What is meditation?
"KARMA" means "action." Every
action or thought determines a reaction. In the physical world,
the weight of a body creates an opposite force in the ground. At
the emotional level, our attitude toward someone (or something)
is, consciously or not, reflected back, the other person having
the tendency to behave exactly according to our feeling towards
him/her. At the mental level this is the well known dynamic
interaction between the executing conscious mind and the
commanding subconscious mind.The meditation is the process of
purifying conscious mind and strengthening subconscious
mind.Meditation relieves all stresses, and often results in the
mind becoming more peaceful, calm and focused. In essence,
meditation allows the awareness to become
Meditation can be considered a technique, or
practice. It usually involves concentrating on an object, such as
a flower, a candle, a sound or word, or the breath. Over the
time, the number of random thoughts occuring diminishes. More
importantly, your attachment to these thoughts, and your
identification with them, progressively become less. The
meditator may get caught up in a thought pattern, but once he/she
becomes aware of this, attention is gently brought back to the
object of concentration. Meditation can also be objectless, for
example consisting of just sitting.
Experiences during meditation probably vary
significantly from one individual to another, or at least if
different techniques are involved. Relaxation, increased
awareness, mental focus and clarity, and a sense of peace are the
most common by-products of meditation. While much has been
written about the benefits of meditation, the best attitude is
not to have any expectations when practicing. Having a sense of
expectation of (positive) results is likely to create unnecessary
strain in the practice.
As well, since meditation involves becoming more
aware and more sensitive to what is within you, facing unpleasant
parts of oneself may well be part of meditation. Regardless of
the experience, the meditator should try to be aware of the
experience and of any attachment to it.
Failure to experience silence, peace of mind,
mental clarity, bliss, or other promoted benefit of meditation is
not in itself a sign of incorrect practice or that one can't
concentrate properly or concentrate enough to be good at
meditation. Whether one experiences peace or bliss is not what is
important. What is generally considered important in meditation
is that one is regular with their meditation -every day- and that
one make a reasonable effort, but not strain, to remain with the
object of concentration during the practice. With regular
practice one inevitably acquires an increased understanding of
and proficiency with the particular meditation technique.
Some people use the formal concentrative meditation
as a preliminary step to practicing a mindfulness meditation
during the day where one tries to maintain a calm but increased
awareness of one's thoughts and actions during the day.
For some people, meditation is primarily a
spiritual practice, and in some cases the meditation practice may
be closely tied to the practice of a religion such as, for
example, Hinduism or Buddhism.
How is meditation different from relaxation,
thinking, concentration or self-hypnosis?
Relaxation: Relaxation is a common by-product of
meditation. Relaxation itself can assume many forms, such as
taking a hot bath or reclining in the Lazy-boy and watching tv,
etc. Meditation is an active process where the meditator remains
fully aware of what the awareness is doing. It also attempts to
transcend the thought process whereas many forms of relaxation
still engage the thought process. Meditation allows the body to
relax and can offset the effects of stress both mentally and
physically to a potentially much greater degree than passive
Thinking: Thoughts generally consume energy in the
process of their formation. Constant thought-activity, especially
of random nature, can tire the mind and even bring on headache.
Meditation attempts to transcend this crude level of thought
activity. Through regular practice one becomes aware that they
are not their thoughts but that there is an awareness that exists
independent of thought. Descartes ("I think, therefore I
am") obviously was not a regular meditator!
Concentration: Meditation begins with
concentration, but after an initial period of concentration,
thought activity decreases and keeping the awareness focused
becomes more spontaneous. At this point the person may or may not
continue to employ the object of concentration.
Self-hypnosis: Self-hypnosis, like meditation,
involves at least an initial period of concentration on an
object. However in hypnosis one does not try to maintain an
awareness of the here-and-now, or to stay conscious of the
process. Instead one essentially enters a sort of semi-conscious
What are the different meditation
Meditation involves concentrating on something to
take our attention beyond the random thought activity that is
usually going on in our heads. This can involve a solid object or
picture, a mantra, breath, or guided visualization.
Typical objects employed include a candle flame or
a flower. Some people use pictures, such as a mandala - a highly
colored symmetric painting - or a picture of a spiritual teacher
in a high meditative state. Mantras are sounds which have a
flowing, meditative quality and may be repeated out loud or
inwardly. The breath is also a common focal point. Finally,
guided visualization is also considered by some to be a form of
meditation. A guided visualization can help to bring one into a
meditative state; also, visualization may be used once a
meditative state has been reached to produce various results.
