Today meditation is a most commonly used word. More and more people are switching over to meditation. Meditation classes are being arranged even in the institutes, colleges and schools for the benefit of students. Now a days, even the corporate hire the meditation experts to provide meditation classes to their staff at work place. New Yoga and Meditation parlours/ studios are taking shape in every nuke and corner. Many organisations organize week end meditation classes. Earlier it was considered as a religious act but now a day religion has nothing to do with meditation. It is being adapted by the masses mostly for physical and physiological reasons instead of religious one. It is even being prescribed by the doctors to their patients to treat various ailments though it is not a medicine. A lot of research has been done on this subject and many more are under progress. All the research results have revealed very positive results. Meditation can be practiced by any one at anytime and anywhere different meditation techniques are available for different purposes.
Why? What? Where? When? Who? Whose? Whom? And how are words which form the basis of development. All the technological advancements are the answers to these small words. The above eight words are the basis of all knowledge and wisdom prevailing today. All the works in arts and literature answer these simple words through various means and leave these words again open to the coming generations to add new definitions and meanings. Whole of creation is indulged to find the answers to these words. Man is the only animal which involves his reasoning to know the pros and cons of everything or act he comes across. Modern world population is more realistic in this approach. People of modern world do not want to involve themselves in any act which is not beneficial directly. Meditation is not an exception to this.
Positive Thinking: This entire creation is the outcome of thoughts. The creator of all worlds and universes just thought to have them and they were in the existence. The supreme power or God then created the life in the form of living organism. To manifest himself, he created the man and woman on the earth. He then gifted them the power of thinking to reason out right and wrong but did not impose his own will to act. The creator left them to think independently and lead a happy life. But by wrong thinking man chained himself into many troubles and miseries. Manifestation of God’s will is there with man but he does not utilize them. Meditation is the medium to get rid of miseries. It changes the thinking patterns of the brain and changes the negative thoughts into positive.
Rest to the think Machine: Man is what he thinks. There are nearly sixty thoughts per second which are generated by the brain. These thoughts are highly influenced by the external environment, diet and the signals sent by five sense organs. All these thoughts and signals get processed by the brain. Brain keeps working day and night ceaselessly. Brain is assisted by many nerves. These thoughts and signals need to be stored for future use. To store these thoughts in the memory boxes, input of thoughts and signals need to be cut off so that the brain can store the required signals and thoughts after due analyses for which we do sleep at frequent specific intervals. And at the same time brain need rest. But during sleep only the supply of signals sent by five sense organs gets cut off and conscious part of brain gets rest. Sub conscious part of brain keeps working even during sleep for the functioning of interval involuntary organs and reflex actions. Though the storing job gets completed but the brain does not get rest. Continuous functioning of the brain deteriorates its efficiency. Meditation in the process thorough which the brain can be given rest and efficiency of the brain can be improved. So, this is one of the reasons why we must meditate.
Extraction of inner energy: As explained meditation helps us to find the answers to all such problems in which even science is silent. During meditation the person can go deep into the memory and short out the problem easily. Deep thinking is also considered a sort of meditation and one need to go for deep thinking many times. Meditation helps the person to find the truest potential and apply it to make the life better. It extracts the inner energy of the person and helps the person to exhibit it in all spheres of life. Time spent on meditation proves to be the true time spent for self. Inner energy gets multiplied.
Health and Harmony: Meditation improves the blood circulation to the nervous system. It deepens the breathing thus helps the body to detoxify. This is one of the reasons why one must do meditation. Meditation controls the blood pressure. Higher level of blood pressure (Hypertension) and lower level of blood pressure (Hypotension) both are dangerous to the human body. Meditation helps to keep the blood pressure within specified limits. Meditation increases the immune levels of the body and helps the body to keep the diseases at the bay. This is also a reason to go for meditation. It changes the approach of the person towards the world and accordingly moulds the behaviour. It also develops confidence which increases the pessimism. It improves the insight and refines the actions of the person which brings the health and harmony.
