Experience the power of Mediation
Written by- Dr. R.M. Nair
Bapu Nature Cure Hospital and Yogasharm
Meditation is described as a systematic technique for taking hold of and concentrating to the utmost degree on latent mental power. It consists in training the mind, especially attention and will, so that we can set forth from the surface level of consciousness and journey into the very depth.
Although meditation is of many types and forms, there are similarities among all types of practices-It gradually trains people to focus their attention and strengthen their concentration to eventually quiet the mind.
“By immersing ourselves into deep concentration, we become observed by the object of our attention to the point where we no longer feel separate from it. We feel relaxed yet alert, receptive yet undistracted. Lacking any desire to get anything or go anywhere, we simply pay attention and relax into the moment, “explains Dr. Lajpat Rai, a senior physiologist at Morarji Desai Institute of Yoga, New Delhi.
Practicing mediators say they become efficient in their lives because of their enhanced ability to focus and concentrate. Even beginners feel more relaxed and are able to deal with stress more effectively.
Dr. Dean Ornish, a well known physician and author from Palo Alto, California (USA) has used meditation as part of a programme to help heart attack victims with severe arterial blockages to reduce these plaques so that blood can flow more freely, reducing their risk of future heart attacks and strokes (The same technique is applied in India by Delhi-based SAAOL – fame Dr. Bimal Chhajar).
Meditation is used to help people learn to manage chronic pain or face chronic or terminal illness. Physicians and therapists at Bapu Nature Cure Hospital provide apart from conventional treatment, training in meditation and guided imagery to help them recover from diseases. In our regular short term programmes organized for students, professionals, engineers and executives, we include meditation in stress management regimen as a tool to lower blood pressure and reduce depression.
TYPES OF MEDITATION:
There are many forms of meditation, so it is possible to find a technique that is ideally suited to a person’s physical, emotional and mental needs. The various types of meditation differ, apart from other things mainly by the object of concentration that is used and other methodological details.
For example, in Vipassana meditation (vi= special, passana= to see i.e. reality within) one concentrates on the breath as the focus of attention. A person sits quietly for a period of time noticing the breath as it enters and leaves the body. What is immediately apparent is that the mind wanders from thought to thought, away from noticing the breath.
As soon as Vipassana practitioners notice that they have been distracted by a thought, they let go of the thought and bring their attention back to simply noticing their breath. Gradually the ability to concentrate becomes strengthened and awareness – the ability to be conscious – is increased. The practice leads step-by-step to the highest spiritual goal of full liberation from all mental defilement. Although its purpose is never simply to cure physical disease, as a by-product of mental purification, many psychoso-matic diseases are eradicated. It is an art of living which eliminates the three causes of all unhappiness; carving, aversion and ignorance.
Although vipassana technique seems very simple, all meditation techniques require practice and training over time, preferably under guidance. (Based on the three – day lecture series by Rev. Satya Narayan Goenkaji conducted at Talkatora Auditorium, Delhi from March 16 to 18,2000).
Other meditation techniques include using words as the focus. In mantra meditations, one repeats in the mind a mantra, which is a word or a phrase, over and over for a period of time.
In traditions like transcendental meditation TM the mantra is assigned by the teacher. TM is a simple and natural mental technique that anyone can learn. It is practised for 20 minutes, twice a day and does not involve any religious belief, philosophy or change in lifestyle. During TM the thinking process effortlessly settles down until mental activity of ordinary waking consciousness is “transcended” and a unique state of restful alertness is created. Along with this is a corresponding settling down of the body’s machinery. Studies indicate this deep physiological rest effects a powerful natural antidote to chronic stress.
Instead of using the breath or mantra, other meditation techniques focus the attention on a particular charka – an energy centre in the body. Some meditation techniques are done with the eyes open, focusing on an image that is inspiritual or simply a candle.
In addition, traditions like Tibetan Buddhism include meditation training where one learns to visualize from memory an intricate image of a deity.
Some meditations incorporate special breathing techniques. There are moving meditations that are useful for people who have difficulty being still – walking meditations or sufi dancing are examples of these. If people find any difficulty in meditation they should try hatha yoga as a preliminary training, that will be able to prepare the mind and body for meditation.
HOW TO START: Because there are various types of meditation techniques, some people adhere to a particular approach and never vary from it. Others experiment with several forms of meditation before they are able to find one that is useful for them. Regardless of which technique is chosen people will need a suitable place for their meditation practice. It can be a corner of a bed-room, or a quiet place in the house where distractions are minimized. Some create an altar with inspiring books, pictures or objects like statues, candles, shells or flowers.
