Process Of Meditation An Overview
We know from our knowledge of yogic science that meditation is a state of structured and progressive achievement of mental perfection. Ashtaang Yoga of Patanjali clearly and scientifically describes that how one has to work on the control, supervision and monitoring of the thought process, desires, life pattern, behaviour, perceptions and clarity of life goals, while achieving the highest degree of physical and mental health, through yoga. All these sequential steps lead to a state of effortless meditation. Therefore, it may be appropriate to discuss different approaches, which lead to this wonderful state of mental and spiritual accomplishment.
We know that mind cannot remain empty/without thoughts, for any given moment. Therefore, gradual process to control the mind is to change the content of thoughts, then fixing attention on the chosen thought, followed by the attenuation of thought and finally thoughtlessness. This systemic approach can be tracked through many different modalities.
A theist may start fixing attention on the image of chosen God. Someone may choose a light source to fix the attention or some soothing symbol. In such methods one may fix attention by keeping the eyes open. Better is to focus attention by keeping eyes closed. It helps in preventing distractions. More helpful way is to focus attention on the breathing. Slow, deep and conscious rhythmic- breathing, as such helps in the calming of the mind, physiologically. Focusing attention on the breath also helps in preventing other thoughts to intrude. It also helps the practitioner to be face-to-face with the unconscious stream of life, flowing unabated, silently. One more way of focussing attention is to focus on some sound. It helps remain mentally alert and at the same time attention is focussed on the sound (mantra). Here is the role of “Japa-Yoga”. Chanting any suitable mantra helps immensely in focussing attention and purifying the mind/ thoughts. It has been the commonest method adopted by most of the yogis, since ages. With regular practice, this japa becomes a silent mental activity. All these modalities address all the above mentioned four processes, necessary to reach the stage of meditation, sequentially.
After reaching the stage of meditation, more difficult is to remain in that state for a long time. To accomplish this goal, a yogi has to relish and enjoy the peace and bliss, experienced on reaching this stage. It is an experience akin to reaching the peak of Mount Everest, having overcome innumerable difficulties, of all types and grades. The wow feeling and a sense of fulfilment are the object of focus/contemplation, at this stage of achievement. Experience of this bliss itself will help the yogi remain in this state and pass into the highest state of spiritual perfection—“samaadhi”.
It may be concluded that the practice of meditation is as systematic and structured as any other learning, known to us. Intense desire and regular practice is the key to success. Peace, insight and bliss experienced on this account are highly personal but transforming experience for all those, who owe to it.
By Dr Dipak Shukla