If you are living a life in which there is peace and joy all the time or most of the time, and if the joy is growing, then you might not need to do meditation. If you have no fears or very few fears and these fears are decreasing with time then also you don’t need to do meditation. But if that is not the case, then you can try doing meditation for some time. When you do meditation, you would be able to experience if it is bringing any positive changes in your life. By the way, if you do face any fears, you can check out How to stop living in fear?.
In this article, we will cover different aspects:
- What is the meaning of meditation
- How can meditation help you
- Different types of Meditation
- Are you already doing some form of meditation?
- How to do breathing meditation
- What to do when your mind wanders during meditation?
What is the meaning of meditation?
Let’s start from absolute basics here. From a very basic perspective, Meditation means putting attention on something. When we meditate or contemplate on something, we end up gaining knowledge about that object. For example, if you meditate on an animal, a flower, ocean waves, stars, etc. , you end up thinking about that in detail. You might even start going deeper in your thoughts to understand its existence. It is some sort of study on something in which we try and understand the what and how of that thing.
For Example, Someone must have seen a piece of wood floating in water first and then his/her meditation on that floating piece would have brought him/her to the idea of creating something which can float on water, such as a boat. In the process of meditation, we gain knowledge about the laws and facts of objects in the world around us.
One of the most important aspect of meditation is that it can help you heal.
“Meditation keeps on improving the quality of life we are experiencing.”
How can meditation help you:
1. It helps you in feeling joyful.
Every human being is experiencing something every moment, everyone carries a feeling every single moment. Some would be in joy at this moment, some may be in misery, some in pain, etc. But the truth is everybody is carrying a feeling or emotion at every moment.The Latin derivative for the word emotion, ’emotere’, means energy in motion. So this feeling is always in motion. Emotion keeps on changing all the time.
We all feel good sometimes, sometimes we feel bad, and at times our emotions are somewhere in between happy and sad. Also the intensity of feeling which we carry changes. The more the intensity of feeling, the more it gets registered in our memory. So, this feeling keeps on moving and changing within us. Sometimes within a few moments, we touch the highs and lows of both good and bad sides.
All of us feel something or the other all the time. When any two people meet, there can only be multiple possibilities:
- Both of them might be in good emotions.
- One of them is feeling good, while other is not
- Both of them are feeling bad.
Don’t we all wish to be in the company of those people who make us feel good?
We want to remain in the company of those who make us feel good rather than those who drain our energies (The Energy Vampires). Its very important to identify energy vampires around you. They might be someone among your friends, family or work colleagues. So, every time when we are meeting someone new, we prefer to be in good company.
There are more than 7 billion people in this world.
It’s not a good idea to give control of our feelings or happiness to someone outside us. Doing meditation daily makes you more aware of your own thoughts and emotions. When you are more aware of your own thoughts and emotions, you have control of your feelings within you. Doing meditation daily helps you be more joyful. You would experience joy more often – such as saying thank you, smiling, appreciating the beautiful nature around you.
2. It helps you enjoy the journey towards your goals/dreams
Journey towards your goals is not an easy one. A lot of hard work, persistence, consistent efforts are required. In fact, taking the first step towards the journey to achieve your dreams is considered really difficult. You might also be interested in reading about secrets of success that can change your life.
This race for money, power, and fame is there so that we live comfortably and be happy in our lives. This race is endless. Even if one becomes one of the most influential people in this world, even at that time, the race does not end. The person might fear that someone else might take his/her position. In fact, such a person does face fears from time to time to protect his/her position/fame/money all the time. When the person is striving for his goals, it is perceived that reaching success would result in happiness. But once the person reaches those goals, he feels momentary happiness. Since the stress of next goal dawns upon him.
Usually, we believe that once we achieve this next goal of ours, we would become happy. Whether the goal is related to Money, Fame, buying a house, purchasing your next car, going to a luxurious vacation. As soon as we reach those goals, we feel we are not yet completely fulfilled. We create further goals that we believe would give us satisfaction and happiness. We keep striving to achieve the next thing, assuming that we would get happy once we reach the next goal.
But does it truly happen? We get momentary happiness. But then we feel dissatisfied, and we think we need more.
It is not the end destination, but the journey that has to be enjoyed.
Doing your daily meditation helps you enjoy the journey.
3. It helps you be in control.
So yes we all experience a feeling at every moment. We somewhere sincerely want our experiences to be great. Also, if the intensity is high, that is even better for us. We can’t control the outside world as the world is too big and we are tiny. Even this nature is so extreme that it can bring us from the castle to ashes in just a single moment. As we can’t control the outside world as it is too big, but we have this power to control the inside world. Meditation helps us in managing the inner world. Meditation simply means putting attention on something.
As we start putting attention on something, we get more knowledge about how it works. We come to know more about this inside world of ours. Also, we become aware of how the intensity goes high and low. We realize how we can continue to feel amazing for a higher duration. This is something that you would be able to understand once you start experiencing it.
