Much of the world today confuses meditation with a lot many exercises that are geared to relaxing the mind or releasing stress. Meditation is not music therapy and nor is it rhythmical dancing, though these can and do have their own inherent benefits.
Simply put, as Paramahansa Yogananda described it, "meditation really is a scientific technique of concentration on God." And while there are paths and ways that take you into the sublime lake of meditation, once you get into it, meditation really can be the one golden Light that will dissolve the darkness of incarnations.
Meditation is an intensely personal and spiritual experience. The desired purpose of each meditation technique is to channel normal waking consciousness into a more positive direction by totally transforming one’s state of mind. To meditate is to turn inwards, to concentrate on the inner self.
The entire process of meditation usually entails the three stages of concentration, meditation and enlightenment or absorption. The meditator starts off by concentrating on a certain point. Once attention gets engaged, concentration turns into meditation. And through continuous meditation, the meditator merges with the object of concentration, which might either be the present moment or the Divine Entity.
The Process of Meditation
Meditation is the natural, simplest and original form of meditation, very secular in nature. It is the easiest form, beyond all self efforts- a direct approach to the mind. We all have been blessed with the third eye or the Shiv Netra to look within directly. On closing the outer eyes, 80 percent of your energy is accumulated within, your awareness turns inwards and the inner eye starts looking within, automatically.
Meditation on Impermanence
Everything in the universe is impermanent. Like the waves in the sea that ascend and descend, so to creation is made up of electromagnetic and subtler forces that are seemingly being created and then dissipating. The manifest existence as we know it, finds one level of its source in the molecular structure nourished by God's love where change is not so clearly obvious. However, on the more perceptible plane, humans change, our thoughts change, our desires change, seasons change, our relationships change, as also do the forms of inanimate objects: vehicles that break down, walls that crack, stones that break; not to mention the shapes of the clouds in the sky and the positions of the planets and the stars.
The approaches to the path are many and different personalities are satisfied by different techniques and methods. Each one of us may be advised to experiment with the variety of streams and then to choose to stay with the one that seems most comfortable. Of course, the more fortunate may intuitively be drawn to a select method fairly early in their search and can thus take off from where they left off in a past incarnation.
The many systems are like rivers that lead into the one sea. All will finally lead to the One goal. Yet, some techniques take you across slowly as with a boat, while others get you to the far side by plane.
Spiritual Awakening and Enlightenment is the primary goal of almost all spiritual practices, traditions and religions and for any spiritual seeker. There are many names for this awakened state of Consciousness depending on what culture and tradition we belong to.
Spiritual Practices exist in all traditions and cultures. The techniques are different but the goal is usually the same: to calm the mind and integrate the higer aspects of our being (higher self, Soul, Spirit) into our lower self (ego, personality, body).
Postures, breathing exercises, chanting, prayers, rituals, ceremonies, exercises, diet are all examples of ways of doing spiritual practices.
The ancient Yogis recognised long ago that in order to accomplish the highest stage of yoga, which is the realisation of the self, or God consciousness, a healthy physical body is essential. For when we are sick, our attention is seldom free enough to contemplate the larger reality, or to muster the energy for practice.
The masters of yoga also teach us that personal growth is possible only when we fully accept our embodiment and when we truly understand that the body is not merely skin and bones but a finely balanced system of energies.
Aids To Your Meditation
Your meditation seat should be comfortable. A cushion of cotton or some other natural fibre facilitates the natural flow of circulation. Some serious practitioners place a deer skin, tiger skin, or even a woollen blanket over the cushion. This protects the body from the downward pull of certain earth currents and helps raise the life current (prana) to the point between the eyebrows.
Sit facing north or east. The magnetic currents flowing in from these directions assist in concentration