Meditation a commonly used term is also one of the most misunderstood. The meaning that we attach to the word is influenced not only by our individual perceptions but also by our religious preferences and beliefs. In this article we attempt to understand what is the art and science of meditation, before we try to understand the benefits of meditation and how it can be used for holistic health.
Despite all the popularity Meditation enjoys, there are very few of us who understand the concept of meditation in its true spirit. A part of all religions that are practiced the world over, it is a process that helps you de-clutter the mind as it learns to cherish the present. Let us attempt to understand what is meditation?
What is the Art of Meditation?
Meditation is a part of all religions that are practiced the world over. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, the Bahai Faith and Islam all incorporate meditation in one form or the other. While some consider meditation to be concentrating on a mantra, a symbol or an image, others consider it the same as the technique of visualization. There is a line of thought that believes that meditation is a state of mind.
Meditation is much more than all of the above. It is a state of ‘thoughtless awareness’. It is possible that a surgeon doing a major surgery may be meditating while a person sitting in the Lotus pose may be far away from it.
Is meditation a moment where you slow down, sit quietly and may be ponder on something? This is true to a great extent but meditation is much more. It is a deep and a profound peace that surrounds you when your mind is silent yet alert.
Osho in his talk on ‘The Path of Meditation’ has explained meditation beautifully. According to him meditation is a state where you drop every thought and what remains with you is just consciousness, an awareness. He explains it with the example of a lamp. Even if objects around a lamp are removed, it still continues to give light and similarly when all thoughts are removed from the mind what remains is consciousness. What remains is a silent mind that is conscious and alert.
Meditation in the Indian Scriptures
We are lucky to be born in an ancient culture with a rich heritage. In our ancient Indian scriptures, there are five states of human awareness –
- Jagruti (a state of consciousness)
- Swapna (a state of dreaming)
- Sushupti (a state of deep sleep, in which the mind)
- Turya (a state of thoughtless awareness)
- Turyatita (a state beyond the state of Turya)
While it is the common man who experiences the first three states of awareness, the fourth is the state of thoughtless awareness, the fifth is a state in which a yogi constantly remains. In the fourth state, the rise and fall of thoughts in the mind starts to rest. The mind in this state is compared to a lake that is absolutely still and seems transparent. A still lake reflects the beauty of the surroundings – the blue skies, the trees and the birds.
Similarly, a still and a transparent mind reflects the beauty of the world. Devoid from thoughts about the past or the future, a meditating mind is a reflection of the present moment. It is a state that will allow you to enjoy the chirping of the birds, the scent of the flowers, the cool breeze, the wholesomeness of water and the smiles of little children. Living in the present moment you will be able to keep your mind away from the meaningless chatter that clutters the mind.
Thoughtless awareness while making you more self aware is a state that introduces one to beautiful states of existence. Love, joy, bliss and acceptance become an integral part of you. Meditation when practiced regularly helps you transform the mind and work towards improved concentration, a clear and a calm mind and emotional positivity. There are numerous benefits that are associated with meditation which we would deal with in a separate article.
Hope you have become at least somewhat familiar with the art of meditation after going through these paragraphs. We have published advanced articles on this topic and we do intend to publish videos on the same too.
- Osho, The Path of Meditation, Talk #6
- Talks with Sri Ramana Maharishi, Talk 617