In common language, the word “meditation” loosely refers to the activity of sitting down and concentrating on a physical or mental object, such as a flame, a dot, a mantra, a sound, an image, or a thought. The word also refers to a variety of reflective and introspective practices taught by different spiritual traditions.
The practice of meditation rings a mystical or supernatural tone for religious people. For martial artists, some monks, and some yogis, it is a way of developing their physical and mental muscles. For secularists, it represents a form of relaxation, sensual awareness, and biofeedback. For a scientific community composed of medical doctors, physiologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists meditation is a form of therapy and the subject of mind-body research. Last but not least, for some New Age enthusiasts and some of the Hollywood moviemakers, meditation is considered cool and trendy.
In reality, none of the preceding descriptions indicates the essence of meditation. Meditation does not only mean sitting down and concentrating. That is a limited practice. So whenever the word meditation comes to mind and you visualize a person sitting cross-legged with closed eyes, immediately rid your mind of that image. Otherwise, you will never fully understand the essence of meditation.
Meditation also does not mean reflection, introspection, relaxation, biofeedback, therapeutic treatment, or a way of developing physical and mental prowess. That is just a partial scope of it. Meditation is neither mystical, nor supernatural, and it definitely does not belong to pop culture.
Meditation is essentially the phenomena of mental development. It is basically the procedure by which we develop intelligence (wisdom) and thereby experience mental development. It is a procedure, as well as an experience.
We could also say that any experiential procedure that develops any level of intelligence: general intelligence (IQ), emotional intelligence, spiritual intelligence, or soul intelligence, is a meditation. The necessary condition is the development of intelligence (wisdom).
Chanting or relaxing can become a true form of meditation provided it incorporates the development of intelligence (wisdom). For example, while you are trying to relax by listening to soft soothing music, if you simply become aware of how you are feeling, you may develop an understanding of the relationship between the softness of sound and the softness of feeling. You may then use this knowledge to change your feelings by simply changing the characteristics of sound in you and around you. By simply making your voice softer, by removing noise and harshness from your immediate environment, or by removing yourself from a noisy environment, you may be able to improve your feeling state
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Similarly, while chanting a mantra or a word such as “om” or “love,” if instead of simply uttering it you focus on the meaning of it, you may be able to cultivate it in your mind and make it your nature. Likewise, simply praising or uttering your deity’s name may be relaxing and may even assist you in minimizing discursive thinking, but it won’t become a meditation until you focus on the qualities of your personal god. When you do that, you are automatically inspired by those qualities and you start developing them. For example, if you recollect and concentrate on the qualities of Jesus or Krishna (such as loving-kindness, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness) while listening to or singing his name in prayer, you are more likely to become like him.
An ascetic concentration practice of a martial artist, a monk, or a yogi can become a meditation if it is used for sharpening the mind (developing penetrating focus), so that subtle realities about the ego can be pierced, exposed, and purified. A mere ritualistic training of concentration for becoming powerful does not qualify as true meditation unless it leads to purification of mind. Note that “purification” is a spiritual word for phrases like “evolution” and the “development of intelligence (wisdom).”
"Health and Wellness Program" for Local Communities
Briargate Fire Department Community Hall
S.R.I. is offering local groups/ communities various meditation & yoga services for stress management, physical and mental wellbeing, & true awakening. Call if your group/organization needs help. Open to all. No cost. No Obligation. Contact Sam at 503 891 3079. Weekly, Sunday, 1pm-4pm.
"Soul Sisters Book Club"
Thanks to the selfless generosity of Mary Jo. We now have a book club. The group will meet every other Wednesday at 9:00 am, beginning October 19th at Mary Jo's home, 8635 Gatewick Dr in Colorado Springs. For more information, email Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 282.9343. The current book for the discussion group is "The Dhammapada" introduced and translated by Eknath Easwaran.