It is a great pleasure to have such a wonderful opportunity to share with you all today, yet another interesting post. As I was going through my previous blogs, I suddenly realized that there is a very important topic I am yet to deliberate on. This topic is no other than the revered subject of Meditation.
What is Meditation?
This is a process whereby we think deeply or focus our mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation. In as much as this definition does some justice to the word, as a practitioner of Bhakti Yoga, I can’t help but notice that it says “focus the mind”, however the definition doesn’t tell us on what to focus the mind. In previous ages, when people had the ability and the physical attributes required for meditation, it wasn’t uncommon to see many people engaged in meditation. Meditation is one of the eight process of yoga called Dhyana. This is actually the 7th stage of the eight fold process of mystic yoga. For those who are conversant with the nature of yoga in details, it comes as no surprise to see meditation as the stage before the final stage of “perfection”.
Thus the natural question would be; what about the other 6 stage before this stage. Well in brief they are Yama and Niyama, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhayana, and Samadhi. The natural process would be to follow up the stages through from Yama up to Samadhi. However in our Jet aged society, many people have neither the life span to go through this process nor the mental equilibrium to see it through. In order for one to fully master the eight fold mystic yoga process, which is very arduous, one needs to practice for many years, thousands of years. Unfortunately in this age we do not have such a potential. Nevertheless there is a different kind of meditation recommended for us in this age and it is meditation accompanied by chanting. Before I delve fully in to this part of our discussion I would like to say here that even though meditation as it should be is rarely practiced now, the pseudo form of it that many engage in, still has a lot of benefits.
In a society today, where there is an unending influx of negative energy and vibes, meditation has helped many people to find a safe haven amidst all the chaos. People from different walks of life, of different ages are now seeing the immense value of engaging in meditation. In fact recently there was a video online, on social media that had Hollywood celebrities talking about how meditation had greatly helped them. The other interesting side was the fact that even those we least expect to engage in meditation were also involved. There was an interview where Oprah Winfrey had with popular rap Artist 50 Cent, and he admitted to be engaged in meditation. It came as a shocker to everyone. He (50 Cent) went on to say that meditation had helped him a lot in controlling his emotions. Many corporate individuals are leaning towards meditation now as a form of de-stressing themselves after a stressful day at work.
The advantages of meditation cannot be over-emphasized and for this reason it is safe to say those who engage in it can draw a lot of benefit even if the end result or motive is material or temporary. Now back to the initial point I made, meditation has to be done with a specific goal and object in mind. The “focus” has to be directed somewhere. New age meditation “gurus say that there is no need to focus on anything, as the process of meditation is in itself self-focusing. This concept is however erroneous, as many of us will remark that when we sit still to “meditate” with little or no focus, two things happen; we either fall asleep or our minds begin to race about. The essence of having a tangible focal point is to help the mind and restrain it from “running wild” by gently persuading it to focus on the focal point/object. If we intend to captivate the mind then we must present to it, an alternative that is most attractive and captivating. We will all agree that in this material world, it is difficult to find something that can sustain the interest of the mind for long. Thus the sane thing to do, is to give the mind that which captivates everyone’s mind. The Supreme Lord is known as the “all attractive one; Krishna”, thus we engage the mind in thinking of the name, form, qualities and pastimes of the lord. This way the restless is curtailed and we can hope to achieve a better meditation process.
There is no gain saying that for one to be able to practice meditation properly there has to be a Guide, not just any guide but a spiritual guide who understands the intricacies of mediation and is not just searching for cheap fame, and money from students in the name of offering meditation. If the guide cannot himself meditate peacefully on the name, form, qualities and pastimes of the Supreme Lord then he cannot fully deliver the meditation process to anyone. The purpose of meditation has been different among various people, and we can say it ranges from the desire to obtain mystic powers and opulence, to the desire to control, the desire to obtain material opulence, or even for the simple reason of keeping the mind calm and at peace.
If the objective is however not geared towards pleasing the Supreme absolute Person, then we are sure to encounter lots of difficulties and even have to repeat the entire process. In this light weather we are engaged in silent meditation or chanting meditation ( I hope to write about this next week), we should endeavor to always remember that the ultimate purpose of engaging in meditation is to place the mind at the lotus feet of the Supreme personality of Godhead, in constant and total absorption.
I hope this sheds light on the subject, till next week do read, internalize, share and follow for more.