This essay is a follow up to our last one where meditation has been described as a sequence of three steps: With this understanding I attempted a Google search on why we meditate and/or practice Yoga? There were several good descriptions. Almost all of them converged on reasons like the following:
- Relief from stress and anxiety (meditation mitigates the effects of the “fight-or-flight” response, decreasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline)
- Decreased blood pressure and hypertension
- Lower cholesterol levels
- More efficient oxygen use by the body
- Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
- Restful sleep
- Improves muscle tone, flexibility, strength and stamina
- Reduces stress and tension
- Boosts self esteem
- Improves concentration and creativity
- Lowers fat
- Improves circulation
- Stimulates the immune system
- Creates sense of well-being and calm.
When you read them carefully the above suggest that Yoga and meditation are efforts to improve the person in some form or other in terms of better physical fitness, better health or life style habits (restful sleep). How far along the three steps of meditation do you progress? Calming the mind and hence influencing the related body and mind functions are indeed fabulous. More power to the meditators and toga trainees. Hopefully they have a healthier and longer life. But will they? That depends on what they do after the meditation session.
The three stages of yoga or meditation are:
- Focused Attention Meditation (FAM)
- Open Mind Meditation (OMM) and
- Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM).
Charged with the enhanced sense of the self after Yoga or meditation session one can be reflective, caring, kind and genuinely focused on the welfare of every one (i.e.) “Everything is OK” – this is the effect of Loving Kindness Meditation. This is internalizing of the Vedic principle: Thath Thawam Asi (You and the Universe are integral in each other).
In this state of mind one truly enjoys life as part and parcel of the Laws of Nature (Aham Brahma: I am Brahman) – witness, observer as well as participant (Bhaktha, Boktha, Maheswaraha) in the Laws of Nature at work. Objectivity (being non-judgmental) becomes second nature.
Here are a few pointers to look out for as progression from FAM to OMM to LKM:
- Look before you leap; always have the larger perspective in mind.
- Think before you speak. What you say is a reflection of the thoughts that preceded those words!
- It is OK to be wrong as long as you know and willing to accept it. Acceptance will be reflected in your next word or action!
- Listen and reflect more than speak and interrupt.
- Look farther than your nose and hear more than the noise!
- Feel the pleasure and pain of others even before they express them; pain has a language that is not heard by the ear, but felt by the heart!
- Take risks to engage rather than withdraw for fear of self-incrimination.
- Forgive the self and others rather than seeking forgiveness or acceptance from others.
- Enjoy the good at hand rather than regret for the wishes not realized.
- Practice detachment; it gives more time for your observation and analysis; it also gives more space for others.
- We do everything for other’s to enjoy. But few realize this basic truth!
- Life well lived is far better than life long lived! No one knows the end, but everyone knows the present!
The above are just a few simple ways to check the LKM in practice. If these are not the outcomes one wonders what is the benefit of Yoga and its arduous twitching of the body? If the above are not the outcomes does one truly remain calm and tranquil after painstaking efforts for mind control through meditation?