has been at the core of many religions and philosophies.
Meditation has been accepted to essentially mean a
stillness of the mind. This can be in the contemplation
of the infinite or on Sunya or zero or nothingness.
Hindu religion has placed a great emphasis on meditation
and many techniques and methods have been developed .
Some of the popular schools of thought are Japa , Bhakti
and Hatha yog. In Japa yoga a specific syllable or
mantra is repeated again and again. Beads are used to
keep track of the Japas.
This form, of meditation can be done individually
or in a group. The aim is to concentrate the senses on
god. Bhakti yoga is not strictly a form of meditation,
in the sense that it refers to focused thought of love
and devotion to god. Bhakti is more associated with the
contemplation of Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu. Hatha
Yoga is a form of meditation which is more akin to a
search for the fountainhood of youth or an elixir of
life. This is also called raising the Kundalini which
emerges from the energy source called chakras. The most
complete treatise on meditation has been written by
Patanjali called the Yoga sutras. According to this
thought, the aim of meditation is to calm the mind. The
brain is usually in a constant state of flux. The
agitated mind is unable to retain pure thought or
unadulterated vision of god or the universal truth. The
phases through which a person has to graduate to attain
this steady state have been described by Patanjali. In
the beginning the mind is flitting from one thought to
another, unable to conquer the train of thought.
beautiful analogy has been drawn in the Bhagavad-Gita.
The mind or the chariot is driven by the five horses
which form the senses. The intellect is the charioteer.
The horses or the five senses pull, drag and drive the
mind in a confused fashion. An untutored mind behaves in
this fashion. It flits from one craving to another
trying to engorge the senses with the pleasures of the
instant. With the mind filled with
distractions, how can it realize the godhead? The
solution is to rein in the senses with the intellect.
Among all animals, only man is endowed with the
intellect and therefore the only one who can attain god.
The ultimate end of meditation according to Patanjali is
the destruction of primal ignorance
and the realization of and establishment in the
essential nature of the Self.
Buddhist religion is a strong proponent of meditation.
The various sub schools of thought have percolated from
India to as far away as Japan. Zen is a form mediation
practiced in the Far East.
Buddha achieved salvation or enlightenment while
meditating under the Bodhi tree. The actual place where
he attained Nirvana (Buddhist term for Moksha) is
present in modern day Patna in Bihar, India. There
are two types of meditation in Buddhist school of
thought: Shamatha and Vipassana, both of which are
necessary for attaining enlightenment. Shamantha
practices are aimed at developing the ability to focus
the attention single-pointedly; Vipassana includes
practices aimed at developing insight and wisdom through
seeing the true nature of reality.
Some experts argue that Shamanta is a precursor
to Vipassana and one has to graduate from the former to
the later, whereas some consider these to be two
distinct meditation techniques.
may be the techniques employed, the ultimate aim of
meditation is to conquer the mind. The importance and
relevance of meditation is felt all the more in this
modern world where there is a surplus of riches but
totally bereft of happiness. The wretchedness of the
mind arises due to the confusion and chaos of the
wandering thoughts. The western society is trying to
derive happiness by satisfying the senses which is
temporary and fleeting. In a sense, the five horses of
the mind are running amok uncontrolled and wild.
Meditation or a few minutes of absolute silence of the
mind can bring enormous relief to an individual. This
not only brings
peace of mind, but also makes one acquire the
ability to concentrate.
it is not yet possible for us, who are living in this
era of materialism, to grasp the concept of eternal
peace and salvation. The carnal pleasures of the body
are too near and too attractive to be ignored. In fact,
the mind will reject all thoughts of giving up the
bodily pleasures. After all we are not Buddha, who left
his palace to meditate in isolation. But it would do us
a world of good if we could spend a few minutes
contemplating on stillness.
Hindu way of mediating is to assume a lotus posture.
This means sitting erect with both legs crossed and
folded. Both the hands should be straight with palm held
outward on the knee with the forefinger and the thumb
pressed together. The other fingers should remain
outstretched. Breathing in slowly with word ’OM’
resonating in the chest and then breathing out slowly.
The mind concentrated on anything or nothing at all.
‘OM’ is supposed to be the primordial sound which
resonates around the universe and has spiritual
connotations. The idea is to keep the mind steady and
devoid of stray thoughts and impulses. For some of us
this may sound as too simplistic and easy. But when we
do sit down to meditate, we realize that we are not able
to concentrate for more than a minute and are swamped by
idle thoughts. Over a period of time, our levels of
concentration would improve and we can hold on to a
meditative state for longer. A few minutes of calm can
have dramatic effect on our lives. Use of beads is
recommended to help in improving concentration. Early
morning time is best to sit down for a good session of
meditation, since the mind is still not agitated with
the routine of the day.
But if one is unable to take out time during
morning hours, any other time would be equally
effective. A few minutes break during the lunch hour can
do the trick. We need to relax and let our mind detach
itself from the humdrum of everyday life.