Which is right for me?
There is no "right" meditation technique
for everybody. Some techniques work better for certain people
while other techniques work better for other people. The
important thing is to find what works for you.
What are the abc's of meditation?
There are a few recommended guidelines for
It should be done every day, preferably at the same time
It should preferably be done before a meal rather than after a
A spot should be set aside for meditation, which should be a
quiet place and used commonly for meditation
If possible, One should try to sit with the spine straight and
vertical (Sitting in a chair is also ok ).
Is there any religious implication or
affiliation with meditation?
Meditation has been and still is a central practice
in eastern religions, for contacting "God" or one's
higher Self. Christianity also has resemblances of meditation,
such as the biblical statement "The kingdom of heaven is
within you". Churches have a meditative atmosphere.
Meditation deals with contacting something within
us that is peaceful, calm, rejuvenating, and meaningful. Whether
one calls this something "God" or "soul" or
"the inner child" or "theta-wave activity" or
"peace" or "silence" is not important. It is
there and anyone can benefit from it regardless of what they
Most people in the world have already meditated. If
you have relaxed looking at a beautiful sunset, allowing your
thoughts to quiet down, this is close to meditation. If you have
been reading a book for awhile, then put it down to take a break
and just sat there quietly and peacefully for a few minutes
without thinking, this is close to meditation.
Does meditation have any ethical
In many traditions meditation practice is a means
for reinforcing ethical qualities. In these traditions, calmness
of mind, peacefulness and happiness are possible in meditation
and in life generally only if they are accompanied by the
observance of ethical norms of behaviour.
What is the best time of day to
While meditation is beneficial at any time, most
people who meditate agree that early morning is the best time to
meditate. Part of the reason is that it is said that in early
morning the hustle-and-bustle of the world has not yet begun and
so it is easier to establish a meditative atmosphere. Having an
early morning meditation also lets us carry some of the energy
and peace of the meditation into our daily activities. It is not
advisable to meditate after the noon. Meditating in the evening
or in the late evening may result in sleeplessness.
In what way one can avoid or control deviating
thoughts while in meditation?
At the initial stages, one may not be able to
concentrate in toto. Many distraction may arise. If it is the
case, try to understand that such distractions are the
overwhelming stresses in the mind and in the process of
meditation they are getting wiped off. Hence do not force
yourself away from the distractions.Let the mind traverse along
with the distraction and say a goodbye to them ever.
Should I meditate with my eyes open or with my
Different traditions give different answers.There
is no rigidity in it. It is not important whether meditate by
closing your eyes or not. The only important thing in meditation
is concentration. If you practice meditation by closing the eyes,
try to concentrate on mantras or namas of God or inner
visualization. If you practice meditation by keeping the eyes
opened try to focus your eyes on a specific object like God photo
or candle light or flower or practice yourself to lookat both
edges of your own nose. You may get drowsiness and sleepiness--if
that's the case for you do not worry at all. They are the
symptoms of the initial practice and the same will get eroded by
itself after sometime.
Experiment and see what works for you and then
stick with your choice of technique. If you are using a candle,
flower, or other visual object in your meditation then here the
technique itself requires your eyes to be at least partly
What are the physiological effects of
The most common physiological effects of meditation
are reduced blood pressure, lower pulse rate, decreased metabolic
rate and changes in the concentration of serum levels of various
When I meditate I experience physical pain in my
body. What should I do?
Sensations (itching/aches/pains/etc.) can arise in
the body when meditating for several reasons. Sometimes the cause
is just an uncomfortable posture--make sure that your posture is
comfortable under normal circumstances. The body and mind are
calmer and you are able to notice more details in your bodily
experience. It is often interesting to simply observe these
sensations in your body : to use them as the objects of
meditation. Sometimes these sensations just go away without your
having to move or change your posture. Remember that a quiet body
contributes to a quiet mind.
How long should I meditate?
When first learning meditation it is usually not
possible to meditate for more than 10-15 minutes. After regular
practice for awhile, one becomes able to meditate for longer
periods of time. Many people meditate twice-daily for 20-30
minutes each time.
Do I need a teacher?
It is theoretically possible to learn meditation
from a book. However most people who teach and practice
meditation agree that a teacher can be an invaluable aid in
learning a meditation technique and making sure it is practiced
correctly. The beginner will usually have several questions which
a teacher will be able to answer. Also, learning with a group of
people, eg a meditation class, allows you to experience the
benefit of meditating with a group of people. Most people find
that they have some of their best meditations while meditating in
a group, because there is a collective energy and focus