"It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters"
- Amit Ray, Meditation: Insights and Inspirations
Meditation is a natural and rewarding human activity. Practised daily, it produces astonishing results on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our being. It connects us with our inner powers of vitality, clarity and love. When done deeply, it gives us an expanded sense of connection with all life, an experience of profound joy. Profound perceptions of reality come through intuition rather than logic, from the "Super conscious" rather than the conscious mind. When the body is completely relaxed, the five senses become stilled, and the mind becomes deeply focused; a tremendous flow of energy becomes available. That intense energy can lift us into super consciousness, where our inner powers of intuition are fully awakened. In addition to its physical and mental benefits, meditation is first a spiritual art.
Meditation helps us in our making mind pure. Mind is the central piece in the process of happiness. Happiness is the basic nature of Self or Atman. Our core self is described as sat-chitanand. But we do not feel bliss all the time. That is because the bliss of atman is reflected on our mind. If we have mind which is pure with least psychological negatives, and quiet, then the reflection of atman is better. So the bliss is felt. But if our mind is always wanting, scheming, judging, the reflection of atman will be poor. We feel perfect bliss in deep sleep state. That is because the mind is not interfering, so the reflection of atman is perfect. We cannot be in deep sleep always. Our karma will wake us up. During waking state we have the option of making our mind quiet by meditation. It is an art of Living in the present moment with cessation of thoughts. From ancient times meditation is the path taken by Saints and Sages for self realization. Meditation has become an important component of Mind-body medicine for promotion of positive health. The purpose of meditation is to reduce the quantum and intensity of thoughts in mind. In order to exclude other thoughts, one must focus on any one thought, picture, sound or breath, whatever suits one better. In Vipassana meditation, one focuses on breath, a live process without distraction to concentrate better. What one should do in meditation? Sit in a quiet place with less chances of being disturbed and close your eyes. The trick lies in persisting with the idea of sitting quietly with eyes closed, and witnessing whatever thoughts come to mind. It helps us to develop awareness of what takes place in the mind, creating mindfulness. If we are mindful, we can enjoy every single activity, eating, talking, taking a shower, walking or enjoying nature.
'Thoughtless thoughts' comprise of negative thoughts. Feelings of guilt, fear, insecurity, anxiety, neglect, suspicion generate negative thoughts. You have to separate the thought from self and view it with neutrality and amusement. One good way of breaking free from the clutches of thought is by focusing on breathing with awareness. Engage yourself in positive thinking. As you consciously engage in positive thoughts, positive behaviour and positive action, negative thoughts will disappear. Fill your mind with thoughtfulness and awareness. When the concentrated mind is absorbed in divine reality, meditation culminates in Samadhi, a state of super consciousness, where consciousness is raised from physical or psychic level to the infinite, transcendental and spiritual level.
The most popular types of meditation include: Vipassana (Mindfulness), Transcendental (TM), Zen meditation, Primordial sound meditation (Mantra meditation), Mindfulness meditation (breath awareness and body scan, based on Vipassana and Yoga Nidra, developed by Kabat – Zinn in 1979) is offered in number of medical centres in USA. All types of meditations fit into category of: Focused attention (concentration), Open monitoring (mindful of your experience) or effortless awareness (requires no mental effort or concentration). Vipassana meditation or Vidarśana – seeing the truth, the teaching of ancient India rediscovered by enlightened Buddha is taught in a ten day course, free of charge in number of India and International centres (www.vri.dhamma.org). Practice of Vipassana Meditation for 20-30 min. in the early morning and at night is desirable for getting its benefits for a joyful living. Vipassana (meaning insight into true nature of reality) is not limited to concentration (Samādhi) alone. It further helps one to observe different sensations in the body and attain wisdom of impermanence of things and develop equanimous mind. It is moment to moment awareness, witnessing but neither reactive nor judgmental. It uproots latent impurities accumulated in the depths of unconscious mind thus making one free from greed, anxiety, fear, ego, anger etc.
Meditation is a mind and body practice focusing on interactions among the brain, mind, body and behaviour. It is useful for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness and enhancing overall health and well being. Modern molecular and neurosciences have increased the tools available for the research on meditation. Transcendental Meditation of Mahesh Yogi has been used Worldwide and shown to be effective technique for gaining deep relaxation, eliminating stress, increasing creativity and intelligence and attaining inner happiness and fulfillment. It is shown to increase the telomerase gene expression which may contribute to cardiovascular and aging benefits. Mindful meditation is being extensively studied by Kabat-Zinn at University of Massachusetts Centre and is shown to be clinically effective for management of stress, anxiety & panic, chronic pain, depression, hypertension etc and wide variety of medical and mental related conditions. Meditation boosts antibody level to influenza vaccine in meditators by stimulating brain-function regions associated with immune system. Richard Davidson, Founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin – Madison, observed neural changes associated with meditation that may modulate physical health and illness. A study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain and France reported first evidence of intensive mindfulness practice, showing genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene – regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro – inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.
Recognizing that Meditation has the potential to impact on mental, physical and emotional health, National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is supporting research using modern tools for continued exploration of its benefits and disseminating information to mankind.
December 15, 2016 Prof. B.C. Harinath
The author gratefully acknowledges the articles under Speaking Tree, information disseminated by NCCIH, Wikipedia and other unnamed sources in preparation of this Editorial.