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What is meditation?

“Be still and know that I am God” (Bible, Psalm 46:10)

“In the still mind, in the depths of meditation, the Self reveals itself”  (Bhagavad Gita, Chap. 6:20)

These well-known quotations identify both the process and the objective of meditation – stilling the mind in order to experience our inherent Divinity. The everyday mind is a whirlpool of fleeting thoughts and sensations which dissipate our energies and create a veil that obscures the Reality within each and every one of us. In meditation, we gently seek to quieten and focus the thought processes thereby allowing our spiritual essence to manifest.

Meditation is Yoga (Raja or Dhyana Yoga), a systematic spiritual discipline leading to Self-realisation. However, it also helps to harmonise our life at the mundane level, bringing peace and equanimity within the turbulence of worldly existence as well as improved health and the reduction of stress.

Despite its Eastern connotations, the path of meditation is not exclusive to any one creed, culture or philosophy: its principles are as much apparent in Christian contemplation as in Hindu dhyana or Buddhist Zen, and can beneficially be practised by followers of any religion or none. The sole criterion is a sincere desire for self-knowledge and spiritual progress.

Meditation requires self-discipline and commitment and is not an easy path. Many who try it find that they are not suited, although the effort is always beneficial and may bear fruit later. But for those who persist, meditation will bring about a total self-transformation – into an expanded consciousness and a new level of inner harmony and joy.

Click here to read articles that introduce differing aspects of meditation as a spiritual discipline.

Various books recommended for introductory reading can be found by clicking here.

What contemporary experts say…

“When this mind is too preoccupied with ego thoughts, its attention is on its own imagination. When it becomes quiet through meditation, its attention automatically turns towards the Real Self. Just like the droplet of the ocean turns back towards the ocean, the mind turns its attention on the Real Self….. Ego decreases, more peace comes. Meditation becomes better. Skilfully, if one practises the meditation with dedication, discipline and patience, the mind regains its original form of Pure Consciousness and gets absorbed into the Real Self.” (Sri Shivarudra Balayogi)

“… the highest form of meditation is not an activity that is undertaken by the mind. It is a relaxing, falling back or sinking of the mind into its source or essence of pure awareness, from which it has arisen. …Meditation is what we are, not what we do”. (Rupert Spira)

“Your mind is like a mirror in which you see your face. When the mirror is dirty, you cannot see your face clearly. Similarly, when your mind is moving and impure, you cannot know who you really are. The purpose of meditation is to purify your mind and stop its modifications so that you may be aware of your own essential Being and be established in It…. When your mind stops, you see your Self. When your mind is moving, you see others.” (Chandra Swami Udasin)

“A lot of people want to meditate. But meditation is more than just sitting down to concentrate. To meditate is to transcend the physical body and become immersed in the totality of God. To leave this block (the body) on earth and go into the ether. That is the purpose of meditation, so that this karma that we have brought with us will be slowly removed and made good for the human being to become one with God; to transcend the physical and become merged with the spirit that pervades the whole universe.” (Guru Sri Subramanium)

“The mind of one meditating on a single object becomes one-pointed. And one-pointedness of mind leads to abidance in the Self. One who meditates attains, even without desiring it, abidance in the Self. The seeker, on the other hand, knowingly abides in the Self. The deity, mantra, or any other excellent object on which one meditates merges in the end in the great effulgence of the Self. The Goal is thus the same for the one who meditates and the one who practises Self-enquiry. One attains stillness through meditation, the other through knowledge.” (Sri Ramana Maharshi)

“A steady, persevering and concentrated effort and struggle alone can lead the aspirant to the realisation of God. So long as a man is hankering after the pleasure of the senses, his progress on the path is slow and erratic…….What is required principally is the withdrawal of the mind from without to within, which means that the restless and roaming nature of the mind must be totally curbed by right thought, right contemplation and right meditation. The mind has to settle down and its uncontrolled dynamics be brought under subjection.” (Swami ‘Papa’ Ramdas)

“The mind is the great slayer of the Real. Let the disciple slay the slayer” (H.P. Blavatsky: ‘The Voice of the Silence’ 1889)

“The greatest help to spiritual life is meditation. In meditation we divest ourselves of all material conditions and feel our divine nature. We do not depend upon any external help in meditation. The touch of the soul can paint the brightest colour even in the dingiest places; it can cast a fragrance over the vilest thing; it can make the wicked divine – and all enmity, all selfishness is effaced.” (Swami Vivekananda)

“If you do practice, that is enough.  All that is required is that you control your mind.  …Qualities that people think are important will themselves lead you astray. You will keep getting thoughts trying to check whether you have the right qualities instead of just meditating. You will keep getting doubts and you will not be able to do your practice….. If you do the meditation, automatically mistakes will be taken care of. You will have control of the mind.” (Sri Shivabalayogi)

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)