In Yoga culture, there’s 3 stages to this.
What most of us call “meditation” is not really that.
It’s more closely related to ‘concentration.’ <- that’s something we can do.
So, the first stage of this is called Dharana, which is concentration.
We can choose anything to concentrate on….
Our inhalation and exhalation
A physical object (a flower, an image, a statue of our beloved deity, etc.)
Japa (repetition of a sacred sound or sound pattern – mantra)
The list can go on an on…
But, we are NOT meditating yet.
This is concentration.
We are building up our ability to focus the mind. To concentrate. It is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it will grow over time.
After some time (not necessarily a long time either) we can enter into that sublime state of consciousness that is called Dhyana, which is what is actually most related to ‘meditation.’
This is the point at which the mind has become focused.
The other thoughts have dissolved and dissipated.
There is no other thought.
There is just you (the observer) and the object of concentration.
This isn’t a forced state.
It is completely spontaneous.
So, when you are concentrating, this is why it is essential to be seated in a relaxed and comfortable posture.
There are other dynamics to this, like the subtle energies and how they are best aligned in certain postures (asanas) but for our case here, it is to create stability so that we are not bothered, and shaken out of concentration, by the body.
Then, there is the third… you might have even heard of this term: Samadhi.
This is a rare state of consciousness.
Few ever experience this.
…And it does require that various dimensions of your life and your existence are held in a certain way.
- Chanting Mantra. This can be a wonderful thing, but it is NOT meditation.
- Dulling the mind. Making yourself sleepy or tired through various monotonous practices is NOT meditation.
- Forcefully attempting to STOP all thoughts. If you’ve ever tried this, you’ll know right away that meditation is not possible. More tension, more frustration. For sure. Meditation. Not so much.
- Inducing states of dreaming, visualization, and imagining all sorts of things that are happening to you. Visualization is also another great practice that can help us in many ways, but it is NOT meditation either…
What is True Meditation is Dhyana.
From this point onward, you’ll hear me use concentration and meditation interchangeably at times, especially when what we are doing is leading us onto that spontaneous meditative state.
So, when I say I have a guided meditation to share with you, what I mean is that I’m going to guide you through some technique or visualization that will help you concentrate and focus your mind; and it is possible after a short time that you will enter into a meditative state on your own using this method.