What is meditation?
Meditation means going within (from the latin word medi that means middle or center). We all are something beyond our physical bodies, beyond our feelings, our desires, our thoughts…there is something deeper within us. Meditation is about being with this deeper part of us.
Why should we meditate?
In our day to day life we go through many ups and downs, seeing and experiencing both negative and positive things in the world, in our lives…and getting affected by them all. This is a state of duality or illusion…where we fall out of balance, fearful and unaware of who we are. Negative energy, fears or blockages are a result of this imbalance or ignorance…manifesting as diseases, problems, harmful thoughts, negative attachments, destructive beliefs, disturbed behavior or unhappiness of various kinds. Through meditation we awaken to our inner truth and discover inner happiness. We know that there is nothing to fear at all. This brings peace and joy to all of us and puts us all back in a balanced and wholesome state making everything better.
Who can meditate?
Anyone can, there are no restrictions of gender and even children can meditate whenever they are ready for it.
When should we meditate?
Meditation is an inner state and not restricted by time. Whether it is morning or night, before food or after, is not so important, although keeping a light stomach helps some people in focusing better, and it helps to be not too sleepy when you are trying to meditate. Women in their periods, or people who are not feeling well can meditate as well. In-fact meditation could help in healing you during uncomfortable times. With practice meditation will become easier and effortlessly possible at any time.
What should be worn?
There is no need to wear any special type of outfit. As long as you are comfortable you can meditate whether at work or home in your day to day clothes.
Are there any specific methods of meditation?
It does not matter what technique you use to draw focus from outer world to the inner self….some people begin by closing their eyes and sitting still, some prefer listening to soothing music to relax their mind, some focus on chanting or mantras, some focus on their breath, all these are just aids or induction techniques to gradually achieve stillness. Yet these are not meditation itself. Meditation is when we go beyond all this and be without any thoughts to discover the innermost self.
What are the steps to follow?
Step 1. Relaxed awareness: In day to day life sometimes we get absorbed in the experiences without remembering our innermost self. The first step in meditation is to draw our senses inwards. You can try this by closing your eyes gently and sitting in a comfortable posture, neither slouching not stiff.
Step 2: Observation: Instead of getting attached to any feelings, thoughts or mind-chatter, just observe them and watch them quieten. Observing something gives you power over it. Observe your breath and your mind… and watch the space between your thoughts.
Step 3: Witnessing: When you find the space between your thoughts …when there is inner silence, then you can observe your true self. This is who you really are. Be with yourself as a witness to the self. This takes you beyond the illusion of the world process and in alignment with your inner truth which is pure peace and bliss.
For how long should we meditate?
You can meditate for as long as you want. You might take some time in the beginning to even reach a meditative state and the idea is that once you get there you must stay in it for as long as possible. You can begin with practicing for 30 minutes a day and slowly increase it to one hour a day. As you practice each day after a period of dedicated practice, you will find that the meditative state will come naturally to you and in every part of the day and even at night while sleeping you will be in a deep inner state. Still it will be good to dedicate at least one hour a day for specially being just with yourself and meditating.
What will happen once you reach a meditative state?
For each person their own individual and unique experiences are important. You can note and observe our own experiences. For example: Being one with nature, Being one with the universe, Feeling light, Just being, Pure peace and bliss…these are some of the common experiences of people who meditate. After you achieve this ‘enlightened’ state you will not feel superior in any way but will be more compassionate and humble, recognizing that all is one.
Swati Prakash is a spiritual author