4. It helps you be more aware/conscious.
Suppose you are feeling angry, you tend to remain in the emotion of anger for some duration and suffer. How would you feel if that time frame of being angry starts reducing for you?
If you do not meditate, For a similar situation you might remain in a bad mood for 30 minutes. When you start meditating, such a duration begins reducing. So, instead of 30 minutes earlier, it gets lowered down to 20 minutes and then 10 minutes and so on. Then you might reach a situation where your anger goes away within a minute. In short, Your being in a reactive mode of anger loses its strength with time.
Yes, that’s a possibility. If you look at the faces of sages/monks who meditate, they seem happy all the time.
Meditation automatically helps us become more aware of what we are feeling right now, and we have this natural tendency to strive to be better. If you are conscious about what you are feeling you will naturally be going in a better direction. Awareness to ourselves simply means being aware of what is happening within right now.
When you are being conscious, you don’t react to your feels and emotions, you simply watch. If you are feeling bad and you become aware of how you are feeling, that awareness will put a break automatically on that bad feeling.
People who harm others think bad for others, do wrong to others usually don’t remain aware of what they are feeling. If they become more conscious about themselves, their terrible deeds would reduce automatically.
Try and remember some past situations from life in which you have done something wrong and now you feel difficulty in believing that how could you do that such a thing.
Awareness is merely coming in watching state, just watching don’t indulge in it.
Sometimes, We all experience good and bad emotions. If we become more aware of ourselves and become aware of how we think and feel, this bad will reduce automatically.
5. It helps you be in a state of positive energy
Everything is energy, our thoughts our emotions. When we do not meditate, we might emit positive or negative energies based on our thoughts and feelings. During the time when we start meditating, we start emitting positive energies around us. These energies stay with us even after finishing our session of meditation. The benefit is that with time and practice of meditation, our energy automatically starts flowing in a direction that is positive and self-enhancing. You would start feeling good naturally. Even the intensity of feeling good would increase with time. You might be interested in checking out 11 ways to start your day with a positive attitude.
With meditation, you would start being aware. This would help you in living the best life you have had. Not just that, gradually you would develop a habit to remain alert. You would begin being aware even when you are not meditation. You would start getting involved with life more profoundly and positively.
One needs to develop more awareness about one’s own self and also remain alert that this awareness should increase. We have given our attention to the outside world a lot so a lot of attention is also required to increase more and more awareness.
6. It helps you in your quest to become better
There is one important observation:
We always strive to become better than our former selves.
Somewhere we all want to evolve further and become better. If you look at the evolution of human beings. Through this process of evolution, we as human beings have reached a stage where we have developed so much technology, we have built cities around us, we have all the facilities we need and want. We have reached space. Compare this to the early human beings (homo sapiens) who used to live in caves and who used to hunting and gathering.
It is ‘in the nature of’ human beings to strive to be better.
Meditation is something that helps us hugely in this area. When you meditate daily, you are connecting with your inner self. Doing this daily would help you get more clarity of thoughts. Once you start having more clarity, you automatically start taking the decisions in your life that are more fruitful to you.
Different types of Meditation
There are a lot of different ways to do meditation. Some of the ways include keeping your eyes closed and focusing your attention on different things such as, focusing your attention on either breath or body sensations or sound. Another way is to keep your eyes open and focus at a particular point. I am mentioning these in a little detail below:
Observing breath during Meditation
If you are doing meditation via observing your breath. Then during meditation, you need to focus on keeping the attention towards your breath. If while doing meditation, you feel that your attention is wandering away from your breath, then as soon as you realize this, all you need to do is bring the attention back on your breath. You can check out this article where I have explained in detail: What is the meaning of meditation and how to do breathing meditation?
Observing body sensations during Meditation
In this type of meditation, you need to observe body sensations in different parts of the body. The primary focus has to be with observing body sensations all the time. During the meditation, whenever your mind starts wandering, i.e whenever you start having any thoughts, you need to bring back the attention to observing your body sensations.
If you are doing sound meditation, then during meditation, all the attention of your mind needs to be on the ears. You need to focus on hearing any sounds that you hear and do nothing else. During meditation, it would keep on happening that your mind’s attention would waver and some thoughts might come to you, as soon as it happens, you need to bring back the attention to hearing sound.
Meditation while looking at a single point (with eyes open)
If you are doing meditation in which you are looking at a single point, then all the attention of your eyes need to be at that same point. Whenever you realize that your mind has wandered away and you have started thinking something, you need to bring your attention back to what your eyes were looking at.
The important thing which is common in every meditation technique is that the attention of mind has to be on a single point.
Are you already doing some form of meditation?
