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Meditation is a commonly used term. But what exactly is meditation? For a beginner it is a practice, for an adept it is a state.
Meditation is awareness. It is emptiness. It is about to empty your mind off the clutter of continuous din of thoughts. An uncluttered mind (empty) translates into awareness, or consciousness or alertness. To bring about this awareness is the purpose of the practice of the act of meditating. With continuous practice its reveals the truth that it is a state; when one attains by advancing degrees, peace and harmony.
Meditation is thus basically peace.
Different Meditation Techniques
There are different meditations techniques, which could slacken the motion of the thoughts. Pick the one that appeals to you, as one ought to be involved in meditation with a natural urge.
Breath Meditation-Feeling your breath is a simple, yet an effective meditation. It involves feeling the effortless movement of the breath. Simply feel the flow of your breath. Acknowledge intervening thoughts without judgement, as to whether they are good or bad and gently turn your attention to your breath. Zen meditation involves breath meditation.
Conceptual meditation-This about focusing your attention on a concept like 'I am that' etc Swami Vivekananda talks of it in His Jnana Yoga.
Non conceptual meditation-This is simply about having an empty mind, focusing on emptiness or a blank. This is adopted by adepts in meditation, for it is a difficult thing.
Mantra meditation- It is basically focusing on the sound of a mantra, said within.
Object meditation-This about concentrating on an object, like a deity, an image, the flame of a candle etc.
Mindfulness meditation-This method of meditation is about being deeply aware of all the happenings within and without. It is about being fully aware of everything. The Vipassana Meditation of Buddhism is pattered around it.
Self enquiry-This method was followed by the Jnanis, or those who followed the path of knowledge in ancient India, now become popular as being the core teaching of Ramana Maharshi. It is about going within and tracing the source of what we identify ourselves as the 'I' and abide there. This may fall into the Non conceptual category. 'Naan Yaar' or 'Who Am I?' of Ramana Maharshi discusses about this subject.
Effortless meditation-This is also a non conceptual meditation. Here only a subtle effort in the form of wanting to be in peace is exercised. This is about being effortlessly peaceful. A book by Madhurananda, called 'Effortless Meditation' throws light on this type of meditation. It is simply a relaxation meditation
Focusing on the flight of a bird, walking meditation, observing a moving cloud or a river flowing etc are all simple meditation techniques that can be applied in day to day life.
Meditation is thus the expulsion of other thoughts, focusing on a single thought. With regular practise, the single thought also drops off immersing one in peace. Thoughts arise only when the mind needs to be employed. At other times, one becomes the very peace.