Everybody can do Meditation and everybody should include it as a part of daily activities. In Yoga, Meditation was introduced to achieve higher spiritual goals. Even if you do not have any spiritual goals, you can still practice it. To maximise its benefits, it is important that we meditate in the right manner. There are many definition and practices of meditation out there and that makes it difficult to decide and as a result, we choose not to meditate. We will avoid all complexities so that you can begin to meditate.
For simplicity, we will keep our scope limited to meditation explained in the light of Yoga. When I mention Yoga, I am referring to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and all the followed practices introduced by various sages and enlightened beings. For the current essay, Meditation is about keeping the mind one-pointed. We think many thoughts without having much control of it. During Meditation, we will focus the mind on one particular object as a start. This object can be an internal one or an external one.
Preparation for Meditation
Find the quiet spot – Meditation is best practised in silence unless you are pro in it. Silence will reduce the thought waves and will provide the atmosphere for a calm mind. The idea is to control all the senses through which sensation goes to mind. In a quiet spot, your ears will automatically be inactive. You would close the eyes during meditation and this will stop the sensation arising from any vision.
Surrounding – People who are continuously living in chaos would like to have a serene surrounding where they sit to meditate. You can have a separate room for meditation if possible. If not a room, then you can select a corner. It is important to keep that place clean and serene all the time. Also, if possible, then meditate at the same place and same time every day. Meditation will create a certain vibration in the practice place. When you are feeling low or sad, these vibrations will lift your spirit. You can light the incense and keep the flowers as well. They help in calming the mind.
Time for Meditation – It is ideal to practice at least twice every day. The best times are towards the morning and the evening. When night passes into day, and day into night, a state of relative calmness arise. Your body will have a tendency of calmness around these times. We should take advantage of the natural condition. If you cannot do in the evening, then you can do at the night before going to bed.
Select Asana – Asana is nothing but a physical posture in which you can sit comfortably for a long time. The important aspect is to keep spine, neck and head in a straight line. There are many asanas prescribed in Hatha Yoga, but they are for physical health. We should select the one that is easy and comfortable for us. I follow Ardha-Padmasan or half lotus pose. You can also sit on a chair if that is comfortable. Please do not lean backwards otherwise you will feel sleepy.
Decide an object – Aim for this meditation is to make the mind one-pointed. For this, we need to decide an object on which we will concentrate. You can either select any symbols or an idea or heart of a saintly person or a chosen deity. Symbols could be like Aum. I prefer to concentrate on Aum and it’s meaning mentioned in Mandukya Upanishad. You can also concentrate on the idea of a wonderful life. Many prefer to focus on the heart of a saintly person in whom they have strong faith. You can also focus on a chosen deity like Krishna or Shiva.
The objective is that your mind should be able to stay one-pointed on the object as long as possible. In Hinduism, yogis concentrate on chakras as well. You can experiment here, so do not get disheartened if you have selected something you cannot continue with. This is an ever-evolving process. However, we have to keep in mind that our consciousness will expand where we concentrate. Therefore, it is important that we stay away from evil object or idea that is harmful to others.
Relaxation routine – Relaxation helps get rid of excess stress. It is important to relax both body and mind. A relaxed body will calm the mind. Your Asana should be a comfortable one. In the start, your body might not co-operate with you and your mind will also try to create the ripple of fearful thoughts. To address this, you will need a relaxation routine as mentioned below.
Sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths. You can inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Observe how your body is reacting. Post this, you can chant short mantra a few times. I prefer the Aum chanting. Aum brings your mind back into the present moment. Some people also prefer to say a prayer. Swami Vivekananda has suggested praying for the entire world. “Let all beings be happy, Let all beings be peaceful”. Our mind feels better when we think of the good of others. Also, when we are praying for the world, we are also praying for our self.
One-pointed – Once your body and mind are relaxed in the asana, close your eyes and bring your attention to the object you selected. We will use the symbol of Aum as an example here. Visualize the black surrounding and symbol of Aum written in white in the middle of it. Don’t dwell on any other thought, but the thoughts of Aum. In the beginning, you cannot stay focused on the symbol only as the mind is like an ocean. Start concentrating on the ideas you have about this symbol. Think on how are you associated with it or any idea around it that you may have come across.
Try to stay as much as possible on the symbol and thoughts around it. You will definitely get all the other thoughts. Do not try to suppress them but replace with the thoughts of Aum. You may also feel scared or surprised by observing the kind of thoughts coming to your mind. Do not give any attention. Just stay focused on Aum. Start the practice with a few minutes, till the time you are able to concentrate. Slowly open your eyes and bring your attention to the surrounding.
The more you forget the idea of time during meditation, the more you will find success. Don’t share your experience with family or friends yet. You can share the same with your Guru or a teacher. The mind is like an ocean having many waves in the form of thoughts. Through meditation, we subdue all the thoughts waves and only allow only one giant thought on which we concentrate.
Aftermath of Meditation
The practice is the key to success and it is critical to show up every day. Having a regulated life helps in meditation. For the entire day if we allow our mind to wander, then it is not going to be in our control at the time of meditation. It helps to bring attention to the task at hand during our daily chores.
Please stay away from all the mysticism associated with meditation in the beginning. As of now, our goal is not to gain superpowers of mind. We are only taking baby steps and let me assure you that it is a long journey. Every time we meditate, our consciousness expands. So Meditate.