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Tamarapu Sampath Kumaran
About the Author: Mr T Sampath Kumaran is a freelance writer. He regularly contributes articles on Management, Business, Ancient Temples, and Temple Architecture to many leading Dailies and Magazines. His articles are popular in “The Young World section” of THE HINDU His e-books on nature, environment, festivals and different cultures of people around the world are educative and of special interest to the young. His e-books – Guide to 108 Divya Desams, Guide to 275 Siva Sthalams, Ganesha, Muruga, Pilgrimage to Narasimhaswami shetrams, Tirupati Gangamma, Vision of Sri Madhwacharya and Guru Raghavendra, The Path of Ramanuja, Guide to Kancheepuram, Hanuman and Hinduism in a nutshell have been well received in the religious circle. He was associated in the renovation and production of two Documentary films on Nava Tirupathi Temples, and Tirukkurungudi Temple in Tamilnadu.
Acknowledgement: I wish to express my gratitude to the authors from whose works I gathered the details for this book, and Courtesy, Google for some of the photographs. Special thanks to www.scribd.com for hosting my e-books.
Meditation is considered something that is more related to soul than to the bodily activities; this word has mystical effects and meanings but myths are not necessary to practice meditation. It can be something very innovative and still spiritual as transcendental meditation is a part of the whole. Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself. The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices which includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration, single-pointed analysis, meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well being while engaging in any life activity. Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of self awareness. At the core of meditation is the goal to focus and eventually quiet your mind, thus freeing your awareness. As you progress, you will find that you can meditate anywhere and at any time, accessing an inner calm no matter what's going on around you By training in meditation, we create an inner space and clarity that enables us to control our mind. Eventually, we will be able to stay happy all the time, even in the most difficult circumstances. The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous
religious traditions and beliefs. Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health issues, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. It may be done sitting, or in an active way - for instance, Buddhist monks involve awareness in their day-to-day activities as a form of mind-training. Prayer beads or other ritual objects are commonly used during meditation in order to keep track of or remind the practitioner about some aspect of the training. Meditation may involve generating an emotional state for the purpose of analyzing that state, such as anger, hatred, etc. or cultivating particular mental response to various phenomena, such as compassion. The term "meditation" can refer to the state itself, as well as to practices or techniques employed to cultivate the state. Meditation may also involve repeating a mantra and closing the eyes. The mantra is chosen based on its suitability to the individual meditator. Meditation has a calming effect and directs awareness inward until pure awareness is achieved, described as "being awake inside without being aware of anything except awareness itself." In brief, there are dozens of specific styles of meditation practice, and many different types of activity commonly referred to as meditative practices In recent years, the practice of meditation has gained a tremendous amount of popularity within Western cultures. It seems as though every day there is a new report explaining how meditation is an effective alternative to using drugs to alleviate and prevent maladies of the mind and body. Research shows that meditation can combat the negative effects of aging and restore youthful vigor no matter how old you are. Meditation has been proven to improve energy, calm the mind and body and even purge the body of maladies. Some research suggests that meditation raises the body’s melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleeps and influences other body hormones. The pineal gland of the brain produces the hormone melatonin. By raising levels of melatonin in the body, meditation is able to activate the body’s own natural healing processes.
