What is Meditation?
The word Meditation has the its roots in Latin, "medi" meaning
"middle" and "tare" (pronounced 'taa-ray') meaning, "to stay", also means,
"ground". Hence, "meditare" staying in the middle or middle ground and hence the
word Meditation is derived... "Coming to the middle and
staying". In many places visualization exercises are given in the name
of meditation, as long as you are encouraging the mind wander about, that
certainly cannot be considered meditation. The visualization exercises are very
powerful and achieve very powerful benefits but should not be confused to
meditation. Meditation then, is the calm, unbroken, flow of concentration upon a
single, subtle, inner focus. The mind is brought into an absolute focal point of
During meditation, the mind is made to be a witness and remains undistracted
by other thoughts and feelings. To allow this to happen, the sitting posture has
to be aligned, comfortable, and steady with the breathing deep, smooth, constant
and regular. Meditation is the bridge from the physical and psychological levels
of awareness to the inner levels beyond them. Meditation is "the liberation of
the mind from all disturbing and distracting emotions, thoughts, and
desires...an inward journey in which one explores his internal states, finally
reaching that center of consciousness from where consciousness flows in various
degrees and grades" (Swami Rama).
What Meditation is not?
- Meditation is not contemplation or prayer...as there
is no dialogue, inquiry, or thought, the only dialogue is when you be-friend
and request the mind, in silence, to be silent. Since prior to this, the
mind was taught to run about in a random haphazardous manner this will be
the tendency and preference in the beginning. Meditation is not a religion
nor is Eastern; rather it is a universal spiritual or personal practice.
- There is an opinion amongst many that meditation is
self-hypnosis; this is not so because there is no suggestion given, no
specific goal sought.
- I have also heard claims that lucid dreaming is
meditation...this is not so, since the mind is conscious, alert and focused
on the object of concentration (such as breath, symbol or mantra).
- Meditation is not thought-stopping or suppression,
rather the inner material is allowed to pass without judgment, the mind
should not be allowed to go blank, this would lead to hallucination.
The most essential tool that is needed for the practice of meditation any
stage is Breath Awareness. Of course there are many very complex breathing
exercises in the science of Pranayama and even more in the Science of Swara
Yoga, but for our purpose at the beginning stage the
Breath Awareness Meditation Practice is most
appropriate and very beneficial.
Before we can go one further to practicing meditation we must become aware of
the senses. If we do not become aware of the sense, we will not be able to
control them and they are going to be the cause of great disturbance.
The senses are the portals of interaction through which we take in information
from the outside world and produce action in the outside world. In other words,
the senses have a kinship with the objects of the senses. For example, the eyes
and the visual objects has a kinship and that relationship is not to be severed,
as that is the purpose of the eyes...to see the visual objects, color and light,
etc. The ears is designed for hearing sounds, sound then is the object of
hearing and that kinship cannot be severed, and so all the senses have their
kinship with their specific objects and that relation cannot be lost. If we were
to loose them then we become very tentative in whatever we do. And live life in
fear. These are the senses of perceptions.
There are also the senses of action such as walking, talking, procreating,
nourishing oneself, etc. These are also very important on understand and bring
under conscious control.
The exercise then, is first to become aware of the senses then later to later
withdraw them from their attachment to the sense objects. The senses as it were,
are portals through which the stressors come from the outside, and we experience
stress of one kind or another. Later these impressions from the outside world is
regurgitated from the memory bank and you experience the same stress as when
they came from outside.
The practice of the sensory awareness exercise has a direct effect on the
twelve cranial nerves, which in turn is a stress reliever. The point here is
that sensory motor mind is part of the total mental functioning;
hence meditation practice does affect the sensory motor mind and will affect the
Without getting too deep into a course of neuro-mechanics, the following are
some basics of the twelve Cranial nerves (we will get into this topic much
deeper, later). They all affect and are affected by the spinal systems.
Bringing about a balance of the twelve cranial nerves affects the entire
physiology and hence becomes a very powerful therapy. But it does not end here
since meditation practice also involves the mental, emotional and spiritual.
Becoming aware of the senses is the first necessary step, then withdrawal of the
senses (Pratyahara) from the attachments to the sense objects is the next step,
then learning to concentrate the mind are preliminary steps to meditation.
The techniques for mastering this practice is given in my first course in
"Steps to Advanced Meditation"- beginners level 1
Do not practice for more that two to three minutes in the beginning.
It is better to do two minutes of practice than twenty minutes of
mind-wondering. Practice two minutes several times a day and in that way the
whole day in essence becomes a continuous meditation (meditation in action).
Look out for more hints and tips on
meditation as a practice and as therapy.
MEDITATION IN ACTION
Meditation in action is the practical application of the perspective and
skills attained through meditation in stillness. It entails the following
In 'meditation in stillness', one attends fully to the present--no other
times or places are allowed to distract the here and now orientation. In
'meditation in action', the present moment is also the primary focus--past
regrets and future worries are superceded by attention on the moment. Rather
than allowing the mind to travel elsewhere and else when, thereby imposing
subjective influences upon the present, one deals realistically and practically
with the present moment as it presents itself.
'Stillness Meditation' increases one's ability to concentrate, and this
capacity is directly applied to meditation in action through one-pointed focus
on the task at hand. Practicing this skill in daily life increases it even more,
especially because it is performed in a relaxed state. Thus, clarity, memory,
creativity, and energy are also increased. Meditation in action means paying
full attention to whatever you area doing, whether it is an activity one has a
natural interest in , like a hobby, or one that life places before one, like it
or not. In 'stillness meditation', the primary focus is on 'stillness of body',
stillness or breath, and later mantra, and all else is in the background; in
meditation in action, the main focus is on the activity of the moment, and the
mantra provides a context or centering device for its performance.
