What Is Meditation?
The word ‘Meditation‘, depending on what books and magazines you have read, invokes some vague images of either a ‘Yogi‘ sitting in Himalayan forest on a high rock near the river with an expression of deep contemplation his face seeking Nirvana, or, of some well sculpted models in yogic postures with a cultivated smile and calm which most likely comes from the narcissistic idea of seeing their pictures printed on some glossy paper and/ or the paycheck they are about to receive.
However, meditation doesn’t need one to move to a jungle or a cave, nor does one have to be a model with a hot athletic body that con-volutes into tough postures. Meditation is easy. Meditation is simple. Meditation is for everyone. And yes, that includes YOU!
Meditation may be understood through these two aspects:
The first aspect may be called the ‘Process of Meditation‘ that may lead to the second aspect, that is, the ‘State of Meditation‘. However, the second aspect is not completely dependent on the first, as many of us receive glimpses of the state of meditation, sometimes, triggered by profound experiences that leave us in a state of awe and speechlessness. Remember the scene from the move, ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara‘ with Hrithik Roshan (who didn’t even know how to swim) just after scuba diving?
The state of meditation is a state of pure awareness, a mirror like quality of consciousness. Being utterly present in the here and now, fully aware, unclouded by the dust of thoughts, emotions, desires, past or future; just being! This state of pure witnessing consciousness is referred to as ‘Drashta‘, ‘Sakshi‘ or ‘Bodh‘ – also called the True-Self by the mystics.
The process of meditation includes practices and techniques of meditation. And there are hundereds of methods/techniques to finally reach the state of pure awareness. All the meditation techniques given by different mystics around the world are in fact just preparations for meditation, many paths and doorways to reach the state of meditation. We must understand that these ‘techniques’ are important but they are not meditation itself.
It is also important to note that all the meditation techniques from around the world somehow have their roots in 112 Meditation Techniques given by Lord Shiva in ‘Vigyan Bhairava Tantra‘.
“Meditation is a knack. And if the knack is missing one is not going to succeed. So thousands of people start meditation, but very few – so few that they can be counted on ten fingers – ever achieve to enlightenment. And unless meditation becomes enlightenment, you have simply wasted your time.”
Meditation is beyond techniques, beyond doing; it is a state of relaxed awareness. However, once we have experienced the state of meditation, any action that arises out of this state of pure awareness becomes meditative. This sort of action is called ‘effortless effort‘ by the Zen masters or ‘Karma Yoga‘ by eastern mystics.
The Path Of Meditation
Buddha when asked, what did he really achieve in enlightenment, replied, “Nothing! Truth was already there, only my eyes were closed, and now they are open.” The term ‘Path Of Meditation’ is a bit of a misnomer, as there is nowhere to go and nothing to achieve. We are already home and Enlightenment is our very nature.
We are like the proverbial prince, dreaming that he has become a beggar, all that is needed is for the prince to wake up and realize! That is why it is also called The Pathless Path by some mystics.
‘Bondage‘ is a dream and so is the ‘Liberation‘. And yet, for us, this dream is our only reality. Thus, the awakened ones designed certain techniques that may help us wake up. The essence of all these techniques is ‘Witnessing‘ and the process we go through is called The Path Of Meditation – a very scientific approach that doesn’t require us to believe, but to experiment.
The path of meditation may be divided in two parts for a better understanding, namely, ‘Dhyan‘ and ‘Samadhi‘. Dhyan is the beginning and a doorway to Samadhi. Dhyan is awareness, Samadhi is the merger with the divine. Dhyan is the journey of duality, the flowering of Samadhi is non duality – oneness with the divine.
Dhyan begins with objective awareness, experiencing that our true self is separate from the Body, Mind, Heart – Witnessing the Objects and the Subject as separate – dispelling all darkness. Samadhi begins with merging into Subjective Awareness – that which is, and culminates into Realization of our Divine-Self, the all permeating Divinity/ Godliness -within and without.
This is the state in which the ‘Rishis‘ in the east declared ‘Aham Brahmasmi‘, the state in which sufi mystic Mansur declared ‘Ana’l Haq‘, the state in which Jesus says, ‘I and my Father are one‘. This state is called ‘Sambodhi‘, Enlightenment, Divine Realization – the home coming.
And yet, this is just the beginning…
Meditation Myths & Facts
- Meditation is NOT a philosophy, a dogma or a belief system.
- All exercises to acquire Siddhis (occult powers) or any kind of wish fulfillment is NOT Meditation.
- Any kind of Japa (chanting) triggers boredom – resulting in Nidra (a sleepy state) and is NOT a state of Meditaion.
- Concentration in any form, whether on a Bindu (dot), Thought, Name, Mantra or Breath etc. is NOT Meditation.
- Asana, Pranayama, various practices of Yoga, Vipassana, Swadhyaya etc., as generally taught today, are merely preparatory steps and NOT Meditation.
- Idol worshiping, Praying in temples, Reading scriptures, Bathing in the holy waters, Fasting, Torturing the body, and all other Rituals are just that – rituals and NOT Meditation.
- Meditation is NOT about running away from the world and its responsibilities into some caves in the Himalayas.
