Have you wondered about meditation and just never gotten around to trying it? This article by Tana Saler may answer a few of your questions.
How many times have you had argumentative conversations in your head? How many times have dark future scenarios played out in your mind, leaving you stressed, worried and tired?
The human mind is overworked. Most of the sick leave days in workplaces are stress-related. In response to this mental stress, an increasing number of people today turn to meditation.
Meditation is the general name given to various techniques used to train, focus and quiet the mind. An activity popular in Eastern and aboriginal cultures, meditation has now become embraced in the West by those seeking to reconnect to their inner self.
Inwardly-focused attention is achieved by reducing external stimuli: dimming the lights, closing the eyes, unplugging the phone and quieting the children and the dog. Teaching a scattered mind the art of focusing is achieved through techniques varying from paying attention to an image, to repeating a certain sound (a mantra), to noticing one’s breath or body-felt sensations.
Meditation can be used for reaching specific life and personal goals. It often employs visualization, becoming guided meditation, breathing techniques, and body movement.
Try this visual exercise: light a candle. Sitting comfortably in a chair or on the floor, with your spine straight, and your hands gently resting on your thighs, gaze into the flame of the candle. Notice the colors of the fire. Observe the different layers and shades of gold, red and blue. What other colors do you see? Follow the movements of the flame, notice it become taller, then shorter, then taller again. See the flame reflected in the melted pool of wax.
If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the flame of your candle. This exercise is using an object – the candle – as the point of focus.
In Hindu traditions, the meditator focuses her or his mind by gazing into a yantra. Yantra is the Sanskrit name for a symbolic composition of the energy pattern of a deity as seen by seers in their visions. Gazing into the yantra connects the meditator with the essence of the deity, and the qualities attributed to it. From a single black point on a white background, to a geometrically complex image, each yantra has its own meaning and symbolism.
Mantra meditations originate, like yantra, in Hindu tradition. In ancient Sanskrit language, the word “mantrana” means advice, or suggestion.
A mantra can be a syllable, a word, or a chant with specific meaning; repeating the mantra goes beyond engaging the mind: it connects the meditator with the source of the sound, which is said to reside within the self. Thus, meditating with the mantra connects the person with their own self.
Here are a few examples of mantras: Sat Nam. Sat means “Truth” and Nam signifies “calling upon”. Sat Nam means “Truth is my identity”. Meditating with this mantra is intended to awaken the true essence that resides in your soul. Amaram Ham, Maduram Ham is a mantra that means “I am blessed, I am immortal.” Om Shanti Shanti Shanti is an invocation for peace. Om is considered a key mantra, without a verbal meaning per se.
OM is said to be the sound of primal creation. This is a mantra you often hear in meditation circles and yoga classes. Some translate OM into English as “I AM”. Meditating with the words “I Am” takes you beyond the limitations of being confined to a personal, physical identity, and into the realm of the transpersonal. Vipassana means “Seeing things as they are”. This is the 2500 year old meditation taught by Buddha – the Enlightened one. The technique is universal, and transcends the borders of religions and sects: your mind simply focuses on your own breath and body-felt sensations.
This style calls for a neutral mind. You become the observer in your body, totally unattached to the quality of the sensations. You simply are with what is, in the here and now.
As you perfect yourself in this kind of neutral observation of your internal experiences, you become less prone to react emotionally to external factors, and free yourself from the ties to factors beyond your control. Less and less things “get to you”, and the reactive, robotic part of your mind gives way to a conscious way of living your life.
Transcendence of the human limitation is the ultimate goal of spiritual seekers. Meditation transports your mind beyond the limitation, into realms where all possibilities are born. Human concerns and worries loose their grip on your mind as you explore heightened states of being through your meditation practice.
Giving your meditation practice at least as much attention as you give your everyday life, is bound to enable a bridge between the transpersonal and the personal world.
Attributes acquired in the vast realm of the transpersonal often translate into impressive abilities the meditator demonstrates in his / her worldly life. Make your meditation practice a priority, and amaze yourself as you discover who you can become!