We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (French Philosopher)
The art of meditation through mind control
We all have some point heard that the art of meditation does help put one’s mind at ease, but do you really know that with the right form that suits you best, it can energise you, rejuvenate and open your mind to perceive life and reality quite differently than you have been accustomed to.
When I ask an average person, what is meditation? I get the most inconclusive of replies one of the most common one being, “it’s about sitting quietly and focusing on an object or closing your eyes and chanting Om to make you feel relaxed”. However obvious and logically that might sound, let me tell it’s a million light years away from the truth and the power behind meditation., when done correctly while first understanding the real intention behind it, it can change your life forever.s
What is the right way to meditate? With so many forms out there, which one is the right one for me? And finally, what will I achieve through it? These vital and frequently asked questions is what I am about to address and to which for once I hope you all would see and experience the passion and commitment I have for making this daily practice a part of my life. Once you grasp the true essence and significance to why you are doing it, it becomes extremely easy to break free from the cocoon of stress that constantly envelopes you.
The History of Meditation
In 1500 BCE, Vedantism which is the sixth orthodox school of Hindu philosophy meaning end of Vedas, reflect ideas from speculations and philosophies contained in the Upanishads (ancient Sanskrit texts that contain philosophical concepts and ideas of Hinduism that are also found in Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism). Meditative practices date back to the Vedas of ancient India and from 6th to 5th BCE newer forms of meditation developed in Taoist China and Buddhist India. The earliest records of meditation in Buddhism in India dates back to the sutra of Pali Canon (a collection of scriptures in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition) in 1st century BCE. Vimalakirti Sutra (the Mahayana sutra) dating back to 100CE mentions forms on Zen in many passages on meditation and enlightened Wisdom. Zen emphasises rigorous self-control, meditation practice and insight into Buddha Nature (meaning the luminous mind of the Buddhas are naturally present in every sentient being)
The practice of meditation reached out the far west, in 20 BCE by Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria in Egypt he wrote forms of “Spiritual Exercise that involved concentration. Plotinus, famous Greek philosopher in 3rd century had developed meditative techniques which didn’t attract a positive response among Christian meditators. Saint Augustine a north African Christian theologian and philosopher experimented with Plotinus’s techniques and was unsuccessful in achieving inner peace or ecstasy.
When Buddhism entered Han China via the silk road between 1st and 2nd century CE, it was known as the Silk Road Transmission of Buddhism, wherein meditation was introduced to prominent oriental countries. During the 5th or 6th century Buddhist Monk Bodhidharma, was considered as the first transmitter of the concept of Zen to China. According to a Chinese legend it is believes that he also began the physical training of monks of the Shaolin Monastery that led to the Birth of Shaolin Kung-fu.
Not being only apparent in Buddhist and Hindu traditions, evidence reveals that meditation practices were also adapted in Judaism from prior traditional view. The Torah the book of the Jewish faith, the patriarch Issac is mentions attention “lasuach” term used to describe a meditative practice. The Hebrew Bible Tanakh clearly indicated that Judaism always professed about a meditative tradition within their faith and practices.
Meditation since time itself has proved as being a very powerful and significant form of spiritual practice in many faiths and beliefs.
The 19th century brought rise to this practice and it spread from Asia towards westerns world, where more and more are embracing this routine into their daily lives. The benefits of Meditation are endless, one acquires a sense of self awareness that enables them to become more mindful about their thoughts and actions. It relieves stress, calms the nerves, allows you to detach from illusionary uncertain worries, increases happiness, makes you think clearer de-cluttering your mind from all negativity, slows ageing, and is recommended for a healthy cardiovascular and immune health.
Perplexity of Meditation forms, Finding your comfort zone
One could easily get confused as to which form of meditation would suit them best. Just knowing the basics about them doesn’t necessarily help nor do recommendations based on everyone’s own personal experience. Meditation is not just about relaxing your mind for a few minutes to gain a sense of calmness, it’s much more than that, so it’s imperative that you need to find a technique that suits you best and master it.
We are living in a world with two realities, one conventional, what we see, feel and experience in this physical dimension that we call life. The second is the Ultimate reality, where we break through the illusions of what the world perceives as, happiness, love and success and start sensing life through our souls. The world we seek to find within our minds always existed for we are one with the universe, we are interconnected through a spiritual bond of energies that transcends to a higher consciousness. We have gotten used to switching off from it all, as our current dimensions reality vacuums us away from reaching out to the positive light that’s omnipresent, call it God or by any name that you relate to as a divine entity, but we do turn to the light when things go haywire in our life, we do something quite similar to meditation, we pray. We acknowledge a higher power, a strong positive energy force that is guiding us, strengthening us and showing us the path that leads us out of our troubles.
