What Is Meditation?

Anandamayi Ma in meditationMeditation is the practice of bringing the mind inward by focusing the attention on a single object in total concentration. Without total concentration, there cannot be meditation, as the mind creates thought waves continuously and brings our attention from one thing to the next. As the concentration increases, the thought waves diminish and the mind becomes calm and quiet.

Meditation is that empty space created by quieting the mind, where there is nothing but an uninterrupted flow of energy, and the usual preoccupations with the world completely disappear. At higher levels of meditation, duality also disappears and there is nothing but oneness with the Divine. This is called Samadhi or Nirvana. The permanent state of Samadhi is what we call Liberation or Self-realization, and it is the aim of all forms of yoga and all spiritual paths. Liberation is the true aim of life, and meditation is both the practice and the door to attaining it.

The ultimate benefit of meditation is the realization of God, but there are many other advantages in every stage of spiritual development. Because it purifies the body in general and the nervous system in particular, diseases of the body and mind are greatly improved. Energy levels and mental powers are increased as well, the creativity and intuition are enhanced and inner joy becomes a regular experience. Stress levels are highly reduced by meditation, and the medical community is starting to realize the value of the different practices yogis have been doing for thousands of years, particularly hatha yoga and meditation.

If you are able to meditate at least for half an hour daily, you will become level headed and face life with peace and spiritual strength. Meditation is the most powerful mental and nerve tonic. Divine energy freely flows during meditation, and exerts a benign influence on the mind, nerves, sense organs and body. It opens the door to intuitive knowledge and to other realms of reality. The mind becomes calm and steady. Inner peace becomes possible and real.

With practice, duality disappears and Samadhi, or the superconscious state, is reached. Be patient and consistent, reaching this state takes a long time.

Important Guidelines for Meditation

  • As purity begins with the physical body, cleanse your body before meditation.
  • Use a seat for meditation or asana made of wool on the bottom and cotton cloth on the top. Avoid sitting on the bare ground, since your energy may be drained off, and do not share your asana with anyone.
  • Regularity of time, place and practice are important, as they condition the mind to slow down, paving the path to deeper levels of meditation. Ten minutes every day is better than one hour every now and then.
  • The best times to meditate are early dawn and dusk, when the atmosphere is quiet and charged with special spiritual energy. If it is not possible to sit for meditation at these times, choose a specific time and stick to it everyday.
  • Try to have a separate room for meditation, if at all possible. As meditation is repeated, the energy will increase and the atmosphere will be filled with peace and purity.
  • When sitting, face North or East in order to take advantage of favorable magnetic vibrations.
  • Sit in a steady, comfortable, cross-legged position with the spine and neck straight but not tense.
  • Keep your breathing rhythmic: inhale for three seconds and exhale for three seconds. The breath, the prana (vital force) and the mind are connected. Regulating and controlling one will regulate and control the other.
  • Do not force the mind to be still, as this will set in motion additional thought waves. Allow the mind to wander at first, focusing on a mantra or specific technique; the mind will eventually become still with practice.
  • Select a focal point for the mind to rest. Most people choose the Ajna chakra (third eye), as it is close to the eyes and easy to focus on. Eventually, the Anahata (heart) chakra should be chosen.
  • If you are not using a mantra or specific technique, you can focus on a neutral or uplifting object or image while concentrating on the breath.
  • Attempt to live a pure, pious, sattvic life. Treat your body as a temple. Strive to eat pure, nutritious food and avoid intoxicants. A vegetarian diet will accelerate your spiritual development.

© 2008 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.

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