Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What is Spirit?

Spirit is the experience of attraction to transpersonal experience. The focus is moved away from the personal towards insights about consciousness or life itself. The mythical movement is up and away. It is movement towards divinity or the cosmos, freedom from the hold of our emotions, history, persons, places, objects, and processes which bind us to the everyday world. It is also dramatic movement away from that which holds us physically-our bodies.

All throughout the world in almost every tradition that had a taste of Spirit, Body and Soul are seen as forms of corruption, if not down right evil. Spirit is all, says these traditions. Anything that is not Spirit is worthless and harmful. Hear the figure of philosophy in Boethius's The
Consolation of Philosophy speaking of Soul:

So sinks the mind in deep despair and sight grows dim; when storms of life blow surging up the weight of care (the Soul),It banishes its inward light (the Spirit) and turns in trust to the dark without (our everyday world which is laden with Soul stuff). This was the man who once was free to climb the sky with zeal devout to contemplate the crimson sun, the frozen fairness of the moon--Astronomer once used in joy to comprehend and to commune with planets on their wandering ways. This man, this man sought out the source of storms that roar and rouse the seas; the spirit that rotates the world, the cause that translocates the world, the cause that translocates the sun. From shining East to watery West, he sought the reason why spring hours are mild with flowers manifest, and who enriched with swelling grapes ripe autumn at the full of year. Now see that mind that searched and made all nature's hidden secrets clear lie prostrate prisoner of night. His neck bends low in shackles thrust, and he is forced beneath the weight to contemplate---the lowly dust (a Soul filled life).

The appropriate approach, at this point in history, given our understanding of reality, psychology, and comparative mythology and religion, is to explore Spirit as fully as we can but not to be overly possessed by it. Spirit is both a very rewarding experience AND a force that can strip you of your basic humanness. The dark side of Spirit which is spoken of all too infrequently is like the sirens in Ulysses, pulling us to the rocky shore line. While we may not physically hit the rocky shore and go down to our destruction, but Soulfully, and some times Body wise, we do suffer. To have Spirit is to be the unique human. But to be the full unique human, we too must have Soul and Body.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What is Soul?

Soul is the experience of personal depth, of personal experience, of personal power and limitations, of personal imagination, feelings, thoughts, sensations, and intuitions. The mythical movement is in and down. It is connection with history, persons, places, objects and life enhancing processes (i.e. work, play). We have connection to our bodies but they are seen mainly as expressions of inner selves (i.e. we smile, we wear certain clothes). We may be "spiritual" but that is done because it involves a community and has a feeling of inwardness.

Contrasting Soul and Spirit
Spirit is the experience of attraction to transpersonal experience. The focus is moved away from the personal towards insights about consciousness or life itself. The mythical movement is up and away. It is movement towards divinity or the cosmos, freedom from the hold of our emotions, history, persons, places, objects, and processes which bind us to the everyday world. It is also dramatic movement away from that which holds us physically---our bodies.

Differs From Most Religious and Philosophic Views
The above definition includes no comment on the existence of the Soul as something that precedes the body or survives the body. It says nothing about whether the Soul is eternal or mortal. Nor does it comment on its origin. Instead, it stays close to how we can experience the Soul. As Thomas Moore says: "Soul is not a thing, but a quality or a dimension of experiencing life and ourselves."

Definitions that give Soul transpersonal existence or divine origins are really definitions under the influence of Spirit. Following this Spirit laden approach moves us away from experiencing the Soul here and now, through our heart and guts. Instead, Soul is explained in terms of the past (i.e. reincarnation of the soul) and future (e.g. transmigration of the soul). That approach teaches more about Spirit than it does about Soul and moves us to a life berift of Soul.

Friday, June 12, 2009

What is Body?

Body is the experience of the senses, our relationship to space and other objects, awareness of the inner sensations within us, and a recovery of the sense of Now.
Edward Albee in his book, Desert Soliatire speaks directly to the objective Body awareness:

"For my own part I am pleased enough with surfaces. In fact they alone seem to me of much importance. Such things for example as the grasp of a child's hand in your own, the flavor of an apple, the embrace of friend or lover, the silk of a girl's thigh, the sunlight on rock and leaves, the feel of music, the bark of a tree, the abrasion of granite and sand, the plunge of clear water into a pool, the face of the wind---what else is there? What else do we need."

