What exactly is the meaning of this word meditation which we hear more and more frequently during the last years? Where has it come from? What is it for? How is it used? Who are the people using it, and how many are they? What are its effects on the human being, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually? What are its effects on the society? What is the difference between meditation, prayer, positive thought projection and «mind control»?
Meditation can be described in hundreds of various ways. It would really take a number of books to answer the questions which we have posed above. Here we will give some brief answers in outline form and go more deeply into the subject along with «how to meditate» in later chapters.
THREE ASPECTS OF MEDITATION
1. Relaxation of the body and mind so that the mind is not cluttered with various unrelated and disturbing thoughts.
2. Concentration on a limited area of focus so as to begin to be able to control the functioning of the mind and direct it towards the “object” of concentration which one chooses. Thus, if I have chosen to concentrate on the concept of love, my mind will not wonder from that point of focus to various other unrelated thoughts concerning my daily life, needs, desires, the future and the past.
3. The eventual transcendence of the mind, thoughts and all identification with the body and personality, and the emergence into a state of supermental union with God (Universal Spirit).
These three aspects, RELAXATION, CONCENTRATION and TRANSCENDENCE constitute the basis of most meditation techniques.
WHERE HAS MEDITATION COME FROM?
The concept and practice of meditation exists in every religion, philosophy and system of spiritual growth. It is simply the process of learning to control the mind and direct it towards more positive and spiritual thoughts and objects of concentration. In the Greek Orthodox religion, the phrase «LORD JESUS HAVE MERCY ON ME» is used as a meditative focus for the purpose of staying in constant contact with Christ Consciousness and for the eventual ecstatic union with the Divine. The process of meditation has emerged out of mankind’s continuing efforts to understand himself, to achieve self-knowledge, to improve his control over his mind, and to reach higher levels of consciousness.
WHAT IS MEDITATION LIKE?
Meditation is every action, or abstinence from action, which brings the mind into a state of contact with the inner self, so that an inner peace or silence is created. The meditative process climaxes in the transcendence of the ego and the mind itself, ending in a state of pure awareness; consciousness without an object of perception. Put more simply, during normal waking consciousness our minds are constantly in a state of activity, continually moving through moods, feelings, ideas, thoughts, perceptions of sounds, sights, tastes and sensual experiences. Every moment is filled with working, talking, thinking, analyzing, watching, worrying, solving, studying, dreaming and so on. The mind goes on continuously. We are like ships being tossed around by the waves of circumstances, with no control, at the mercy of the various stimuli which activate our mental programmings. One moment we are happy, elated over a new relationship, success at business, or school, or a well-cooked meal; joyful at meeting an old friend, or having bought a new dress to wear. In the next moment sadness flows through us – we are tired, depressed with life, bored with work, confined by our family, devastated by the heat, frustrated with ourselves, angry at others, or bitter about the hardships which life has put upon us. Life is an incessant flow of moods, thoughts and perceptions. An object of perception is always luring the attention of our consciousness. Now the object of your consciousness is what you are reading. And in-between the lines it moves to the life experiences which are stimulated by the associations brought forth by these words. Then the past memories become your object of consciousness. And when you finish reading, at some point, you will look around the room and that will be your object of consciousness. Then you will wonder about the next few hours or the next days – what you will eat, the projects you must complete, the state of your relationships with family and friends, a planned vacation, your spiritual growth, etc. It’s no wonder we are a bit confused, lacking in clarity, concentration and peace of mind. The ship of our mind is tired of bobbing up and down, in and out the never ending waves of quickly changing mental impressions. Cars, buses, trains, planes, T.V., radio, movies, magazines and newspapers have improved the educational, financial and recreational aspect of life tremendously. We are more informed – more knowledgeable about the material world in which we live – than our ancestors. All this is at the expense, however, of our natural contact with our inner world. With so many mind stimulating inputs, our consciousness is constantly focused outwardly, resulting in a depletion of mental energy due to a deterioration of the connection to our inner source of peace, clarity and spiritual and mental power.
