Why People Meditate?

GoodpalStarred Page By Goodpal, 30th Sep 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Self Help

Most people don’t have correct understanding of meditation. Many relate it with religion, faith, hypnosis, problem solving, navel gazing, visualization and so on. People know that it helps in stress relief but even that is not full exploitation of meditation.

“Normal” Life – We are All Prisoners of Mind

In what we call “normal living,” we are increasingly submitting ourselves to habitual and fossilized patterns of mental activities. There is no room for free and conscious actions and our thinking operates in a narrow sphere. Our minds are fettered with all types of conditionings coming from individual actions and family, social and cultural influences; for instance, tendencies to dominate others, the strong inclination towards sensual pleasures, etc. Then there is the usual stock of jealousy, greed, anger, hatred, fear, anxiety and apprehensions. All these negative internal stuff has been taken as ‘normal’ by sociologists and psychologists who learn from statistical analysis of human behavior or by observing animals and then extrapolating to human world. This deductive knowledge may be fine for explaining behavior but does little when it comes to change or control of mental activities. It doesn’t change the fact that we are all prisoners of mind.

We live in a Pain Killer Society!

In today's modern society, people want to avoid pain, discomfort and boredom at any cost. We truly have a pain killer and pleasure seeking lifestyle. Advances in digital electronics and communication technologies and convenient access to interactive social media platforms on the internet have drastically changed how people do business but also their lifestyle. After cell phones, now online chatting and messaging have become the favorite pastime of everyone, particularly youth. Most of the time there is no real utility of such activities, except to “feel good” or “keep busy.” These small ‘pleasure’ or ‘pastime’ are becoming increasingly addictive.

Now youngsters rarely go to play outside of their homes; instead they get glued to video games sharpening their skills to kill people in the mock war games. As they grow up conditioned for violence and hostility, it is foolish to expect peaceful behavior from them. Now Islamic terror groups are also exploiting the power of online social media to recruit youngsters with the promise of ‘real life experience of killing’ and ‘instant assured visa for heaven’ in the name of Jehad – holy war. If youth from the Western nations are joining terror outfits in the middle-east, a lot of blame must go to today’s digital lifestyle and the games of violence kids grow up playing with. Equally responsible is the fact that they grow up feeling empty inside with little substance in pure material and consumer life of modern societies.

The mental conditionings bind us into strong likes and dislikes, cravings and aversions, fears and phobias, habits and rigid behavior patterns, and hatred and ill-will. How we behave and what we do or don't do is primarily decided by what we see as pleasant or unpleasant.

Often these conditioning turn into addiction or compulsive behavior patterns (waiting to be turned into addictions). This is nothing but a life of imprisonment behind invisible bars. Can prisoners be ever happy? This is the real issue.

What Limits Us? The Sense Faculties

Our lives are dictated by the sensory inputs into five senses faculties - sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing. These are the antennas through which we 'feel' or 'sense' the world around us. Then there is the sixth sense organ - the mind - which is non-material but is perhaps the most influential because it dictates what is likable and what is not. Together these six senses decide what we call 'normal' behavior.

While the five physical sensors are limited to sensing what is actually going on in the “present moment,” the mind can also recall things from the past and imagine events that exist nowhere at present. Additionally, it has the power to think, interpret and learn; it is an intelligent and teachable faculty. The mind also processes inputs received from the other five sense antennas. In fact, without the 'presence of mind' none of the five senses and their contact with the surrounding world has any relevance – they simply don’t exist for you. Therefore, attention of mind is needed for rest of the five senses to work properly.

How to Demolish Mental Conditionings

The weapon to demolish the barriers created by habitual likes and dislikes is to develop equanimity in place of the usual craving for the pleasant and aversion against the unpleasant. When the faculty of equanimity is developed objectivity begins to replace the subjective indulgence in liking and disliking. Then you don't approach things from the 'judgmental' angle but tend to be more discerning. You no longer allow yourself to react robotically because you are no longer driven by your feelings of likes or dislikes. Instead, you train to operate from a distance of knowing.

You make your choices with fuller awareness of what is appropriate rather than what feels good (and gives pleasure). This is also the approach of people who are emotionally mature. You now do things because they are important and need to be done; you would be reluctant to indulge in chasing trivial pleasures. Now you would not be tempted to fill time with emails, e-chats or messages just to avoid boredom but will accept feelings of emptiness and stay with them.

When equanimity is developed your relationship with the five senses changes: now when you see something it is mere seeing (without judgment); if you hear something it is mere hearing without any preference (or interpretation). This is the right handling of the five physical sense faculties. This must also be extended to the sixth window - the mind. Its restless nature must also be brought under control or stopped altogether.

To a restless mind, even a minor problem appears too big (you must have sometimes experienced obsessive thinking that has gone out of control); likewise if the mind is rather 'stable' it can handle bigger problems with significant composure - a quality seen rarely today. So what is the right tool to deal with the mind and take charge of it? The most appropriate antidote to mind’s restlessness is meditation.

Regular Meditation can make You Boss of Your Life

Meditation involves inner mindfulness (awareness of what’s going on inside the mind and the body): it is a kind of relaxed and objective inner attention. The concept of mindfulness can be easily understood here: 12 Ways to Describe Mindfulness for the Beginners; however, putting them into practice is the key to success. It basically involves being attentive without judgment, bias or preferences and turning into a mere observer who is dispassionate, uninvolved and unconcerned. Initial difficulties in meditation arise because the mind is normally not accustomed to turning inwards. However, with some practice you will find that meditation creates a restful state for the mind. In fact, all types of healthy spiritual practices promise to achieve precisely this.