From where I see, most of the people are doing meditation in some way or the other. Some are meditating on money, some on music instruments, some on cars, some on plants, some on how to get more revenue for a company etc.
The object of meditation can differ for ever individual. Also, the same person may have many objects of meditation. Like someone can contemplate on how she can make more money and also loves working on photography, that is she can also meditate on photography
When someone mediates on something, two things happen:
- You either mediate
- You try to meditate
An Example from real life:
Like if you are working in your office on a project. Your attention may be automatically on the project, or your focus is shifting on something else while working on the project. Whenever you realize that your attention has shifted somewhere else, you try to bring it back to your project. Like focus is going somewhere else in the form of thoughts such as my house bills, my wife they all keep on popping automatically, and you try and bring attention on the project and its execution again. When the focus remains naturally on the project, we are at ease, and we also enjoy that time frame. That is why I say most of the people meditate on something or the other.
Do you love what you do?
When we love an object which is there in the outside world on which we meditate the meditation becomes very easy and joyful. Whenever you have an emotion of love inside, joy follows. That’s one of the reasons a person who loves her/his job enjoys life a lot. For that person, meditation on that object happens naturally, and attention doesn’t get diverted much. For example, A lot of entrepreneurs who start their business initially know that they may or may not make that much money which they were making in their jobs. But they love doing that work, so they really enjoy the process. It is like they meditate on their business or on the success of the company or maybe just on the process of seeing their idea blossom into something beautiful.
Are you unhappy with your job?
On the other hand, if someone is not happy with what they are doing, he would not be able to give it his best. That person would not be able to feel happy while doing that task. And thus, the person’s attention would keep on wandering. We all would know someone who is not satisfied in their jobs, the main reason would be he would not like what he does. Such people lead a life in which most of the time, they feel incomplete.
That is why it is said that it is essential to follow your passion and do what your heart asks you to. It’s just taking the first step towards your dreams seems hard. But once you do that, things start falling into place.
Understanding Self : A beautiful journey
The whole point is everybody meditates, but the object of meditation is of the outside world. If we become the object of meditation, then we are meditating on our own self. When we meditate on an object of the outside world, we gain knowledge about that object, so when we meditate on our own self the result will be the same, we will have more knowledge about our own self.
Do we strive to do the right thing?
Have you ever thought that we all know – What is the right thing to do, but we might not be able to do it every single time in our lives. For example, We get angry, and we continue that state even after knowing that getting angry is not healthy for our bodies. What is the point of knowing something if we are not able to implement it?? Similarly, we all know the effects of poor time management, but many times, we are not able to manage it effectively.
We know that we should do good to others but how many times do it with all our hearts? What happens when someone you know makes more money than you do? or when someone is more successful than you? or when someone buys a luxury car?
You do feel inspired, yes. But sometimes, you also feel jealous, right? Come on, let’s accept it. It is a human emotion and we all have felt it at some time or the other. But we know we should be happy in other people’s happiness. How many times we pretend to be good and do something just for the sake of doing it.
I believe the reason it happens so is that we might not have knowledge about our own self. We don’t know how our body and mind functions. But how do we get to know more about these? For that, we need to start meditating so that we can start a beautiful journey of understanding ourselves better – from within.
How do we increase our knowledge about our own self through meditation?
If we try to analyze – when we meditate on something in the outside world, there is always an object. For example, if a person is meditating on the earth surface, the surface is always there. The types of thoughts regarding the surface might change during meditation but the surface is still there. So we need to find something which is always there within us.
Information of other objects of the outside world comes to us through sense organs, so if we close all our sense organs to the outside world, we would be able to realize the inner world. If we are at a calm place, have less light, moderate temperature, no smell. Now if we just close our eyes, we are in the inside world. We can observe ourselves. We have thoughts as well as emotions. They both keep on changing with time, and our mind also goes in thoughts and feelings on its own. It’s like the pilot is missing and things are on autopilot.
One important thing to note is that we are not just thoughts and emotions as we can see observe our thoughts and emotions.
How to decide what should we meditate on?
Meditating on an object which is changing very rapidly is difficult. Also, I personally feel we all somewhere want to feel good and enjoy more. The pursuit of knowledge is only in us because it gives us power and it helps us enjoy more. The object of meditation should be something that also helps us at the same time to enjoy the process of meditating itself.
When we try to do meditation, we know that if we try to think of anything, we find that the thoughts keep on changing. There is something which is always there. We can observe that our breath is always there. Therefore, I would suggest you can try doing breathing meditation.
How to do Breathing Meditation?
Focus on your breath
Sit at a silence place. You can sit in a cross legged position since in this position, you tend to move less and it helps you focus. While keeping your eyes closed, start focusing your attention on your breath. Just observe yourself breathe in and out. Whenever you feel your attention is wandering away from breath, just bring it back on your breath.
