Meditation (ध्यान) is a practice where an individual uses a technique such as mindfulness or focusing the mind on a particular object, or activity to train attention and awareness. Moreover, achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Scholars have found it difficult to define, as practices vary both between traditions and within them. The earliest records of Dhyana, come from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism. Siddha Spirituality of Swami Hardas Life System has introduced simple and most result-oriented methods such as Ananda Meditation, Siddha Shanti Meditation, etc.
Meditation Definition (ध्यान परिभाषा)
Dictionaries give both the original Latin meaning of “think(ing) deeply about (something)”; as well as the popular usage of ” focusing one’s mind for a period of time”, “the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed”, and to engage in mental exercises such as concentrating on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.
Religious and spiritual meditation (धार्मिक और आध्यात्मिक ध्यान)
Indian religions (भारतीय धर्म)
Hinduism (हिन्दू धर्म)
There are many schools and styles of meditation within Hinduism. In pre-modern and traditional Hinduism, Yoga and Dhyana are practiced to realize the union of one’s eternal self or soul, one’s ātman.
The earliest clear references in Hindu literature are in the middle Upanishads and the Mahabharata including the Bhagavad Gita. According to Gavin Flood, the earlier Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is describing meditation when it states that “having become calm and concentrated, one perceives the self (ātman) within oneself”.
Jainism (जैन धर्म)
Meditation and spiritual practices system in Jainism has three parts called the Ratnatraya (Three Jewels):
- The right perception and faith
- Best knowledge, and
- Right conduct.
In Jainism, it aims at realizing the self, attaining salvation, and taking the soul to complete freedom. Also to reach and to remain in the pure state of soul which is believed to be pure consciousness, beyond any attachment or aversion. The practitioner strives to be just a knower-seer (Gyata-Drashta). Jain meditation can be broadly categorized into Dharmya Dhyana and Shukla Dhyana.
Jainism uses techniques such as:
Buddhism (बुद्ध धर्म)
Buddhist meditation refers to the meditative practices associated with the religion and philosophy of Buddhism. Buddhists pursue it as part of the path toward awakening and nirvana. The closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are bhāvanā, jhāna/dhyāna, and vipassana.
Buddhist techniques have become popular in the wider world, with many non-Buddhists taking them up. There is considerable homogeneity across meditative practices – such as breath meditation and various recollections (anussati) – across Buddhist schools, as well as significant diversity. In the Theravāda tradition, there are over fifty methods for developing mindfulness and forty for developing concentration, while in the Tibetan tradition there are thousands of visualization meditations.
Sikhism (सिख धर्म)
In Sikhism, Simran i.e. meditation and good deeds are both necessary to achieve the devotee’s Spiritual goals; without good deeds it is futile. When Sikhs meditate, they aim to feel God’s presence and emerge in the divine light. It is only God’s divine will or order that allows a devotee to desire to begin to meditate. Nām Japnā involves focusing one’s attention on the names or great attributes of God.
East Asian religions (पूर्वी एशियाई धर्म)
Taoism (ताओ धर्म)
Taoist meditation has developed techniques including concentration, visualization, qi cultivation, contemplation, and mindfulness meditations in its long history. Traditional Daoist meditative practices were influenced by Chinese Buddhism from around the 5th century and influenced Traditional Chinese medicine and the Chinese martial arts.
Livia Kohn distinguishes three basic types of Taoist meditation:
- Insight, and
Taoist practices are central to Chinese martial arts and some Japanese martial arts, especially the qi-related neijia “internal martial arts”. Some well-known examples are daoyin “guiding and pulling”, qigong “life-energy exercises”, neigong “internal exercises”, neidan “internal alchemy”, and taijiquan “great ultimate boxing”, which is thought of as moving meditation.
Abrahamic religions (अब्राहमिक धर्म)
Judaism (यहूदी धर्म)
One of the best-known types of meditation in early Jewish mysticism was the work of the Merkabah, from the root /R-K-B/ meaning “chariot” (of God). Some meditative traditions have been encouraged in Kabbalah, and some Jews have described Kabbalah as an inherently meditative field of study. Kabbalistic often involves the mental visualization of the supernal realms. Aryeh Kaplan has argued that the ultimate purpose of Kabbalistic is to understand and cleave to the Divine.
In modern Jewish practice, one of the best known meditative practices is called “hitbodedut” (התבודדות, alternatively transliterated as “hisbodedus”), and is explained in Kabbalistic, Hasidic, and Mussar writings, especially the Hasidic method of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav.
Christianity (ईसाई धर्म)
Christian meditation is a term for a form of prayer in which a structured attempt is made to get in touch with and deliberately reflect upon the revelations of God. The word meditation comes from the Latin word meditari, which means to concentrate. Christian meditation is the process of deliberately focusing on specific thoughts e.g. a biblical scene involving Jesus and the Virgin Mary and reflecting on their meaning in the context of the love of God. Christian meditation is sometimes taken to mean the middle level in a broad three-stage characterization of prayer: it then involves more reflection than first level vocal prayer but is more structured than the multiple layers of contemplation in Christianity.
According to Edmund P. Clowney, Christian meditation contrasts with Eastern forms of meditation as radically as the portrayal of God the Father in the Bible contrasts with depictions of Krishna or Brahman in Indian teachings. Unlike some Eastern styles, most styles of Christian meditation do not rely on the repeated use of mantras and yet are also intended to stimulate thought and deepen meaning.
