“No matter which path you follow for meditation, the first and foremost task is to try to make the mind calm and quiet. If the mind is constantly roaming, if it is all the time a victim of merciless thoughts, then you will make no progress whatsoever. The mind has to be made calm and quiet so that when the light descends from above, you can be fully conscious of it. In your conscious observation and conscious acceptance of light, you will enter into a profound meditation and see the purification, transformation and illumination of your life.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Meditation is our attempt to discover our inner self, a place beyond the usual workings of the intellectual mind. When we experience real meditation we become aware of the infinite within and our own unexpected wealth of divine qualities like peace and inner joy. Many people may have had glimpses of meditation unconsciously. For example whilst walking through nature and being awed by its beauty and magnitude. Others may have been moved by sublime music. At such moments our mind becomes still and we feel a sense there is something greater beyond our usual perceptions. As mysteriously as it came, such experiences may leave, giving only a fleeting glimpse of a feeling that is hard to describe. Meditation is an attempt to make such experiences permanent and also deepen and expand our own consciousness.
People may take up meditation for a variety of reasons which could just be curiosity, a desire for more relaxation, peace of mind, or help in sleeping. Others may take to meditation from a feeling of disenchantment with the outer life. If practised with sincerity and regularity, meditation can give us relaxation and peace of mind but it can also offer more than we ever expected. Through meditation we can expedite our soul’s inner journey and we can become more aware of our own spiritual dimension.
“Meditation is absolutely necessary for those who want to have a better and more fulfilling life. If you feel that you are satisfied with what you have and what you are then you need not enter into the field of meditation. But if you feel that there is a barren desert deep inside your heart, then meditation is the answer. Meditation will give you inner joy and peace of mind.”
To begin meditation we need to learn the art of concentration. Here concentration is different to mental concentration. Concentration for meditation means the ability to be aware of only one thing at a time. We need to keep the mind one pointed and focused only on our meditation exercise. If you try sitting still for 5 minutes and observe your own thoughts you will realise how difficult this is at first. However spiritual teachers who have mastered the art of meditation have offered a variety of techniques to help control the mind. If practised these can change the inherent tendency of the mind to wander and we can enter to silent meditation.
Meditation has significant benefits, these do not materialise in one or two sessions, they are slowly accumulated over time as we deepen our own meditation practise. These benefits will include a more focused and calm mind, greater dynamism and better sleep. In addition we will find ourselves less worried by minor irritants because we can more easily detach ourselves from these negative thoughts.
Some people associate meditation with the Kundalini energies, and psychic powers, however these are really like diversions on the path. The real goal of meditation is peace of mind and positive changes to our inner life.
To start meditation is very easy. Just take 5 or 10 minutes somewhere quiet. Begin by focusing on your breathing and let your thoughts drift away, if thoughts come pay no attention to them. Next try to feel yourself diving deep within away from the mind. If you like you can visualise a beautiful garden or vast ocean. Then for 10 minutes try to hold this awareness with one pointed concentration. If external noises come do not let them distract you, they will always be there. Just concentrate on your breathing. Even if this first experience is not fruitful keep persevering for with each try we will be able to add to our capacity and gradually learn the art of meditation.
Article by Tejvan Pettinger (01/02/06)