According to Swami Vishnu Devananda, meditation is "….a continuous flow of perception or thought, just like the flow of water in a river." Meditation is a practice where by constant observation of the mind, it brings awareness, harmony and natural order into our life. It helps us dig deep into our inner self to discover the wisdom and tranquility that lie within.
Meditation is a healing practice that allows us to experience inner calm and deep relaxation. For thousands of years, people have used meditation to move beyond the mind's busy activity and emotional turbulence into profound peace and expanded awareness.
In the 21st century, the restful awareness we experience during meditation is more valuable than ever. The pace of life has accelerated, and every day we are bombarded with more information and stimulation than our ancestors encountered during entire lifetimes. Not surprisingly, the number of people suffering from stress, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic health problems is on the rise — and many are searching for peace of mind or tranquility.
The most direct way to experience inner silence and well-being is Meditation. Scientific research reveals, when we meditate, our breathing slows, blood pressure decreases, and stress hormone levels fall.
Meditation isn't about forcing your mind to be quiet, but about experiencing the quiet that is already there. Even when your mind is filled with agitated thoughts, you still have access to the inner stillness and calm that always lies beneath the choppy surface of thought and emotion. Even as our body is resting deeply in meditation, our mind is awake though quiet. The term "restful awareness" captures the unique combination of physical relaxation and an alert yet quiet mind.
Principles of Meditation
The basic points to be kept in mind in practicing meditation are:
- Have a special place and specific time for meditation. Try to practice meditation daily
- Choose a time when your mind is not clouded with worries i.e. Early morning
- Sit up straight with your back, neck and head aligned, facing either north or east
- Condition your mind to remain calm and quiet for the duration of your meditation session
- Regulate your breathing. Start with 5 minutes of deep breathing, then gradually slow it down
- Follow a rhythmic breathing pattern – deeply inhale and exhale
- Let your mind wander in the beginning, it grows more restless if you force it to concentrate
- Then slowly bring it to rest on the focal point of your choice
- Hold your object of concentration at this focal point throughout your session
- Meditation happens when you reach a state of pure thought, even while retaining an awareness of duel self
Followed diligently, you will soon be able to attain a super-conscious state
Tips on Concentration
- In the beginning, it is hard to keep your attention focused on one object
- So, it is better to start off by limiting your field of concentration to a category of objects
- Choose your objects with care e.g. any four flowers, fruits, trees...etc. You must feel at ease with what you choose
- After concentrating on one, you can move on to the next, if & when your mind starts wandering
This style of meditative exercise will help you to control your mind and to focus, while teaching you the principle of single point concentration.