Meditation and Mind
What is meditation - Keeping the mind calm and quiet is Meditation.
This state of mind is neither reacting to the memories of the past or is preoccupied with the plans of the future. These are the two main sources of the chronic stress. When they are removed, balance of physical, psychological and emotional states can be achieved.
According to Dr. Joan Borysenko, a pioneer in the field of mind/body medicine, in her Beginner's Guide to Meditation, meditation means being 'pleasantly anchored in the present moment'.
Meditation is mind body exercise. There are many types of meditations most of which originate from ancient spiritual and religious traditions. It is done for several purposes such as to increase physical relaxation, to achieve calmness of mind, to enhance health or to treat certain diseases.
Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the reflexive, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness.
Different meditative disciplines encompass a wide range of spiritual or psychophysical practices that may emphasize different goals—from achievement of a higher state of consciousness, to greater focus, creativity or self-awareness, or simply a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind.
Ayurvedic concept of Mind
Mind is atomic in nature and is composed of three super qualities known as Trigunas – Sattva, Rajas, Tamas. It is similar to Vata dosha because it is very unstable and has very fast speed. Within fraction of second, it can travel from past to present to future. When there is turbulence in the mind, the person becomes restless but the calm and quiet mind is very useful for creative work and for health. Mind consists of various thoughts, feelings and sensations. The place of mind is heart but this is not the heart which is related to circulation of blood, but the one which lies within.
What is required for meditation ?
Calm and quiet location is very important. The posture must be comfortable. One must be able to concentrate or focus on one thing or object. If the thoughts try to wander away from this object, bring them to focus again on the main object and ignore the disturbing thoughts and sensations.
Time for meditation –
The best time is early morning at least one hour before sunrise. Ayurveda has explained this as Brahma Muhurta. At this time there is complete quietness in the nature and there is no disturbance outside also.
How to meditate ?
Sit quietly in any position that is suitable for you. Close your eyes and think of any object or just concentrate on the incoming and outgoing breath. Stop all the distractions. Allow the mind to wander. At first there will be many thoughts in the mind but later on as the mind becomes quieter, the thoughts will start decreasing and stage will come when there will be only calm and quietness, but alert state of mind.
Types of Meditation –
1. Concentrative Meditation – These practices focuses on one’s own breath, an image, or sound (Mantra) in order to quiet the mind and allow greater awareness to emerge. Ayurveda and Yoga believes that there is direct connection between one’s own breath and one’s state of mind.
When person is anxious or frightened his breath becomes shallow and rapid. On the other hand when the mind is calm, focused the breath tends to become more regular, slow and deep.
When the mind is focused on the breath, the mind gets absorbed in the rhythms of breath and becomes tranquil.
2. Mindful Meditation – This is one of the main types of Buddhist meditation. These practices involves becoming aware of the continuously passing parade of sensations and feelings, images, thoughts, sounds, smells etc. without becoming involved in thinking about them. The person sits quietly and simply witnesses whatever goes through the mind without reacting them. Mind thus becomes quiet.
3. Transcendental Meditation
Origin – It is from Lord Krishna. The knowledge is also found in Buddha philosophy and later on in the philosophical teachings of Shankaracharya which was passed on to Shri Brahmannada Saraswati. Finally it was Shri Maharshi Mahesh Yogi who made it popular throughout the world.
It is Mantra or sound meditation. Each person is given specific beeja mantra according to his way of thinking.
Science of Creative Intelligence – The technique of TM has been explained by SCI or science of creative intelligence.
4. So hum (mantra) meditation – This types of meditation uses the natural sound produced during inspiration and expiration. One has only to concentrate on the breathing that is taking place. It is found out that after some time the thoughts in the mind disappear and the mind becomes more and more calm and focused.
5. Vipasana meditation – This was discovered and taught by Buddha thousands of years ago. The word vipasana meaning ‘to see things clearly’ was taught to people as a way of healing the body and mind, by means of cleansing both of impurities and toxins. In this type of meditation the person is asked to observe complete silence for week and during this time
6. Zen meditation - This is the practice of sitting in preparation of relaxing the body and mind as well as opening oneself up to discovering insight into the nature of your being. After some days of practice; you will notice that your heart rate will begin to slow down. Breathing will become shallow, and you will pass into a meditative state. Thought will become isolated and deliberate concentration on the present moment is all you will be aware of.
Yoga and Meditation -
Our sense organs are constantly focused on the outside world. To focus them inwards is the best method of controlling them.
Ayurveda and Yoga (Pratyahara) have stressed the importance of this to avoid the diseases.
Definition of Yoga is controlling unstable mind. -Chitta vritti nirodha.
Pranayama or breathing exercises are helpful for this.
Basic principles of Yoga
In human body there are innumerable channels called as Nadi and centers called as Chakra.
If these channels and centers are tapped, energy hidden in the body can be released. This energy is called as Kundalini.
Pranayama is the best breathing exercise to connect to this energy.
Pranayama-“Prana” means breath and “Ayama” means pause or retention. Hence, Pranayama literally means retention of breath. Regular practice of Pranayama, increases life span as it helps to preserve the life force. This is good exercise for controlling mind and Vata dosha. Pranayama consists of four phases- i) Inspiration– Puraka, ii) Inner retention – Abhyantara Kumbhaka, iii) Expiration –Rechaka and iv) Outer retention –Bahya Kumbhaka.
The ideal proportion is inhalation one, internal retention four, exhalation two, and external retention four.
Practice of Anuloma and Viloma Pranayama (Alternate nostril breathing ) is extremely useful.
Meditation and Pranayama –
As discussed earlier there are some meditation practices which are based on Pranayama. These practices gives good results and through these Mind can become calm and quiet. Also Pranayma is useful in increasing the concentration of the mind.
Research on Meditation –
Studies show that after meditation, reactions are faster, creativity greater and broader comprehension. In addition, by silencing the mind, meditation can also put one in touch with Self, allowing the body’s own inner wisdom to be heard.
Transcendental Meditation -Research shows that it creates alpha amplitudes in the EEG and helps to calm the mind.
It is useful to lower the blood pressure, increases the coronary blood circulation. reduces stress and helps in de-addiction of the drugs.
Helpful in increasing the concentration of the mind and improving the intelligence also,
Meditation in Health and Diseases –
Meditation helps to keep the body also in balance, improve concentration, increase memory and achieve better performance in day to day work.
More and more doctors are prescribing meditation as a way for following diseases -
2. Heart problems
5. For reducing stress
6. For relieving pain
7. For treating depression.
Meditation is extremely useful for self realization and hence many religious practices make meditation as the mandatory practice for life style.
Meditation is safe and simple way to balance person’s physical, emotional and mental states.