A NATURAL MEDITATION
Have you ever been to a quiet stream in the countryside in the spring where life is green and moist? You sit down on a rock and watch the running water. The sights and sounds of the flowing water and the growing plant life begin to work their mysterious way into your nervous system. Gradually, with the simple repetition of the water’s song and the harmonious beauty of the natural surroundings, the thousands of electronic impulses of your brain begin to discharge into the tension-absorbing air. All of the concerns, problems and projects which had filled your mind to bursting capacity begin to disappear. There is nothing to try to figure out now, nothing to decide. The flowers silently console you with their perfect peace and harmony. The fresh air tingles in your lungs and your head becomes clear. You feel somehow sedated, as if the forces of nature have conspired to put you to sleep – to put you at ease. The wind massages your body with caresses of coolness as the sun unties your muscles with penetrating warmth. There is nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to think of. Just lie back and absorb the peaceful vibrations which flow into every part of your being, whispering, «be at peace, relax my friend, all is well now». A delicious sleep falls upon you; not really sleep but a half-conscious-half-sleep state, in which the trees and sounds and breeze begin to come inside and mix with all of the thoughts and feelings. It is as if the door of your mind has been opened and all of those conversations, actions and perceptions lying unresolved, floating at various depths in the sea of the mind begin to float upwards and outwards. Reality now is a mixture of the inner and outer. The peace and security of being in the womb of nature, of letting go to the sun, to the water, the wind, the earth-draws out the stresses and frustrations. We swim semiconsciously at the level where the conscious blends into the unconscious. We dance in our sea of consciousness, sometimes floating up to the surface catching the sensation of the breeze, or the warmth of the sun. Then we dive downward into a stream of upward floating thoughts, images, sounds – all the dislodged refuse from nervous stresses and unresolved problems. We watch them as they float by and then dive deeper sensing by now there is something at the bottom of the sea which is attractive to us. Occasionally we get caught by an upward floating sensation of worry, resentment, an image or an attachment, and before we know it, we are at the surface again thinking, wondering, worrying, being rocked by the waves of attachment. But the dance goes on, we begin to sink again, for by now we see that we cannot really dive because diving is too intense – there is too much effort – we get hooked too easily on upward floating garbage. We instinctively learn the dance of the water, sinking, watching, letting go, being carried on the vertical currents of fresh water from the depths of our consciousness, like a seagull with wings spread gliding the air currents flowing against him without a movement, without an effort, letting the air do all the work. By this time, we are no longer concerned about where we are going. The water becomes clearer, more free of debris. We have gone beyond the levels of stress release, past wreckages of old memories, relationships, failures and traumas. We have danced through the caverns of resentment and worry. The water becomes very clean, very still, very peaceful. We are coming to the source of life current, the source of the ocean, the spring of pure consciousness. Here we may encounter pure light or sound vibrational energy. Only subtle vibrations exist here. Only electromagnetic energy. Our bodies become filled-recharged with life. Our consciousness is renewed as we have cleared the way for a burst of fresh energy to flow up purifying the sea of consciousness, regenerating the mind, giving new life to every cell of our brain. If we do not become enamored by the sensation of light, by the bliss of this energy which charges through our system, then we may sink a little deeper into the vast nothingness from which the spring of life flows. Here there is not even energy; no body, no mind, no light, no sound – absolute nothingness – total vacuum – only tremendous potential unmanifest God, from which all life and material creation flows.
COMING BACK TO THE SURFACE
The sound of chirping birds greets you as you slowly float to the surface. The branches dancing in the wind wave «hello». The sounds of insects buzzing and water splashing salute you with a «welcome back friend, you are part of us now». It takes a while to remember where you are. You were only gone 20 minutes, but it seems you have been in this spot all your life. The mind is clear, refreshed and in the present. There is nothing to do but take off your clothes and go swimming. Have you ever been to this quiet stream in the countryside? Most everyone has – either to a stream, or river, or mountain, or sea, or forest. And how well we feel when we return; how much more energy, clarity and newness we have to continue our work, to carry on with our life, to solve our problems. Somehow everything is more alive, more harmonious for a while; life is not so boring, difficult or overbearing. It doesn’t take long, however, to discharge all that energy and clarity. Once again we become upset, nervous and bored. Can we go to the stream every day? It certainly would be nice, and life would be much less complicated. Of course for most of us it is completely impractical in terms of time, money and availability of such places – especially to those of us who live in the city. Well, mother Nature has a secret for us. We don’t have to go anywhere at all. The stream of life; that place of peace, that source of strength and knowledge and harmony – lies right inside everyone of us. What is meditation? It is nothing more than visiting this stream on a daily basis. Simply it is the sinking dance into our sea of consciousness, releasing the submerged stresses and coming to the point of inner stillness where there is no object of consciousness – but consciousness itself. Done regularly, this inward dance leaves us fresh, more alert, more relaxed, more creative, more healthy, and more in tune with ourselves and our environment. The truth of these statements has been proved both subjectively and objectively through experimentation. Studies have been made on meditators and non-meditators over the years with respect to blood pressure, pulse, reaction time as well as with states of fulfillment and creativity expressed subjectively by the participants. Details will be given in the next chapter. Hundreds of thousands of people today in all walks of life are finding that no matter what their goals, motivations, responsibilities or problems may be, they are able to act more clearly, more efficiently and more successfully with the aid of regular meditation. Ultimately, the only way to know if meditation will be useful for you is to give it a try. To spend some time each day in the «dance of the soul».