Meditation is the practice of bringing your mind inward by focusing the attention on a single object in total concentration. Since it is the nature of the mind to continuously create thoughts and keep your attention jumping from one thing to the next, single-pointed concentration is essential for meditation to happen. However, over time, the effort and perseverance of daily meditation practice will pay off, as the thought waves will diminish and your mind will become calm and quiet.
Meditation creates an empty space within by quieting the mind. That space provides an uninterrupted flow of clarity and energy, because the usual preoccupations with the world completely disappear. That space allows you to tap into your true nature, and all ego-driven fears and emotions vanish. At the highest levels of meditation, duality also disappears and there is nothing but oneness with the Divine. This is called Samadhi. The permanent state of Samadhi is what we call Liberation or Self-realization, and it is the aim of all forms of yoga and all spiritual paths. Liberation is the ultimate aim of human life, and meditation is both the practice and the door to attaining it.
So the ultimate benefit of meditation is Self-realization, but a daily meditation practice will provide many other advantages, both on a physical and emotional levels, as well as in terms of spiritual development. Since it purifies the body in general, and the nervous system in particular, it can greatly enhance your overall health and prevent or improve any type of disease. Your energy levels and mental powers will increase as well; your creativity and intuition will be enhanced, and inner joy will becomes a regular experience. Meditation can highly reduce stress levels, and the medical community is starting to realize the value of the different practices yogis have been doing for thousands of years, particularly hatha yoga and meditation, and integrating them into the hospital environment.
If you are able to meditate at least for a half hour daily, you will become level headed and face life with peace and spiritual strength. Meditation is the most powerful mental and nerve tonic. Divine energy freely flows during meditation and exerts a benign influence on your mind, nervous system, and sense organs. It opens the door to intuitive knowledge and to other realms of reality. When your mind becomes calm and steady, inner peace becomes real and part of your experience.
With practice, duality disappears and Samadhi, or the superconscious state, is reached. Be patient and consistent, because reaching this state takes a long time, but what you acquire along the way, such as clarity and inner peace, are just as priceless.
Important Guidelines for Meditation
* As purity begins with the physical body, cleanse your body before meditation.
* The seat for meditation or asana should be made of wool on the bottom and cotton cloth on the top. Avoid sitting on the bare ground, since your energy may be drained off, and-most importantly-do not share your asana with anyone.
* Regularity of time, place, and practice are important, as they condition your mind to slow down, paving the path to deeper levels of meditation. Ten minutes every day is better than one hour every now and then.
* The best times to meditate are early dawn and dusk, when the atmosphere is quiet and charged with special spiritual energy. If it is not possible to sit for meditation at these times, choose a specific time and stick to it everyday.
* Try to have a separate room for meditation. As meditation is repeated, the energy will increase and the atmosphere will be filled with peace and purity.
* When sitting, face North or East in order to take advantage of favorable magnetic vibrations.
* Sit in a steady, comfortable, cross-legged position with the spine and neck straight but not tense.
* Keep your breathing rhythmic: inhale for three seconds and exhale for three seconds. The breath, the prana (vital force) and the mind are connected. Regulating and controlling one will regulate and control the other.
* Do not force your mind to be still, as this will just set in motion more thought waves. Allow it to wander without focusing or following any thought, by concentrating on a mantra (word of power) or specific technique. With practice, it will eventually become still.
* Select a focal point for your mind to rest. Most people choose the Ajna chakra (third eye), as it is close to the eyes and easy to focus on. Eventually, you may choose the Anahata (heart) chakra to go deeper.
* If you are not using a mantra, you can also focus on a neutral or uplifting object or image while concentrating on your breath as you inhale and exhale.
* Attempt to live a pure, pious, sattvic life. Treat your body as a temple. Strive to eat pure, nutritious food and avoid intoxicants. A vegetarian diet will certain decrease toxic energy and accelerate your spiritual development.