You do not have to think of anything. The pattern of breathing in and breathing out also changes with change in our emotions. You would also observe that breath and body and mind have a direct impact on each other. A change in breathing puts an effect on the body as well as on the mind. So a person can meditate on the breath, and whenever he finds that his attention has wandered away on anything, just remember to focus back on the breath. Simply Keep on observing the breath. I would suggest to just totally get involved with the breath and see where this phenomenon of observing your own breath takes you in your experience of life.
Keep your spine straight
Try and sit straight as it helps a lot for a better flow of energy inside which helps in fast removal of nerve blockage inside us. Spine is the most critical organ in the human body. All the nerves are connected to the spine, and the spine is connected to the brain. All the nerves center are there in the spine. So our spine posture is very much related to our health.
If we usually do not sit with a straight spine wherever the spine is bent, the ‘energy flow’ to those nerves or the blood flow in that portion is not proper which is a standard requirement of the body. Which in turn affects both the body as well as the brain. You can observe any athlete or any person whom you consider is fit, you would find that that person has a straight natural posture. It is beneficial to have a straight posture.
What to do when your mind wanders during meditation?
Before we answer this, let us first understand a bit about our mind.
What do we understand about our Mind?
Mind has this tendency to always think and analyze. It keeps on hopping from one thought to another. The intensity of the thought depends on how much our mind is emotionally attached to those thoughts. The important point is that there is a gap in between every two thoughts, however small the pause might be, but there is a gap. Generally, the gap is so small, that we are not conscious about it. The mind takes rest when it is not thinking or when it is in that gap. You can understand this as – During that gap when the mind is not thinking, it is being in the present moment, it is still in itself.
That is the reason why the sages say
Whatever you are searching for is already within
That is, all those that are searching for that thing, that place, that experience that will bring you peace or tranquility. That peace is already there within you. You just need to be in that present moment, you just need to be in that gap.
As we discussed above, during different types of meditation, when a person mediates, one brings all the attention of the mind to a single point. As a result of it, the mind can not do thinking because mind’s attention is on the particular sense organ and it somehow takes a pause from the thinking process and is in a rested state.
When one meditates while putting the attention of the mind on a sense organ, the mind would wander. The mind has this tendency to always think, analyze and think some more. The fact is that whenever the mind is doing any sort of thinking, the attention of the mind will not stay on the sense organ. That is why it is extremely important to be conscious about bringing the attention back to the sense organ. You leave any thought that is there right away. It is a constant exercise that needs to be done while doing meditation. Like we do exercise in the gym to make our muscles stronger with each session. Similarly, this exercise needs to be done to make the mind more healthy.
So, you always need to remember that you must be conscious about and kill any thought (kill the buddha) that comes during meditation and you need to bring the attention back to the sense organ.
This is a famous Zen proverb that Zen masters used to share with their disciples.
“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him right away”
The road mentioned here is your mind and the Buddha is a passing thought. Because the mind starts imagining Buddha and goes away from the object of meditation. Just simply bring the attention back to the object of meditation that is either on your breath, body sensation, sound or the point that you are looking at etc. The buddha will automatically get killed or in other words, he will pass through the road and disappear.
How can knowing this help you?
If you have read till here, then all you need to do is choose any type of meditation technique and start meditating every day. Your alertness and focus of the mind would increase for sure gradually by doing this. This is so because you would be doing a mental exercise of focusing on one thing regularly. These are just a few of the benefits you would get along with joy and bliss. You would realize the rest of the benefits with your own experience once you start practicing it. The quality of your life would increase day by day with the practice.
What is the key to a happy and blissful life?
The mind’s attention on a single thing at any given time is the key a happy and blissful life. You would have seen people around you who are happy, the reason for their happiness is that they have found something or some work which they regularly do with love. You can say that “work that they love” has taken all the attention of their mind.
Like an artist who loves working on his art, a woodcutter who likes to cut wood, a gardener who loves gardening, a sportsperson while playing his game and so on. The common thing in all these people is that their mind gets absorbed automatically in the work that they do.
Remember, consistency is the key here. In fact, consistency is one of the important secrets of success that can change your life. It is just a matter of taking that first step to achieve what you want to.
Just be patient in the beginning and remain regular for a few weeks and then decide.
Also within us, emotions flow in the form of a current, and a parallel sensation creates within, and that sensation is always there. But we need to take out some days time and preferably do meditation to know more about our body.
I can assure you from my personal experience that your quality of life would increase a lot and you would be able to experience happiness and bliss more often.
What if we don’t have to try and be good with others it becomes natural to us? What if the anger and fear start losing its strength on its own? Do this simple watching of breath and see with your personal experience if your experience of life improves.
Lots of love
This article has been written by Moji with inputs from BetterAuds Team. He has many years of experience and expertise in the field of meditation and spirituality. He has travelled across the length and breadth of India and has visited and meditated in many spiritual places. Connect with him on his email here.