When the flow of concentration (Dharana) is uninterrupted, the state that arises is Dhyana. Dhyana is the study of deep concentration, calmness, and tranquility of the mind. As Dhyana grows and matures, the mind goes on – becoming more and more pure. It folds open up, the old Samskaras are dissolved; the ego, the arrogance become humble and then insignificant. One, then, progresses from the unconscious to subconscious state, from subconscious to conscious state, and from conscious to super conscious state (the state of Samadhi). There is no other feeling except a state of Supreme Bliss.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
• The place for Dhyana must be clean, well- ventilated, and free from insects. Ideally, it is better to have a separate room or a corner for Dhyana. This space acquires special energy as you meditate regularly, and you will feel calm when you enter this space. As meditation is repeated, the powerful vibrations set up will be lodged in the area; an atmosphere of peace and purity will be felt. You can meditate outdoors if you like, but choose an area where you will not get disturbed. Avoid meditating too close to the sea, as sea breeze contains moisture and can hamper correct breathing.
• The direction you face, while meditating, affects concentration to some extent. If possible, sit facing the East or the North, to derive the benefits of favorable magnetic vibrations from the earth.
• Meditate in a peaceful and relaxing environment. Create the right atmosphere by putting up pictures of a deity you like. You can also relax by playing soft and soothing music. Things that have a positive effect on you will help your mind settle down faster.
• Use a soft, comfortable cushion or mat for your seat. You can use a four-folded blanket or a yoga mat. Cover your legs with a blanket if it is cold.
• Set aside a specific time for meditation. The best time for Dhyana is dawn and dusk as it is very calm and peaceful. If you cannot meditate at dawn or dusk, then choose a time that is convenient for you. If you meditate in the morning, you will remain calm throughout the day and work better. The best hours are from 4 to 6 in the morning. This is the period of Brahmamuhurta. At that time, the atmosphere is charged with a special spiritual force. Meditating, before going to bed at night, will ensure a sound sleep.
• Do not mediate on a full stomach. This is because attention is drawn to the stomach and the digestion process. You might suffer from indigestion if you force yourself to meditate before your food has been properly digested. Wait for at least three hours after a meal.
• Meditating when you are depressed or unhappy is also not recommended, as your dejection could get intensified. Try to reduce intellectualization, as much as possible. Let the mind follow the mental actions necessary for execution of the practice. Remember – meditation is not something that is done by the mind. In fact, it is the absence of the mind. When the mind stops, or becomes still, meditation happens.
• Regularity is extremely important, if you want to derive all the benefits of meditation. Otherwise, you will lose the discipline and find it difficult when you start again. Regularity conditions the mind to slow down its activities with a minimum of delay.
• Set fixed times for yourself and keep firmly to these times. It should be practiced once or twice during the day, depending on your need, without any break whatsoever. Like eating, meditation will become a natural part of you.
• In the beginning, set aside 15-20 minutes to meditate, and gradually increase it to one hour. Calm your mind by controlling your thoughts. However, do not force yourself to meditate. Stop meditating immediately if you feel uncomfortable or disturbed.
• While you meditate, at first, you will have a feeling of calmness, happiness, and contentment, only. Gradually, your mind will become focused and controlled, and you will learn to relax and avoid impulsive reactions. As you meditate regularly, this contented and peaceful feeling will permeate into the rest of your day and then into your entire life. Concentration techniques enhance and increase your control over your mind, so that it does what you want it to when you want it to.
HOW DO YOU MEDITATE?
• Sitting postures are the best for meditation. When you are seated, metabolism, brain waves, and breathing slow down. The strain on the heart and lungs reduces considerably. Padmasana, Siddhasana, Sukhasana, or Vajrasana are all meditative postures. These four sitting postures are the most effective to calm and master your mind, as they exert pressure on the nerves that induce physical relaxation.
• It is important to be comfortable during meditation so that physical discomfort does not distract you. Your mind will not be calm if you are distracted. If you need, you can rest your back against a wall. If sitting on the floor is difficult, use a straight-backed chair. Make sure that your spine is erect and your feet touch the ground. Remember – do not lie down to meditate, as you might fall asleep.
• To meditate, you must master each step before you move to the next one. Proceed to the next step only after you have learned to make yourself comfortable in a meditative posture.
• Yoga Postures are an effective way of preparing your body before you start meditating. While doing asanas conscientiously, we are increasing our power of concentration. Then we concentrate fully on those parts of the body which are stretched and influenced during a particular asana. In this way, we not only get physical benefits, but also increase mental power.
• If there is pain, stiffness, or general tension, in the body, then do a relaxation technique first so that you can sit comfortably. An excellent and simple method of systematically relaxing the body is to tense it as much as possible for some time and then release the tension. All the different parts of the body should be tensed in turn. You must not move on to the next step until you have relaxed yourself.