The essence of 'meditation in action' is the one-pointed skillful performance
of one's duty, performed for others without expectation of any particular
outcome. Such a practice requires objectivity, purpose, and relaxed
concentration. It brings the meditative perspective into the external arena. By
de-investing in the dictates of the senses and limited ego, one can act in
harmony with one's true inner nature. Then one is a channel or instrument for
the expression of the prompting of the inner guide. This is the art of being in
the world yet above, like the lotus, which grows in the mud yet faces the sun,
its petals unaffected by the mud. This teaching was given to the great warrior
Arjuna by Sri Krishna at a time when he became stricken with conflicts regarding
his duties as a soldier and protector or the weak. When at a time when he was to
engage in battle and suddenly became confused between duty and philosophy. Sri
Krishna then gave him one of the standard definitions of yoga..."Yogah Karmasu
Kaushalam"- Yoga is skill in action.
By focusing the mantra, one gradually becomes more in touch with inner
sources of wisdom and happiness and less dependent on external ones. By
maintaining awareness of the permanent inner source of strength and peace, one
becomes self-reliant. From the inner objective perspective, it is easier to
discriminate which external and mental suggestions are helpful and valid and
which are not. The deep inner voice becomes clearer and less likely to be
mistaken for other self-talks.
During meditation in stillness, one learns to become established in the
objective witness stance, and through meditation in action, one continues that
perspective in daily life. Thus one not only participates in life but also is
able to objectively observe oneself participating. The result is increased
insight and equanimity. In short, one becomes less reactionary. Because one is
less disturbed by events and self-talks, one has greater freedom of choice in
responses. This leads to emotional control.
By dis-identifying with one's old programming, habitual biases and
limitations can be released. Then one is free from rote responses and capable of
selecting more effective appropriate responses from a broader repertoire. This
takes place, gradually through a process of systematic desensitization to old
maladaptive patterns. Then, through introspection and self-study, one can select
which qualities to nurture and which to allow atrophying. Such self-analysis and
reprogramming is a helpful adjunct to meditation in stillness and can be aided
by journal keeping, self-confrontation, or counseling. When one lets go of one's
compulsions and preconceptions, one can see things as they really are, not as
their projections distort them to be.
Meditation in stillness helps one to dis-identification with the limited ego
structure the mind has created. In meditation in action, the ego structure is
used as an instrument; it is instructed how to be helpful rather than acting
automatically on its own. When viewed in such a way, a broader, more flexible
self-concept can emerge.
With the shift in perspective that meditation yields comes an understanding
of the inter-relatedness of the internal and external experiential domains. That
is, the external situation can be viewed as a grosser depiction of the internal
pattern. One's perception of the external is based on the subjective outlook,
and one projects one's internal situation onto the external arena. One creates
the reality one experiences. It is therefore easier to accept responsibility for
one's situations and responses. By recognizing and withdrawing the melodrama one
has created, one can make room for more beneficial situations to occur. One can
also deal with life situations as custom-made lessons designed to help one learn
Meditation in action entails objective awareness of and control over one's
attitudes and behaviors. This means that one becomes aware of which thoughts and
actions are helpful and which are not. Such information is particularly
pertinent in interpersonal relationships, in which one's deepest and most
emotionally charged issues show themselves. Increased awareness, sensitivity,
and courage are results of meditation that enhance one's capacity for harmonious
and meaningful relationships.
IDENTIFICATION WITH THE HIGHER SELF:
Full absorption in the mantra loosens one's attachment to the restrictions of
the limited self-concept so that one can begin to experience deeper levels of
one's being. Eventually, one becomes increasingly familiar with the most refined
aspects of one's consciousness and shifts one's identification from the
superficial externals to the more profound resources within. By tapping this
inner reservoir of latent potential, one can find one's own source of wisdom,
strength, and love. And because one is then more in touch with one's higher
Self, one can more clearly understand one s own nature and purpose--and manifest
Meditation is a process from which you grow from the grosser to the finer
from the outer to the inner.
Meditation is the process of cleaning the face of your mind, (which is
you). You get a better reflection (response). You are primarily your mind.
Each time you react (to external stimuli) you loose touch with your own
Meditation is a precise method not just closing your eyes and allowing
your mind to go at random any which way.
Meditation is an exploration into the infinity that is in humankind's
(previously used was the word 'man' which has roots
in the Sanskrit verb root 'man' phonetically pronounced 'mn' the 'a' is included
but verb short and means to think, therefore we are essentially thinking beings.
in modern times the word has a gender representation.)
Meditation leads to an experience that touches the fringes of infinity.
Meditation feeds life and life feeds meditation.
Cause is more durable than effect, the cause for going into one self is
meditation; the more your meditate you increase your durability and potential
for going deep within.
Meditation is an infringement on your personal bondage.
Meditation is the only practice that if you pretend long enough you end
up doing and mastering.
Advanced benefits of meditation practice offers the practitioner the ability
to establish conscious control over the so-called involuntary systems, that
being the internal organs and systems, such as lymph, circulatory, endocrine,
digestive, reproductive, respiratory, etc. These are advanced techniques which
are available for study.
The practice to establish control over the involuntary systems is given my
advances courses in meditation. There are certain requirements that one has to
meet in order to begin this level of study and practice.
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