To confront, immediately and directly if its possible, the bare bones of existence, the elemental and fundamental, the bedrock which sustains us. I want to be able to look at and into a juniper tree, a piece of quartz, a vulture, a spider, and see it as it is in itself, devoid of all humanly ascribed qualities. Hard work, that's for see the world this way requires a disciplined approach."The disciplined approach begins with learning the difference between Body and Soul. For us, these two are closely mingled. We think we know our bodies but we actually use our bodies to represent Soul. The clothes we choose, the way we walk, our mannerisms are there to express us, not so much to express the body. We use dance to show our feelings, we make a fist to show our anger, we wear blue rather than brown because it makes us look slimmer so that we can be "attractive." Body is there, but it is so enmeshed with Soul it is hard to give it room to be.
Room to be comes with quieting the Soul and simplfying awareness to the Now. The Now of inner sensations. What do we sense in every area of our body? What do we sense on the skin? How do we move? How much space do we take up? Focusing inward teaches us about the Body's world of matter and energy. Do we really know the world's matter? Its hardness? Its ability to take up space? Its ability to have borders? One object's features versus another's? How well do we know our energy, the energy that arises when are emotions heat up? When our instincts become arroused? Perhaps, the largely unknown force called by some "Chi"?

For man, the vast marvel is to be alive. For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive. Whatever the unborn and dead may know, they cannot know the beauty, the marvel of being alive in the flesh. The dead may look after the afterwards. But the magnificent here and now of life in the flesh is ours, and ours alone and ours only for a time. We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive and in the flesh, and part of the living incarnate cosmos. I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the Earth, my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. My soul knows that I am part of the human race; my soul is an organic part of the great human soul, as my spirit is part of my nation. In my very own self, I am part of my family. There is nothing of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself; it is only the glitter of the sun on the surface of the water.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Scientology A New slant on Life

The Scientology religion contains workable answers to the problems people face in their lives. The subject matter of Scientology is all life. It contains practical means through which predictable improvement can be obtained in any area to which it is applied.

Scientology recognizes that man is not just so many vials of chemicals fortuitously combined into a remarkable stimulus-response machine. Scientology views man as a spiritual being with native capabilities which can be improved far beyond what is generally believed possible. In fact, it has been demonstrated that man deteriorates to the degree that he denies his spiritual nature and ceases to live with moral values, such as trust, honesty, integrity and other sometimes intangible characteristics.

By seeing man as essentially spiritual, Scientology follows in the traditional view of man and his relationship to the universe. Scientology, however, is unique in that it contains practical means of enabling man to resolve his material concerns and so come to achieve his spiritual aspirations. In this regard Scientology is an improvement over any earlier practice in terms of what it can actually do to help man.

The problems of drugs, education, morals, relationships, trust and others contain solutions in Scientology which do not beget further problems.The situations to which Scientology can be applied are as varied as human activity itself. If a child cannot read well and is falling behind the rest of the class, Scientology study technology can help dispense with a liability that would otherwise affect the rest of his or her life.

The emphasis in Scientology is on the application of exact methodologies in order to bring about change in the conditions of an individual’s life. The aim of Scientology is to put a person into a condition where he can be more self-determined about living a happier, more fulfilling life.

Millions of people all over the world have used Scientology to improve their lives and help their fellows. Scientology does not require that one change his or her beliefs or convictions to use it successfully. All you have to do is apply the data and observe for yourself whether or not it works. You as you are now, can do more good for yourself and for those around you than you ever imagined, and gain enormous personal satisfaction doing it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Maharishi Effect

The Maharishi Effect is the phenomenon of the rise of coherence in the collective consciousness of any community. Scientific research has clearly demonstrated that when one per cent of the population of a city or town practices Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation Programme, the crime rate significantly decreases. Similarly, when groups of individuals practicing Maharishi’s TM-Sidhi programme with Yogic Flying equal at least the square root of one per cent of a population, there is a significant reduction of crime and accidents, as well as an increase in stock prices, decreased pollution, decreased unemployment, and decreased hostilities between nations.

The basis of the Maharishi Effect is the rise of collective consciousness. Collective consciousness is the wholeness of consciousness of any specific group. For example, when we talk of community consciousness, we merely put together the consciousness of all the individuals who make up the community; for national consciousness we put together the consciousness of all the citizens of a nation.

There are innumerable divisions and organizations of collective consciousness, but among these there are seven principal levels: family consciousness, community consciousness, city consciousness, state or provincial consciousness, national consciousness, world consciousness, and universal consciousness, each created by the individuals within the group.

