What is Meditation?
Meditation is a process where the mind is withdrawn from all disturbing, limiting thoughts and concentrated on a single object that brings peace, clarity and harmony. This object may be a word (such as a mantra), an idea (such as love), a point (such as the third eye), an image (such as light), a process (such as breathing) or some combination of the above. With sustained concentration the mind becomes calm and when the mind is calm it reflects the reality of its own nature clearly. This is called self-realization. This calmness also removes the waves of mental noise which isolate us from each other and the universe. Thus meditation helps us experience unity and harmony with the world we live in.
In terms of spiritual development the most important quality of the mind is the capacity for self-transformation. Once we understand and apply this capacity we have unlocked one of the most important secrets in the universe. The mind can expand or contract. It can become beautiful and noble or crude and selfish. It absorbs the characteristics of whatever it is focused on. This quality is expressed by the simple phrase, “As you think, so you become”. In meditation we use this quality to free ourselves from defects and limitations and mold ourselves into what we truly wish to become. By meditating on love, little by little, we are transformed into love. By meditating on God, little by little, we are transformed into God. Thus, through meditation, we can realize our unlimited potentialities.
A steady, clear, positive mind is the source of strength and inspiration which magnifies all our abilities. Thus by practicing meditation we improve every aspect of our lives: self-understanding, understanding of others, appreciation of life, ability to handle difficulties, health and vitality, even our immune system and self-healing capacity.
Superficially we are isolated individuals. But on a deep level we are all interconnected. Meditation withdraws the mind from the superficial separateness and focuses on the deeper level of universal oneness. Thus we feel more connected and are also able to help each other.
Benefits of Meditation
- Mental Clarity and Peace
- Feeling of Bliss and Well-Being
- Transcending negative Complexes and developing Positive Self-Image
- Self-Knowledge and deeper awareness in all aspects of life
- Vitality, Longevity and Immunity from disease
- Emotional Stability and Cheerfulness
- Forgiveness and Detachment
- Lower pulse rate and less anxieties
- Sense of Meaning and Feeling of Progress
- Better Concentration and Improved Memory
- Self-Control and Fearlessness
- Increased ability to handle stress and adapt to different circumstances
How Is it Taught, and by Who?
A variety of meditation techniques from simple to more complex are taught in our meditation and yoga classes. Those wishing to go deeper and develop a personal practice may learn an individual technique from an Acarya (teacher). Ananda Marga Acaryas are either monks or householders with years of training and experience. They have dedicated their lives to teaching and social service. As a student becomes proficient in each lesson he or she may learn further lessons under the guidance of the Acarya. The Ananda Marga meditation system is known as Rajadhiraja Yoga (King of Kings Yoga), a Tantra-based system with six lessons that include all the important aspects of sitting and dynamic meditation. While classes and courses may involve some fee, personal instruction is given free of charge – the criteria for advancement being sincerity rather than money.
Alone it is common that meditators gradually lose their inspiration and get dragged back into their previous life-style. For this reason the opportunity to meditate regularly with others is an important part of spiritual growth. After finishing a meditation course or getting personal guidance from an Acarya, students have the opportunity to join collective meditation programs on different days of the week. Participation in these programs does not involve a fee but donations for the upkeep of the center are gratefully received. Collective meditations also include a learning element of spiritual talks and discussions and a social element of sharing a vegetarian meal.