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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Two types of meditation

In ShivaPurana (Lingan Purana and Vayu Porana), Shivji gave discourses on Ashtanga Yoga (8 phases of Yoga) to Mata Parvati. The seventh phase of Ashtanga Yoga is described as Dhyana or meditation. For a true seeker, it is vital to understand the importance of meditation in order to progress to the higher stages of spiritual experiences. The spiritual knowledge and practices of a true seeker should be deep rooted in experiences during meditation.

The scientists of the yore, our Rishis and Yogis, categorized meditation broadly into two categories. One is the concentrative meditation where the emphasis is given to fixing the attention or concentration. And the second is contemplative meditation which involves analytical investigation. A true seeker is skilled with both of these types of meditations. Meditation is an art that can be learned with determination and can be mastered by persistence. So, practice is the key, like learning any other art. Just like with any other art, the importance of an experienced teacher cannot be undermined. When it comes to all the phases of Ashtanga Yoga, guided practice is very helpful for the beginners.

In concentrative meditation, the meditator stills his or her thought, drawing his mind from external world  and settles his mind on the object of concentration. The initial six phases of Ashtanga Yoga helps in achieving the stillness of mind – Yama, Niyama, Aasanas, Pranayama, Prathyahara and Dharana. Unless the seeker is able to achieve perfect stillness of mind, he or she won’t be able to lose body consciousness and then distraction remains a possibility during meditation.

Concentrative meditation is the first step to move forward to contemplative meditation. On an average, human mind generate about fifty to sixty thousand thoughts every day or in other words, it comes to about 35 to 45 thoughts per minute. With the practice of concentrative meditation, the thought rate goes down substantially and one begins to taste the blissfulness associated with the tranquility of mind.

After the true seeker attains the ease of body and ability to settle the mind, anytime at will, for however long one wants, then he or she is ready for contemplative meditation. The object of concentration during contemplative meditation is the subject itself. The seeker should build a good base of spiritual knowledge  in the beginning by listening to the talks of Self realized ones, by reading holy scriptures and by associating with the Saints and other true seekers. Slowly, one begins to sit in contemplative meditation to contemplate on the subject of the Self: who am I? Who is contemplating at this moment? Where this thought itself is sprouting from? And deeper and deeper…

With practice of such mediation, one will begin to gain remarkable insight into the true nature of things and about the true Self. Such a wonderful insight will sprout from within that all the doubts of the seeker will evaporate and a supreme state of blissfulness, beyond words, will be achieved – even for a few moments in the beginning.  With the practice of such meditation, the true seeker slowly jumps to the eighth stage of Ashtanga Yoga – Samadhi.

Contemplation and meditation are the ultimate tools for helping in the spiritual development of a true seeker. One should try to contemplate in such a way that one gets established in the supremely blissful inner space that is beyond contemplation. One should meditate in such a way that one becomes unconscious of the outer world and reaches a state of no thought – a state of complete wholesome tranquility. 


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