Brain, mind and consciousness are the three important parts of human body. The brain is the master coordinator of the millions of functions, continuously occurring in the physical body. Mind is energy, and the various thoughts, passions and distractions, create waves in that energy. Mind functions are memory, concentration, the intellect and other similar abilities. The mind is the instrument of consciousness and the storehouse of our finite personality. Consciousness is infinite and unbound. Consciousness has four realms viz. consciousness, sub-consciousness, unconsciousness and super-consciousness. The underlying nature of all living organisms is consciousness. However, the consciousness is manifested at different levels in different organisms. In plants, it is at rudimentary level and in humans at more advanced level. Human beings have the potential to function from consciousness by liberating himself from the shackles of body-mind.
Meditation is the vehicle of journey into the inner realms of mind. It develops awareness and achieve a mentally clear & stable mind by adopting techniques such as mindfulness (to pay attention on thoughts), spiritual (prayer), focused (focus on internal or external object), movement (walking in woods, gardening), mantra (Aum), transcendental, progressive relaxation, loving-kindness (feelings of compassion, kindness, and acceptance of self & others) and visualization.
All meditation practices aim initially to develop concentration of mind. Perfect concentration (Dharana) leads to meditation (Dhyana). Bhagwan Shree Krishna has explained four paths of yoga. Each path has its mode to achieve meditation. The vehicle in Karma yoga is intense, concentrated work; in Bhakti yoga overwhelming devotion, in Jnana yoga the vehicle is an absorbing enquiry and in Kriya yoga a number of kriyas.
A concentrated mind becomes receptive to higher vibrations and heightened perception. It becomes receiver of the influx of higher awareness, bliss and knowledge. Concentration is the key that will unlock the door to higher states of awareness. All this is normally beyond the range of the average mind which is distracted by a continual inner chatter of thoughts.
Pre-requisites of Meditation:
To develop ability to sit long time in stable, still and relaxed position:
Sitting is relaxed posture (Padmasana, Siddhasana, Siddha yoni asana, Swastikasana, Ardha padmasana, Vajrasana, Veerasana or if former asanas are not suitable Sukhasana) is necessary for meditation.
To develop ability to do away physical and mental distractions leading to calmness and relaxation
It is totally impossible if the awareness is engrossed and entangled with external events or physical body. Even engagement in thinking about external world, is merely living in outside world with closed eyes. During meditation, distractions whatsoever need to be minimised.
Limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Darshan viz. yama, nyama, asana, pranayama & pratyhara are designed to minimise the distractions. Patanjali Yoga Darshan is discussed in article already published. Moderation & regulation of intake through sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue & skin).
Ability to focus awareness on the inner realms of mind to the exclusion of all others Awareness or witnessing principle is gaining insight into these realms of existence and physical activities. If a person is aware then he becomes a spectator of his activities both internally and externally. Yoga aims at improving witnessing principle. Five sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue) are intermediary instruments between outside world and consciousness. The sensory organs pick up signals for utilization by the brain. From brain, these signals are perceived by the consciousness. Brain is only the instrument which acts as receiver, transformer and transmitter. Without consciousness each one of us would be incapable of doing anything; we would be lifeless and would know nothing. One pointedness is achieved by focusing on breathing process, internal chanting of mantra (such as Om), external or internal object, different parts of the body or any symbol. All these facilitate in meditation.
Stages of Meditation:
The aim of meditation is to dive deeper into substratum of cosmic mind and to be aware of its potential.
Reference: A systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya – by Swami Satyananda Saraswati