn’t be done. We go into it or rather slip into meditation. What we consider as meditation is actually the practice of concentration with an active mind. The state of meditation can be achieved but cannot be practiced. So; to earn the desired level, start practicing concentration religiously.
2) Meditation can be practiced solely!
It was well understood that without having a sound body; it is not recommended to practice meditation (read concentration) because it may lead to mental numbness.
The mental dormancy can provide a blankness inside which is basically due to the inactivity of mental conditions. It can be compared to a self-hypnotic condition which eventually results into sleepiness. The brain gets confused about the physical and mental inactivity and treats this state as a pre-sleep stage. So, it secrets a neuro-paralytic hormone which naturally induces sleep as it does when anybody prepares to sleep.
This state is sometimes related to actual meditation but it is quite far from it.
So, to get into the basic of meditation; one should have a sound body and a sound sleep. Proper nutritious food helps in getting into a productive meditation.
A bit of freehand exercise, proper food, and sleep and cultivating dispassion; when maintained regularly can lead to the goal.
3) It is a religious practice
This is a practice to still our mind. A still and focused mind leads to a wide awareness. The awareness fires up the conscience (Viveka) which becomes a vehicle for the inward journey. “Viveka” is also a tool for realizing the oneness within.
This journey is common for all, the path may vary. So, practicing concentration for achieving meditative state does not fall into any classifications based on religion or belief.
You are fully free to choose your path if you want to walk independently. You will reach there, irrespective of any religion.
4) It takes huge time to provide benefits
This may vary with the effort given but the benefits of practicing concentration generate immediate effects on the psycho-physiological system. Within a week, a devoted practitioner shall feel the lowering of blood pressure (if they have), the release of stress, diminishing anxiety and an elevated experience of serenity within. It boosts memory, feeling of empathy along with regulating sleep cycle for proper cleansing of the body toxin. It eventually develops the persona with a more elevated sense of humanity.
5) It is difficult!
This point should have come first but I mentioned it as the last point because it is the ultimate hurdle to cross. Things go tougher gradually so this is the last one to overcome. I am sure you can!
No! Practicing concentration is not difficult. On the contrary, it can be one of the easiest things you can do. Meditation doesn’t need anything other than your time, a quiet and little space and YOU.
We have all the tools ready within your body and mind to reach to the utmost level. In this process; you have to do nothing but to sit still and observe your thoughts without getting attached to it. Stilling a mind can be a challenge and we can end up losing the battle. So, it has been stated in the scriptures to stop fighting with wandering thoughts and observe it with absolute detachment as we look up to the passing clouds without any emotional connection.
This observing state of our mind shall bring forth the dispassion towards the bubbling thoughts and these thoughts will gradually fade away leaving behind a still unstirred mind; ready for its inward voyage.
Many of us are really confused about the right kind of “asana” or posture for practicing concentration.
Please note that in Patanjali Yogasutra, and in one of its “Sloka”, it is clearly written that, “Prayantna Shaithilyam”. The meaning of this sloka is, you should not stress upon the posture. Any posture in which you can sit in relaxation and can forget about your body, is the right “asana” for you.
Still if you are strict about your posture, “Padmasana”, “Virasana”, “Siddhasana”, “Vajrasana” and “Sukhasana” are the most popular sitting postures.
Virasana has two versions but for meditations. Its just a simpler form of “Padmasana” where only one leg is folded to rest on the opposite thigh.
I hope that the author has more or less managed to clear the false doubts and myths about meditation. It is easy, it is robust and it is for you.
Start practicing it from today. You shall be overwhelmed with its benefits.
 Patanjali Yoga Sutra – It is a text on yoga based on “Samkhya Darshana” (a path of Indian philosophy) in which the eightfold path of yoga has been described vividly. It starts from our daily life manners slowly leading to inner truth. This is separate from the Vedantic system of meditation practice. “Yogi Yagyavalkam” written by rishi Yagyavalka is also based on eight methods aligning with Vedantic concepts.