Meditation is arguably the most fundamental pillar of any spiritual system. From the padmasana (cross-legged) Buddha to the kayotsarga (standing) Mahavira to the dhyanasana (lotus-seated) yogi, any image of a spiritual seeker is inevitably associated with the practice of meditation. However, the word meditation is also among the most ambiguously used and often misunderstood terms in the spiritual glossary. What exactly does it mean to meditate?
Throughout the course of human history, people have used the word meditation to denote different psychological states and intellectual processes. For example, for the western philosopher, to meditate meant to reflect, or even to focus, concentrate and think deeply about an idea or a thing. The very word meditation has roots in old Latin, and stands for ‘thinking / pondering / contemplating.’ The mind, laden with its never-ceasing thoughts, seems to be at the very centre of this approach.
The East tackles the mind differently. Yes, it recognises the mind and its chatter as a key determinant of a person’s state of wellbeing and life outcomes. Yet the approach is radically different: instead of constant focus on the faculties of the mind, the eastern meditator calms the mental processes, relaxes the body and the mind, and delves deep into the mysteries of the self. He does not entertain the mind, but rather transcends it.
Therefore, in the context of spiritual science, a much more appropriate word for meditation is the Indian (Sanskrit) equivalent term dhyana. The state of dhyana is a state of no-mind. Dhyana is a path, a method, or a process through which the individual learns to overcome the troubles arising from the churning ocean of thoughts, worries and anxieties. Through dhyana, meditation, one learns how to calm that restless mind, how to find the gateway to inner peace, and how to tap into the source of unconditional bliss and infinite possibilities.
Once we learn how to enter this state of tranquility and equilibrium, a new life begins. The mind is no longer a dangerous master of our moods and actions; it stops confining us to bounded and finite prospects. Instead of being at the mercy of a fickle and wandering mind, always feeling overwhelmed by a myriad hit-and-miss thoughts, we learn to recognise when, where and how its cognitive faculties can be best used to enhance our performance and results.
For these reasons, when we say meditation we mean dhyana, in the manner the word had been conceived by the great yogis, munis and rishis of ancient India.
The mind tends to complicate. It is in constant pursuit for complex, esoteric and taxing solutions. It believes that things which matter the most are not easily available or accessible. It places value in methods that are costly in terms of time, work or energy required, and money.
Yet the truth is oftentimes simple. Meditation does not demand that you stand on one leg like a forest fakir for days at a time, or that you search the caves of the Himalayas for an enlightened master to reveal to you some secret techniques. Meditation can, in fact, be a simple, joyful, daily practice, which transforms your life beautifully. Meditation can become effortless part of your everyday activities, enriching the quality of your life, making you healthier physically, emotionally, mentally and socially. It can bring peace, tranquility and positivity in your life. You will start discovering that there is so much more to your life than you had ever thought possible. And once you gain access to that inner source of possibilities, wealth and strength, you will know that meditation was the one tool you ever really needed for growth.