Many thousands years ago, a wandering Nepalese prince sat under a tree, vowing not to rise until he attained enlightenment. After a long night of deep meditation, Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha, saw the light and declared that suffering is subjective, and can be reduced through self-awareness.
Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind of transforms the mind to release benefit of inner peace or enlightenment (nirvana). Panchatantra “Go however far to find honest joy”.
Meditation begins by halting the activities of the brain for some time and going into a state of stillness or silence . This is achieved by detaching the mind from all the thoughts and worldly emotions of pain, anxiousness, eagerness, etc.,and attuning the mind to repel any external stimulus, Thus, reaching a state of calm and tranquility.
India could be considered as the birthplace of this ‘yogic’ activity Meditation, where for thousands of years, sages sat in deep meditative states trying to unlock the secrets of the universe.
The hindu God Shiva is always shown or depicted in scriptures and idols in a state of meditation. The Buddha too, advocated that meditative ‘dhyana’ was the right path of awakening.
Even the world, over a time, has experienced this epiphany and more and more people are tuning to meditation as a medicine that will heal their life and mind. Even the doctors today suggest meditation to the patients of depression and physical illnesses.
In the busy age of today where one’s life is immersed in the waters of immense stress as a repercussion of pressures emanating from excessive materialism, professional success, social acceptance, etc., meditation comes as a heavenly refuge.
Certainly, anything that helps fight stress is a welcome tool. But what else might meditation be doing for us? Many studies have shown that meditation not only has mental but profound physiological effect on the body.
Among other benefits, meditation can help reverse heart diseases, the prime killer in the world. It can reduce pain and enhance the body’s immune system, enabling it to fight diseases better.
Recommended as a preventive medicine to all, meditation may help squash anxiety, fear and worry. The exercise brings about dramatic effects when performed daily.
There are various ways of practicing meditation. One is by controlling the movement of breath, the other could be to channelize all the energy on a particular desired thought or any object around. The physical act of meditation generally consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on one’s breath, a word or phrase. However, a meditator may also be walking or standing.
It is not unusual, in fact, to see a meditating monk in the highlands walking a few steps and then lying prostrate over and over again until he reaches his destination many miles away. In fact, walking meditation is alternate form of meditation which involves observing the movement of the feet and becoming aware of your body’s connection to the Earth.
Thus, to catch the most elusive state that is peace of mind, meditation is an exercise not to be missed. It should ideally be followed daily and be supported by a healthy lifestyle comprising of a healthy diet. Only a 15-30 minutes of dose can have a magical effect on one’s life.
History of Meditation
We don’t really know. The earliest records of meditation practice date from approximately 1500 years BCE (Before Common Era). It seems to have been an integral part of the earliest forms of the Vedic, or early Hindu, schools in India. In the 6th to 4th centuries BCE, the Chinese Taoist and Indian Buddhist traditions began to develop their own versions of meditation practice. Further west, early forms of meditation practice were developed by such notable figures as Philo of Alexandria, the Desert Fathers of the Middle East, and Saint Augustine.
Types of meditation:-
1. Spiritual Meditation
Depending on the spiritual meditation may also include elements of silent, spoken, or chanted prayer. When practiced within a religious context, meditation supports a deeper connection with the Divine. In non-theistic traditions such as Buddhism and Taoism, meditation is more focused on self-awareness and self-actualization. In that sense, non-theistic spiritual meditation supports practitioners in becoming the best human beings that they can be.
Good venues for your spiritual meditation practice might be at home, at your preferred place of worship, or in nature. It is well-suited for individuals seeking spiritual growth as well as those who appreciate setting time aside for self-reflection. True spiritual meditation always includes elements of loving kindness and compassion.
2. Mindfulness Meditation
This meditation technique, which has become extremely popular in the West, is based on the teachings of the Buddha. Mindfulness meditation can be instrumental in helping us understand how our minds work.
3. Movement Meditation
Movement meditation focuses on the body in motion. Walking meditation is one form of mindful movement; this technique can also be associated with yoga and other martial arts. Having a commitment to some form of physical discipline is very beneficial. Once you are able to be present in your body during movement meditation, you can expand your awareness to include just about anything that keeps you moving: In each case, the movement of your body is the object of meditation.
Many spiritual paths, from Western religions to Hindu traditions, recommend chanting and mantra meditation. While chanting, the mind should be focused on the sound of the words and melody. Western traditions also encourage contemplation of meaning. In mantra meditation and other Eastern traditions, a repetitive sound, word, or phrase is used to clear the mind and allow our spiritual strengths to reveal themselves. Mantras are sometimes accompanied by a melody, but not always. “Om” is one common sound used in mantra meditation.
5. Focused Meditation
In this technique, we concentrate exclusively on whatever it is that we are doing: it is the exact opposite of multi-tasking. We witness and admire the exceptional power of concentration of athletes, musicians, chess-players and the like, and we may forget that to succeed in life, we too have to be able to focus on the task at hand.
6. Visualization Meditation
In this meditation technique, an image that creates a particular feeling or quality is brought to mind. In a simple way, we can close our eyes and imagine a beautiful mountain lake, an open sky, a familiar landscape, or any other visualization that speaks to us. In one well-known mindfulness exercise, we imagine our thoughts and emotions as being leaves on a stream that the current gently sweeps downstream. This is said to give meditators distance from unwelcome mental activity and bring a sense of peace.