When I tell someone that I teach meditation, the first reaction usually is ‘Oh!’ The next reaction thereafter is silence. The third reaction, if ever, is mostly either ‘see you’ or a soft ‘bye’. It is only rarely that someone continues the conversation about this strange sounding work.
Nevertheless, if they are relatives or socially close ones, they usually want to know how much money I am able to make doing this stuff. Strangers on the other hand usually have some questions about what kind of meditation do I teach. Then once in a while someone extends their hand for a handshake, in recognition.
When that happens, it is certainly pleasing.
Still on the other hand, I have my friends and meditation companions, who connect with me on a regular basis, sending in their practice reports and expressing delight over the progress they have been making with their regular engagement in the discipline. Sometimes they have some issues as well with respect to their practice sessions. For example, someone may have got a cold or a busy week ahead or visitors coming in etc.; so then we get going in finding a by-pass to the challenge so that the meditation-practice doesn’t get disturbed.
Like this, my day passes swinging between these two sets of people. Accordingly, today, here in this write-up I am going to discuss 3 issues, namely:
- What is meditation in context of good mental health?
- What type of people will like meditation?
- Why meditation must be practiced using simple yet effective methods?
Mental Health: Fire Fighting vs. Fire Prevention:
Good Mental Health means – a calm, controlled and a courageous mind. This is because challenges in life will never stop. They will keep coming in one form or the other, just like the waves on a sea shore. Thus the only practical way is to learn to ride them like a skilled surfer.
The challenges of life could be physical challenges, that is of physique or of the place or social or economic; then there shall be people who may have faced things like injustice, misfortune, failures or abuse and like this every person would have suffered some distress or the other.
The intensity of these impacts may vary from person to person and accordingly there would be two aspects to preserving a sound mental health, namely: fire-fighting and fire-prevention.
- Fire-fighting would mean seeking treatment or therapy, which may become necessary at times essentially if things have gone truly out of hand.
- In contrast, fire-prevention would mean training the mind through your own self-efforts to be calm, controlled and courageous. Hence this would include all kind of methods of self-discipline, healthy habits, moral conduct and meditation.
Next, among all types of fire-prevention methods, meditation would be the deepest because it has the power to transform your character. However, surely that transformation would require a big effort.
Interestingly, despite this little complexity, meditation per-say can be divided into two categories and this would also be the difference on how the Modern Western World and the Ancient Eastern Cultures got introduced to this science.
Meditation means mind-control. In eastern cultures the ancient rishis, seers and saints controlled their mind to discover their own truth and achieve spiritual realization. This made them divine, enlightened and knowledgeable.
In contrast Western Countries took to meditation largely when they found that their modern medicines were failing to address the issues arising out of various types of mental ailments. Thus for treating anxiety disorders, stress situations, depression and other such mental health problems, the physicians and the scientists began looking at the various methods of mind-control which could be practiced through self-effort, known also by names like mindfulness and others.
This has made meditation a discipline of two purposes:
- A discipline for keeping the mind calm and peaceful through daily practice of certain procedures of basic mind-control.
- A discipline for seeking your own divinity or spiritual truth through prolonged and undisrupted practice of certain deeper methods of mind-control.
In a recent write-up, Clinical Psychologist, Karen Nimmo put it beautifully. She said, ‘mindfulness is extremely useful but it takes belief and practice to deploy well.’
Definitely, meditation being an open-ended discipline would require both belief and regimented practice. The question thus comes: is meditation for everyone? Well, now let’s take-up that question.
Who will like meditation? And does it have any future?
In theory meditation can be for everyone. There is no restriction, yet because every human is born with a different kind of mental orientation, hence, meditation as a discipline would be liked mostly by 3 types of people:
- Those seeking excellence in life and everything.
- Those who may have faced some deep emotional trauma in life.
- And those who have been a combination of the above two.
The excellence seekers would be attracted to this discipline out of their sheer nature. And this is why you can very easily find several leading artists, academicians, entrepreneurs, heads of states, high ranking professionals, physicians, scientists, social activists and other such distinguished people practicing this discipline, very routinely, in private.
They do it because it helps them stay creative as well as humble amidst all their achievements and the constant public glare on their work.
The second category interestingly would comprise people, who eventually become distinguished seers. Thus the list would include names like Gautama Buddha, Akka Mahadevi, Meera, Kabir, Swami Vivekananda and countless others from the long history of mankind.
These would be brilliant people, yet somehow trapped in some situation of deep emotional distress and that situation then would lead to their spiritual awakening, in turn taking them to meditative or similar spiritual disciplines. This is why emotional distress is often called the triggering point for a person’s spiritual sojourn.
These are basically people who want to chase excellence, yet may not be able to do so for some reason; and that failure would cause them deep emotional distress.