For me, meditation is a way of finding that positive light that’s within us, that is powerful enough to keep us focused, happy, stress free and at peace. So how did I decide which form of meditation suited me, when everyone claimed that their way was the best? I never for once let myself blindly follow something, I questioned every method, I tried and tested each of them and the meditation form that truly brought my soul to ease is that one I chose to follow.
I am going to break it down into simple layman’s terms sans the gimmicks and the branding they all come with, to make you understand one very important aspect. Meditation is a natural phenomenon that the mind, body and soul needs to stay balanced and though they might be many versions to it from many religious beliefs, it doesn’t have to be a complicated task to research and follow the doctrines of whoever is teaching their version to it. Finding peace and reaching to a state of Zen (vigilance and self-discovery) is absolutely possible when you reflect on your inner self and see the strength from within, the power of focus comes naturally without any guide whatsoever.
We all know that to properly meditate, one follows simple steps, sit in a proper upright position, and do what helps us to focus, some say focusing on an object makes us more alert and dedicated towards meditating, others say listening to music or chanting enables us to detach from our surrounding in our aim to achieve mental clarity and emotional calmness. These are the first baby steps I would ask you all to follow, initially we would need a gentle nudge to allow our mind to detach from our environment, but always remember one thing, you are not supposed to get it right the first time, the more you routinely take your time to practice, the deeper and stronger your mind adjusts and adapts to detaching itself from the illusions it’s imprisoned by.
Effectual and Positive Meditative practices and Techniques
Zen or Zazen
Practiced in monasteries and Zen temples, primarily relies on the sharpening the mind through a deep meditative form of focus. The purpose of Zen meditation is achieving vigilance and self-discovery, it is a form of spiritual awakening and when practiced dedicatedly it becomes the source of calmness in all actions of daily life such as sleeping, eating, walking working, talking and thinking becomes more beneficial as your mind is in a state of awareness in dealing with all actions mindfully. It is through the practice of Zazen is when Gautama Buddha achieved Enlightenment.
The best way to prepare yourself for Zen Meditation if you’re at home and not accessible to a Zen temple or a Monasteries that have a meditation schedule, is to find a place at home or at your work place where they are the least of distractions. Best practiced while sitting on a zafu cushion (round cushion or any comfortable cushion you can find) in lotus, back upright and head and shoulder relaxed. You can place your hands on your thighs on fold them placing the right palms over the left palm making a lotus gesture. If you have trouble sitting cross-legged, this can also be practiced while sitting on a chair, ensure your legs are slightly apart and your hands are placed on the thighs or in the lotus posture.
One can keep your eyes closed or keep them open and focus on a spot of space two of three feet front of you. The sense of nothingness should gently come into play. You begin with first focusing on your breath and your entire attention should be on the movement of your breath. Inhale slowly counting one till ten then slowly exhale counting backwards. Don’t worry if your mind gets distracted with sounds of your environment or thoughts that might arise during this. It is absolutely normal to have thoughts arise, detach from the distractive elements and focus back on your breathing, with practice you will learn to get the hang of it. The alternative way to perform Zen meditation is Shikantaza (just sitting) where you sit and observe your mind and the thoughts that arise, you will notice them pass you by and fade away. Be at the present moment in full awareness not allowing any of these thoughts and worries be of any significance. Detaching from the illusions of this dimension, letting go of ego and allowing your subconscious mind to merge with the universe is what you must achieve, this is Zen.
Practising this enables you to control every negative emotional feeling or problems that cloud our lives. Observing them from a higher more controlled consciousness allows you to deal with them more practically and logically without any stress that has been previously been bearing you down. The primary reason this is practiced is to experience complete detachment from illusionary emotions and fears of this world. Connecting with energies of the universe brings tremendous peace and raises your consciousness to an extent, where at one point in your life stress would actually be very relative and completely loses its intensity around you. That’s the true state of Zen.
