What is Meditation by Mataji devi Everyone is capable of meditation. Without this faculty, it would not be possible to perform even the most fundamental tasks of life: working, studying, solving practical problems, making choices. Meditation is the ability to concentrate on a subject, consider it, channel energy into it, and bring it from the subtle platform (non-manifested) to the visible and perceivable platform (manifested). The practical applications of meditation are innumerable. Although meditation is an instinctive process, like breathing, moving, walking, talking, eating etc, we can learn its science and art, and use it in the best possible way to transform our lives and attain success in all enterprises. In other words, we can either do things without the proper attention and get a bad result, or put our full attention and intelligence in whatever we do and obtain the best result possible, in all spheres of life. The benefits of controlling one's mind go from overcoming stress and fatigue to learning how to relax and enjoy life in a healthy and simple way, to improving one's character and developing good qualities, to improving one's physical health and immune system, counteracting bad influences, better managing of time and effort, establishing priorities in life etc. Like any muscle, the mind must be trained properly and exercised with intelligence and regularity, so that it can become able to perform its intended work. Those who do not exercise their minds in meditation cannot progress in life - either materially or spiritually - and their existence is not better than the animals' existence. Training in meditation should start early in life: the parents can help their child by stimulating his/her intelligence and mind power through attention, affection, good example, good instructions and proper environment. School teachers also have a great responsibility towards the mental development of their students, and they should fulfill their duty in the best way. However, it is never too late for one who decides to develop his/her personal potential: this book will explain how the ancient knowledge of yoga can be utilized for the full development of human potential, at all levels. Meditation simply means "concentrating the mind in a particular direction or on a particular object", either positively or negatively, that is either on its presence or absence. In other words, it is the basic knowledge on how to use the mind properly. Due to the absence of this basic training, people become confused and stressed, and generally they unconsciously follow whatever their mind is dictating, which in turn is often dictated by the establishment through various methods of mind control. Dealing with your own mind is just like with dealing with a child, so the basics of meditation are extremely simple: 1. you become aware you have a mind that needs some training and control to become more quiet 2. you focus your attention inwards and become aware of what actually goes through your mind 3. you make the deliberate choice and effort to drop all the thoughts, emotions, etc, that are not beneficial 4. you practice focusing ("centering") your mind on something that is beneficial - there are plenty of good exercises to do this 5. you learn how to drive your mind consciously, to take care of its real needs, to become good friends and engage it beneficially for your life; this creates a relaxed feeling because your mind is not working AGAINST YOU any more. This is what most "modern" methods of "meditation" are about. You do not need to become a disciple of some cult of "big guru" to achieve this result; you can do it on your own, preferably with a little personal guidance and help from some expert person. There is nothing "mystic" about this, and those who try to make it appear as it were mystic are generally cheaters, especially if in return they demand your ALLEGIANCE (official affiliation, emotional dependence, worship etc) TO THEIR ORGANIZATION. The ancient tradition of Yoga is the best - most scientific, complete, precise and effective - method for meditation. In fact, many "meditation teachers" exploit the name of Yoga to sell their product, counting on the fact that most people are not sufficiently informed about genuine Yoga. The best text about Yoga is Bhagavad gita. It is the most famous text of the ancient hindu/vedic tradition, and it has been translated and commented by innumerable people; however, direct study of the original text is always recommended. As you know, in the last months I have been working precisely on this project. According to Bhagavad gita, the first point in the Yoga meditation is realizing that we are not the body or the mind The first and foremost cause for stress and confusion is the incorrect identification of the self. Who are you? What are you? If you believe you are your body, you will be constantly trying to please your body and senses and satisfy their demands, even to the detriment of your personal relationships, social interactions, peace of mind, financial security, and health. Therefore since childhood we are trained to "control ourselves", which basically means controlling our body and senses. However, in mainstream culture there is a lot of confusion about the actual identification of the Self; people tend to believe they are material bodies who own a spiritual soul, rather than understanding the fact that they are spiritual souls who own a material body. Since the body is directly perceivable, and the soul is not, when the Self is identified with the body, the concept of soul remains extremely vague and is often confused with the mind; for example we speak (for example) of the "western spirit" when we should more appropriately say "the western mind", and so on. In the ancient world (until the concept of reincarnation was made illegal and prosecuted by the law) people had clearer ideas, and knew that the individual is a spiritual soul that takes birth again and again in different bodies. Philosophy and religion offered ontological, cosmological and ethical explanations and guidance for a better life, based on the respect and harmonious cooperation towards the forces of nature, generally personified in the forms of Gods and Goddesses. Thus people were naturally and normally free from stress and could easily focus or center on the really important things of life - a decent livelihood, good family relationships, rewarding social interactions, healthy opportunities for entertainment. Indian/Vedic culture offered even more than this, because of a more scientific approach to the knowledge of the Self (atma vidya), and therefore in ancient times many western scholars, philosophers and scientists traveled to India to study and learn Yoga. They called it "gymnosophy". Yoga (as expressed in Bhagavad gita as well in Patanjali's famous Yoga sutras) teaches that the Self is not material but spiritual, and gives a scientific definition of "spiritual" as sat-cit-ananda: eternally existing, divine in nature, consisting in pure awareness and original knowledge, and full of inner happiness. This Self (technically called Atman) is an atomic particle in the "All", the Total Reality, or the Supreme Self (technically called Brahman), therefore all living entities are connected at a very deep level. By realizing one's inner Self, one automatically finds perfect happiness, awareness and knowledge, and a permanent existence that is not interrupted by death. The Self is covered by a number of material layers (called koshas), beginning with the mind or the mental body. The mind is made of material substance, that is subtle in nature rather than gross like the external body made of flesh and bones. Since the mind pervades the entire body, in order to control the mind one should first start by controlling the body. The proper steps to control the body (and the senses that are the extensions of the body) are: a) following some simple lifestyle rules and develop good clean healthy habits b) setting the body in physical positions that can facilitate meditation c) learning to control breathing, which is an important tool in dealing with emotions and thoughts d) detaching one's attention from external attractions and focus/ center on the mind within e) dropping all unnecessary and non-beneficial thoughts and emotions, and cleaning the mind to concentrate on one beneficial object of meditation f) practicing the constant awareness on the beneficial object of meditation for longer periods and in various circumstances, until it becomes the natural way of life The most beneficial object of meditation is naturally the Self, or Atman. The Vedic scriptures contain an immense wealth of information on this subject. Contd..