Introduction We all know about meditation. Some of us might have even practised it at some point, in our lives. Today, physical health is affected in every possible way. Blame it on unhealthy lifestyle, pollution or deteriorating mental health. Although every factor contributes to some or another extent, mental health directly influences physical health. When physical and mental health is in the best condition, only then, optimal health remains top-notch. Too much stress and anxiety levels are leading to depression. We are getting frustrated easily. We have found plenty of factors that cause triggers in us. Every little trigger is irritating us. We are becoming impatient and losing our cool very easily. Doctors prescribe their patients to follow some alternate therapy, and meditation is considered to be the best when it comes to improving mental health. This article explains in detail what meditation is in the real sense and how to achieve the meditative mind.
Myths about meditationMost of us if asked will describe meditation through techniques which they followed or have heard about. Some feel that it is a technique in which one has to sit in a silent room with eyes closed and concentrate on breathing. Some will say that one has to focus on some point for some duration. Some will say that it can only be done in a quiet place or a quiet room. Some will say that it can only be done in the early morning. Hardly anyone will describe what it truly is. They are describing some of the ways through which a meditative mind can be achieved but what meditation is all about seems unknown to many. When asked how did they feel during meditation, many of us will describe our experience as dull. Focusing on certain points will make them drowsy and sleepy. All they want to do is go back to sleep.
What is meditation?Meditation is a process in which a person learns to focus, and the focus is on the present now. It is because the power lies in the present. Most of the time, our mind wanders into the past and the future. When we focus on the moments that have passed by us or on the moments that have not yet arrived, we are wasting our time and energy. Our focus should be only on the present now. It is because when our focus is on the present moment, we can deliver our best. We can achieve anything when we have undistracted attention while carrying out our work. When we are distracted with past or future thoughts, our attention span and concentration are not up to the mark.
Two students spent the same number of hours studying for the exam. One can score more marks than the other. It is because the student who scored more marks has more concentration power. Within the same number of hours, he was able to grasp the subject to the maximum potential and thus, he could do well in the examination.
What is the technique of meditation?Meditation preferably is done in a quiet place. It is because the intention is to achieve a meditative mind. It is a state of mind which lives in the present now. It does not dwell in past or future. It is a quiet mind. It thinks but thinks only about the present. To achieve such kind of stillness, although it is not a compulsion, it will be preferable if a quiet place is chosen. In the beginning, stillness outside promotes stillness inside. As time progresses, there will be no need for the outside to be still.
Early morning is considered to be the best time to practice meditation. Again, there is no compulsion. It is up to an individual to choose the time that suits them the best. However, in the beginning, it is best if meditation is done during the early hours of the morning. It is because one can sense calmness during that time. The majority of the people are sleeping. Thus, there will be no or fewer distractions.
There is no need to close your eyes. It is an individual's preference. If some are comfortable with their eyes closed then they can opt to do that. Those who are scared to fall asleep if they close their eyes should keep them open. Ideally sitting with crossed legs and keeping back straight is a good pose. Those who cannot come in that pose can take the support of a wall or prefer to sit in a chair. It is better not to lie down because there are full chances to fall asleep.
The technique is to focus on something, such as a flower, a pen, or a point anything. Focus on the sound a fan, or an air conditioner makes. If living on a beachside, focus on the roaring sound that waves make while hitting the shore. Focus on breathing while inhaling and exhaling. Close your eyes and visualize a flower and focus on it. Visualize standing on the beach. Now, imagine how sand would feel underneath the feet and water that would create pressure around the feet.
Initially focusing would not be that easy. We will not be able to focus for more than 1-2 minutes without creating a distracting thought. As the days' progress, our focus will increase and we will be able to extend the duration of meditation. The key is not to get discouraged and leave the meditation mid-way. As soon as a distracting thought comes to mind, we need to cancel it and once again start meditating. After meditating for a certain period, we need to gradually come out of our practice and resume our daily work.
Meditative mind The whole purpose of meditation is to achieve a meditative mind. Meditation offers many benefits ranging from improving concentration power to achieving good mental health and from decreasing stress to increasing cortisol. However, why only perform meditation for those 15-30 minutes when we can perform it the whole day? When we meditate our mind and intellect are aligned. It means that our focus is entirely where we want our focus to be. For the rest of the day, we don't do that. We are performing one activity and thinking about something else. Whether we are having our meals or worshipping God, exercising our body, doing office work, studying for exams or watching television, we don't have undivided attention.
What we have to do is learn from our session of meditation. It may be for 5 minutes, but for the complete 5 minutes, we were able to bring our minds and intellect together. We need to do the same throughout the day. Initially, we have to do it consciously. The mind will wander here and there. We may be watching t.v. and creating thoughts about what had happened earlier that day or how our presentation will go the following morning. We will create thoughts, but with awareness, we need to shift our focus back to what we were doing. When we are watching television, and our focus should be entirely on watching it and not on anything else.
Initially, it may seem weird, but with practice, we will see that we can increase our focus. We can accomplish every task without causing much distraction. It is because our mind is experiencing more and more stillness. It is going in the meditative state where nothing else exists except the present reality. It is a state where we learn to give our undivided attention to anything we do.
Why is a meditative mind necessary? The meditative state is the ultimate stillness. It is emptiness. It is the present now where the power lies. Power does not reside in the past or the future. We cannot go and change our past. We cannot undo what is done. Thus, there is no point in thinking about it and regretting anything. We do not know what the future will bring for us. We do not have control over our future. Our present will shape our future. However, there will be plenty of other factors too that will determine the outcome. Thus, it is better not to worry about the future outcome. Why waste our thoughts and precious energy and distract ourselves for no reason? Why not remain in the meditative state and meditative mind the entire day and achieve optimal benefits? Also, when we are in our present now, we feel much lighter. The memories and future uncertainties do not wear us down. We know what we can control and what we cannot. Wisdom is to put our knowledge to the best use. When we have information, why not use it for our good? Thus, be in a meditative mind the entire day. In short, meditation is not a process in which a person has to concentrate on an object for some duration to increase focus. It is a process to attain a meditative mind through which a person can live in the present now all the time.