“Stop!!!” don’t we just scream this in our minds when the day has been very bad and all we think about is “work, problem, work, problem” over and over again? Sometimes we wish our minds would just shut up and let us have peace, just simple, unending peace. This peace most of us won’t find just around the corner. We need to set aside a period of time every day to quiet the mind. This is called meditation.
If you think about meditation, what comes into your mind? Do you imagine sitting down cross legged on the floor, palms up, and eyes closed? Add some lighted candles in the scene and it would look like a voodoo thing to me.
That scene is not entirely untrue of meditation, but it is not necessary either. Before we conjure up images of ourselves meditating, we have to understand first what it really is and what its benefits are.
What is Meditation?
What is meditation? There are different ways to describe meditation. Meditation for some is a way to slow down, chill out and get in touch with the inner self. An ordinary person may consider meditation as a worship or prayer, but it is not so. Meditation means “awareness”. Whatever you do with awareness is meditation. Watching the sunset peacefully is meditation, sitting by the ocean and just listening to the waves is meditation, as long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind is effective meditation.
Meditation means “to join together or to yoke”. It is a state of consciousness when the mind is free from scattered thoughts and various patterns. It is not a technique but a way of life, the height of meditation which is called Samadhi is where the mind is completely merged with worlds of perfect light. The observer, one who is doing the meditation, realizes that all activity of the mind is reduced to one.
Meditation is derived from two Latin words; meditari which means to think, to dwell upon, and to exercise the mind; and mederi which means to heal. Its Sanskrit derivation medha means wisdom. Many years ago, meditation was not considered something for modern people, but now meditation has become very popular with all types of people. Although medical evidence has proved its benefits, it still needs to be better understood.
Classic yoga texts would traditionally describe attaining true states of meditation by one going through several stages. The more advanced stages of concentration, contemplation, and then ultimately absorption, come after the first stages of necessary preparation of one’s personal and social code, physical position, breath control and relaxation. It does not mean however that one must perfect any one stage before moving on to the next. The integral yoga uses the approach of simultaneous application of little of all the stages together.
Today, when people refer to meditation, it can mean any one of these stages. Some of the yoga teaching schools would only teach concentration techniques, some relaxation, and others teach free form contemplative activities like just sitting and awaiting absorption. With regular practice of a balance series of yoga techniques, the quality of consciousness can be expanded, where the energy of the body and the mind can be liberated.
How Meditation Helps?
Meditation helps you get in touch with your inner self and recharges you. It makes you happy and also empowers you to accomplish things in the daily world. Meditation practice leads to enlightenment, and the beauty about it is you experience its benefits right away, beginning with your first meditation session.
Meditation is merely conscious relaxation. It is a process which involves the mind to achieve a state of serenity or bliss. This may sound like someone being sedated. Actually it does. Meditation is a deeper form of concentration. If we are to give a concrete way to illustrate it, let’s use water as the example. If you start pouring water from the pitcher to a glass, the first few drops would be considered “concentration”, however a steady flow is obtained after that which is likened to “meditation”. The unsteady first drops and the small splash they make are considered the distractions in concentration. A deeper state, which is the steady flow in the example, characterizes meditation. Thus, it clearly frees the mind from any “clutter” and distractions.
The Role of Stress in Meditation
Stress has always been one of the reasons that people are resorting to meditation. A lot of unpleasant consequences have resulted in one’s inability to cope up with stress. Some have found solace in taking “calming” medications or pills to temporarily get rid of these thought s and feelings. But unfortunately, these only provide fleeting relief. After the medicines wear off, it is back to the pit again. Unless you try to overcome these negative thoughts and feelings with your mind, it will always succeed in getting the better of you.
So how do you go about meditation? It is simpler than people thought it to be. You only find a quiet spot, sit comfortably, relax your emotions and concentrate on an object to meditate on. It is important to just think of a single object and concentrate on it. Some distractions like other objects will come into focus. Drive your mind away from those. They will only break your concentration. You can still hear the sound around you, but when you’re deep in thought about your object of meditation, even those will not disturb you. (Massage Chairs)
Daily meditation is advisable. If you have a strong commitment and conviction for it, you will achieve a very unique feeling of being able to “leave the moment”. People who have been through this will tell you that it is a feeling of utter bliss where the mind is clear and clean.