Your explorations into Meditation begin with acquiring awareness about your breath, your physical being and surroundings. To be in the present moment, in the here and now, in an accepting and open-minded manner. You learn how to focus your attention and minimise the random flow of thoughts non-judgmentally. You emerge from the practise more calm and connected to yourself.
What if you had a beautiful small plot of land where you decide to have a kitchen garden where you’ll grow tomatoes, herbs, and some flowers. You take good care of the soil by nourishing it with water, organic manure, compost; you regularly take out the weeds to allow the soil to breathe. Beautiful bright red tomatoes and colourful flowers soon start decorating your little nursery. This growth happened not only because you willed it, but because you created the favourably requisite environment for it.
What if you were to look after your consciousness like you tended to your garden? Imagine what that would do to your anatomy, your mind, your emotions and your spirit. Meditation is in effect the creation of that ideal atmosphere for you to cultivate a quiet space in your mind.
Hmmm…still puzzled? Not understanding what ‘It’ is?
Broadly speaking Meditation is considered to be any activity where a person narrows their attention on a repetitive cognitive action.
Let’s break down to get a clearer picture.
- “Does that mean it is an exercise?” Yes
- “Is it a practice?” Yes
- “Is it a training?” Yes, of the mind and much more…
Meditation as we know it in the West lays emphasis on the act of doing the discipline. While Eastern philosophies where it first took root more than 3500 years ago regards it as a state of being – ‘a state of meditation’. Meaning it is not something that you are ‘doing’ but rather something that you are ‘becoming’. You become meditative.
Through the Eastern understanding, meditation is –
- the mind that is void of turmoil
- the mind that is in the ‘now’ aka present moment
- the mind that is no-mind
- the mind without expectations or doubt
- the mind that is one with its host.
Whatever the nuances may be, meditation is simultaneously ancient but also modern, parochial and yet global. And the right mix of meditation approaches can bridge your desire for peace of mind, and the competency to produce positive energy.
By applying several techniques you can endeavour to acquire a peaceful state of consciousness. It typically requires emptying your mind of thoughts, images, ideas, letting go of your worries, and concentrating on your mind. By becoming a dormant witness to your buzzing thoughts, your mind gently transitions into a meditative state, while your body muscles from head to your little toe relaxes and your heartbeat normalises. You benignly give your thoughts a free rein to take on different shapes, forms, and to disappear as easily as they came. You do not attempt to squash them or shut them off. You do not judge yourself for your thoughts, rather just observe them silently.
In a commonly used technique, you channelise your attention on a single object or succinct group of words for a long time period. At no stage of the process do you pressurise or coerce your mind to think only of the object or words. You simply coax your mind as softly as a feather touch to revert to the article or mantra.
Remember how when you get very angry or are close to shouting at your colleague/doctor/or children, you take deep breaths to retain yourself? Well, subconsciously you’re already in the know-how of another method of meditation. This frequently deployed tack makes use of rhythmic breathing. You tenderly devote your interest on your breathing. Once you start noticing the way your lungs in your chest expand and contract with each respiration and focus on the sensation in your nostrils, you inadvertently gently lengthen each inhalation you make.
Once you have settled down into a comfortable posture your mind might drift away from the object of concentration – your breath or words – distracted by sounds near or far away, bodily sensations, memories (especially your To-Do list!) etc. In a non-judgemental manner you would acknowledge your mind’s trip and lovingly reorient your thoughts towards the predesigned goals.
The ideal body position to embrace for Meditation is the seated Buddha, something akin to the images you’ve seen before of people in meditation classes. Those of us with back injuries or bodies enfeebled due to chemotherapy, or other health ailments, might find it more useful to lie down. You can also go into meditation while standing. The most important thing to keep in mind is to feel the earth firmly beneath you. Almost as if you are a tree (Sissoo) growing roots in the ground below you as you meditate.
You might still be a bit baffled because you’ve often heard about Meditation with prefixes like Vedic Meditation, Transcendental Meditation, Zen Meditation, Vipassana Meditation, Mindful Meditation and others. They mostly differ in the level of complexity ranging from strict, regulated practices to conventional recommendations. The end game of all them is to guide you towards a mentally clear and emotionally stable state.
Audio recording credit: Rebecca Kaye
As your mind puts a stop on all your brainwaves, the omnipresent external world around you would also slowly grind to a halt…it is here that you will make the connection with your inner consciousness. You’ll feel light…you’ll forget about your body…and your worries. When you will finally come out of this mind-body-consciousness link up, you would have had one of the most powerful rest in your life.
Think about it, even when we are in deep sleep our minds are abuzz with thoughts and images. Meditation provides our tired bodies, our overworked minds, our distraught emotional selves and our disturbed spirits the rest and calm that it needs. Much like our cells and organs that need sleep to recuperate and recover to move on and grow, similarly our inner beings require downtime to flourish. Meditation is a wonderful path to give your entire system complete repose. A pause that even the deepest sleep cannot provide.
With every subsequent meditation session your consciousness will grow with you. This will lead to your ‘here and now’ gaining prominence over your fears for the future and the regrets of the past. Seconds ticking away on your watch will gradually resemble the rays of the sun that shines brightly on a summer day. You’ll feel more light and cheerful. A happier disposition will envelop you as you’ll make acquaintance with a healthier outlook residing within you.
Meditation is also a satisfying journey in self-discovery. As our minds will cease to be cluttered with thoughts, our core selves will surface…quite like the flower buds in the kitchen garden. Via Meditation we will emerge into the world cognisant of our whole selves. Unhindered by thoughts, independent from fear, excitement, sadness, joy, we will emerge from our inner shell.
Through habitual practice, Meditation can help you adopt everyday micro-behaviours effecting immediate and long-term physical and psychological benefits including low blood pressure, reducing anxiety, decreasing pain, easing symptoms of depression and promotes self love.