Essentially, meditation is an act through which a person can perform contemplation. It is a process of training the mind. It helps induce a state of consciousness.
Did You Know?
Ancient Hindu texts liken the mind to a wild, untamed horse. Only meditation was believed to train and bring the mind under control.
Ancient yogis practised meditation to control the mind, decrease its pull towards the illusory world and contemplate on the Divine.
Meditation has been given much importance even in other religions, like Buddhism, Christianity, Jainism, Islam and Judaism.
Our modern world is waking up to the benefits of mediation, with more and more institutions offering courses on the methods of practising it.
Mind over Matter!
Meditation involves calming the mind, increasing consciousness and staying in a state of heightened awareness. Modern research shows that meditation yields tangible health benefits and is excellent for reducing stress and anxiety.
Our brain really is the seat of power. The entity we all know as "will" is a creation of the brain and there are reports (read medical miracles) wherein deadly diseases or disorders have simply vanished due to the "power of the will".
The health benefits of meditation might thus be correlated to the strengthening of this "will power". Studies have indicated the following:
Increased Brain Power: When you are a habitual meditator, positive structural changes occur in your brain. You will have heightened awareness of the surroundings, yet your mind would be calm and peaceful, without agitation.
Lesser Sleep Requirement: When you reach the stage of an experienced meditator, you will require substantially less sleep, without decrease in cognitive or vigilance abilities.
Complete Wellbeing: Regular meditation brings about a complex biochemical and physical change in your body. This is called the "relaxation response." This eases out aches, pains, and stress.
Try These Options
There are various ways of meditating. Here are a few:
Option 1: For Those Who Have a Dedicated Place
Choose a quiet room, where you would be undisturbed. Sit, preferably on the ground, in the "lotus posture," with your back straight and back of your palms resting on your knees. Many texts suggest that the tip of the thumb gently press the tip of the index finger.
Option 2: For Those Who Find Option 1 Difficult
The simplest, and probably the oldest, way of meditating is "breath watching." It is extremely difficult for a novice meditator to empty his/her mind during meditation. Realizing this difficulty, the ancient Hindu yogis suggested that one watches his/her breathing and concentrating on the process of how air is inhaled and then exhaled.
Option 3: For the 'Busy Bees' (5 Minutes Is All It Takes)
You don't need a dedicated space or time for meditation. You can meditate while at work or while travelling by simply observing your breathing. Your mind may dart from one thought to another. The trick is to intently notice your mind and get it back to observing the breathing. Relax and repeat as many times as you can!
Note for Novices: As you would have realised by now, it is extremely difficult to avoid thoughts while meditating. Experienced meditators suggest that, initially, mediation be used only to calm the body and prepare it for advanced meditation. This entails sitting in the meditative posture for at least 15 minutes without moving.
Meditation is a time-tested process for mind control and for bringing fantastic health benefits. If done regularly, it can bring about a calm, focussed, and conscious mind with enhanced capacity.