Such people would love meditation, provided they are introduced to it as per their natural orientation. Once that is done, they would instantly be able to use it to clean their muck. Plus with a little support, they will then also be able to use meditation to bloom in their field of work and life as well.
I would call myself belonging to this category. All my friends and meditation companions too I see belonging to this segment. So do many of my guru-sisters and guru-brothers, both in India and Germany. Still at the same time, my revered teacher, who is a distinguished monk of a prestigious monastic order, would have several students over the years from the first two categories and those students would include both monks as well as householders.
Hence, while meditation shall benefit everyone equally, yet these 3 categories of people are likely to feel interested in it the most. The rest of world would mostly stay off it, even when recognizing its potential. Their internal nature wouldn’t allow them to be able to sit with their eyes closed in silence.
Interestingly, the number of #multipotentialites seems to be growing in the world. Also, with the growing levels of education and global exposure, there is a rise in the number of excellence-seekers as well. Further, with changing lifestyles, life-interests and relationship equations, the emotional distress too is reaching a high. Thus I won’t be surprised at all, if in times to come, more people would start searching their solace via meditation.
Still, meditation would remain a complex science to learn and master and this brings us to the final question of the day – why practice meditation using simple meditative methods? Let’s understand that here.
Why practice meditation using easy meditative methods?
One of the sad things about meditation is that a lot of needless noise has got included in this discipline over the course of centuries since it has existed. As a result for most people it appears to be something mystical, philosophical and super-natural or something which is practiced by escapists or people seeking an easy way out in life. This has become the popular perception.
Whereas, the term meditation comes from the Latin ‘meditari’, which was an expression to signify the process of healing, while the Sanskrit term for meditation is dhyana, which simply means possessing a blissful focus of mind for a prolong time.
Now, in the traditional scheme of things that is, as per the eastern teaching systems like that of Yoga or Vedanta and others; meaning the kind of systems under which people like me have trained, meditation would mean learning to balance your 7 spaces simultaneously in harmony.
These would include: Your body – that is, all your hardware like the hands, legs, head, skeleton, lungs, intestines and others > your 5 sense capabilities – meaning your powers of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch > your mind along with all its thoughts, feelings and emotions > your intellect – the power of discrimination stored within > your ego – ha ha… the big villain which stays in the hiding > and your own divinity or the spiritual truth that sits beyond the wall of your ego and usually remains invisible or seem oblivious > Finally, all this has to be done while living in this world, being what you are – so, 7 layers!
If you look at meditation this way, then it is certainly complex.
Now here thankfully, the western thought comes to great help. To understand that perspective, I will use an easy example. In the contemporary professional world there is a popular interview question:
- How will you eat an elephant?
And the easy answer is: ‘cut it into small pieces and eat piece by piece.’
Towards the end of 19th century, Swami Vivekananda brought-in the idea of Practical Vedanta. He taught this great science using simple stories and easy exercises. Almost a century later, people like me learned it the same way from our revered teacher, who simplified it even further. Thus, No Sanskrit, No scriptures, No philosophy; instead logical explanations, practical examples, simple methods and regular practice!
The result, we could find the path of our organic progression.
Gaining proficiency in meditation is precisely like training for a marathon. You have to go into it by gradually developing your strength. Otherwise you may very easily end up either injuring yourself or exhausting yourself before reaching the finish line.
I feel infinitely grateful to my revered teacher, who inspired me to simplify things even further. This was because the world has been changing like never before. This is how I have come to talking about learning meditation directly from the Mother Nature using simple meditative exercises like, sitting quietly every day for some time and simply listening to the chirping of the birds.
The first step of mind-control is to find your inherent natural peacefulness; the one which most of us have lost in the race called life. Hence, these simple methods help you find that basic semblance, while also restoring your fabric and laying the foundation for an irreversible progress ahead.
Our cosmos has both types of vibrations in matching numbers.
- Peaceful vibrations as well as Turbulent vibrations
If the mind is allowed a free-run, the ego would love to take it only into the zone of turbulence. This is because that is easy work. It is like sending the water down the slope. Nevertheless, you also have a parallel power (intellect) to choose the peaceful vibrations instead, if you may wish.
Thus in way, it is completely a matter of personal choice. Yes, you can choose the peaceful vibrations for yourself and in this context meditation or mind-control is that fire-prevention method which helps you execute that choice in a purely practical manner, at the ground-zero of your life.
Lastly, while the eventual purpose of meditation may be to find difficult sounding ideas like nirvana, still every stage thereunder is also like being in a garden full of wonderful flowers. Plus every session of practice is like a new flower blooming and this happens easily with the help of some committed guiding support and regular practice.
The rest of it has to be done in real-time to be
experienced. It can’t be explained on paper…. I mean, on the screen. 🙂