Meditation has been developed in Eastern cultures & has a documented history of more than several thousand years. Eastern meditative techniques have been developed, trialled & refined over hundreds of generations with the specific intention of developing a method by which the layperson can regularly attain a state of mental peace & tranquillity, i.e. relief from stress. It is a strategy that can easily be adapted to the needs of clinicians and their patients in the West.
Despite all its popularity, today very few of us truly know what meditation is. Some regard meditation as the mental concentration on something, others consider that we meditate when we imagine something that gives us peace or satisfaction. All these methods are being with one goal, to slow down & eventually, completely stop the incessant activity of our minds.
The action or practice of meditation is frequently described & understood as the following.
contemplation, thought, thinking, musing, pondering, consideration, reflection, prayer, deliberation, study, rumination, cogitation, brooding, mulling over, reverie, brown study, concentration, speculation, rare celebration.
A written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject.
Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realise some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.
The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity, and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity.
The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts.
Meditation has been practised since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs.
Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way.
Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health concerns, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. It may be done sitting, or in an active way—for instance, Buddhist monks involve awareness in their day-to-day activities as a form of mind-training. Prayer beads or other ritual objects are commonly used during meditation in order to keep track of or remind the practitioner of some aspect of that training.
Meditation may involve generating an emotional state for the purpose of analysing that state—such as anger, hatred, etc.—or cultivating a particular mental response to various phenomena, such as compassion. The term “meditation” can refer to the state itself, as well as to practices or techniques employed to cultivate the state.
Meditation may also involve repeating a mantra and close the eyes. The mantra is chosen based on its suitability to the individual meditator.
In brief, there are dozens of specific styles of meditation practice, & many different types of activity commonly referred to as meditative practices. In my opinion, these exercises are not true meditation, they are substitutes for meditation because it is normally very difficult to stop our minds altogether.
Meditation Is Not:
Concentration, concentration is an effort to fix our attention on a particular object or idea for a long period of time. The techniques used in visualisation are another type of concentration.
A loss of control, sounds, voices, colours & involuntary movements have nothing to do with meditation or spirituality. These are symptoms of loss of awareness & loss of control over some parts of ourselves.
Exercise, exercises, such as postures & breathing, do not constitute meditation. They may help establish some balance if under the guidance of a true master (a realised soul). Their practice without a true spiritual goal only leads to an imbalance in the right channel.
Mental effort, thoughtless awareness is achieved through the raising of the Kundalini. To get rid of blockages that prevent her ascent, we use the hands & introspection but never mental effort (e.g., the continuous repetition of “I must stop thinking”).
What is Meditation:
Meditation is effortless & leads to a state of ‘thoughtless awareness’ in which the excessive stress producing activity of the mind is neutralised without reducing alertness & effectiveness.
Authentic meditation enables one to focus on the present moment rather than dwell on the unchangeable past or undetermined future.
True Meditation is a state of profound, deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm & silent, yet completely alert. It is just the beginning of an inner transformation that takes us to a higher level of awareness, enabling us to fulfil our true human potential.
So in reality, meditation is a state of thoughtless awareness. It is not an act of doing – it is a state of awareness. We are either in this state or we are not, regardless of what we are doing in life. Truly, a man or woman can be in meditation while doing his day’s labour, at the same time another man or woman can be very far from meditation while sitting in a lotus posture on the top of a mountain.
The problem, of course, is how to achieve this state of non-effort.