Meditation is commonly understood as deep concentration. Concentration is something we are familiar with. We concentrate on our studies during exams to succeed. A scientist, artist, worker, teacher, parents all concentrate on their work to achieve their goals. In a sense everyone meditates, because concentration in indispensable for survival.
However, meditation is more than concentration. In the light of Yoga, meditation is a mental process by which the meditator becomes one with the object of meditation. Concentration (dharana) is the preliminary stage of this process. When concentration becomes effortless and continuous, it takes the form of meditation (Dhyana).
Concentration is dualistic in nature. In concentration we focus our mind on an object, which we perceive as separate from us. In meditation that seeming dualism is resolved. Therefore, we can say that meditation begins with effort, but it always ends in absorption into the object. In meditation the two separate identities of ‘Object’ and ‘I’ (as meditator) are dissolved to a great extent and the practitioner move close to the goal of Yoga as union.
Features of Meditation
One can experience some definitive changes at the level of body and mind as one moves close to the state of meditation. Some of the features of meditation are:
- Single thought
- Fall in basal metabolic rate and breathing rate
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation leads your body and mind to settle into a state of profound rest and relaxation. Some of the benefits of meditation are:
- Greater inner calmness and joy throughout the day
- Reduced cortisol (the “stress hormone”)
- Normalized blood pressure
- Complete relaxation leading to sound sleep
- lower risk of heart attack and stroke
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Enhanced brain function leading to improved memory and creativity
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