Purpose of Meditation

From our e-book “We are Here to Celebrate”

“True meditation is a self-revealing process. Meditation is to uncover
the process of thought.” – M. McDonald-Bayne.

rear view of a man sitting on landscape

The objective of meditation is not to achieve spiritual powers or visions. These are side-effects which can strengthen our egos if we allow our pride to swell up. The main objectives of meditation are:

1) To calm our mind and body. It is to help us to relax and get out of the habit of rushing about and chasing after distractions. Distraction from what? Distractions from our inherent feeling of lack that comes from the ego perspective. Our constant mental chattering and random images causes a feeling of lack or weariness. Instead of addressing the cause of this feeling, we often choose to distract ourselves from the feeling by looking for exciting things to do. This does not address the problem but adds on to it by leaving the body tired and weak. Distraction is not the solution. Understanding; is the solution.

2) To watch the ‘fluctuations in consciousness’ that arise and to understand them. This helps us to understand which are our predominant negative emotions; be it anger, envy, pride, being sorry for oneself etc. We look at these fluctuations and understand how our mind works up these emotions. We understand the ‘strategies’ and weapons which our mind uses to make us suffer. Who do you think is the most able person who can make you feel negative? You are.

Your mind knows which thoughts distress you the most and will use these thoughts repeatedly. By watching these thoughts from an unbiased point of view, these thoughts will gradually lose their emotional charge. The next time they arise, their effects will be

When we sit in silence and let the mental chatter die down, we get glimpses of our true nature. Our conditioning arises in the form of thoughts, images and feelings and we watch them in a calm manner. While we watch, we begin to understand how our conditioning makes us suffer. We understand what types of thoughts create desires, anger, worries, jealousy etc. We watch but we do not get caught up with them. When we understand without resistance, such thoughts begin to lessen their hold on us and eventually lose their power to move us. Why, because we are now familiar with them. When such negative thought arises, we are able to maintain a calm state of mind. Eventually, during our day to day life, such negative thoughts no longer affect us. We note them instantly and let them go.

3) To develop a habit of not identifying with the fluctuations in consciousness. We build up the habit of being detached and maintaining the witness perspective. The best way of overcoming the habit of living unconsciously, is to replace it with a good habit. We want to develop a habit of being present. We want to be fully aware from moment to moment. When there is awareness, there is happiness and when it is absent, there is suffering. That is why all spiritual practices require awareness. If one can maintain the witness perspective, one will eventually stop identifying with the body-mind personality and then there is unity with Being or Spirit, that is, the yogi’s true nature.

Through meditation we develop the ability to remain present; to be aware of our thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions. Awareness is a skillful means of seeing what is false; we see the workings of our  ego and we understand them. We experience their impermanent nature and we see that they are merely fluctuations in accordance with cause and effect.

When we meditate, the goal is Self-understanding and not to get some ‘expected result’. When we expect something, it blocks Self-understanding. All practices, whatever name we call them, are meant to lead to one thing, increased awareness which is the ship that sails to one’s true self, the seer instead of the seen; the screen which all the scenes are played; the silence between the thoughts.

Gradually, we can bring our meditation practice to our daily lives. Start with a few occasions when you will practice awareness for example, you can commit to remain aware whenever you are waiting in line for something. This is the best time to practice awareness. As you increase your ability to remain aware, you can then increase the number of occasions whereby you will maintain awareness. Keep increasing the number of occasions until awareness becomes natural to you. This is the way to develop good habits.

During the Level 1 initiation, we learn the meditation practice of Kriya Dyana Yoga. MG Satchidananda, an author of many books on Yoga, has this to write about the practice: “The practice of Kriya Dhyana Yoga purifies the subconscious and helps to replace habitual thinking and acting out with the very conscious awareness that one is being guided in all activities. It  begins during brief moments during sessions of meditation when one becomes aware of one’s thinking or feeling, as their witness, and progresses to remaining aware during daily activities and even during sleep periods. One learns to be attentive and to discriminate and reject those habitual thoughts which are not helpful to remaining at peace. It leads ultimately to the experience of Samadhi. The Kriya Yoga Sadhak should gradually increase the time devoted to these practices and integrate them into the awareness cultivated during one’s daily activities. Meditation is not a goal in itself, but a means to an end. It should manifest by our becoming increasingly aware in the “little things of life”. All of our experience thus becomes a field for our practice of “sadhana” or remembrance of Self awareness.”

We can also meditate when we are with others. A Spiritual Master once said that the kindest thing you can do for another is to listen with awareness and stillness, without doing or saying anything. The peace that we feel in our hearts will flow to him and gradually, peaceful thoughts will fill his mind.

If we learn to enjoy meditation, we will be forever free from the feeling of boredom. A few years ago, after a weekend of activities, I went home and started to feel bored. Instead of looking for more distractions, I decided to analyse this feeling of boredom. Boredom felt like a change from being distracted to being calm. It other words, it is inertia. It is merely a change in feelings that we term as boredom. After seeing this, the feeling of boredom immediately disappeared. I sat down and enjoyed myself meditating.

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