According to Hindu spiritual tradition, meditation techniques direct energy flow through seven energy centers in the body, or chakras. By directing energy flow to these different centers, practitioners of meditation are able to selectively activate or suppress glands associated with each center. The pineal gland is believed to influence happiness. Meditation’s ability to nurture positive emotions and its effectiveness as therapy for depression and stress relief has been documented in medical literature. As a result of meditation decreasing the stress levels in its practitioners, cellular aging associated with high stress levels is postponed. Adding twenty minutes a day of meditation to an anti-aging regimen can provide inner peace, reduce disease risks, and even slow down the aging process, prolonging a lifespan. Our attention focused on the breath causes its potential to manifest in the way sunlight causes the petals of a flower to open. It is the key to life on the cosmic level. For this reason Breath Meditation is productive of many functions of the life-force sometimes called “kriyas.” These kriyas will vary greatly in scope and intensity, but they will all produce needed changes, some of which will be perceived, and some will not, but the effects will eventually be perceived by the consciousness refined by meditation. It is good to keep in mind that all phenomena, personal and cosmic, are actions of the breath. Meditation has been laid stress upon by all religions. The meditative state of mind is declared by the Yogis to be the highest state in which the mind exists. In popular usage, the word "meditation" and the phrase "meditative practice" are often used imprecisely to designate broadly similar practices,
or set of practices that are found across many cultures and traditions. There are many schools and styles of meditation within Hinduism. Meditation in Hinduism is practiced in different forms by different schools and sects and has expanded beyond Hinduism to the West. Yoga is generally done to prepare one for meditation, and meditation is done to realize union of one's self, one's atman, with the omnipresent and nondual Brahman. This experience is referred to as moksha by Hindus, and is similar to the concept of Nirvana in Buddhism. The earliest clear references to meditation in Hindu literature are in the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. According to Hindu scriptures, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad refers to meditation when it states that "having becoming calm and concentrated, one perceives self (ātman) within oneself".
Hinduism places stresses on meditation to elevate the mind from daily stress and strain and for finer thought. Meditation can be stated as a state of relaxed introspection on the present. The goal is to dissolve the mind and be free of thought itself. Hindus practice meditation for various goals ranging from spiritual enlightenment to transforming attitudes.
Hindu meditation is classified as one that focuses on the perception and experience that occur during meditation. These are known as mindfulness meditation. Others involve focusing on an object. These are known as concentrative meditation. Hindu meditation can be described as delving into the mind’s depths. This process can be fulfilling and energizing. By entering into the serene, tranquil part of one’s inner mind, the inherent strength of the mind can be tapped. This strength can sustain the meditator through daily travails and tasks, without disturbing the calm center. Meditation wards off doubt, fear and other negative feelings and emotions.
The different types of Hindu meditation include Vedanta, Raja Yoga, Surat Shabd Yoga, and Japa Yoga. Vedanta Vedanta means “the culmination of knowledge” in Sanskrit. This school obtains its source material from ancient scriptures known as Upanishads. These scriptures reveal the types of meditation used in Vedanta. Raja Yoga This is also known as Ashtanga yoga. It deals with cultivation of the mind. The goal is to achieve liberation. Surat Shabd Yoga This type of meditation seeks union with the divine. The divine spirit is seen as creative energy embodied in sound. Japa Yoga In this method, a mantra or divine name is chanted or repeated. It is usually chanted softly, or within the meditator’s mind. This type of meditation is performed while sitting in a classic cross-legged yoga posture.
Buddhist meditation refers to the meditative practices associated with the religion and philosophy of
Buddhism. Core meditation techniques have been preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified through teacher-student transmissions. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of the path toward Enlightenment and Nirvana. The closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are Bhavana, Jhana dhyana, and vipasana. It is observed that there is hardly any difference between mainstream Hinduism's Dhyana, Dharana and Samadhi with the Buddhist Dhyana, Bhavana, and Samadhi. Buddhist meditation techniques have become increasingly popular in the wider world, with many non-Buddhists taking them up for a variety of reasons. There is considerable homogeneity across meditative practices, such as breath meditation and various recollections that are used across Buddhist schools, as well as significant diversity. In the Theravada tradition alone, there are over fifty methods for developing mindfulness and forty for developing concentration, while in the Tibetan tradition there are thousands of visualization meditations. Most classical and contemporary Buddhist meditation guides are school-specific. Hindu meditation involves more of physical need, materialistic crutches and focus on a deity to appease and merge with Brahma; in Buddhist meditation one is to focus on breathing without attachment to a deity thus making mind to attain wholesomeness more satisfactorily.