Christian meditation aims to heighten the personal relationship based on the love of God that marks Christian communion. In Aspects of Christian meditation, the Catholic Church warned of potential incompatibilities in mixing Christian and Eastern styles of meditation.
Salah is a mandatory act of devotion performed by Muslims five times per day. The body goes through sets of different postures, as the mind attains a level of concentration called khushu.
A second optional type of meditation, called dhikr, meaning remembering and mentioning God, is interpreted in different meditative techniques in Sufism or Islamic mysticism. This became one of the essential elements of Sufism as it was systematized traditionally. It is juxtaposed with fikr (thinking) which leads to knowledge. By the 12th century, the practice of Sufism included specific meditative techniques, and its followers practiced breathing controls and the repetition of holy words.
Sufism uses a meditative procedure like Buddhist concentration, involving high-intensity and sharply focused introspection. In the Oveyssi-Shahmaghsoudi Sufi order, for example, muraqaba takes the form of tamarkoz, “concentration” in Persian.
Bahá’í faith (बहाई आस्था)
In the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith, meditation is a primary tool for spiritual development, involving reflection on the words of God. While prayer and meditation are linked, where meditation happens generally in a prayerful attitude, prayer is seen specifically as turning toward God, and meditation is seen as a communion with one’s self where one focuses on the divine.
Modern spirituality (आधुनिक आध्यात्मिकता)
Mantra meditation, with the use of a Japa mala and especially with a focus on the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, is a central practice of the Gaudiya Vaishnava faith tradition and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna movement.
Other popular new religious movements include the:
- Ramakrishna Mission
- Vedanta Society
- Divine Light Mission
- Chinmaya Mission
- Sahaja Yoga
- Siddha Yoga
- Transcendental Meditation
- Oneness University
- Brahma Kumaris
- Vihangam Yoga
New Age Meditation (NAM) [नए युग के ध्यान]
New Age meditations are often influenced by Eastern philosophy, mysticism, yoga, Hinduism, and Buddhism, yet they may contain some degree of Western influence. In the West, meditation found its mainstream roots through the social revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, when many of the youth of the day rebelled against traditional religion as a reaction against what some perceived as the failure of Christianity to provide spiritual and ethical guidance.
NAM (New Age meditation) evolved into a range of purposes and practices, from serenity and balance to access to other realms of consciousness to the concentration of energy in group meditation to the supreme goal of samadhi, as in the ancient yogic practice of meditation.
How to Meditate (ध्यान कैसे करें)
Meditation is simpler and harder than most people think. Read these basic and common steps, make sure you’re somewhere where you can relax into this process, set a timer, and give it a shot:
Take a seat (बैठिये)
Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
Set a time limit (समय सीमा निर्धारित करें)
If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as five or 10 minutes.
Notice your body (अपने शरीर पर ध्यान दें)
You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, you can kneel—all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position, you can stay in for a while.
Feel your breath (अपनी सांस को महसूस करें)
Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out.
Notice when your mind has wandered (ध्यान दें जब आपका मन भटक गया हो)
Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing that your mind has wandered—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath.
Be kind to your wandering mind (अपने भटकते मन से दयालु रहों)
Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.
Close with kindness (दया के साथ बंद करें)
When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
That’s it! That’s the practice. You go away, you come back, and you try to do it as kindly as possible.
Clinical applications of Meditation (ध्यान के नैदानिक अनुप्रयोग)
The US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that “Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for:
- Increasing calmness and physical relaxation
- Improving psychological balance
- Coping with illness
- Enhancing the overall health and well-being
A 2014 review found that the practice of mindfulness meditation for two to six months by people undergoing long-term psychiatric or medical therapy could produce small improvements in anxiety, pain, or depression.
In 2017, the American Heart Association issued a scientific statement that meditation may be a reasonable adjunct practice to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, with the qualification that meditation needs to be better defined in higher-quality clinical research of these disorders.
Meditation in the workplace (कार्यस्थल में ध्यान)
A 2010 review of the literature on spirituality and performance in organizations found an increase in corporate meditation programs.
As of 2016 around a quarter of U.S. employers were using stress reduction initiatives. The goal was to help reduce stress and improve reactions to stress. Aetna now offers its program to its customers.
Google also implements mindfulness, offering more than a dozen meditation courses, with the most prominent one, “Search Inside Yourself”, having been implemented since 2007. General Mills offers the Mindful Leadership Program Series, a course that uses a combination of mindfulness meditation, yoga, and dialogue with the intention of developing the mind’s capacity to pay attention.
Sound-based meditation (ध्वनि-आधारित ध्यान)
Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School conducted a series of clinical tests on meditators from various disciplines, including the Transcendental Meditation technique and Tibetan Buddhism.
In 1975, Benson published a book titled The Relaxation Response where he outlined his own version of meditation for relaxation. Also in the 1970s, the American psychologist Patricia Carrington developed a similar technique called Clinically Standardized Meditation (CSM).
Another sound-based method called Acem Meditation developed a psychology of meditation and has been the subject of several scientific studies in Norway.
Biofeedback has been used by many researchers since the 1950s in an effort to enter deeper states of mind.