The frantic, and often turbulent pace of modern life can drive a person up the wall because of the resultant stress and fatigue. It can make you feel unhappy, irritable, frustrated and, worse, depressed. It can even affect physical health, leading to all sorts of psychosomatic problems. No tranquilliser or anti-biotic can give you a permanent cure for it. Instead of spending a fortune on doctors, hospitals and continuing to live in misery, the most effective thing at such times is simple meditation. You might think that it’s difficult for you to take out some time for meditation from your hectic routine, but once you take it up seriously, you may find that meditating for just 15 minutes everyday can calm the mind, make you more focussed, efficient and leave you with enough time to do even those things you never thought you had the time to do.
Meditation also helps a person to understand his/her mind. Through meditation, you can learn to transform your mental patterns from negative to positive, from disturbed to peaceful, from unhappy to happy. The main purpose of meditation is to make the mind calm and peaceful. If your mind is peaceful, you will be free from worries and mental agonies. It will lead to an experience of true happiness. But when the mind is not at peace, you find it impossible to be happy, even if you are living in the very best conditions. By training your mind, through meditation, you will gradually become more and more calm, and you will experience a purer form of happiness. Eventually, you will be able to stay happy all the time, even in the most difficult circumstances.
The thing to remember is that mood fluctuations arise because you are too involved or attached to external situations. Once you learn to turn your attention inwards, which is possible only through meditation, extraneous situations and other people will slowly cease to bother you and you will feel more at peace with yourselves. Gradually your minds become more balanced, more tolerant and it has a remarkable effect on your relationships and even on your work. The best thing is once you attain a certain level of mental stability, no external circumstances can ever again destabilise you.
But the million-dollar question is how to meditate. There are innumerable traditions and schools of thoughts that have a million techniques to teach you meditation. Many of them will be effective, as the aim of them all is to help you internalise your mind, and eventually, at later stages, even make it blank, for it is in this blankness of mind that the body is able to relax even more than in the deepest of sleeps. We list below a few simple techniques of meditation – they are not difficult and do not require specialised supervision, or a special environment or place. Though starting out in a calm and quiet place is good for beginners, later when you have perfected the practice, you will find that you can meditate even in the middle of a busy mall.
Some simple meditation techniques
Count your breath
Just sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in and out, rhythmically, neither too fast nor too slow, and count your breaths – breathe in and say ‘one’, breath out and say ‘two, and so on. At first your mind will start to wander, but each time bring it back and re-focus on you breathing. Go on practising till you are able to stop your mind from wandering.
Chanting a word
Also known as ‘mantra meditation’. As in the first method, sit comfortably, close your eyes and select a word that you like and repeat it in your mind in a rhythmic way. Most people choose the word ‘OM’, as it is said to have some special spiritual vibrations that are extremely effective in calming the mind. But you can choose any word and feel its vibrations as you chant it silently in your mind.
Light a candle or a lantern and use a glass encasing, open at the top, to protect the flame from the wind so that it stays stable. Now sit in front of it comfortably and focus all your attention on the flame. Every time your mind wanders, bring it back to the flame. With practice your concentration will improve.