Unfortunately, today’s education is limited to teaching aspects of the outside physical world only. We are taught subjects like physics, chemistry, economics and math so that we understand the world surrounding us. There is no place to teach us to understand or regulate our inner world that shapes our interaction with the outside world. All organized religions promote blind faith in something or some philosophy that doesn’t appeal modern mind. The science of mind has also fallen in the rut of correlating traits of human behavior with some specific brain chemicals and electrochemical signals. As a result, as children we grow up without any training or cultivation of mind and for all practical purposes we live the whole life in the company of a wild and out of control mind. It does what it likes and we go along with it as a helpless slave in complete ignorance.

This scenario makes the technique of meditation, known to all civilizations since ancient times, all the more valuable so that we learn to explore and control the inner world. When we learn to sit still with a tranquil mind, we experience a kind of joy that is inexplicable. It is not the momentary pleasure that comes from relishing sensory inputs; it is beyond the sense faculties. All you need is a restful one-pointed mind rather free of thinking and imagining and a sharp awareness of what is going on inside.

Thought Management

The primary goal of meditation is to reduce the mental wondering which we consider ‘normal.’ Instability of the mind originates from two sources: one, due to the inputs provided by the five sense instruments through their contacts with the outside surrounding; two, the intrinsic nature of the mind that it can't stay with one thing for long.

Therefore, any effective approach to curtail or stop this mental wavering must involve two things: withdrawal of senses from their outside objects and fixing the mind on a suitable object. The usual way to draw the senses within is to shut the eyes and choose an isolated and quiet place away from outside noise. The mind is then given an object such as the breathing process, to focus upon.

No one can become a master meditator in a day or in few hours. The effort must continue regularly every day for say half an hour, or an hour or more for several weeks. The mental resolve to sit regularly for certain fixed duration very importance because there is always some excuse to skip the practice. The aim of regular practice is to be able to fix the mind on breathing for any desired duration and at will. Diligent meditators can maintain the focus on breathing for an hour and even longer. Achieving such ability is a wonderful thing; such a controlled mind is a precious asset. In today’s restless society it is a rare feat though, but is fully possible with some sincere efforts.

As long as you stay with the breaths, you are cut-off from the sensory inputs and the sense faculties have little influence on you during that period. As the practice becomes stronger with daily training the consciousness changes; it gets reflected in changes in your attitudes and behavior.

Benefits of Having a Firm Mind

Consistency of daily practice is the rule you must follow for real results. Physical relaxation and emotional calmness begin to appear in few days but subtler benefits take time and are not as dramatic. Many people meditate only for stress relief or relaxation. Meditation creates a tranquil mind that relieves muscular tension but the goal need not be so trivial because the consciousness beyond sense faculties is full of enormous potential. You can evolve to grow bigger and move on to live on higher plains with much expanded consciousness. A tranquil mind is the source of creativity and intuition; therefore, writers, poets and creative thinkers are directly benefitted.

The proper practice of meditation transforms a highly reactive and judgmental mind into a discerning mind. It is a mind with significantly less bias for or against situations, events and people. It is rather neutral towards feelings of comfort and discomfort, pleasure and pain and likes and dislikes. It is significantly detached and dispassionate. It is an objective mind that knows that everything is impermanent – nothing can last forever.

With this realization, the person stays composed in every situation. The emotional swings from depression to elation are drastically reduced; they are replaced by balance, poise and equanimity. Thus, equanimity develops and the overall approach towards life, people and situations change. You are no longer spurred into action by craving, hatred or fear which use to drive you earlier. In nutshell, you begin to act rather than react habitually.

Summary

Meditation is the only tool that enables you to be in control of your mind and emotions by taking you beyond the realm of five physical sense faculties. It automatically checks the usual mental flickering and produces a profound state of consciousness. Being in control of the mind you are in a unique situation to correct compulsive habits and addictions. A quiet mind free from restlessness is also very receptive; it can be used to develop traits of self-confidence and positive feelings. This means freedom from the dictates of the usual feelings of insecurity, jealousy, anger, hatred and endless craving for sensual pleasures.

Reading Further

If you liked this page you may also be interested in

How to Transform a Judgmental Mind into a Discerning Mind
Meditation in Prisons: A Silent Escape to Freedom






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Tags

Meditation, Meditation Benefits, Meditation Technique, Why Meditate

Meet the author

author avatar Goodpal
I am a keen practitioner of mindfulness meditation for past several years. I firmly believe in "goodness" of people, society and world. I regularly write on personal growth and social topics.

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Comments

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
30th Sep 2014 (#)

Many people do not have an understanding of meditation they do not know how to do it so they make fun of it, but it can be very calming

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author avatar Goodpal
11th Oct 2014 (#)

Looking at the state of global affairs, it is time that we incorporate non-material development into our lifestyle. If the mind is negative and wild it takes down the body also by way of illnesses.. Health of the mind should take priority over physical health.

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author avatar AjaySinghChauhan
25th Oct 2014 (#)

very interesting, thanks for sharing it with us

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author avatar Goodpal
24th Dec 2014 (#)

Thanks Ajay, for sharing.

It is time that we py atention to menal development of people.

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