Joy of Silence: Ultimate motto of human body is to get rid of salvation and miseries and to seek for the kingdom of God. Seeking the kingdom of God is to unite with him through prayers and meditation. Prayer is said to be the time when one talks to God but the meditation is the time when the God talks to the man. Those who are in search of God or want self-realization, find the only path towards their destination in meditation only. Human brain gathers all necessary information from surrounding atmosphere and tries to find happiness from external sources but during meditation it diverts inwardly where it tunes with the internal sources and finds true happiness so this is also one of the reasons to go for meditation.
Freedom from Ignorance: Human life is the manifestation of God himself. The divine powers of God are inherited by human beings as human beings are the sole heirs of God. Those divine powers are not used by human beings due to ignorance. Meditation helps to regain those divine powers and proper application of those powers for the upliftment of self and others. Meditation helps the person to wake up from ignorance and establish contact with God. Sometimes the question may arise that why meditation should be practiced at all. On this a verse in Mundaka Upanishada reads as-
Na chakshushagrahayate naapi vaachaa naanyaidevaistapasaa karmanhaa vaa
Jnan prasaaden vishuddha sattvastatastu tam pashyate nishkalam dhyaayamaanah.
Mundaka Upanishada 3/1, Verse 8
"The God cannot be perceived with the eyes, speech and other senses. Neither God can be perceived with the actions or tolerances. God can only be perceived by the person whose inner self is pure and clean and who meditates for him keeping aside the worldly comforts and luxuries. So, meditation is a prerequisite to find God."
Furthermore, Upanishads reveals that every bit of the creation is full of God. Human body is the only medium through which one can liberate oneself from the advent of birth and death. Meditation is the only way through which a soul can unite with the supreme soul.
eeshaavasyamidam sarvam yatkinhch jagatyam jagat
ten tyakten bhunjitha ma gradhah kashya swiddhanam.
Eeshavashyo Upanishada, Verse 1
"Everything which exists in the universe, biotic or a biotic is full of God. Do not get lost in the pleasures of consumptions. These pleasurable things and their pleasures belong to none but to God alone. So try to be one with the God with all out efforts."
Faith in the existence of God is a must for meditation. If one does not believe in the existence of God then there is no question of meeting him and meditate on him. A verse in Kath Upanishad clarifies this as –
astityevopalabdhayastatatva bhaavena cho bhayoha
astityevopalabdhasya tattvah bhaavah prasidati.
Kath Upanishad 2/3, Verse 13
"God exists" must be firmly decided, means existence of God must be firmly agreed upon. After wards God's existence should be abstracted and achieved. Later God's existence automatically gets revealed to the seekers."
It is evident from the above verses that until unless one is not sure of God's existence, one will not try to find him. Thus, for meditation it is a prerequisite to believe in God. This belief strengthens through the reading of religious literature.
Earlier meditation was the subject matter of saints, monks, yogis and religious leaders but now a day it is the subject matter of masses. Many new methods and techniques are being introduced by the masters in this field. Meditation is being popularised as the remedy for many problems. People from all walks of society are taking up meditation. Today one needs not to renounce the family life or society to indulge in meditation. Even one needs to search for a self-realised master to learn the techniques of meditation or to go to a hermitage for the purpose. A lot of literature is available on this subject. Before adapting to anything the meaning must be clear so that wrong perceptions do not complicate the whole effort.
As far as the meaning of meditation is concerned, meditation is a word which is derived from the Latin word 'Meditari' which means contemplate. Contemplate stands for survey with the eyes/ survey with mind/ regard as possible/ intend etc. Surveys with eyes do not supply the conclusive signals. This is brain which analyse those signals and decides the course of action. This way by first meaning, which is survey with eyes to know everything about that thing or object. Other meaning which says that meditation means to contemplate means to regard a thing/object or thought possible. This meaning of contemplate stands for intend which has many meanings like to have one’s purpose, aim, aspire, determines, resolves etc. This way meditation means to think for some purpose or aim. Again, this thought process involves brain. Brain commands the entire physiological systems inside the body. Efficiency of the brain affects all the systems but the brain itself is a part of a system named Nervous System. This system forms the basis of psychology. All the psychic parameters depend upon the efficiency of brain.
