Wikipedia defines meditation as “a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.”
Meditation can be either done on a form or it can be done on formless. Is meditating on formless better than on a form as many people believe it to be? Both are good and to meditate on the formless is the highest form of meditation. But to reach that stage where one can meditate on the formless, one has to start on the form first. Once you build focus on meditating on a form it helps in building and maintaining the sharpness in meditation. Without that sharpness you will not know even if you lose your clarity while meditating on the formless.
So starting with a form, sound or breath helps initially. While meditating you may switch between any form of meditation. You can start with form and move to formless or you can do it the other way round too. You can also do witness meditation or contemplative meditation to maintain focus or stick to any one meditation which brings in a sense of bliss and peace which you are able to maintain for some time even after the session is over.
If you are meditating on a form, a sound or an object then the only real way to know you are meditating correctly is to behold that form, the sound or the object in front of your inner eye. If it looses its sharpness you know you are not meditating correctly and your mind has gone off to some other train of thoughts. If you are meditating on thoughtlessness or formless, it is one of the highest forms of meditation because when you are meditating on the formless your mind is looking at itself. It is the ultimate state to be in. It’s like the waves merging in the ocean and you become the ocean. There is nothing left. You loose that individual I-ness that I exist. The individual existence forms the part of the ego and you lose it completely.
Once somebody asked Ramakrishna Paramhansa that I only believe in meditating on the formless and that is where I want to start. Ramakrishna replied to him that when an archer starts to learn archery he begins by shooting at a still object and once he is proficient in shooting at that then he starts aiming at moving objects.
Benefits of Meditation :
Meditation helps in reducing stress by affecting your nervous system. It reduces the production of stress related hormones like cortisol and increases the production of good chemicals like serotonin. Meditation benefits are impacting people’s life despite growth of mental sickness.
Meditation is an act that involves taking charge of our mind. You see, everything we experience in life is also experienced by the mind, from the things we know to the things we feel such as love, anger, pain, joy etc. Without the involvement of the mind, we’ll be like machines programmed to run in a certain way. Because our minds are involved in all our daily activities, we need to devote time to knowing and training it so that we know how best to respond and take greater control of our actions when we find ourselves in overwhelming situations. Remember, the inner world creates the external.
Meditation can sharpen attention, strengthen memory and improve other mental abilities. The practice of mindfulness meditation develops the mid-prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that can observe itself, leading to improved self-care and decision making.
How to meditate?
Allow yourself to flow with your breath, inviting a luminous white source energy through the top of your head and filling each and every cell of your body and ending with positive affirmations.
Start with short duration of meditation initially, then increase the length of the duration. Meditation shall never be forced!