Metta or Loving Kindness
This meditation practice is one my favourites, as it embraces Buddhas teaching of Unconditional Love. Buddha’s analogy for Metta is evoked by an image of a mother’s love for her new born baby. The love remains truly unconditional, regardless of the baby’s mood, the mother’s care and concern for her child would be as bountiful from the first moment of birth. Metta or Unconditional love seeks no acceptance, expectations or rewards, one loves because they have the ability to love not for emotional or spiritual gain. It will and must remain unconditional.
The sole purpose of Metta meditation is directing love towards people known and unknown to you and especially to those who have a harsh and negative impact on your life. The only way to find balance within extremely negative people is to fight it back with pure positivity. Darkness weakens through light, and unconditional love that has no ulterior motive but to impart goodness and pure positive thoughts works remarkably well against negative emotions and creates balance.
You begin with, finding a meditative posture that suits you best, deep breaths for two to three minutes. Eyes must remain closed, and then in your mind’s eye imagine energies of healing, love, forgiveness and kindness emitting from your heart chakra towards first yourself, do this for a few minutes then move on to the next most important person in your life like your mother, father, sibling, partner or a best friend. Send out these energies to them one at time imagining the waves of positive white, pink or purple light leave your heart chakra and enter into their heart chakra. Gradually move towards a neutral person, who could be your landlord, employer, neighbour or a colleague. Your main focus should remain while sending out energies that you seek no change or rewards out of this practice, you are strong emotionally and have the power to send it to those who need it the most. Then slowly move towards a difficult person in your life that causes you much distress, feel compassion, forgiveness and kindness for them and finally practice Global Metta, where you send out energies to your entire neighbourhood, city, country, the entire world and the Universe.
The results of this meditation are instantaneous and very exhilarating, it makes you feel released, relaxed as you have emotionally spiritually detoxed yourself from all negative emotions that you might have been harbouring for a while. Making this practice a routine in your daily will make you be more emotionally stronger, happier and gives you a strong sense on inner peace.
Anapanasati is a Buddhist term meaning Mindfulness of breathing, said to be adapted from traditional Buddhist practice of Vipassana meaning insight into the true reality referring to the existence of impermanence, suffering and realisation of the non-self. Vipassana is a combination with Samatha, a meditation which is the practice of calming the mind done by a single pointed meditation through mindfulness of breathing. Similar in ways to Zazen meditation, Mindfulness meditation works on the principals on staying focused on the present moment, accepting and just observing to the sensations, thoughts, sounds and emotions that arise and distract. When practiced properly, one can stay in a state of mindfulness for longer periods of time during performing any daily tasks. It increases productivity, keeps your mind more alert and less distracted with irrelevant issues that normally tend to perturb our concentration and create a sense of calmness which is constant within us and no matter how long and hard our schedule might be, we won’t feel our energy drain out at the end of the day, leaving you refreshed, content and at peaceful.
This can be practiced while sitting on a cushion or on a chair, but ensure your back is upright and unsupported, hands in lotus or on your lap and don’t not tilt the head downwards. Eyes closed and pay close attention to your breath. When you inhale and exhale be aware of your every breath. When thoughts arise, sounds that would distract and bodily sensations such as itching or a mild irritation occurs, be alert and focus back onto your breathing, break through these minor distractions and soon enough after five minutes or so you would be calmer and in your comfort zone. Strengthening your mind over the external distraction gives focus to the self. You are aware of your surroundings and are in control of them as well. The present moment is the importance of this meditation, it sharpens your senses, strengthens your patience levels and controls stress. Practising this often makes your body and mind feel very differently to your environment that once seemed chaotic and complexed. You soon naturally become mindful in your daily life and any task you are out to perform, you are more attentive, perceptive, sensitive and assertive to it all, allowing you to always stay on guard and controlled through any situation that may arise, resulting is a much happier and peaceful you.
Self-Healing and Cleansing Meditation
As humans we take on a lot of negative emotions into our hearts and let it gradually disrupt our sanctity. Sometimes we can’t control our emotions by being overly sensitive and perhaps we just absorb unknowing the sadness around us that isn’t at all serving us. This is a basic a beautiful self-healing and cleansing meditation I personally do and recommend all who need a little help from the universe to keep us emotionally stronger. We take on a lot in our daily lives and times when most of us need a hug just to get through it all, is when some of us realise that we are alone. This is a wonderful way to know how strong the loving the power of the Divine light is and how strong the energies of the universe really are. Practising this form of meditation, helps tremendously during times of depression, unforeseen sadness or on days when you just need a little love.
Find a comfortable and quiet place wherever you are. Find a posture that you are most comfortable with and you can use a back support if you need one.