Christian Meditation is a term for form of prayer in which a structured attempt is made to get in touch with and deliberately reflect upon the revelations of God. The word meditation comes from the Latin word meditari, which means to concentrate. Christian meditation is the process of deliberately focusing on specific thoughts. According to Biblical scene it involve Jesus and Virgin Mary, and reflecting on their meaning in the context of the love of God. According to Christian Meditation it is
believed that "Through the study of books one seeks God; by meditation one finds him”. Unlike eastern meditations, most styles of Christian meditations do not rely on the repeated use of mantra, but are intended to stimulate thought and deepen meaning. Christian meditation aims to heighten the personal relationship based on the love of God that marks Christian communion.
Remembrance of God in Islam, which is known by the concept Ghikr, is interpreted in different meditative techniques in Sufism or Islamic mysticism. This became one of the essential elements of Sufism as it was systematized traditionally. It is juxtaposed with fikr (thinking) which leads to knowledge. By the 12th century, the practice of Sufism included specific meditative techniques, and its followers practiced breathing controls and the repetition of holy words. Meditation in the Sufi tradition is largely based on a spectrum of mystical exercises, varying from one lineage to another. Such techniques, particularly the more audacious, can be, and often have been down the ages, a source of controversy among scholars.
In the teachings of the Baha’i Faith, meditation, along with prayer, one of the primary tools for spiritual development, mainly refers to one's reflection on the words of God. While prayer and meditation are linked where meditation happens generally in a prayerful attitude, prayer is seen specifically as turning toward God, and meditation is seen as a communion with one's self where one focuses on the divine. The Baha’i
teachings note that the purpose of meditation is to strengthen one's understanding of the words of God, and to make one's soul more susceptible to their potentially transformative power, and that both prayer and meditation are needed to bring about and to maintain a spiritual communion with God.
Jain meditation and spiritual practices system were referred to as salvation-path. It has three important parts called the Ratnathya "Three Jewels": right perception and faith, right knowledge and right conduct. Meditation in Jainism aims at realizing the self, attaining salvation; take the soul to complete freedom. It aims to reach and to remain in the pure state of soul which is believed to be pure consciousness, beyond any attachment or aversion. The practitioner strives to be just a knower-seer (Gyata-Drashta). Jain meditation can be broadly categorized to Dharmya Dhyana and Shukla Dhyana.
There is evidence that Judaism has had meditative practices that go back thousands of years. For instance, in the Torah, the patriarch Isaac is described as going "Lasuach in the field” a term understood by all commentators as some type of meditative practice. The Jewish mystical tradition, Kabbalah, is inherently a meditative field of study. In modern Jewish practice, one of the best known meditative practices is called "hitbodedut" alternatively transliterated as "hisbodedus".
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
Transcendental meditation (TM) originates from India, where it was introduced in the 1956 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. TM stems from an ancient Vedic tradition which holds that all creation comes from one, universal foundation of pristine, sublime consciousness. Today, it remains a popular meditation practice among millions of followers all over the world. Many find TM to be a source of profound strength in a modern world where it is easy to become obsessed with the technological and material, at the expense of the natural and spiritual qualities of human existence. This type of meditation comprises of a collection of Hindu meditation techniques. These techniques involve the recitation of a mantra; the words of this mantra are nothing but the names of certain Hindu gods. According to the founders and the followers of transcendental meditation, it is just a matter of observing two period of restful alertness, with each of these periods lasting for twenty minutes. Transcendental consciousness is a state that is known as the height of the transcendental meditation, at this stage the mind has the power to transcend all activities of the mind during the rest. When somebody reaches this stage, the followers claim that the beneficial effects of this state include higher IQ, learning at a rapid rate, reasoning, enhanced creativity and better performance of the mind with more coordinated functioning of the body. They also claim that all these merits of transcendental meditation are proven on the scientific basis. It is a technique that releases all the hidden and suppressed capabilities of a man that enables him to perform well in his social and economic, cultural and professional life. The consequence is the development