What is Meditation 101
What is Meditation 101
This is basic information for people who would like to know what Meditation is all about, or refresh their minds with such information.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is basically just expulsion of thoughts. It is a process of concentrating on one good thought thereby eliminating or rather keeping away from the plethora of disturbing and distracting thoughts. By this method, the mind regains focus, clarity, happiness and peace.
The method of Self-Enquiry is also suggested to those who are naturally inclined to do so. This is a process of inward research or quest in the form of quiet, wordless questioning within, in the form of “Who Am I?”
However, theoretical knowledge alone is not enough. Practice is essential. The doctor can tell the patient to take the medicine several times a day, and the patient can listen to it several times a day, but that is not going to cure the illness. The patient must take the medicine and absorb it within in order to cure the illness. The same way, practice of meditation is a must.
Meditation can be done by anyone
There are no restrictions of age, gender or religion for Meditation. Also, we can practice it any time, anywhere. We can practice as a group or alone, even though to be alone while meditating is preferable. But as an incentive, as a beginner, if we cannot do it alone, we can start doing it with another person or a group. Especially when we follow the accessory practices that prepare us for meditation, such as Chanting, Devotional Singing etc.
The Big Picture
It is easy to forget the Big Picture, the Real Meaning and Goal and get bogged down in details. We see this in every aspect of our lives. The word Meditation has become very complicated these days. Don’t think of it as some deep, complex, difficult process or ritual that you have to perform sitting in a certain complicated posture. Preliminaries are suggested to make it easy for you.
Any time you contemplate on something that brings a little peace to your mind or calms you down, it is Meditation. So just reading, or listening to peaceful stuff and contemplating on it, is Meditation too. Pondering over the Teachings of Genuine Gurus, Masters or Scriptures is Meditation too. You must be able to meditate any time, any where, while doing anything. That is real Meditation. Meditation is supposed to make you feel better. So take it easy.
What does Meditation do for us?
Meditation is a way to clear the mind, at least a little. It is basically “expulsion of thoughts”. Because we keep thinking a lot, and accumulating a lot of unnecessary thoughts, the mind becomes cluttered. Meditation helps to un-clutter and refresh the mind, so that we can live our lives effectively, efficiently and happily. It is like re-charging a battery. It gives new life and energy to a weak mind.
Imagine a room. There is a window on the wall at the opposite side of the door. The window overlooks a beautiful garden and mountain views and fountains. When you open the window there is sunshine and sweet breeze. But…. you want to use this room as a store room. So you close the window, and keep on adding and storing things. Some are small objects but some are huge. Slowly as objects are accumulated, the window becomes unreachable. And since you don’t regularly attend to it, dust gathers. Insects and pests show up. Spiders find a haven in this room and create cobwebs and live in them. Sometimes molds and mildew infest the room. There is a pungent, disgusting odor that emanates from the room. You want to clean up this room sometimes, but when you go there, the scene is awful and dreadful. The task becomes overwhelming. Too cumbersome and almost impossible. We tell ourselves, “We can do it another time. Right now we are too busy and have more important tasks ahead to attend to”. Thus we postpone or altogether give up the venture.
One day, it becomes impossible to live in our house, with that room being the way it is. Something awakens us. We make up our minds. Enough is enough! We must clean that room in order to restore its beauty and use it.
Now what do we do to clean the room? First, we find out what the best cleaning tools and chemicals are, and get them. We learn the best techniques to use these tools and products. We prepare ourselves and wear the proper clothing for the task.
Then we start removing the objects one by one out of the room, keeping just one or two items we really need. We slowly and gradually make more open space in the room. We bring some rags, towels, tools, cleaning liquids and sprays and clean the floor, walls, the window and other infected areas. We eliminate the cobwebs and get rid of the pests. We remove the mold and mildew. We spray air fresheners. We dust and clean just the few items we kept, or replace worn out items with fresh ones. All this may take a while, but we succeed. We finally are able to reach the window.
We open the window, and Presto!, there glows the sunshine which brightens up the whole room! The sunshine was always there, but we had shut it out of our lives. Now we just regained the sunshine. A gentle breeze too seeps in. We now can enjoy the beautiful garden, the mountain views and the fountains. We can sit in that room, relax, and be happy and peaceful.
This is exactly what Meditation does to clean our mind. When our mind is full, crowded and cluttered, it has no room to function effectively. It goes crazy. It becomes ill. Mental and Physical illnesses creep up. Mind loses strength. It becomes weak and uncontrollable. It decays and disintegrates. It loses mental beauty that leads to deterioration of physical beauty. Everything looks bleak and every problem exaggerated. Everyone seems bad and determined to harm us. We become depressed and look at everything from a wrong perspective. It becomes difficult to endure the scorching thoughts. So some of us resort to quick reliefs, however risky and dangerous they are to our mental and physical health.
But there is a way out, there is a remedy, there is a solution to this problem that haunts every human being. It is Meditation. Meditation cleans or clears our mind gradually, little by little and makes it a wonderful tool to lead a happy and wholesome life. The earlier we learn this skill in life, the better.
But first we have to get knowledgeable about Meditation. Otherwise, our practices won’t be effective or successful. Meditation has several methods and techniques we can use to suit the inherent tendencies, temperaments, circumstances and habits of people. We have to read, listen and think about them to find out which method is best to start with. Then gradually, we can use other methods.
How do we learn? From where do we learn? This is where the term Sat-Sang becomes crucial and essential. It means “Association with the Wise”. It means you learn about Meditation by reading, listening and thinking about the teachings and guidance of Great Ones who themselves abided in perfect Peace and therefore, are truly qualified to teach others.
What happens in Meditation? Both perturbing or exciting thoughts are detriments to peace of mind. In Meditation, we try to quieten our mind when these thoughts occur. We slowly reduce the amount of unnecessary and disturbing thoughts in the mind. That’s it! But since the mind is vast and its problems numerous and encompassing the whole wide world, the Teachings are also offered in numerous, countless ways – all to ease our minds.
Meditation is easy and difficult at the same time, depending upon the intensity of desire, qualifications, the amount of practice and the level of progress. For beginners, it may seem difficult at first. But if we keep up with it, a little every day at the same time, preferably first thing in the morning, then it will definitely get easier. One great thing in this process is that you always proceed forward and you can only get success. There is no failure. So we have to remember that we can gain the highest imaginable happiness by this process. We have nothing to lose by practicing this.
Practice makes Perfect! So let’s start practicing! What’s more important than improving ourselves?