When you hear the word meditation, you probably think Yoga. That's because for a very long time, or at least over the past few decades, meditation has been primarily implemented as a part of Yoga. But meditation, does not really have anything to do with Yoga. It is in fact an act in itself. Meditation is generally performed after doing Yoga asanas / postures, because yoga pushes you into a state of calm, which is perfect for meditation.
Meditation is far too deep a concept to discuss over a single article, but I will try to explain the fundamental points of meditation and why it should be practiced.
• The practice of training one's mind to focus or going into a deep level of consciousness of oneself, gaining an understanding of the same, with or without the expectation of some benefit, is meditation.
• Meditation fundamentally requires alignment of the mind and body (and soul) in order to achieve a heightened sense of self. It requires separating the external world from the internal one and focusing only on the core.
• Meditation has been practiced since time unknown, in religious, spiritual and wellness practices. It is not a departure from any of them. All these practices get some form of benefit from meditation.
Meditation in Religion
Various religions use meditation as a part of the religious practice, since it has many positive effects on the people who practice it.
Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity are some of the major faiths in the world, that propagate the importance of meditation. Especially in case of Buddhism, where Gautama Buddha found enlightenment through meditation. Meditating to the Om chant in Hinduism (Dhyana), is a well-known practice during ceremonies. Similarly, in Islam, Dhikr is a meditative practice among mystics in Sufism. The Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi Order, are also considered to be in a deep trance, a form of deep meditation.
Meditation in Spirituality
• In religion, meditation is practiced as a method of focusing on the ritual and on the Almighty. In spirituality, meditation is done in order to find inner peace, state of oneness and alignment of the mind, body and soul.
• In spiritual practices, the mediation practiced, is what we are most familiar with. It is the one we practice after doing Yoga. It is not done with religious intention, but purely to bring balance.
• Spirituality and meditation have a very deep connection, mainly because both seek to achieve the same purpose. Inner peace and heightened sense of being.
Meditation in Wellness
There is not much need to elaborate on this one. We're all familiar with yoga and meditation. Meditation has the ability to calm down the entire body and bring all the processes under control. The focus being entirely on relaxing the body, works wonders.
Even a mere 5 minutes of focused meditation, can help heal a lot of emotional issues, disorders like anxiety and depression are also controlled through it.
Benefits of Meditation
• Increases attention span and ability to focus
• Facilitates mental wellbeing and releases stress
• Increases positivity and brings a sense of calm
• Helps relax the body and mind
• Lowers risk of hypertension and other stress disorders
• Creates harmony of mind and body
Let us now discuss some of the most common myths related to meditation.
Myths about meditation
• Meditation is concentration
Meditation is not concentration, but de-concentration. It is the practice of emptying one's mind of all unnecessary information. The idea is to focus on forgetting the external factors.
• Meditation is a religious practice
Meditation is not at all a religious practice. It is used in rituals. Meditation has nothing to do with religion or beliefs of any particular religion. There is no such connection.
• Meditation is for old people
Huge, huge mistake! Meditation is in fact for the young! Meditation helps destress and maintain a sense of calm. This is most essential when we are young and dealing with the pressures of work and other activities.
No doubt the old benefit from meditation. But it is the young people who really need it.
• Meditation has to be done in a particular way
There is a common belief that meditation can only be done is an absolutely silent environment, with your eyes shut, separated in a particular way. This is absolutely untrue.
Meditation can be done at any time of the day, anywhere you are and you can do it with your eyes wide open.
Remember the idea is to shut out the outside world and focus on yourself. What better way than to do it in absolute chaos. People who practice meditation in places where there is some amount of commotion, become far more adept at controlling their minds.
• Meditation makes you a recluse
This is absolutely untrue. Meditation opens up new vistas. It helps you find yourself and that makes you more open to the world. You do not become a recluse; quite the opposite. You communicate better.
As much as I would like to keep going, this topic is too vast to end so soon. But the above basics on meditation, should help you get a screenshot of the larger picture.