Despite all its popularity, today very few of us truly know what meditation is. Some regard meditation is the mental concentration on something; others consider that we meditate when we imagine something that gives us peace or satisfaction. All these methods are being with one goal to slow down and, eventually, completely stop the incessant activity of our minds. These exercises are not really meditation but they are substitutes for meditation because it is normally very difficult to stop our minds altogether. In reality, meditation is a state of thoughtless awareness. It is not an act of doing; it is a state of complete awareness. We either in this state or we are not, regardless of what we are doing in life. Truly, a man can be in meditation while doing his day's labors as another man can be very far from meditation while sitting in a lotus posture on the top of a mountain.
When we take a look at the various explanations of meditation, another thing we often see is that meditation is defined as taking a moment to sit quietly or to ponder. True meditation, however is much more than this. It is a state of profound, deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm and silent, yet completely alert. This is just the beginning of an inner transformation that takes us to a higher level of awareness. This enables us to fulfill our true human potential. The challenge, of course, is how to achieve this state.
Concentration Concentration is an effort to fix the attention on a particular object or idea for a long period of time. The techniques used in visualization are another type of concentration.
Sounds, voices, colors and involuntary movements have nothing to do with meditation or spirituality. These are symptoms of loss of awareness and loss of control over some parts of us.
Exercises, such as postures and breathing, do not constitute meditation. They may help establish some balance if under the guidance of a true master (a realized soul). Their practice without a true spiritual goal only leads to an imbalance in the right channel.
Thoughtless awareness can not be achieved through mental effort (e.g., the continuous repetition of 'I must stop thinking').
Through deep breathing, which is the backbone of any meditation practice, muscle fatigue and tension are reduced by increasing the circulation of oxygen to the muscles. Meditation has also been proven to lower high blood cholesterol due to its stress-reducing benefits. Meditation also helps to strengthen the immune system as well. Meditation induces the relaxation response which reduces the occurrence of pain, insomnia and headaches. Another major physical benefit of meditation is unlimited energy. Meditation helps you to create an eternal and infinite flow of pure life force energy. Our incredible universe has enough energy to keep all the stars in the sky moving and flowing in perfect harmony for billions of years, so it definitely has more than enough energy for you as well and meditation will help you tap into it permanently.
Less irritability, reduction in the "fight or flight" response, and more emotional self-control. Helps bring perspective when confronted with a crisis thus making the crisis more manageable. Managing our modern daily lives can become quite overwhelming when you factor in traffic jams, work related stress, toxicity overload and seemingly unmanageable schedules. Taking a small amount of daily time to meditate can bring the perspective you need to manage your busy schedule and bring back a feeling of "I can handle this". Meditation will allow your senses to be heightened and aroused even during routine tasks, making your day more enjoyable. You will start enjoying the subtleties of life again like the smell of fresh laundry or the feel of the road as you drive or the color of the morning sky. Learning to integrate all the senses in your daily life, through meditation, will bring a myriad of emotional benefits and fullness to your life and help you become a better observer. By being a better observer you can respond to situations rather than react, meaning you can act appropriately when you feel inspired or compelled to and in perfect timing.
Better mental focus, concentration and creativity. Less stress, anxiety and more peace of mind. Meditation seeks to bring harmful and counter-productive thoughts and feelings to the surface within you, quell them and help you gain the necessary perspective to invoke more truth and reality in your life. The mental benefits of meditation, if regularly practiced, are long lasting and eventually become permanent.
Greater self-awareness, the feeling of being more "connected" and a greater sense of purpose, along with the added benefit of helping you to resolve past issues that tend to get buried in the psyche and cause difficulties for you on an unconscious level. The process of becoming spiritually enlightened through meditation can be difficult, however, and does not happen overnight, although desirable benefits are noticed immediately, meditation is an ongoing process and a person must explore his or her own darker side in order to find and illuminate one's own inner light and one must be willing to continually change and evolve on a daily basis. Meditation is not a destination but a fascinating journey where you will become more awakened to your true self.