Demystifying meditation

By His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Mind without agitation is meditation. Mind in the present moment is meditation. Mind that has neither hesitation nor anticipation is meditation. Mind that has come back home, to the source, is meditation. Mind that becomes ‘‘no mind’’ is meditation.

We all know that rest is an important source of energy. But when can you rest? Rest is possible only when you have stopped all other activities. When you stop moving around, working, thinking, talking, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, when all these activities stop, then you get rest. When all voluntary activities are arrested, then you get rest or sleep. In sleep, you are left with only involuntary activities such as breathing, heartbeat, food digestion, blood circulation, etc. But this is not “total rest”. When the mind settles down, only then “total rest” or meditation happens.

Real freedom is the freedom from the future and freedom from the past. When you are not happy in the present moment, then you desire a bright future. Desire simply means that the present moment is not all right. This causes tension in the mind. Every desire causes feverishness. In this state, meditation is far from happening. You may sit with eyes closed, but desires keep arising, thoughts keep arising; you fool yourself that you are meditating, but actually you are daydreaming!

As long as some desires linger in your mind, you cannot be at total rest. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita, “You cannot get into Yoga (union with self) unless you drop the desires or hankerings in you.” Desires come up without your permission! So, instead of holding on to them or daydreaming, you offer the desires; that is meditation.

With dispassion, you can enjoy the world freely and you can relax ,and get relief from it, freely. Dispassion can bring so much joy in your life. Don't think that dispassion is a state of apathy. Dispassion is full of enthusiasm, brings all joy to your life, and it allows you to rest so well. When you come out of a deep meditation, you become very dynamic, and you will be able to act better. Deeper you are able to rest, more dynamic you will you be in activity. Even though deep rest ,and dynamic activity are opposite values, they are complementary. Meditation brings dynamism in action, and rest in action!

Any joy you experience in life is from the depth of your self. When you let go of all that you hold on to , and settle down, you will be centered in that space. That is called meditation. Actually, meditation is not an act; it is the art of doing nothing! The rest in meditation is deeper than the deepest sleep that you can ever have because in meditation you transcend all desires. This brings such coolness to the brain, and it is like servicing or overhauling the whole body-mind complex.

Meditation is letting go of anger from the past, the events of the past ,and all the planning for the future. Planning can hold you back from diving deep into yourself. Meditation is accepting this moment ,and living every moment totally with depth. Just this understanding, and few days of continuous practice of meditation can change the quality of our life.

The best comparison of the three states of consciousness - waking, sleeping and dreaming - is with the nature. Nature sleeps, wakes up, and dreams! It happens in a magnificent scale in existence and it is happening in a different scale in this human body. Wakefulness , and sleep are like sunrise, and darkness. Dream is like the twilight in between.

And meditation is like the flight to the outer space where there is no sunset, no sunrise, nothing!