What is meditation?
Meditation is, quite simply, the art of going beyond the mind and into the heart, into the highest and best part of our being.
Most of us have had from time to time meditative experiences unbeknown to ourselves. For example, you’re driving in the countryside and suddenly this majestic awe-inspiring view opens up in front of you. You are speechless – not fully being able to analyse and articulate the beauty but you feel a real sense of calm and joy and an ‘in the moment’ experience: this is meditation.
However, for most of our lives this inner wealth lies dormant, buried beneath the mind’s stresses, anxieties and worries. The word meditate comes from the Latin root meditatum, i.e. to ponder. In our frantic day to day lives we do not take time to ‘ponder’ the beauty of the present moment – our mind is too busy calculating and processing thoughts about the future and the past.
For example: one little exercise we sometimes do for fun when giving meditation classes is ask people to go one minute without thinking about a pink elephant. Most people generally don’t manage to complete the minute, illustrating that while we believe we are in control of our mind, it is in fact the other way around.
Through meditation exercises, you develop an ability to stay focused, in the now and in the moment. For example, if you slip or fall off your bicycle and while you are falling to the ground, you are not thinking about what you going to eat for dinner, the results of a football game or on what’s on TV – you are intensely focused on trying to land safely, your mind analyses the present situation and effects the appropriate cognitive response – 100% efficient.
Meditation is one of the oldest arts to man, and every culture that has ever existed has had at least one aspect of it dedicated to human self-discovery and self-enlargement. As a result, there are many different meditation traditions and techniques, and it is up to you to find the right one for you.
At the Dublin Sri Chinmoy Centre, meditation classes and workshops include a series of guided visualisations varying from 7 to 20 minutes long presenting techniques for calming the mind and relaxing the body. The type of meditation we teach is based on exploring the heart centre, the space in the middle of the chest which we feel the essence of our being, and a natural place to begin the journey of self discovery. Once the mind is silent, the peace and spontaneous joy contained within the heart can come to the fore and permeate your entire being.
It is recommended that people wishing to learn meditation first start with concentration exercises, for it is with concentration that we will be able to keep the mind’s thoughts at bay long enough to be able to enter into meditation. There are a variety of concentration exercises you can use, such as using the breath or focusing on inspiring objects such a as flowers and candles. Mantras, or meditative chanting, can be another way to get into this meditative space qickly and effectively. With time, the practice of meditation allows you to gain control of your own thoughts and find out more about who you really are.
More Resources on Meditation: