What is the process of Meditation?

Meditation in Hindi is called ‘Dhyan’ which literally means ‘Being Attentive’.
In our day to day life, our mind is very distracted, it keeps jumping from one thought to another, it doesn’t allow us to be ‘attentive purely’ on anything. And whenever we experience ‘attentiveness’ it is short lived and not pure. An ‘impure attentiveness’ binds us, entangles us and we get attached to the object/thought of our attention. The pure attentiveness of Dhyan is a state where the mind is not scattered, rather it is open, focused and expansive. It is a deep relaxing state, where the boundaries of individuality starts to fade away and the universality or oneness of being is deeply experienced.

Meditation is an essential process to move towards a nurtured, fulfilled, enjoyable and centred life. One can simply think of it as a state of awakened restfulness for the body-mind. We give rest to our body every day, but we don’t give rest to our mind. Even during the sleep, our mind keeps running from one though to another in the form of dreams. It’s only thanks to nature, which allows us dreamless deep sleep, that our mind gets some rest. But this rest is not sufficient for our conscious evolution. This involuntary rest of mind in deep sleep is good enough to keep us sustained through the daily dynamics of life, it is helpful to keep us afloat and sane, but it cannot take us on the path of higher awakening or deeper sensitivity.

Our uncontrolled mind is a great leak in our life energies. It is always distracted, entangled in the mundane; it doesn’t allow us any window to look at the higher possibilities of our own inner states.

Since most of our attention usually flows outwards to external objects directly or indirectly, it is easier to use this habit of our mind to begin the practice of meditation. So, we can start to meditate on an outer form, it could be a deity, nature or an element etc. Through this, we start to restrict the movement of the mind. Similarly, one can pour their meditative attention on a thought and contemplate on it. We can chant a mantra in repetition and pour our attention on it or we can use any such technique of meditation that suits our nature. Many practitioners also meditate on the formless aspect of the divine. Through all the methods, slowly, the mind of practitioner starts to dwell only on the inner stillness and a deep unwavering silence starts to descend. This is the state when the mind of the meditator becomes totally absorbed in the cosmic mind.

Many thousands of years ago, when ancient sages entered the deepest state of silence, they experienced a sound which they called the “sound of silence”. They realised that the closed sound of this silence, which a human body’s vocal system is capable of producing, is the sound of AUM.

The sound of AUM comprises of 3 letters: A, U & M. These are the only three sounds that we can produce without using our tongue. All other sounds that we produce is a combination of these 3 basic sounds and we use our tongue as a tool to mix these 3 basic sounds and produce a myriad of other sounds. These 3 basic sounds of A, U & M are also called the primordial sounds or existential sounds.

AUM is a universal sound; it doesn’t belong to any particular religion, culture or geography. In fact every tradition has used AUM but with slightly different variations. E.g. in Hinduism, they have used AUM, in Sikhism they use OMKAR, in Buddhism they use the mantra of “OM mani padme HUM”, in Islam it is AMIN and in Christianity its AMEN. These are all different variations of the same primordial sound of AUM.

Among the three letters of AUM, the letter A represents the beginning, the letter U represents the growth and the letter M represents dissolution. Therefore, the letters A, U and M stand for creation, preservation and dissolution. And also for the 3 states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep.

When you practice the AUM chant, the sound of “A” can be felt as a vibration that manifests itself near the navel or abdomen; the “U” can be felt vibrating around the chest, and “M” vibrates around the face & head region. The abdominal vibration symbolizes Creation; it is interesting that the “creative” or reproductive organs are also located in the lower abdomen. The vibration of the chest represents Preservation, which is also where the lungs are situated (the lungs sustain or preserve the body through the breath). The vibration of the head is associated with Destruction or sacrifice, since all that is to be given up or destroyed is first destroyed mentally. Hence, the entire cycle of the universe and all it contains, is said to be symbolised in AUM.

AUM chanting is a journey from the gross to subtle, and ultimately to the subtlest aspect of reality. It is a journey from a noisy mind to a still mind. It is movement from doing to non-doing. It is a movement towards stillness and it is an art of turning the gaze inward.

AUM is also the fountain of life, light, warmth, love and well-being; the soft intonation of AUM transforms all negative thoughts, beliefs and anxieties into more positive and life-giving vibrations.

The chanting of AUM is the process of synchronization of body, mind, breath, intellect and spirit with the whole cosmos. Humanity is truly blessed to have discovered this soundless sound of AUM.

May we all find the universal & timeless mysteries of AUM within us.