The phenomenon of collective consciousness can best be understood by examining the concept of a field, as described by modern science. Physicists delineate a variety of infinite, unbounded, and all-pervasive fields that operate invisibly throughout creation, governing the activities of innumerable Laws of Nature. For example, the electromagnetic field—one of the four principal force fields—permeates the entire universe, and enables radio and television transmitters to send signals by creating waves within the field. While the waves are unseen, they nonetheless create effects with which we are all familiar—the sounds and images of radio and television.
Likewise, the other three fundamental force fields—gravitation, weak interaction, and strong interaction—also pervade everything and behave invisibly throughout Nature. Self-referral consciousness is also a field, though on an even more fundamental level, for it is the omnipresent, invisible, and unbounded field from which all force and matter fields emerge.

Just as a radio transmitter can create waves in the electromagnetic field, individuals constantly create influences on all parts of creation simply because consciousness permeates every aspect of the material universe. To illustrate, if a stone is thrown into a pond, waves are produced that travel throughout the pond. Each wave produces some effect in every part of the pond. Similarly, the wave of individual life, through its activity, produces an influence in all parts of the cosmos.

On the basis of this same principle, the direct experience of self-referral consciousness influences every aspect of the universe, enlivening it with the perfect order and harmony inherent within self-referral consciousness. For this reason, groups of individuals can create very powerful effects in the environment through their collective practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program—through their self-referral practice, they enliven every aspect of the universe by stimulating its most fundamental constituent, consciousness, and they especially enliven the collective consciousness of the city or province or nation in which they are located.
Since collective consciousness is created by the individuals within it, as individual consciousness grows collective consciousness rises; and as collective consciousness rises individual consciousness grows. In other words, as an individual regularly experiences self-referral consciousness and enlivens it in his own awareness, the levels of collective consciousness in which he participates—family, city, province, nation, etc.—are simultaneously improved. This higher value of collective consciousness in turn effects, in a positive way, every one of the individual members of that level of collective consciousness.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Way to Happiness Foundation International

A non-religious and unbiased moral code for the 21st century.The Way to Happiness Foundation International was established in 1984 with the mission of reversing the moral decay in society by restoring trust and honesty in the world through the publication and widespread distribution of The Way to Happiness.

The Way to Happiness Foundation is a nonprofit public benefit corporation with international headquarters in Glendale, California, and offices, chapters and members in 130 nations. The Foundation also includes a resource center for providing multimedia educational materials to business, community, government and school programs.

The Foundation coordinates public awareness campaigns worldwide. The centerpiece of the campaign is the award-winning series of 21 public service announcements, each depicting one of the principles from The Way to Happiness. These PSAs have been seen on television all over the world. The Foundation also provides recorded selections from the book for radio audiences.

The first moral code based wholly on common sense, first published in 1981, its purpose is to help arrest the current moral decline in society and restore integrity and trust to Man. Written by L. Ron Hubbard, the book fills the moral vacuum in an increasingly materialistic society. This code of conduct contains 21 basic principles that guide one to a better quality of life. Entirely nonreligious, it can be followed by anyone, of any race, color or creed and works to restore the bonds that unite humankind.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mystified World needs Mystic India

Whether India becomes a superpower in the material sphere or not, in spiritual matters, the country has been and remains one. Indian gurus are the help menu of this dysfunctional world. In today's technology oriented , competitive and highly stressful world, spiritual and materialistic integration is the only key to a peaceful , healthy , abundant and affluent existence .
From Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and world peace to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the peace process in Sri Lanka, there is always an Indian guru to show the way. The Maharishi, whose association with the Beatles made him one of the most famous men on the planet, is now engaged in creating a 'Maharishi Effect' — defined as a "rise in coherence in the collective consciousness of a community" — in the Netherlands where he has been living since the early 1990s. Some of the Maharishi's followers in Iowa, USA, also did a spot of 'yogic flying' recently in an effort to pacify Lebanon.

Their efforts do not seem to have met with particular success. For that matter, neither has the more practical intervention by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Sri Lanka. The 'Art of Living' guru visited LTTE-held Kilinochchi last month and gifted a white 'peace' shawl to V. Prabhakaran as part of an effort to bring all concerned parties to the dialogue table. Shortly after this, the war between the LTTE and the Lankan forces escalated.However, such little upsets do not affect the followings of gurus. The Art of Living is active in more than 140 countries including Lebanon.
They are not the only ones. There are other Indian gurus who probably have as much of a global presence. The late Osho Rajneesh's following has reportedly shrunk from its peak of 200,000 after his death, but Osho World continues to place his millions in the service of enlightenment. The Iskcon or 'Hare Krishna' movement has 2,50,000 devotees and 350 centres around the world. SN Goenka's Vipassana movement is in growth mode. And even Sathya Sai Baba, whose international reputation has been battered by allegations of sexual molestation by former devotees, continues to count an estimated 100 million people as his flock.

