MEDITATION: A glimpse into the Mind and Soul


 | 1 minute to read
Jaideep Bhide

A few weeks ago, a friend came to me with a problem: like so many of us, he's been working from home, and the long hours spent in front of the laptop and the constant stress had started making him feel listless, irritable and depressed. Sadly, he's not the only one. More and more people are feeling this way. Some turn to cigarettes and alcohol for solace, but they do more harm than good. Most people have accepted this as their fate but that doesn't make it any easier. The answer I gave my friend is the solution that I want to talk about today: Meditation. WHAT IS MEDITATION? Let’s first look at what meditation is not: Meditation is not thinking or contemplating or daydreaming. It is also not visualizing, even if one is bringing to mind the image of a particular deity. Meditation is a specific technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. In meditation, you are fully aware and alert but the mind is not focused on the external world or the events of the day or any other thoughts. Instead, the mind is relaxed, calm, clear and inwardly focused. WHY MEDITATE? Yoga means union – the union of the individual consciousness with the consciousness that created the Universe, by whatever name it is called. The ultimate aim of the Yogi is to enter the state of Samadhi which is described in the Katha Upanishad (111:10) thus: “When the five senses of perception together with the mind are at rest, when even the intellect has ceased to function, that, say the sages, is the supreme state.” Meditation helps the individual realize a way of living and perception beyond the five senses. When the person is no longer ruled by the senses, he/she is also no longer troubled by thoughts of lack, loss, anger, jealousy and the like. Meditation builds a one-pointedness of the mind so that it is no longer troubled by external stimuli and our own internal dialogues about them. That is the key to lasting happiness, especially in these strange times we are living in. HOW TO MEDITATE Meditation practice builds over time. A novice needs to be patient and consistent with his meditation practice. I’ve described below a very simple technique that even a beginner can use: 1. Sit in a calm and quiet spot. You may sit cross-legged on the floor or even in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. 2. Posture: The spine has to be ERECT. Do not slouch. 3. Take a few deep breaths. Concentrate on your inhalation and exhalation. Do this for 3-5 rounds. The idea is to relax the mind and let go of your worries and cares, even if it’s just for a little while. 4. Now, close your eyes and focus on the bhrumadhya i.e. the space between your eyebrows. 5. Keep your attention on your breathing. Notice how the breath comes in and goes out of your body. 6. The breathing should be kept even and relaxed, not jagged or hurried. Don’t strain yourself. 7. If thoughts come into the mind – which they definitely will – don’t focus on them. At the same time, don’t make any effort to ignore them. The more you try to ignore a thought, the more it will persist. 8. Keep observing the inhalation and exhalation and sit in this position for as long as possible. 9. Whenever you are ready, slowly open your eyes. Initially, aim for at least 10 minutes of meditation at a time. Slowly increase the duration in increments of 5 minutes till you reach an hour. COMMON MISTAKES & PRECAUTIONS 1.Expecting too much too soon – Meditation is a skill and like any other skill, it takes time to master. Don’t expect too much too soon or else the temptation to give up will arise. 2. Trying to stop the thoughts – The mind is a separate and independent entity which thinks it is our master. When you start meditating, certainly in the initial stages, the mind will try all kinds of tricks to derail you. It does this by bombarding you with images and thoughts and sounds, all designed to distract you. However, while one must not focus on these distractions, one should also NOT make any effort to push them away. The more you try to push these distractions aside, the louder your thoughts will become. A better strategy is to observe the thoughts without getting distracted or agitated by them. In time, the thoughts will quiet down and ultimately, cease altogether. 3. Practicing advanced techniques without guidance- Meditation and Yoga are best done under a Guru’s guidance. There are several books on Yoga and Meditation which have been written with the right intention – knowledge dissemination – but certain techniques and practices are not meant to be done by reading books. Practice them at your own peril. 4. Practicing too many things at the same time - I know people who have done Reiki and Pranic Healing and follow this Guru while they also do that other Guru’s mantra even as they practice 5 different mantras on each day of the week! This hodge-podge will do nothing to help your progress and will do everything to derail you and mess you up in the head! Meditation has the potential to transform you from the inside out. Done right, it will turn you into a different person – one who is calmer, more focussed, happier. Wouldn’t you like to become all that? Let today be the day you take the first step towards the new you – the real you.
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