Today everyone speaks about meditation. It is a good exercise for the mind and helps you achieve your goals and go beyond them. Many consider it a process, but it is also a state of mind. A meditative person is focused, composed, clear and considerate. He/she knows what to do and what not to do. The person knows when to start and also when to stop.
Meditation is not just something you do in your seat. It is also a state of mind you develop and keep throughout the day. You make meditation a lifelong experience. When there is a combination of contemplation (thinking) and meditation (dhyana), we then develop a state of mind that is spiritual. The Arthashastra starts with developing the knowledge of Aanvikshiki. It has various meanings — one of them is philosophical thinking. This can also be understood as meditation. So, what are the benefits of regular and deep meditation?
Chanakya says: “Aanvikshiki keeps the mind steady in adversity and prosperity and brings about proficiency in thought, speech and action.” (1.2.11)
Here, we are not talking about the process of meditation, but the result. Of course, the biggest benefit of meditation is self-realisation, moksha, nirvana, jeevan mukti, etc. All these are at the spiritual level. Meditation is a leap of faith you take towards yourself and become one with god. But, we are also talking about the benefits of the same at the worldly level. The first step to achieving success in the world is to keep your mind calm.
When we have achieved progress in meditation, our mind becomes calmer and composed. See what Chanakya says in the above verse. It helps to keep the mind steady, which is a great asset for performing better. Our mind is like a car driver. The driver has to navigate the car through various hurdles and on different types of roads. An experienced driver knows the importance of staying calm and alert while driving. An unsteady mind can lead to accidents and cause damage.
Similarly, the mind has to be steady in adversity as well as prosperity. When things are going wrong and one does not know what to do, keep calm. When things are going right and everything seems to be happy and leading to success, still keep your mind calm. And this happens through meditation.
When you are relaxed in any situation, it brings about proficiency in thought, speech and action. Your thoughts are clear, you speak without confusion and your actions lead to success.
As Bhagavad Gita says: “Yoga Karmasu Kaushalam” — Yoga brings excellence in whatever you do. This kind of mind is always in meditation. As beginners of meditation, here are the steps to be followed:
1) Sit quietly: The first step in meditation is to sit quietly in one place. Start with 15 minutes a day and slowly, over a period of time, increase it to half an hour or an hour. Fix a time, preferably in the morning. Try to meditate in the same place. This way, the mind will get trained to be at the same place and same time. Make sure you keep gadgets and things that divert you, away. Do ask for help from your family members and request them not to disturb you during that time if required.
2) Relax and watch your mind: Take a few deep breaths and relax your mind and body. You can give auto-suggestions to calm yourself. Positive affirmations like “I am relaxed”, “I am calm”, “I am quiet”, help. Now, watch your mind. Start praying to God. Since we are new to meditation, a small prayer asking for help from the Almighty is good. Surrender to him.
3) No mind: Your thoughts will lessen. Now, be alert. In this relaxed state, do not go to sleep. Naturally, a relaxed and calm mind would want to take a nap. But, that is not meditation. It is a state of complete alertness.
Finally, try to be in the state of 'no mind' and 'no thoughts' for as long as you can. When you are done with the meditation session, try to keep yourself as calm as possible. Then, apply this state of mind to your work. You will see that the work you do is brilliant. There will even be some revelations. Ramanuja, the great Indian mathematician, used to pray and meditate and he could crack the secrets of the Universe.
He said, “An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God.” Finally, don’t give up. There could be some failures in the beginning. But the secret of success is to continue your efforts in the seat of meditation…till you succeed.
(The writer is Founder Director of Chanakya Aanvikshiki Pvt Ltd, a best-selling author and an expert on Chanakya’s teachings. Follow him on Twitter @rchanakyapillai)