Close your eyes, slowly inhale counting one to ten then exhale counting backwards. After repeating this 3-4 times, continue with your breathing and in your mind, imagine beautiful white light entering your nostrils when you inhale saying the words “I ask the Divine Light to heal me” and when you slowly exhale imagine black smoke leaving your body and say “I let go of all that no longer serves me”. Repeat this for a few minutes then go back to focus on your breathing. The beautiful art of meditation is that it’s meant specifically for you to deal with your innermost issues that are hard to express sometimes to find help with. You can look to the Divine for whatever help you might seek but always remember, we are in the world to break out of samsara, asking for things of materialistic value is not the purpose or true meaning of peace but asking for balance within the stress of our unsettled lives will lead to a comfortable peaceful life. Always understand the depth of your desires and once you do, true happiness and inner peace is closer than you think.
Protecting yourself from Negative Energies
Always, always protect your Chakras after meditation. Meditation does activate your charkas opening them up which makes you susceptible to negative energies around you and especially from negative people. I would never ever recommend you to go for any kind of meditation for chakra activation this can be quite damaging to the self if the person performing it isn’t to be trusted. I would always suggest the basic Vedic forms of meditation that Buddhist have mastered the technique for, they are easy, powerful and very mentally, emotionally and physically strengthening. Protecting yourself from negative energies should be a routine we all should do, for ourselves, our children and towards our friends and families. It is extremely powerful and imperative especially after meditation, while encountering negative people, while facing negative energies from unknown entities and it also helps with children and yourself if being susceptible to nightmares.
Sit in any posture comfortably, close your eyes, deep breaths counting one to ten inhaling and exhaling. After a few moments, imagine strong and powerful Divine light, in colours of Blue, Silver or Gold emitting from the top of your head where your crown chakras is, slowly form a blanket over your entire body encapsulating you as if you were inside a golden egg. Inhale and exhale as you form more and more layers to this protective egg you’re inside. Create seven to nine layers for complete protection, using spiritual symbols, such as Om signs, Crucifixes etc, over the layers make a stronger seal. Say to yourself “I am protected with Divine Light no harm can come to me”, then slowly exit while going back into deep breaths, this should only take four to five minutes to perform. While protecting another, just imagine the person in front of you and the shield of light cover them as you would yourself. This is extremely powerful when facing any form of negativity.
Beware of bogus Baba’s!
When I first decided spirituality was my true calling, I first researched on what really spoke to my soul. Being from a Brahmin background, I grew up with Christianity and somehow, I knew for a fact I connected with all, not through my religious views but with the true nature of our significance, our souls. Compassion, kindness and unconditional Love were the qualities that make a Soul pure, true and powerful, for with these qualities one can never go wrong in life. So, with that I researched to all forms of spirituality trying to decipher the truth. Never did I blindly decided on a form of spiritual practice because it seemed to be a popular trend or because friends glorified it so. I questioned everything I came across, tried to find logic and most importantly I listened to that inner voice in me that told me if it was the truth. A very kind Buddhist Monk once told me, “all the answers you need , you will find them from within”, and that’s my advice to you, Whenever you chose to follow your heart and soul on a path of spirituality no matter what guide that you might come across that helps you on your way, always remember, the truth will find you if you stay alert, detached from illusions and gimmicks and believe that there is a greater positive force guiding and protecting us all and it would never let you falter.
The Power of the Universe is within you
They say that the Universe is made of up the same elements that are found in our bodies, we are interconnected and are truly one with it. Nature in its beauty truly remains unconditional with its benevolence no matter how badly we treat it. You cut down hundred trees the next hundred would never stop bearing fruit or give us oxygen, the energies of love are truly quantifiable. We, humans tend to disrupt our own peace without realising the consequences it has on our bodies and mind. We hold onto fears, memories and emotional pain that doesn’t serve us any longer. We don’t realise the power of the universe in within us and it would always bring us balance in our chaotic lives, if only we learn and know how to reach out and connect with it.
Believe in yourself when all feels lost, learn to never bludgeon yourself with the mistakes you make, this is life, this is how we learn. Let go of all that destroys your peace of mind and listen to that inner voice deep in your Soul that tells you it’s ok, everything will work out just fine and always remember darkness can never prevail when you believe in the light!
Happy Healing Ya’ll!!!
Part One: Swoon back to Serenity! Defying the genesis of Stress