- Meditation means becoming more Alert, more Brilliant, more Luminous, more Wise.
- Meditation is Simple, Easy, Fun, an art of living a life full of Love, Peace, Joy and is meant for Everyone including YOU!
- Meditation is the art of being fully Involved and yet completely Unattached. Living in the world fulfilling all responsibilities, yet, Unaffected – like a Lotus in the Mud.
- Meditation is a journey – from the False To Truth, from Darkness To Light, from Death To Deathlessness.
- Meditation means the Body, Mind, Heart and the Soul, all functioning in Harmony, Wholeness, Humming beautifully, in a melody… One.
- Meditation is the art of Witness; a Relaxed, Unfocused, Passive, Mirror like quality of Consciousness – a state of Subjective Awareness.
- Meditation means a decision to Turn In, a decision to ask, ‘Who Am I?’; a decision that Unless the answer arrives, I will go on asking – ‘Who Am I?’
How & What Do I Need To Begin Meditating?
A strong commitment to stand on one foot for three hours a day!
Nah… just kidding. There isn’t much you need to begin. However, the following will be helpful:
A noise-free atmosphere, at least in the beginning, indoors or outdoors depending on your preference and the meditation technique.
You may begin by simply sitting silently with eyes closed for 21 minutes a day, any time of the day. Remember the Zen Haiku – “Sitting Silently, Doing Nothing, The Spring Comes, And The Grass Grows By Itself.” Most of the Osho Meditation Techniques are about 1 hour long. Some of the Guided Meditations offered by us are of 45 minutes duration. Begin with what is comfortable and eventually you may dedicate up to 90 minutes for Silence n meditation till the meditativeness becomes an effortless state of your being 24/7.
Wear loose and preferably fresh clothes. It’s better not to wear your shoes, watch, jewellery etc. If possible, you may keep separate clothes that you wear only during meditation, that will be a big help.
As comfortable as possible with the back straight. You may use a cushion, chair or sofa. Give appropriate support to the lower back as our bodies are not trained for long duration sittings with back straight and no movements. In some of the meditation techniques you may be asked to lie down in ‘Shava Asana‘ (the corpse posture) so prepare your meditation space accordingly. Remember the key to the right posture is Stillness.
a) You may use soft ear-plugs to cut down on the external sounds. There are various types available, choose the most comfortable fit for you.
b) Blind-folds are helpful as they don’t allow you to open the eyes involuntarily. And they also help in preparation for the advanced meditation techniques involving the art of looking into the ‘Inner Sky‘.
c) For the physically fit, a firm cushion is very helpful in sitting for meditation. The best we have experienced so far are the ones made of camel wool, generally sold in the Tibetan shops.
d) You may also use soft sheet to cover yourself while sitting or lying down in ‘Shava Asana‘.
e) Soft instrumental music may be played to support, depending on the meditation technique.
How To Deal With Distractions?
Just laugh them away! Ha ha ha, don’t you wish it was that easy! Well, it’s not very difficult either. As Saint Kabir puts it, “Na Kahu Se Dosti, Na Kahu Se Bair.” Acceptance without judgement is the key! Here is a three-step formula ‘AAA‘, that you may apply to deal with distractions. Acknowledgement, Acceptance & Awareness!
Let us take an example. Say you are distracted by a particular sound, be it traffic or perhaps the renovation work going on next door. It doesn’t matter what distracts us, where our attention is being drawn, just follow these simple three steps
1. Acknowledge the Trigger as well as the Effect. In this case, the sound is the Trigger and you being distracted, perhaps even irritated is the Effect.
2. Accept both, the Trigger as well as the Effect, without judging or desiring to change either. In this Acceptance the Witnessing will begin to happen on its own. You will find yourself watching this whole phenomenon as it it’s not happening to you. As if you are watching a movie. It’s almost like watching the waves in the ocean while you relax at the beach – untouched!
Now, this watching is a knack, and it may take some time, but once you have it, you will realize that without any effort on your part the distractions don’t matter anymore and the irritation has started to subside.
3. Awareness of the untouched Center of your Being. Now, gently allow your Awareness to move from periphery to the Center. Feel your breath, feel your presence, and feel the peacefulness that is within and around you ~ engulfing you! As you begin to settle in this peacefulness you come close to the Center of your Being, where exists a deep Silent Stillness, just a passive Awareness, always untouched!
And remember, this simple three-step formula can be applied to any kind of distractions, including all kinds of thoughts and emotions.
Osho Books – Hindi:
- ध्यान सूत्र
- साधना पथ
- ध्यान विज्ञान
- योग नये आयाम
- साक्षी की साधना
- अध्यात्म उपनिषद्
- जिन खोजा तीन पाईयाँ
- हसीबा खेलीबा धरिबा ध्यानम
- ध्यानयोग प्रथम एवं अंतिम मुक्ति
Osho Books – English:
- Hidden Mysteries
- The Path Of Meditation
- Satyam Shivam Sunderam
- Meditation The Art Of Ecstasy
- Vedanta Seven Steps To Samadhi
- Meditation The First And Last Freedom
- My Way, The Way Of The White Clouds
Books by Others: