Meditation is a positive phenomenon and provides energy to our being. Stress relief or reduction of blood pressure may happen as byproducts. The question then is as to which kind of meditation is a meditation. What are the techniques of meditation and how do we know which technique is the right one for me. There in lies the dilemma and it becomes worse because there are many in the marketplaces who claim their technique to be the best.
How do we judge who offers the best technique? I have heard people talking about which Mahatma or swami draws the most crowds. A mahatma or a swami who is popular with the politicians or who goes to foreign tours becomes more popular. There is nothing wrong in being popular with the politicians or going on foreign tour. The problem, in my mind, arises when that becomes part of their credentials which then is used to market them. They are judged by who they associate with rather than what they have to sell.
Meditation is very individual. What works for Prime Minister Vajpayee may not work for me. I should not just go to a teacher because President Abdul Kalam consults him. So, in my mind it is important to understand that we should be able to explore all techniques available with an open mind and focus on what works on me or you on an individual basis. We have to make sure that we are not swayed by who the teacher is getting associated with.
Yet it is only possible by going and trying out the techniques. It is not a theoretical discussion. It has to be experienced. There is a big weight of the Swami or the Guru who is offering the methodology. There sometimes is a mental attachment to the person who has a name. But, we should be able to detach ourselves if the method is not working for me. There should not be a doubt when trying out the method itself. Full attention and energy needs to be given at the time of doing the method itself. This happened to Buddha again. He met several Mahatmas on his way to Nirvana and tried them with full zeal. When it did not work for him, he moved on. We ought to be able to move on as well. If a Guru is trying to hold on to a pupil, he is not a real Guru.
The next important distinction we need to understand is that meditation is not a doing. We talk of meditation techniques as if they are ‘Do it yourself (DIY)’ projects. It is not similar to building a bridge or cooking rice. Meditation is more akin to sleep. It happens to you. Everyone knows the story of Gautam Sidhartha, the Buddha. The ultimate happened to him when he was sitting under the Bodhi tree doing nothing. I am not saying that the techniques do not help, but the distinction has to be understood deeply. All the meditation techniques have to lead to non-doing.
The techniques basically prepare the ground work where meditation can happen. You or I cannot make it happen. This is very important to remember in the pathway to meditative experiences. Sometimes there are wonderful experiences that happen during the meditative processes. Next time, we want to have the same experience and try harder. The harder we try the less likely it is to have that same experience. And then we end up getting frustrated. This formula has to be remembered in that situation. We have to let go.
Meditation needs to be brought in our daily lives. We ultimately have to live our whole life meditatively. In a way you need to assemble a meditation package to live by. You can meditate while going to bed at night and you can meditate while flying in the plane. You can do mantra jaap in the morning and do vipassana in the night. There is no need to stop life for meditating; life can become meditative all the time. There is of course a role for going to intensive meditation courses similar to what doctors have to do for continuous medical education (CME) by attending conventions.
We will explore the effect of group meditation, place for meditation, how to deal with thoughts during meditation, several meditation techniques and more on the platform of e-mediation in a systematic fashion. Please feel free to express your thoughts, ask questions and share your experiences.