Along with the New Age gurus —Deepak Chopra and Robin Sharma—whose books sell more widely, and in more languages, than any other Indian authors - these 'super men' shape the thinking of a very large number of people around the world.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Power of Yoga

Yoga is the practical aspect of the inner side of man’s religion. The outer side of religion in its institutionalized and organized social aspect is its traditional form, made up of the periodical common or collective worship, be it in church, synagogue, mosque, temple or prayer house; its sacraments, ceremonial, ritual, etc. Whereas the inner side of religion in its deeply personal aspect of the individual’s effort to spiritually progress towards God and obtain vital religious experience is termed Yoga.

The practice of Yoga implies and constitutes your sincere attempt to realize the ultimate truths of your religion as actual personal experience. Religion as an organized outer structure is a social phenomenon. And religion as an inner discipline and daily practice is its systematic mystical dynamics, is a spiritual phenomenon. The entire practice of Yoga is verily this universal latter part of religion just refered to above. These two terms, religion and Yoga, are almost identical in their meaning. The term "religion" is of Latin origin, meaning the re-linking or binding man to God. The term "Yoga" is of Sanskrit origin, meaning uniting man’s spirit with the Divine Spirit or God.
The special feature to be noted regarding Yoga is that it represents the universal spiritual mystic that underlies all religions of mankind, and is therefore a common and thus unifying factor in the religious life of human society. Whereas, as an observed historical phenomenon, the diversified religious systems have tended to separate man from man and split up human society into mutually exclusive groups that refuse to harmonize with one another.

Yoga tends to bring out the inner unity that exists at the central core of all religions, and its non-sectarian techniques bring people closer in spiritual ties of inner unity. Yoga is to religion what food and eating are to the science of nutrition. Yoga is to religion what actual physical exercise is to the subject of physical culture and national health. Yoga is a scientific methodology of religion and Yoga practice guides the Yoga follower in the path of practical religion towards the true goal of all religion, namely God-experience.

Yoga constitutes man’s purposeful movement towards God, which actually comprises the very quintessence of all religion. This surely is the truth about Yoga. While Yoga divides its practices to suit the different temperaments and capacities of the various individuals, it declares at the same time the indivisible oneness of the aim of all religious life, and the oneness of the goal of all religious strivings, namely God—the Universal Spirit—who is addressed by various names like Jehovah, Allah, Almighty Father, etc. Yoga and religion are inseparable if you understand them right.

Minus Yoga, religion would be but a dead shell lacking spiritual substance. Yoga is the unfolding process of practical religion, the inner personal religious life of each individual. It enriches your religious life, makes you a better human individual, and elevates the standard of human conduct and behaviour upon all levels of human relationship.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What Is Spirituality, If Not Religion !

The word evokes visions of meditating hippies chanting monosyllables barefoot in unison or perhaps the soft-spoken befrocked friar living in a hilltop monastery. We all have some sort of vision in mind when we talk about spirituality, but try to define it exactly, and several challenges arise. First, is spirituality a part of religion or distinct from it? Is it possible to be spiritual without being religious? Conversely, is it possible to be religious without being spiritual?

Spirituality is, in the most basic sense, matters pertaining to the spirit and is based on the idea that there exists something, be it a state of mind, a being, or a place, that is outside the experience of our five limited senses. Spirituality is the personal relationship of the individual to this state of mind, being or place and often emphasizes the notion of a path, that spirituality is a goal in achieving understanding, or an improved relationship with the sacred. Spirituality involves the recognition and acceptance of a God beyond our own intelligence and with whom we can have a relationship. This God can provide an experience of inspiration, joy, security, peace of mind, and guidance that goes beyond what is possible in the absence of the conviction that such a power exists.

Spiritual healing is when energy is transmitted to the person who needs it. The treatment works on the body, mind and spirit, which are seen as one unit that must harmonize for good health. If a separate healer is involved, the healer will place the hand on the person being treated to channel the energy from the Higher Source. The spiritual healing can help mental and emotional problems and physical conditions such as a frozen shoulder.

