For more than a few decades now, everyone has been buzzing on the concept of Meditation and Yoga and their effect in making the overall quality of life better. There are thousands of techniques to do Yoga and Meditation and people are finding time to learn one of these techniques because of the strong belief that it will bring significant positive change in their life. There have been many scientific researches that have clearly proven that these techniques not just help us keep a balance in life but reduce stress, anxiety, depression and the list goes on.
Most people I came across while talking about meditation share completely different meanings and understanding about meditation. Some people think it is very difficult and they ponder over millions of thoughts when they try to meditate, some people find it impossible to meditate because they think meditation is the state of having no thoughts, like flying in the air, having a completely still mind. Some people think it is the state of nirvana and others think of something else.
Coming from India and having a father who is a yogi (yoga & meditation practitioner), I was taught about it pretty early on in life. If you look up the definition of meditation, which is called “Dhyana” in hindi, literally means attention. It is a series of cultivated states of mind, which leads to “state of perfect equanimity and awareness” with yourself and your surroundings. It might sound pretty complex to you, it basically means paying attention to present moment and that’s it. Being in ABSOLUTE PRESENT.
Let me explain you a few points in simple Layman’s language to help you begin understanding Mediation
1. The Beginning – “It is a journey that you take inside of you” – From a very young age, we were taught to be external in our thoughts, deeds, ambitions, observations, relations etc. Everything we do is outside ourselves, we try to understand concepts, people, and the world outside of us. But we are never taught to focus within ourselves, understand our own concepts & a whole new world which lies within us & our bodies. The understanding of this internal world is the basis of what we do and how we do things in the external/outside world. It’s very subconscious, which is why not many people pay attention to it or know about it, unless they are made aware of it. In today’s world, we are always occupied and busy with work, family, internet, news, responsibilities and we are always with somebody or doing something. We literally never have time for ourselves, to reflect, to relax, to understand, to change etc. Meditation forces you to find time for yourself and start the journey to explore the inner world within you.
2. The Process – “Understanding of Self & your ever wandering mind”- When I sit down in my asana (posture of meditation) and start meditating, I get these chain of thoughts connecting to one another, for eg. I will think about how my day at work was, then the fact that I am not satisfied with my work, then I think about my supervisor, oh! he is from Virginia, he likes parrots, I love animals too, I want to watch the movie jungle book, I always wanted to become a female tarzan, I want to have my own farm house, so I can have a lot of animals but I will have to earn a lot of money for it, I want to get a better job………………. and it continues, till the point I realise and tell myself, oh wait, I was supposed to mediate and focus on my breathing here. So, I start to focus on my breathing again but within couple of seconds, my mind wanders again into millions of thoughts from past, or in future but is never in present. This chase between “focus in present moment” and “wandering around” goes on. Meditation, with practice teaches us & helps us to discipline our mind to be in present.
“When you become the master of your mind, you become the master of everything” by Swami Satchidananda
While wandering in my thoughts, after a point, I start to reflect and think about how I behaved with an XYZ person yesterday, how my decisions affect the people around me, how I reacted to a particular situation today, how I handle stress in general, what I really want in life, why am I pursuing a career that I do not even want, why I behaved with my friend that way, how I want to make a difference in this world. Basically, I start to reflect upon my thoughts, my wants, my actions, what makes me who I am and how can I become a better person. Pondering upon my own thoughts and actions help me to see where I misbehaved, where I was unethical, where I could have done better, what do I really want, what would have made that little difference. So, ultimately it helps me see my real strengths & weaknesses (more in a humane way then just skills) and how I need to work on them to get to where I want to reach. We all strive to be better at things/skills and want to be this ideal person, but in reality we are far away from being this person, because we are not perfect and we are in the process of learning, which is absolutely okay. Mediation helps you see yourself, in a way you really are and not in a way you think you are or want to be. It helps you travel that distance. It is literally like you record yourself on video film and see it later while meditating, so that you can edit that film for future use for a better ending of this movie called Life.
