Meditation is not what you think. It is a means to an end. What that end is, is probably not what you think either.
Meditation comes to us from the East, from Bharata, ‘realm of the holy’. These days, we call this place, India. India is the spiritual nexus of the world and has withstood the test of time to remain so to this day. This is the source of meditation, dhyana in Sanskrit (‘perfected’), a language that has its own roots in naturally occurring speech resulting from spontaneous dhyana (meditation). So Bharata is where we must go to learn about real meditation.
Long, long ago, along the Indus River, approximately forty thousand years ago, meditation was discovered by seekers who surrendered themselves to Truth, which resulted in Truth revealing itself to them. This was in another age, a Golden Age*, an age when this came naturally to the people living at that time. Having had a natural ability to consciously be attentive to the process, they understood how it worked. These yogis and yoginis (persons who have union with Truth) passed their knowledge down to others, resulting in lineages of teachers. Since those times, teachers of these lineages have been sought out for the knowledge and guidance needed to attain this state.
Today however, we have mostly forgotten what meditation really is, as well as its purpose. This is especially true in the western world, though more and more people are experimenting with it for different reasons. But few realize its actual purpose and very few know how it works, and how to do it to get this result.
Meditation is not bending yourself into a pretzel, sitting with a straight back,
and trying to get your mind to shut up.
In the many mystical texts in which this information has been recorded, meditation is either not mentioned as a discipline separate from its aim, or it is considered to be one of the highest rungs on the ladder to achieving it. So say the teachings of those who have achieved it.
Amazingly, all of these teachings are all essentially the same, even though they span great distances in time and place and social customs, and many of the written texts even have the same four main parts: (1) asana, physical aspects, (2) pranayama, energy aspects, (3) mudra, seal, and (4) samadhi, union.
In other texts, eight are mentioned. Looking closely at these reveals the same essential teachings as those with four parts. The eight are, (1) yama, restraints, (2) niyama, observances, (3) asana, physical aspects and awakening the evolutionary force,° (4) pranayama, restraint of the energy, (5) pratyahara, withdrawal of the attention and energy from external phenomena, (6) dharana, concentration of the attention and energy on one thing in one place in the body (7) dhyana, meditation, the steady, uninterrupted flow of consciousness to that one thing/place, and (8) samadhi, equanimity, a unified state of mind.
Meditation is a steady flow of attention to one thing, one place.
“Where the attention goes, the energy flows.”
The thing to notice about these teachings is that meditation does not show up until late in the game. Before real meditation can even begin, one must have gained some degree of proficiency with earlier stages. In a naturally occurring process, these stages unfold in order spontaneously. Without passing through these stages, meditation is not real meditation, but a vain attempt to extract some desired outcome from a willfully applied technique. But because the natural process of these stages is Truth showing up on this physical plane, if by chance a willful technique should produce a desired result, it will not last, and it will not bring one into union with Truth, for Truth has been ignored in favor of some other desired result.
The interesting thing about experimenting with meditation with little or no knowledge, is that it can still produce some amazing experiences, and bring some very beneficial results. It is almost as if meditation has a mind of its own, and has willingly given the practitioner what he or she wants. But there is a reason for this: Meditation is seducing you, drawing you in, and proving to you from the onset, that it is worthy of your time, worthy of your efforts to get yourself into the meditation room, and worthy of you, and in so doing, it is telling you that you are worthy of the highest and greatest benefits, and the ultimate aim of meditation:
The aim of meditation is samadhi, the equnimity of union with Truth, the Divine, God, which ultimately leads to the end of all sorrows, freedom and eternal happiness.
* Golden Age (Satya Yuga, Age of Truth): There are different opinions about the length of the cycle of ages (there are four ages, yugas, in a cycle), and they may all be correct. If we think of wheels within a wheel, smaller cycles within a larger, bigger picture, they all work.
° Evolutionary force: kundalini
Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that you really are),