The channeling of healing energy from its spiritual source to someone who needs it is called spiritual healing. The channel is usually a person, whom we call a healer, and the healing energy is usually transferred to the patient through the healer's hands. The healing does not come from the healer, but through him. On the other hand, you don’t need a healer to take advantage of spiritual healing. You can pray. A full treatmnet of prayer and healing is found elsewhere.

The word "spiritual" refers to the divine nature of the energy, which healers agree comes from one external, invisible intelligent source. The healing energy from this source is available to all.

Healers see the body mind and spirit as one interdependent unit and believe all three must work in harmony to maintain positive health. Any problem - be it a broken leg or depression needs the power of healing to restore the balance of the whole person. It is felt that sickness often starts in the mind, or at the deeper level of the spirit, and it is often here that healing begins.

Spirituality can be seen as being distinct from religion. Different world religions have proposed various doctrines and belief systems about the nature of a God and humanity's relationship with it. Spirituality, on the other hand, refers to the common experience behind these various points of view. It is an experience involving an awareness of and relationship with something that transcends your personal self as well as the human order of things. This "something" has been given various names ("God" being the most popular in Western Society) and defined in ways that are too numerous to count. We call it simply as the God. You can choose to define what that means for yourself in whatever way feels most appropriate. Your own sense of a God can be as abstract as "cosmic consciousness" or as down-to-earth as the beauty of the ocean or mountains. Even if you regard yourself an agnostic or atheist, you may get a sense of inspiration from taking a walk in the forest or contemplating a beautiful sunset. Or a small child's smile may give you a special sense of joy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why Banyan tree is said to be immortal?

Trees are sacred in India, and often associated with a god or a goddess. Some scholars believe that it is the tree that was worshipped first, maybe for its medicinal or symbolic purpose, and that the gods and goddesses came later. That may be the case but today trees are integral part of a deity’s symbolism. The mango tree, for example, is associated with the love-god Kama, the Tulsi plant is dear to Vishnu, Bilva is associated with Shiva worship, blades of Dhurva grass is offered to Ganesha, Neem or Margosa is sacred to the mother goddess, coconut and banana is associated with Lakshmi.The Banyan tree is associated with Yama, the god of death and the tree is often planted outside the village near crematoriums. It is believed to be the abode of ghosts. Vetals and Pisachas are supposed to hang from its many branches.

Indians knew the Banyan tree as the Vata-vriksha. When the British came to India, they noticed that members of the trading or Bania community used to gather under a large shady fig tree, which they named the Banyan, from Bania. Technically, Ficus benghalensis, the Banyan belongs to the Fig family. There are various types of fig trees all over the world, some of these are sacred. The most popular one is the Ficus religiosa or the Pipal which became especially popular in Buddhist times because it was under this tree that Gautama Siddhartha of the Sakya clan attained enlightenment. It was the leaves of the a fig tree that Adam and Eve used to cover their nakedness in Eden after they were tempted to eat the Forbidden Fruit by Satan.

The Banyan tree does not let a blade of grass grow under it. Thus Banyan tree does not allow for any rebirth and renewal. While Banyan offers shade from the sun, it offers no food. That is why it is not part of fertility ceremonies like marriage and childbirth where food-giving, rapidly renewing, plants with short lifespan such as Banana, Mango, Coconut, Betel, Rice and even grass, are included.

Marriage and childbirth are rites of passage; they represent major shifts in life. They are all about instability and flux; Banyan tree is the very opposite. It is stable and constant. It has a long lifespan and hence seems immortal. Its roots descend from the branches and then anchor the tree to the ground, transforming into trunks eventually, so that decades later it is difficult to distinguish root from stem.

Things that evoke the notion of immortality become auspicious in India, for example the immortal mountain, the immortal sea, the immortal diamond, and the indestructible ash. This is because since ancient times, Indian seers were acutely aware of the transitory nature of things around us. Everything dies – every plant, every animal, even moments die, the present becomes the past in an instant. In an ever changing world, we seek constancy, permanence. The Banyan tree is therefore worthy of veneration; it is evergreen and shady, hence an eternal refuge for all creatures unable to bear the vagaries of life.

Thus, it emerges that in Indian thought, there are two types of sacredness – one that is associated with impermanent material reality and the other which is associated with permanent spiritual reality. The Banana and the Coconut fit into the previous category; the Banyan fits into the latter. Banana is the symbol of the flesh, constantly dying and renewing itself. Banyan is the soul – never dying, never renewing itself. Banana is the botanical equivalent of the householder while Banyan is the botanical equivalent of the hermit.