3. The Goal – Practicing what they call “mindfulness’ – Now, when I sit down to meditate, I get all these millions of thoughts, I am either in the thoughts of my past, like what I did/did not do or in future, what I want to do or don’t want to do. It is very natural to begin like that because that will help us reflect and help us get to know our true selves and how we want to change ourselves. But with regular practice, our ultimate goal is to let go off the past, the future and make our mind so strong, that it dwells only in present, because only when you are in absolute present, you can give your best, be your best, do your best and get the best. It is a subconscious process for which you need to practice and train yourself and the easiest and the most common way to connect to the present is through focusing on your breathing, It centers and grounds you instantly. Let us take a very common example, If you are ever too worried or anxious about anything, its because of what already happened or will happen, people tell you to breathe deeply and focus on breathing because it connect you to present and cuts you off your unnecessary past and future thoughts, which controls and lowers your anxiety and worry.
Learning how to be mindful all the time, which means being in present all the time is going to change your life forever, by taking you out of the misery of past and future because life is happening right now. Living life mean NOW!
4. The Greater Goal – Unfolding mysteries – Now, looking inside is just the beginning, it is actually the doorstep to a vast subconscious world inside of us which is much more complex than what I have just explained and summarised for you. It is start of a journey to understand the complexity of being a human and a human mind but with practice, many secrets are unfold to us about our inner being which affect our outer being. It is powerful beyond our imagination but only when we practice regularly, we start understanding them because we are not accustomed to looking inside. Every one discovers a different mystery which is unique for them, so it is a very individual journey yet, it is also a journey similar to every other human being.
How meditation makes a difference and makes us a better person
We always take examples of amazing leaders in the world, who did something significant in history. It is taken for granted, that they all have a very good sense of awareness of themselves, their strengths, weaknesses, their ambitions and their surroundings, which is why they were able to make that kind of difference and contribution in the world. The reason behind it is the fact that they consciously or subconsciously traveled the distance between who they were and who they wanted to be, which made them very powerful both inside and the outside.
In the monotony of life, we are always outside, busy in 1000 of things, we never get time to reflect or to be with ourselves or to understand who we truly are, what we truly want but we still keep running in the race called “life”, aimlessly! This running without any aim/direction is the root cause of most human problems in the world. Human tendency is to get caught up in different problems, situations, challenges, fears, weaknesses, shortcomings, circumstances, responsibilities etc. and forget about ourselves, our inner strengths and power to over come all the challenges of life. Meditation helps you rise above all the things that pull you down and help you find a bigger purpose for yourself and others.
Vipassana – Introduction to my favorite technique
Like I said, there are thousands of different techniques to do mediation, my favourite one is Vipassana which means “ to see things as they are” and I am introducing you guys to this technique because it changed my life in a way that I understand it better & changed my outlook about things and I wish that everyone could benefit from this technique.
It is a 10 day course (FREE), which can be taken at any Vipassana center present around the world in different locations. One has to pack their bags, go live in the Vipassana center for 10 days, where they have to follow certain rules and abstain from a set of things, just to name a few; abstain from verbal talking, usage of any media ( Phone, books, computer, internet, newspaper etc), alcohol etc. You basically disconnect yourself from the whole world, family, news and the most important thing in today’s world, internet. You only have yourself and your mind for next 10 days. There is a schedule from morning till evening that everyone has to follow and instructions are given by teacher to guide you at each step. Honestly, it is a test to accomplish, some people say it sounds like a jail and some people are unable to finish the course because they run away on day 3 or 4 because it is so hard to go inside yourself, when all your life you have only lived outside. You have to teach yourself to spend time with yourself so that you get to know yourself truly and more deeply. People around the world do vipassana and have been thankful that they stumbled upon this beautiful technique which changed their life.
In 2014, I successfully finished my course, it was introduced to me by my father and I cannot put my experience in words, I spent 10 days with just myself and no one else, I connected to myself , with my being, with my mind, with my unknown fears, unknown strengths and that experience was exhilarating but it was not easy at all. It taught me how to see things, just the way they are without trying to alter their existence. It taught me to be just a spectator and not a participant to whatever happens around me. It taught me that everything in the world is temporary, so don’t get too attached to anything, and don’t get agitated and have feeling of aversion against anything, everything shall pass…. good or bad. I was a changed person after the course and I feel I am blessed to find out about this technique, which is why I have this urge to share about it. You can take it as a challenge for 10 days and see if you can finish it, but trust me, you would not regret it. It is absolutely free including the registration, accommodation, food etc. everywhere in the world.
To know more about Vipassana , click here : https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index
All the best and I wish that you start your inner journey soon !
If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with me.