The brain keeps struggling whole the time and so is the nature. Even a single bit of creation is not free from struggle. The smallest part of matter which is known as an atom is not free from this struggle. We can conclude that the whole universe is the outcome of struggle. All the types of struggle basically start in the form of pull and push which results in motion, radiation, waves, time and space, thoughts etc. Everything in the universe is bound to act according to the set principles. Cessation of struggle breaks those set principles and disturbs everything which comes across. Struggle of brain to tackle with day today activities need to be harmonised for the proper functioning of the human body. Harmony guarantees the peace and calm. Meditation is the technique to bring harmony in the mental struggle.
Word meditation itself is defined by many dictionaries as, to be lost in thoughts, cerebration, contemplation, deliberation etc. This way meditation means the working of brain, thinking on some religious theme or careful consideration. All the above meanings of meditation point out towards the mental thoughts on some theme/object but all the above meanings of meditation do not justify the true sense of meditation. Meditation is much more than the above. If we assume the meaning of meditation as the survey with eyes than we may miss the meaning of meditation because eyes do not survey anything. Eyes only send the visual signals to the brain which processes those signals from the memory. So, in this sense meditation is not merely the survey with eyes but in true sense it is the survey by brain. Next meaning of meditation is taken as the survey with the mind. This meaning also does not satisfy the true sense of meditation because the mind is nothing but our thoughts and brain is the machine which generates thoughts. Whatever one thinks one becomes.
Generally, we close our eyes when we meditate. After the closure of eyes, visual signal supply to the brain gets cut off then more thoughts do occur because the occupancy of the brain in processing the visual signals gets stopped. Thinking is not bad but it is the quality of thoughts and subject matter of those thoughts which matters. Meditation is the process through which either the thought process is stopped or deviate towards the noble topics. Those topics may not necessarily be religious in nature but must be positive and constructive. Most of the time meditation is on religious themes to look into the inner self or for self-realization. Now a day meditation is not the business of the persons in orange or white robes, it is a subject matter of persons in pant and shirts. It is being practised by the masses for numerous purposes. Hardly ten fifteen percent of them are practising it solely for attaining mental peace and calm. Some people are practising it to get rid of chronic diseases. Today a lot of literature is available on this subject out of which maximum is written by the spiritual leaders to popularise and propagate their own faith or sect. Papers of clinical research on meditation reveal the results and methodology used. Hardly there is any book which goes into the insight of meditation. The sole purpose of this article is to go into depth of meditation and help the readers to know everything about meditation.
Meditation is always pleasurable
In order to invent some new thing a scientist keeps on concentrating on one theme or topic for considerably a long time. This act of the scientist is a sort of meditation only. All the inventions and discoveries of the world are the result of some sort of meditation. A musician or a singer when playing the instrument or singing, get lost in the sound and the eye focus automatically get fixed on the medullar Plexus ( Jnan Chakra) this act also becomes a sort of meditation. But all the above types of meditation do not necessarily be religious in nature and may bring misery if not proved successful. Though the invention or discovery will bring pleasure and happiness for many people along with the scientist involved in that but the failure of the effort will bring displeasure. Same way the performances of the musician and the singer may also bring some dissatisfaction if the response of the audience is not overwhelming. Meditation is an activity which never brings displeasure. Meditation even if done for some minutes, benefits the doer. Results of meditation are always pleasurable. Only selfless themes do not depend on any response thus we can say that, “Meditation means devout and continuous reflection on a particular theme”. Physiologically speaking meditation is a process in which contact from the materialistic world gets lost and gets connected to the super natural world. Self-consciousness gets lost. There is no ego. Body consciousness is totally out of sight. Brain becomes consciously unconscious. Brain ceases to think. Conscious, sub conscious and super conscious stages of brain work together. Knowledge of known and unknown are revealed to the brain and is permanently gets established. Brain visualizes limitless things and distances. A stage is achieved which is beyond physiological preview. As far as modern world is concerned, meditation is an activity which helps a person to achieve the unachieved and utilisation of one’s talent at the fullest. It can also be termed as listening to the nature.
