Meditation - Meaning & Easy Methods To Do It

Often used synonymously with prayer and worship, meditation has become a way of life. In the hectic life that we lead everyday, it is important to take out some time to calm the mind. While this form of mental relaxation was considered to be for a few people earlier, today people all over the world are recognizing its benefits. The word "meditation" is formed out of two Latin words - meditari (to think) & mederi (to heal). Traditional schools of thought believed that to meditate one must cover several stages, including breath control, concentration, deep thoughts as well as absorbing the knowledge. For this reason, the term has often been used in the same context as yoga, since both of them ultimately have the same goal - inner peace.

There are two kinds of meditation - active and passive. Both these forms are in a large way interdependent and need to be performed together. Active meditation is what we undertake in our everyday life, whether during eating, sleeping or walking and can be easily defined as a form of yoga. Passive meditation requires you to stop the mind the wavering and concentrating on the inner powers. As such, the techniques for passive relaxation include consciously freeing your mind of various thoughts and fears, concentrating on your inner energies and ultimately exploring and manifesting the subconscious. In simple words, the methods of meditation involve the following:

  • Select a quiet and peaceful place, which is away from any kind of disturbance, preferably in the open.
  • Light incense around you to calm your mind.
  • Focus and concentrate on a single element - this could be a bird, a flower or even the light of candle.
  • Your thoughts might wander initially, so don't try to consciously stop them.
  • With continuous practice, you would eventually be able to master control over your wandering thoughts. This in turn would lead to a noticeable difference in your capability to focus.

Common Techniques Of Meditation

While methods for attaining relaxation and mental peace can be practiced by one and all, they should be ideally followed under the guidance of a Guru. Some common techniques are:

Meditation by Mantras: Mantras are essentially a group of words or chants that are said to creations positive effects on ones 'chakras'. This method is known to heal the spiritual and psychological senses. Mantra meditations are often performed together with 'japas' or rotating of prayer beads while chanting mantras. This is particularly helpful in anchoring the wavering thoughts of the mind. When selecting a mantra, choose one which is easy to recite and understand.

Meditation by Trataka or Steady Gazing: This is one of the simplest methods to relax the mind. Fix your gaze at the wick of a candle and gaze steadily at it for a few minutes. Follow this by closing your eyes and focusing on the image of the light in the centre of the forehead. Relax your body and practice deep breathing. Perform this couple of times. Please note that this method should be done continuously for only about a month or two. Performing Trataka helps to increase concentration and improves the ability to focus on single aspects of your life.

Meditation by Vipassana: Vipassana or the ability to perceive things as they really are. The process usually takes about 10 days in which you would need to refrain from common activities like reading, writing and even talking. Locate a quiet spot and sit with a straight back. Be aware of your breath and observe whatever you feel. After 10 - 15 minutes open your eyes and get up. Continue this method for 10-12 days.

Meditation by Raja Yoga: This method is used by those who are inclined towards giving up worldly activities and awakening of the spiritual senses.

Zanzen: This method of zen meditation was practiced by the Buddha. This method involves sitting in 'padmasana' or lotus position, tucking in your chin and allowing free functioning of the diaphragm. This method is especially effective in bringing a certain regulation to your everyday way of living.

Nada Yoga: This method involves plugging the ears with your thumbs and hearing the inner sounds. This method is a great process for improving internal focus.

Benefits Of Meditation

The process of inner reflection and meditation is known to have several positive effects on one's life, the prime being inner peace and stability. Some of the more prominent effects of meditation include:

  • Improves physical and psychological conditions
  • Improves the power of concentration and mental stability
  • Reduces conditions of anxiety attacks and slowing the heart rate
  • Leads to a calming effect and boosts self-confidence
  • Improves the immunity system and helps deal with pre-menstrual symptoms, allergies and various post-operative healing

While the benefits are manifold, it is important to note that meditation does not guarantee instant peace. It is only a method to explore and open the mind to the various aspects of life. However, meditating regularly under the guidance of a Guru does go a long way in improving the quality of your life.