Before knowing anything about meditation, it is important to familiarize ourselves with all those practices and beliefs which are often considered as meditation but are NOT.
(1) Meditation is NOT Concentration
A big MISCONCEPTION : Meditation is just one form of concentration.
When you concentrate, you constantly project your attention towards a particular task or activity. In meditation, however, you do not project your attention towards a particular task or activities. You just remain aware of the moment without choosing anything to concentrate upon. Concentration is important for learning meditation. It will greatly help you (particularly in the initial phase) in learning mediation. However, it is not Meditation. Read this interesting article which elaborates this topic effectively.
(2) Meditation is NOT Relaxation.
What does relaxation do ?
It relaxes you, makes you calm, gives a sense of serenity and rejuvenates you.
Meditation also makes you relaxed.
But Meditation is not Relaxation
When you meditate……. its natural outcome is relaxation.
(3) Meditation is NOT a serious religious practice
Meditation is not a specific ritual demanding sitting in a particular posture, chanting some specific Mantras (powerful words having phonetic significance) or burning incense. Neither it means doing a particular exercise in a particular pose. Meditation is a quality of our existence. When you are aware of your true ‘self’ and perform anything (yes I mean anything ) with awareness, it becomes meditation
[Please don’t feel confused by the word ‘self’. Very soon you’ll be introduced to this self.]
It is true that it takes some time to learn Meditation and it requires some genuine effort on the part of seeker to learn meditation, but it does not mean that Meditation is connected with any specific religion or ritual. Anybody, irrespective of his background, religion, caste, creed or nationality can do it. Meditation is not even a serious thing. One you understand it, it will be a pure fun to meditate.
(4) Meditation is NOT a state of mind.
Rather – It is a state of no mind.
Many gadgets are available in the market that promise to take us into a meditative state (often known as the alpha state of mind). Scientists have observed that there are basically 4 states of mind depending upon the frequency of mind waves. These states are alpha, beta, gamma and theta. Beta is the state in which we live and perform all our day-to-day activities. Alpha is the state just below Beta. This (alpha) state is often known as the state of Meditation. Gamma and Theta are the other states of mind in further depth.
Now what all these scientific Gadgets can do is to take us into the state of alpha. In the alpha state one become still, tranquil and calm. There is no tension, no stress. Your whole inner being becomes peaceful.
But please note that alpha state itself is not meditation. Alpha is the state of mind in meditation. Meditation is the awareness of our true self in alpha.
You will be in meditation if you remain awaken and aware of the present moment in the alpha state of mind i.e. in the state of absolute calm. No Gadget or mechanical device can create ‘awareness’. They can only create right condition for us to realize what is ‘true awareness’.
(5) Meditation is NOT self-hypnosis
In both Self-hypnosis and (in many techniques of ) meditation at least an initial period of concentration on an object is required. However in meditation, the meditator maintains an awareness of here-and-now and stay conscious of the meditative process which is not exactly the case in hypnosis. In hypnosis the person enters into a state of semi-conscious trance and become unaware of the moment which is not the case in meditation.
(6) Meditation is NOT thinking
Rather it is the process of transcending the thought process. Our mind is a non-stop chatterbox that continues to create all sorts of good/ bad, relevant /irrelevant thoughts incessantly. In meditation we realize that we are not just our body and mind. There exists in us an awareness independent of all kinds of thoughts. Knowing this awareness is what meditation is all about.
From a meditator’s point of view the saying of Descartes –
“I think, therefore I am” is not true.
A meditator will say –
” I am, therefore I think”
Lets summarize of all that we have learnt :
Meditation is NOT
Concentration, Relaxation, A serious religious practice, A state of mind, Concentration or Relaxation.
Now after knowing ‘what is NOT meditation’ let us proceed to know what is Meditation.
Next What is Meditation