Before going into any discussions on meditation, we should try to understand the basic terminology which will be helpful in grasping the fundamentals. We often come across the word Consciousness, in varying contexts. Being conscious can be an attribute of being alive or life. Consciousness as a word can also be used in terms of our wakeful states when we are engaged in a sensory connection with our outside world. Consciousness on a more spiritual level is used to denote a very fine quality of all beings and that of God.

To define consciousness is a complex task as in the process we will come across various levels and planes of the same. There is human consciousness, animal consciousness, individual consciousness, universal consciousness and so on. So we try to understand it with the analogy of Sunlight. Light from the sun spreads all around the earth giving illumination to every corner. It is in a way omnipresent. Consciousness is like that light. Present everywhere. Although the light coming from the sun is singular in nature, one form, yet when it spreads over the shapes and forms on earth, it takes different forms. When it enters a house through a small window, it appears to be restricted in form of small beams of light giving a totally different view. When it rinses down through huge trees in a forest, it appears to be like a lightning effect with shades of versatility in it. When it falls down on a reservoir of crystal clear water, it gives a reflection just that of diamond. When it passes through clouds it forms a rainbow. Same sunlight appears in vivid forms and colours. Similar is with consciousness. It is expressed on individual levels through minds. Mind is just like that sunlight which enters a house through a window. This window is called Antahkaran in yoga. Antahakaran (inner structure) is like a blueprint of a being. It is a box with four compartments of ego, mind, intellect and chitta. This blueprint is associated and responsible for the manifestation of consciousness in different species, in different life forms on different planes. And as the lines of evolution, it is developed in certain degrees on each plane. The antahkaran of animals is different from that of humans. And in animals themselves, there are several classifications as well in humans.

When this structure gets associated with Gyan Indriyas or the organs of Senses and with Karmendriyas or the organs of actions, the world comes into existence. Every individual has its own world based on the design of the instruments of anatahkaran. It comprises of all our ideas, thoughts, convictions, memories, associations and other acquired impressions. Based on these, the actions and reactions are decided by every individual giving rise to its own perception of world or Samsar.

Meditation is a process of gaining an insight and knowledge of this instrument. It gives us an opportunity to become clear about who we are. The practice of meditation opens doors towards an inner quest of rediscovering our selves. This process starts with the initial task of acquiring relaxation. Relaxation of the most outwardly unit of the instrument called Mind or Manas. Mind is that part which directly comes into contact with the objects around and shows patterns. It is like a relay station which connects outside and inside. And in the course it takes the toll. All the signals and commands which are routed through the mind, leaves repercussions on its surface and according to its composition, mind handles them differently. That is why we see some people more fragile than others while some shows more composure and balance. And this is the cause of disturbances in our lives. We feel shackled and shaked. We feel annoying and exhilarated. We feel enthusiast and depressed. Because of this unique sensitivity of mind.

So the first step towards meditation is achieving calmness on the surface of mind. This is made possible through the basic techniques of trying to limit the wavering and transfer of signals. When we start meditating, we need to work upon our body and breathe as these two are directly related to the states of mind. Once the body is comparatively comfortable and breath is stable, mind is prepared to revert its forces from being fragmented externally, thinking about several objects at the same time, to a more consolidated state where its power can be used to reflect onto itself. Dharana or concentration is this stage, where a person learns to control these tendencies of mind. This stage gives so much of relaxation and so much of mental clarity, that a person starts realizing its importance. A feeling of contentment arises and the petty issues don’t bother anymore. A depth in perceptions and broadening in acceptability is one of the outcomes.

Moving further, concentration starts turning into dhyan or meditation, which is the state of an unwavering and undisturbed flow of mind while it disconnects from the acquired tendencies, and getting closer to its natural attributes. At this stage, we closely experience the dimensions in which our ego and intellect operates and with a structural line of practice, we can manage to purify these two components from contaminations so that they are purified and their natural states can be experienced. The natural state of ego is the notion of existence that is ‘AM’ and the natural state of intellect is called VIVEK, or the ability to discern without a prejudice. This is infact the true state of being just with the self and others.

As we go deep into this journey, our purpose of being alive starts getting clear and we are led on a path of fulfilling that purpose, rather than wandering aimlessly into the objects of temporary enjoyments and wasting our energies. Meditation is a gift given to mankind for actually realizing what we are, not what we are being told we are, but out true existence. May all be guided to this path and realize.

In the service of Guru
Acharya Vinay