Once people have established a space for meditation, they should carve out a regular time to practise. Those who are more alert in the morning or evening should choose accordingly. They should find a chair or a cushion for the floor where they can sit with their spines straight-posture is very important. If people prefer to sit on a chair, they should avoid sitting with their backs supported by the back. Because lying down encourages people to drop off to sleep, it is not recommended.
As in physical activity, it is better for people to give a modest start and develop a regular practice than to sit in meditation for hours every day, then give up in frustration. It is recommended to start with ten minutes once a day – later people may want to sit more frequently or for longer duration. In the beginning it is more important to establish a regular time for meditation and be able to stick to it.
With any technique people will find the mind wanders and the body experiences unusual sensations. Favourable and unfavourable thoughts start appearing in mind and that works as a barrier not allowing an entrance to the bottom of depth. Initially, one should not try to stop mental wandering. As and when people realize they are distracted, they should gently bring their mind back to the object of concentration. In fact, each time the mind wanders and is brought back, the ability to concentrate gets strengthened.
IS TEACHER REQUIRED?
Being constantly in touch with patients in this hospital, we have found many obstacles in practicing the real; meditation e.g. People may find themselves bored after a few days of practice, they don’t have time to meditate, physical or emotional discomfort, antimeditation environment of society, interruption on small pretext or forgetting meditation regularly altogether.
For these reasons, it is recommended that meditation initially be taught and practised under a therapist or a spiritualist until the fundamentals are learnt and absorbed. A teacher can give support and information to enhance understanding 9of the meditation, and also help maintain motivation to practise. At the same time, we
should be wary of people promising instant results or glorious visions or other experiences. Suppose, you want to learn to ply the tabla, what do you to do? Practise! Day after day, year after year, Learning meditation is not different in any way.
PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS: Meditation gives people the power to tap into the available, but unused energy of the deeper inner self. This is where one can fully employ the creativity and patience to solve problems. Everybody wants peace of mind, and peace is an inner end, and meditation is the means to achieve it.
Inner consciousness happily keps us away from our goes. Meditation teaches our bodies to relax enough so that fruitful information from our deeper consciousness can emerge in organized form. It enhances our creative intelligence.
Therapeutically speaking, it teaches us the nature of our pain and unmet needs. It also tells us how we create these problems and can show us the way to solve them. Therapy not only gives us guidance, but it should also amend the process of trusting our own intuition.
Most naturopaths are pro-meditation because of the benefits of deep relaxation.
HOW TO ACHIEVE ENERGY:
This meditation technique is an ancient Egyptian method that is easy to learn. This method was taught to the author by his senior colleague Shri George Verghese, who is a mystic, occultist, spiritual healer and management and personality development guru.
1.Sit on a straight backed chair with spine erect, feet flat on the floor. Fold your hands together in your lap, or hold them in prayer position. Eyes my be open or closed.
2. Take several deep breaths and feel yourself relaxing. Imagine a bright white light completely surrounding you, which is your protection as you open sensitive energy centres (i.e. Seven charkas).
3. Gently concentrate on single idea, picture or word (i.e. Ram nama) for about ten minutes. Select something that suggests a spiritual idea, peace, beauty or listen to soothing music.
4. If your mind strays from your object of concentration, gently bring it back to your focal point (Surprisingly soon you will find your ability to discipline the mind growing much stronger).
5. After ten minutes separate your hands and turn the palms up in your lap. Close your eyes if open.
6. Relax your hold on the concentration object and shift6 your mind into natural. Remain passive, yet alert for ten minutes. Placidly observe any thoughts and images as they may come and go. Just be still, detached and flow with whatever you are experiencing.
7. After ten minutes open your eyes, close your palms and again imagine that you are surrounded completely by a white light. This is your continued protection as you go bout your daily activities
This 20 minute meditation recharges your energy field. We should develop the meditation attitude, watching our responses, thoughts and behaviour, through out each day.
Meditation is not an escape from life, but a process that enables us to be involved more fully by seeing how we are setting up our own experiences. Sometimes the changes we experience are dramatic, sometimes subtle meditation will change your life, because it changes you.
Lastly the author invites all of you to train your conscious mind. Enjoy the ever lasting pleasure which is the only quest of all the human beings. This is flowing somewhere within your own hearts but search is being made outside, then how can it be achieved? So meditate – to open your heart, quiet your mind, and experience a richer, happier life.