The Banyan tree can be seen as a hermit amongst trees; just as hermit cannot raise a family, a Banyan tree cannot support a household. Banyan tree represents not the material aspiration of a people; it represents the spiritual aspiration of a people. The Banyan tree is said to be immortal: it is Akshaya, that which survives Pralaya, the destruction of the whole world.

Mahabharata tells the story of a woman called Savitri who lost her husband as destined, one year after her marriage, near a Banyan tree. She followed Yama to the land of the dead and through determination and intelligence managed to secure back her husband’s life. In memory of that event, Hindu women go around the Banyan tree, tying seven strings around it. This is imitative magic: by symbolically going around the immortal tree, the women are binding immortality into their married life. They are securing the lives of their husband, the pillar of their household. They are protecting themselves from widowhood which is believed by most Hindus to be worst fate for a woman.

Under the Banyan tree sat the sages of India – those who rejected the flesh and the material world and aspired for the soul alone. This was the favorite tree of the sadhu, the wandering hermit. The greatest of hermits, Shiva, was often represented in its shade as a stone called the Lingam. Being an ascetic, Shiva was not part of the village; he was a hermit not householder; he did not fear ghosts and so was comfortable staying in the shade of this immortal, never dying, never renewing plant.

In iconography, Shiva is visualized as Dakshinamurti, he who faces the south, south being the direction of death and change. He sits under the Banyan tree, the botanical embodiment of the universal soul, facing that terror of death and change stoically, unafraid because of his profound understanding of the world. At his feet sit sages who are recipients of Shiva’s wisdom. In South Indian temples, Shiva’s south facing form, under the Banyan tree, is placed on the south facing wall of the temple.

Like Shiva, Vishnu is also a form of God. But Vishnu is not associated with the Banyan tree, perhaps becuase Vishnu is that aspect of God who is more associated with change. He goes with the flow – this attitude is called leela or playfulness; he does not fear change. Vishnu is therefore associated with the fragrant Tulsi plant or with flowering plants like Champa and Kadamba.

But there is one time when Vishnu is associated with the Banyan tree – it is during the end of the world when flood waters rise and dissolve all things. Sage Markandeya who had a terrifying vision of this event, saw Vishnu as a baby lying on the leaf of a Banyan tree, cradled by the deadly waves. This form of Vishnu is called Vata-patra-shayin, he who rests on the Banyan leaf. The image is rich in symbols – the whole world may seem transitory like the waves of the ocean but all life can renew itself as a baby replaces the older generation because divine grace represented by Vishnu is eternal like a Banyan leaf.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Meditation Gives You Deeper Insight

Meditation is an intensely personal and spiritual experience. The desired purpose of each meditation technique is to channel normal waking consciousness into a more positive direction by totally transforming one`s state of mind. To meditate is to turn inwards, to concentrate on the inner self. The entire process of meditation usually entails the three stages of concentration, meditation and enlightenment or absorption. The meditator starts off by concentrating on a certain point. Once attention gets engaged, concentration turns into meditation. And through continuous meditation, the meditator merges with the object of concentration, which might either be the present moment or the Divine Entity.

In some branches of Indian philosopohy, direct perception from the inner self (mana) together with perception that is filtered through the five senses (pancha indriya) form a part of their valid epistemology (pratyaksha jnana). And this self-realization or self-awareness, is nothing but the knowledge of the "pure being"—the Self.

Humanity is increasingly turning towards various meditative techniques in order to cope with the increasing stress of modern-day lifestyles. Unable to locate stability in the outside world, people have directed their gaze inwards in a bid to attain peace of mind. Modern psychotherapists have begun to discover various therapeutic benefits of meditation practices. The state of relaxation and the altered state of consciousness—both induced by meditation—are especially effective in psychotherapy.

But more than anything else, meditation is being used as a personal growth device these days—for inculcating a more positive attitude towards life at large.

Meditation is not necessarily a religious practice, but because of its spiritual element it forms an integral part of most religions. And even though the basic objective of most meditation styles remain the same and are performed in a state of inner and outer stillness, they all vary according to the specific religious framework within which they are placed. Preparation, posture, length of period of meditation, particular verbal or visual elements—all contribute to the various forms of meditation. Some of the more popular methods are, Transcendental Meditation, yoga nidra, vipassana and mindfulness meditation.