of the follower of this technique into a very valuable and beneficial citizen of the society. Transcendental meditation is a powerful technique of meditation that involves extreme concentration and focus of mind at one point by continuous chanting of mantras with closed eyes. Essentially it provides contentment and ease to the body and mind of its practitioners. TM stems from an ancient Vedic tradition which holds that all creation comes from one, universal foundation of pristine, sublime consciousness. Today, it remains a popular meditation practice among millions of followers all over the world. Many find TM to be a source of profound strength in a modern world where it is easy to become obsessed with the technological and material, at the expense of the natural and spiritual qualities of human
existence. This article offers a general introduction to TM, highlighting some of its benefits and how to apply it within your life. Transcendental meditation is a specific state of consciousness induced by practicing meditation using a mantra. A mantra is a specific word, sound or phrase that is silently repeated to help achieve a state of transcendent awareness. In this state, the mind is settled, deeply relaxed, but very alert. It’s a state of pure consciousness, in which the mind is at one. Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a technique for avoiding distracting thoughts and promoting a state of relaxed awareness. According to proponents of TM, when meditating, the ordinary thinking process is “transcended.” It’s replaced by a state of pure consciousness. In this state, the meditator achieves perfect stillness, rest, stability, order, and a complete absence of mental boundaries The Transcendental Meditation technique allows your mind to settle inward beyond thought to experience the source of thought - pure awareness, also known as transcendental consciousness. This is the most silent and peaceful level of consciousness - your innermost Self. In this state of restful alertness, your brain functions with significantly greater coherence and your body gains deep rest. The Transcendental Meditation technique is based on the ancient Vedic tradition of enlightenment in India. This knowledge has been handed down by Vedic masters from generation to generation for thousands of years. When we teach the Transcendental Meditation technique today, we maintain the same procedures used by teachers thousands of years ago for maximum effectiveness. Transcendental Meditation is not a religion or philosophy. And it does not require any lifestyle changes. TM technique can only be learned through a seven-step course of instruction from a certified teacher. The TM technique allows the mind to effortlessly settle inward and arrive at the source of thought - pure awareness, also known as transcendental consciousness. According to proponents of TM, when meditating, the ordinary thinking process is “transcended.” It’s replaced by a state of pure consciousness. In this state, the meditator achieves perfect stillness, rest, stability, order, and a complete absence of mental boundaries.
"Transcendental” means "going beyond," in this case referring to going beyond thought. Transcendental consciousness is the most silent and peaceful level of consciousness; it is your innermost Self. In this state of restful alertness, your brain functions with significantly greater coherence and your body gains deep rest. How to meditate: Find a place where you can sit comfortably, without interruptions, for at least ten minutes. Although complete silence isn't necessary - or even desirable, for insight meditation, the room should be free of obtrusive noises such as music, television, constantly-ringing phones, and nearby conversations. Wear loose clothing if possible, and remove your shoes
When we practice meditation we need to have a comfortable seat and a good posture. The most important feature of the posture is to keep our back straight. To help us do this, if we are sitting on a cushion we make sure that the back of the cushion is slightly higher than the front, inclining our pelvis slightly forward. It is not necessary at first to sit cross-legged, but it is a good idea to become accustomed to sitting in the posture of Buddha. If need be one can also be seated on an armless chair. When we have settled down comfortably on our meditation seat we begin by becoming aware of the thoughts and distractions that are arising in our mind. Then we gently turn our attention to our breath, letting its rhythm remain normal. As we breathe out we imagine that we are breathing away all disturbing thoughts and distractions in the form of black smoke that vanishes in space. As we breathe in we imagine that we are breathing in all the blessings and inspiration of the holy beings in the form of white light that enters our body and absorbs into our heart. We maintain this visualization
single-pointedly with each inhalation and exhalation for twenty-one rounds or until our mind has become peaceful and alert. If we concentrate on our breathing in this way, negative thoughts and distractions will temporarily vanish from our mind.
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