Just like every other event/happening in my life, I knew about meditating from my mother, grandmother, aunt and so many other people I saw in my day-to-day life. At one point in time, I thought that it was not meant for me and didn"t show a pinch of interest in it. But, there was always this nagging thought at the back of my mind, to try to experience it once, to really know what meditation is or what meditating feels like.
And then one day, out of the blue, a friend of mine introduced me to a person. He first got me talking about myself. Basically he was working on me like a psychiatrist to bring out the things in my mind, infuse me with a lot of "dont-worry-everything-is-fine" and similar positive ideas. And then he altered the mantras that I already chanted, to suit the current happenings in my life. And once I was progressing with it, he got me started on meditation. And exactly one year into it, he has made me capable enough to talk or write about it with clarity.
Before I elaborate on my points of view, I wish to roughly define meditation. Meditation means, looking into oneself, understanding the self and the relationship between the individual self and the Ultimate being.
The outcome of meditation is a peaceful state of existence, a certain inexplicable happiness and the eventually resulting state of being in Samadhi- achieving oneness with the Universal Consciousness.
When I began meditating and as I continue to do so, there"s one point that strikes me like a boulder: none of the meditating experiences are new. They are as lucid as sleeping. In fact, I really think everybody goes through some meditation, in at least one thing they do in their daily lives. It could be working, cooking, singing, driving, or travelling or even bathing. And there"s one fact that needs more mention than everything else: each living creature actually meditates every day, when asleep. The sense of freshness and calm, the peace of mind that we all feel as soon as we wake up every morning, is because we have all been in a deep sleep meditation. Every living and non-living existence has direct access to be in the Universal Consciousness.
In reality, Vedanta is all about observing sleep... All of us feel a sense of sukham (I don"t think there"s an exact translation for the word "sukham") in sleep - whoever it may be and wherever one may be. We never want to wake up from sleep. Remember how happy each one of us feel when we realise that there"s some more time left to continue sleeping before we have to wake up and attend to our daily chores. That happiness is priceless. And that is because, while asleep, we experience oneness with the Parabrahmam, or universal consciousness. We forget our body, our mind is turned off and our ego is not working.
And this happens to everybody, isn"t it? Irrespective of whether it a multi-millionaire or a beggar on the streets; whether a man bound by morals or the person who is serving a sentence in the prison, we all go back to being one with the Parabrahmam in deep sleep.
Conscious meditation helps experiencing the happy state in sleep, in the waking state as well. The intensity of this happiness we experience might vary in our waking state, but definitely, it does exist, in some subtle manner. And meditation is all about becoming aware of this.
In my opinion, any action done out of creativity or inspiration in the waking state results in perfection because the doer of the action has to forget one"s individuality to be able to attain even a little amount of perfection. And when someone forgets one"s ego, individuality and involves oneself deeply into the action that results in meditation.
We have great works in art and literature, because the artists and the writers became one with the art of creation. We have beautiful singers and expert musicians today because, they forget themselves while performing and merge into the music they create We get tasty food every day because our mothers have become expert cooks, so deeply involved and committed to the art of cooking. In fact, traditionally, cooking is supposed to be a sacred yagna that nourishes one"s body, mind and soul
Exclusively for absolute beginners like myself:
To understand what a meditative state is, it necessary we experience the state atleast once. Definitely, it"s not rocket science. And here are a few suggestions on how we can go about it:
Comfortable posture: Get in to a relaxing posture, after washing your hands and feet. It might be sitting on a chair, squatting on the floor or lying down on the back and close your eyes. But the key is to relax.
Relax: Give a suggestion to yourself to relax. You can probably put yourself on a countdown of ten to relax. Ultimately, you need to make sure that your posture doesn"t distract your relaxation state
Understand your mind: It"s a sure thing that once you are settled with your body, your mind starts working overtime. Thoughts start flooding, and you will be surprised at how many unnecessary things come to your notice. But, the point here is, you need to know that this flood of thoughts, which is called the mind is not the real you. So, start a chant.
Chant: Now, consciously begin a chant in your mind. But the chant should be something positive or neutral but never a negative idea. Here are some suggestions for a chant:
1) I am happy (alternatively, Anandoham in Sanskrit)
2) I am fine.
3) God"s name. Any name of your favourite deity. Could be Krishna, Rama, Shiva, Jesus, Allah, etc.
As you begin chanting and continue to do so, you notice that you are consciously continuing to chant but your thoughts keep coming up, they overwhelm you and gradually your chant stops and you are concentrating on your thoughts. When this happens, give a suggestion to yourself to chant again but never try to control your thoughts
Observe yourself: As you continue to chant in spite of the various obstacles your mind seems to throw, an understanding dawns on you that the chanting part of you is parallel to your thoughts, but not the one and the same. Now, observe your thoughts. Don"t control your thoughts. Just observe and witness your thoughts. Over time, you will also observe that the thoughts have slowed down or stopped altogether
See yourself being somewhere deep within: At this point, you will probably notice that you are already in a deep place within yourself. Your breathing would have slowed down. You can feel that you exist in a remote place within yourself, all happy and absolutely peaceful. This is the meditative state. You might not see images or visuals, but some light or absolute darkness. In the meditative state, you are entirely aware of all things around you but still, you feel like you are in deep sleep.
Stay there as long as you can: Try and stay in this meditative state for as long as you can. And when you think that you are coming out of the state of silence, you can give suggestions to yourself.
Time to put new ideas into yourself: You can give self-suggestions to solve the problems in your life or to find answers to your questions. You can visualise that your health improves, your career soars to a new high and your relationships are getting stronger. It can be any positive visualisation
Thank the universe for providing you: Showing gratitude towards the universe, makes you feel good and actually fosters abundance
Guide yourself back to the waking state: Slowly, and gradually, guide yourself back to the normal waking state. It just feels like waking up from sleep. You feel energetic and happy, which is a reflection of your deep meditation. There are no hard and fast rules to meditation and no fixed time frames. Though, it’s possible that initially, you may take 30-45 minutes and experiences vary in terms of intensity from person to person. As you continue to practise, the time you need to get into the deep meditative state reduces to something as less as 2 or 5 minutes.
Coming to the point I was trying to make:
We can actually notice ourselves being in the meditative state, when we do something we like or something that naturally comes to us like singing, cooking, cleaning, writing or being at work. It’s just that we miss out on observing that we are in a state different from our individual consciousness while we are deeply involved in an action.
We are all given abundant chances to understand that we are one with Parabrahmam. It is unfortunate that most us fail to observe this fact. And conscious meditation is a process that teaches us to observe, simply witness and just be.
Indeed, everybody meditates. Any real happiness we experience is a reflection of the Parabrahmam. So happiness is not in the things you see outside, but in the eyes of the seer, within you.
Author of this article Mrs. Divya Padmanabhan can be contacted at hifromdivy@gmail.com