• Once you are seated comfortably with back straight, the next step is to calm your mind. To do this, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply, slowly, and consciously for 3-5 seconds. Exhale deeply, slowly, and consciously for 3-5 seconds. As you inhale, feel the body filling up with clean, fresh air and the body is becoming more energetic; as you exhale, feel the toxic air emptying out of your body and the body is becoming lighter and lighter. Continue breathing like this until you feel completely calm and relaxed. When the mind is connected with breathing, its fickleness disappears and it achieves a perfect state of stability. If you feel uncomfortable, or agitated, during a meditation session, open your eyes and start again.
• Once you are calm, shift your focus to your mind consciously. Focus only on your thoughts. You will notice that your mind is crowded with all types of thoughts. If you are not reacting to them, it will be easier for you to remove them. As you keep doing this, you will be able to watch your thoughts without reacting to them. If you are able to hold this detached attitude for some time, your uncontrolled thoughts will reduce, as you are not reacting to them. By controlling your thoughts, you recharge your mental batteries and sharpen your focus. It will also give you more control over your actions and reactions.
• Now that you have control over your thoughts, choose an object to give your mind something positive to concentrate on. This could be a candle, a flower, a fruit, or even the image of a deity. It is easier to meditate on an object, especially for beginners to hold its attention. You can meditate on sound. For that, you can use a mantra like OM. Mantras have healing and spiritual powers. If not mantra, then you can focus on the sound of a waterfall, birds chirping, or visualize a beautiful, natural place of your choice. Avoid things that upset or sadden you.
• When you have chosen your object, look at it closely. Then close your eyes and recall its features, color, and shape. Next, choose a point of focus on your body, such as the space between the eyebrows, your navel, or the base of your throat. Place the mental image of the object you have chosen at this point on your body. Draw all your attention to the image – maintaining it at the focus point. If you have chosen a mantra as an object, repeat it mentally or audibly. Focus all your attention on the sound and the effect that it has on your body. When sunlight is focused through a lens, thousands of rays converge at a single point, increasing the intensity of energy; mental power too increases if you focus all your energy at one point.
• In the beginning, you may not be able to concentrate for more than a few minutes. Your mind will keep getting distracted and random thoughts will pop up. You might even start day dreaming. Do not lose patience, and do not force your mind to stay focused. If it wanders, allow it to go wherever it wants, and then gently bring your attention back to the object, and keep its image at the focus point. Gradually, it will lose the desire to wander and voluntarily remain focused. With practice, you will master this step.
Now that you are able to concentrate effortlessly and for a longer period of time, allow your mind to move freely – let it make connections and associations. You will discover that thoughts do not appear at random any more. Instead, they will continue to be associated with your chosen object. They will revolve around it – getting absorbed into it. At this stage, you will automatically move into the state of meditation. You will find yourself merging into the object and becoming a part of it. As a result, you will experience extreme bliss and peace. In this state, you will transcend all man-made boundaries and feel a sense of timelessness.
There are a number of meditation techniques. However, the basic principles and stages are the same in all. These differ mainly in the way you go through the whole process. The foundation, of all the techniques of meditation, is the awareness of the present moment that helps in promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and enhancing personal and spiritual growth. You can choose any technique – depending on your interest, ability, and aptitude.
With practice of more and more Dhyana, duality disappears and Samadhi, or the super-conscious state, is reached. Do not become impatient, as this takes a long time. In Samadhi, one rests in the state of bliss in which the Knower, the Knowledge, and the Known become one. This is the super conscious state reached by mystics of all faiths and persuasions.
If you meditate for half an hour daily, you will be able to face life with peace and spiritual strength. Meditation is the most powerful mental and nerve tonic. Divine energy freely flows to the adept during meditation, and exerts a benign influence on the mind, nerves, sense organs, and body. It opens the door to intuitive knowledge and realms of eternal bliss. The mind becomes calm and steady.
Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna’s Yogashaastra Studio. A popular studio that helps you find natural solutions for complete health and detoxification.
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Dr. Rita Khanna
Dr. Rita Khanna is a well-known name in the field of Yoga and Naturopathy. She was initiated into this discipline over 25 years ago by world famous Swami Adyatmananda of Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh(India). She believes firmly that Yoga is a scientific process, which helps us to lead a healthy and disease-free life.
She is also actively involved in practicing alternative medicines like Naturopathy. Over the years, she has been successfully practicing these therapies and providing succour to several chronic and terminally ill patients through Yoga, Diet and Naturopathy. She is also imparting Yoga Teachers Training. At present, Dr. Rita Khanna is running a Yoga Studio in Secunderabad (Hyderabad, India).
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