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What is Meditation? Concept & Different stages of Meditation.
What is Meditation?
Meditation means stopping all nonsensical activities, at least for the time being. Devotional service, however, not only puts an end to all nonsensical mundane activities but also engages one in meaningful devotional activities. This is the definition that I found in nectar of instruction: verse 3. In short meditation is a method to realise the ultimate truth about the self, the universe and God.
It is said that kaliyuga or the present yuga or this age in which we are living is the last of the four stages the world goes through as part of a ‘cycle of yugas’. Vedvyasa wrote in detail about each age and according to his records kaliyug has been portrayed in a very gloomy picture. People of this age will be short lived, slow in spiritual realization, and always disturbed by various anxieties.
“In the age of Kali men will be perverse in their ways of life – miserly, merciless, greedy, luckless and vindictive on silly grounds.” Śrimad Bhagavatām 12.3.25
In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of God.
Thanks to this pandemic that I had a face to face interaction with all my worries, my problems and this time I couldn’t ignore nor could I run away and hence standing there getting hurt, annoyed and broken. It started to hit me very badly. My mental health deteriorated, my peace was lost and my happiness was something which was nowhere to be found. Being a human, I tried to deal with the matters but my knee jerk ways of solving problems made everything much worse. Whenever any stressful event occurred my only response to them was overthinking. It felt like there was a large hole inside my body which was engulfing every good feeling left inside me leaving me shredded into pieces. That is when my friend introduced me to this concept of Meditation.
Like others, even I thought this won’t work with me because if I sit still for some time the thoughts in my mind tend to grow and cover my mind completely leaving no space for the good thoughts to enter. But as I had nothing to do instead of feeling agitated, I studied meditation and its different forms in detail.
The main goal of it is to free oneself from fears and anxiety, unnecessary attachments to material things and realise the fact that we are all employed in God’s service. Due to the worries that pandemic has caused we fear everything. What does it mean when I cough? Should I stay at home? There might be viruses everywhere like air, water, doorknobs, the person standing by me in the marketplace etc. Such thoughts give birth to anxiety which later destroys our mental peace completely. So, it’s better to keep yourself busy and meditation tends to be beneficial in not only keeping you busy but also gives you the much-needed peace. So, the information that I learned while studying about it is as follows:
*There are three kinds of spiritual meditators
1 Voidists- the voididsts teach through meditation that ultimately there is no soul, no god and no substantial universe. The goal of these meditators is a state of nothingness, called nirvana, in which suffering ceases.
2 Impersonalists- the impersonalists hold that through meditation we can understand that individual existence is an illusion, as is the existence of a substantial universe but for them, God exists, not as a person but as white light.
3 Personalists- they see through their meditation that this world is not an illusion. It is real, by the temporary, reflection of an eternally existing spiritual world. The goal of the personalist meditator is to make all thoughts other than thoughts of God zero
*Yoga and spiritual meditation are connected
In Bhagavad Gita lord Krishna says (BG. 6.18-19):
“When the yogi, by practise of yoga, disciplines his mental activities and becomes situated in transcendence– devoid of all material desires– he is said to be well established in yoga. As a lamp in a windless place does not waver, so the transcendentalist, whose mind is controlled, remains always steady on his meditation on transcendent self”.
The transcendental self means the Atma, the spirit soul, which illuminates the entire body with consciousness.
*Right system of meditation
Different methods of yoga have been recommended for different ages. Like the physical yoga meditation system (hatha yoga) was considered suitable for people in ancient times who could leave their homes and go to forests while for the people in today’s time the yoga suitable is bhakti yoga. We simply need to focus ourselves to God and else everything vanishes; we get so engrossed in the all mighty that one no longer feels oneself be the cause and one is not thinking of the results of the awards either.
There are several ways to meditate On Krishna, but the most powerful method is mantra meditation. A mantra is a sound vibration composed of the names of God
“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishan Krishna Hare Hare”
Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare”The name of God contains all the spiritual energies of God. The energy of God is called Shakti. There are three types of Shakti
Sandhini shakti- the energy of existence, this energy can situate us beyond birth and death
Samvit Shakti – the energy of knowledge. This energy helps us feel like we have no lack of knowledge, we feel no influence of ignorance. Whatever we need to know is automatically revealed to us.
Hladini Shakti – the energy of pleasure, Lord Krishna is the reservoir of all pleasure, and we are also by nature meant to experience ever-increasing spiritual pleasure and this energy allows us to do so.
With the choice of right mantras, we can experience all the three energies.
*Ashtanga-yoga and jnana- yoga
The sitting postures and meditation comprise Ashtanga yoga and the other is an analytical and philosophical process by which one tries to understand what is Brahman which consists of studying the Vedanta sutra.
*Different Stages of meditation
1-Meditation on the self as different from the body
The first step in meditation is to understand that the self is not the body. The self is something different, different from even the mind. Even when our body undergoes changes our self remains the same. Hence, we can conclude that the self will survive the end of the current body.
“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober is not bewildered by such a change ” Gita(2.13)
2-Meditation on the Supersoul
As we have already seen that self is different from the body but by careful observation, we will see that our conscious soul takes help from the intelligence. Intelligence gives us direction. But how is this intelligence coming to us? Intelligence is coming to us according to our degree of surrender to the super- soul, we will get a certain kind of intelligence which will direct us. Those influenced by the mode of ignorance will get intelligence which the outside will consider deranged. Who influenced by the mode of passion, will get intelligence that’ll help them in getting success in this realm of material acquisition. Those influenced by the mode of goodness will be directed towards spiritual self.
3-Meditation on the form, nature and pastimes of the god.
At the present moment, our material senses are not able to directly perceive the spiritual form of God. But God makes them available in a form that we can see the form may be of paint, wood, stone, metal. According to meditation techniques described in Geeta, the meditation should begin at the feet and continue upwards until one reaches the smiling face of the lord.
A spiritual meditator learns to see God in everything. In Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna says “I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon”(7.8); I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in the fire”(7.9); “of bodies of water I am the ocean”(10.24); ” of immovable things, I am the Himalayas”(10.25);” and of all trees, I am the banyan tree”(10.26); “among beasts, I am the lion”(10.30); ” of fishes I am the shark, and of following rivers I am the Ganges” (10.31); “of seasons I am flower-bearing spring”(10.35); and ” I am victory, I am adventure and I am the strength of the strong” (10.36).
4-Japa mantra Meditation, Silent mantra meditation, congregational meditation
Japa is the chanting of a mantra in a low voice usually using a string of beads for counting. Japa meditation is performed on a strand of 108 wooden beads. After the meditator has succeeded in the Hare Krishna mantra, they can shift to the chanting of Gayatri mantras. This set of mantras is chanted silently at three junctures of the day, sunrise, noon and the sunset. Lastly, the most powerful form of mediation is kirtan or group meditation. This congregational chanting was recommended by Lord Chaitanya.
In the end, I would like to conclude by saying that the main goal of mediation is achieving inner peace, satisfaction, and pleasure, maintaining friendly relationships with all the living beings by keeping our minds focussed on mighty Lord Krishna. Whatever I wrote in this blog is all the stuff that I read about meditation from different religious books, from the internet and also whatever I heard from my elders and the practitioners in Iskon Temple. Meditation can improve mental health.
Read about the Importance of Mental Health.
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