The Latest Fad
The latest fad all over the world is meditation. There are many meditation schools and techniques. People go on meditation holidays and resorts. We also now have people debating merits and demerits of different kinds of meditation and trying to prove some are superior while others are not. This is happening because some studies have come up showing that when in a ‘meditative’ or similar state, the mind is calmer and some nice things start happening. Some claim physical benefits, mental benefits, memory improvement and much more.
The biggest problem is that meditation is neither a structured practice, nor is it a goal. What is the purpose or sense of doing some technique or other if there is no permanent change or deeper understanding of yourself. We go to resorts and buy meditation cds. Some ‘do’ transcendental meditation and some are ‘into’ Buddhist techniques. Many others go for Vipasyana. The list is endless. After doing all of this, the fact remains that nothing changes with us or with our lives.
What is The Background to Meditation.
There are two ways to look at what is meditation.
1) All of us and this world is made of five elements in different combinations; earth, water, fire, air, ether or space. We need to have the right proportion in the correct balance of these elements in order to have the correct kind of life. What has happened is that we are very quickly not only getting cut off but also have greatly reducing proportions of the ether element. Earth is the next reducing element. Meditation brings in the space element and restores balance. Agitation reduces, diseases reduce, life is more fulfilling. We are all full of fire and air and some amount of water. We are cutting off from earth as well. Space is the adjusting factor; the only way to get back in harmony with nature and the universe.
2) The only way to lead a blissful life is by reducing the activities of the mind. Gradually, as the mind becomes calmer, life improves. In fact, the whole objective of Yoga is perfect stillness and concentration of the mind. That is spirituality. It cannot be brought in from outside or through science. It has to be done by each of us individually and quietly, freely and effortlessly. There are ways and means given initially because we may not know where to begin.
Asanas are one such set of techniques. They are meant to train the restless mind and make it ready to sit quietly. Pranayamas are the next step to get the mind more concentrated. The other benefits are just incidental. It is said that one should give up asanas when their purpose is achieved. It has also been said that pranayama practice should start only after one can sit effortlessly and quietly in one single posture for continuously three hours at least.
Can We Meditate?
We cannot ‘do’ meditation or practice a technique or ‘sit to meditate’. Initially we may be given some guidance, but that is not meditation. Meditation happens. We just need to prepare ourselves. It can happen anytime in any fashion. So what do we do? The answer is simple. Just learn to be quiet with yourself and your thoughts.
What To Do
Begin with fifteen minutes a day. Sit quietly with your eyes shut in complete silence in a comfortable environment. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed and your hands loosely resting on your thighs. Alternatively you could sit on any hard surface in a different meditative posture. There has to be no noise at all. Do nothing. Do not practice any technique. Do not try to control or stop your thoughts. Just try not to get attached to your thoughts. Whatever needs to happen will happen over a period of time. Sit like this daily for more than forty five minutes without moving; in silence. There are times you may not be able to manage it. Do not worry. It is said that just sitting quietly even for fifteen minutes a day at the same time for seven years in a row takes the mind to a different state and life changes.
-Do not be full or hungry when you sit quietly. Else the body will not let the mind sit quietly.
-There should be no discomfort. If you have arthritis, sit in a chair. If you have no problems then train yourself to sit on the floor, cross legged.
-The temperature should be moderate. Neither too cold nor too hot nor wet.
-The area around you has to be clean so that there are fewer chances of insects. You can get disturbed if bugs, flies and mosquitoes land on you all the time.
-Clothing should be from natural fabrics, loose and comfortable.
-Sit alone, not in a group.
-Do not have any music. Shut off or put on silence all your digital devices.
-Try facing towards the East, unless it is a wall.
-The ideal place to sit quietly is in natural surroundings if possible. If it is too cold or there are few such places, then sit at home.
-Sit for minimum fifteen minutes a day going upto an hour.
-After this ‘meditation’, do not start rushing around to work or do things. Just be with yourself, keep your pace slow.
-Get proper rest and sleep. If you are mentally tired or physically fatigued, you cannot sit quietly.
-Just enjoy whatever happens.
A few weeks of this going upto a few months will bring about changes. This is meditation. Once we train ourselves to sit quietly, one can just focus on the tip of the nose and mentally watch your inhale and exhale.