What Is Meditation?

Meditation is listening. It is going back to your own center. Meditation is learning to relate to life, to your environment, from who you are, not from the way other people try to define you. Meditation will enable you to return to the peace you seek, at the center of your being. (Swami Kriyananda, Meditation for Starters)

Meditation is one of the most natural and most rewarding of all human activities. The great master of yoga, Paramhansa Yogananda, defined meditation as “deep concentration on God or one of His aspects.” Practiced on a daily basis it produces astonishing results on all levels of your being: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It connects you with your own inner powers of vitality, clarity, and love. When done deeply, it also gives you an expanded sense of connection with life and an experience of profound joy.

Meditation has three aspects: relaxation, interiorization, and expansion. The process, stated simply, is:

  1. Relax completely, both physically and mentally
  2. Interiorize your mind and concentrate one-pointedly, usually at the point between the eyebrows.
  3. Focus your concentrated mind on an aspect of your deeper self or of God, such as love, joy, or light. This will help to naturally expand your consciousness.

Although this process is simple to explain, the actual attainment of deeper states requires dedication and discipline. Yet even a little practice of meditation gives immediate results. Meditators find that practicing even a few minutes a day increases their sense of well-being and brings increased joy.

There is an innate yearning in each of us to expand our awareness, to know who and what we really are, and to experience union with God. At a certain stage in this “eternal quest,” as Paramhansa Yogananda called it, we are guided to find inner stillness through the practice of meditation. Restless thoughts are a kind of mental “static” that must be silenced if we are to hear the whispers of our own inner self.

Benefits of meditation:

  • stress reduction;
  • strengthening the immune system;
  • regulation of the body’s systems;
  • decreased blood pressure and metabolic rates;
  • increased circulation and detoxification of the blood;
  • reduced signs of aging (in long-time meditators);
  • beneficial changes in the frequency and intensity of brain waves, including an increased frontal lobes of the brain, an area responsible for problem-solving and making positive lifestyle changes.

While the physical and mental benefits of meditation are great, it is first and foremost a spiritual art. Its purpose, ultimately, is to lead us to perfection, to the realization that we are one with the Infinite. We come from God and are made in His image, and our hearts are restless until we achieve unity with Him again. Meditation is the direct pathway to this unified state. (Jyotish Novak, How to Meditate)

Learn the Simple Meditation Technique of Paramhansa Yogananda

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2Er2H_A2wQ?rel=0]

“Be Actively Calm, and Calmly Active.”

The calmness born of right meditation represents a higher degree of awareness, and therefore of energy, than that experienced in the conscious state. Positive inner calmness enables you to stay calm even during intense activity. Even in the busy and chaotic life we may face, meditation gives us the strength to bring calmness into everything we do. (Meditation for Starters, Swami Kriyananda)

Return to Sharing the Heart of Yogananda. 

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