Today meditation is a self-defined and familiar word. Almost every religion speaks one or the other form of meditation. The sole purpose of meditation is to unite with the God or Supreme Being. This is the highest goal which can be achieved through meditation. But there are numerous other purposes which can be achieved through meditation. All the discoveries and inventions of the world are the results of some sort of meditation only.
Meditation is totally dependent on practice. Through reading only zeal for meditation can be strengthened but without practice even the smallest bit of meditation cannot be achieved. Meditation can be done on any lower topics also but it must be well synchronized step by step logically and rationally to reach on some destination. Meditation yields results when supervised by a self-realized master or Guru provided, he or she is not a business tycoon of religion or God. At one place in "The Holy Bible" Lord Christ says, "There will be many self-styled preachers of God. Who will claim themselves to be the sole contractors of God? It will be difficult to recognize real ones among them". Today is the same time.
Meditation is performed in all types of yoga like Ashtanga yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnan yoga, Karma yoga, Laya yoga, Mantra yoga, Hath Yoga and Tantra yoga etc. Meditation is placed on seventh step in Ashtanga yoga. Meditation is practised in almost all religions apart from Hindu religion. Meditation is the second last or last step in order to attain self-realization (Nirvana). The meditation may be used for manifold aims. But the main aim of meditation is attainment of deliverance. Meditation can be aimed for numerous purposes. Deeply thinking to find solutions for specific problems is also a sort of meditation. Ancient saints of India used meditation to find the answers to unsolved questions. There is one incidence in Upanishada, where some saints gathered to discuss the actual shape/form of God. When those saints could not reach on any conclusion, they set themselves into meditation to find the answer. During their meditation the form of God was revealed to them by God himself.
te dhyanyoganugata apashyana devatma shaktim swagunhaih nirgudham
ya karnhani nikhilani taani kaalatmayukta nyadhitishthtyek
Shweta Shwatar Upnishad Ch. 1, Verse 3
"They, after setting themselves into meditation realized God. The unthinkable limitless powers of God were revealed to them, when they could not perceive the God through their wisdom. All the secrets were revealed to them by God himself in deep meditation. The God who seems to be covered with the powers of three qualities is actually far away from these qualities. He (God) is the master of whole existence. He is the sole and only reason of whole the universe and none other."
Thus, we find that meditation has numerous aims. Aims of meditation are different for different people. For example, a yogi sets the aim of meditation as self-realization. On the other hand, a scientist meditates to discover something new for the mankind. A heron just meditates to catch a fish, a student meditates to get relaxed and memorize the texts in order to secure more marks and so on. Thus, it can be concluded that the aim of meditation differs from person to person. Nowadays meditation is being used to get rid of stress and strain. Modern life is full of tensions and worries, commercialisation and globalisation are putting more pressures on the lives. Global Warming is making the lives even worse. Meditation helps to release all types of worries, relives stress and strain.
Meditation may be done alone at a secluded place or in public as group meditation. But in the Gita Lord Krishna said, -
yogi yunjita satatamaatmaanam rahasi sthitah
ekaki yatchitattma nirashiparigrahah.
The Gita, Ch. 6, Verse 10
"For a yogi who has conquered his mind and body along with senses it is better that he/she should engage the soul in the meditation of God. Tendency of storing the things for worldly comforts and also the sex should be avoided. The meditation should be done alone only."
There are ancient Sanatan Dharma (Hindu Religion) step by step scientific techniques of meditation which are known as secret practices (Gopaniya Kriyas). In my next few articles I will describe those practices for the benefit of my readers.