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Role of Meditation in Stress Control

by Kushal Kumar(more info)

listed in meditation, originally published in issue 209 - October 2013

Human mind moves with fastest speed, thinking about one or the other thing all the time except when one is in sound sleep. During the course of his dialogue with Arjuna, Lord Krishna mentions to the latter in verse 5 of third chapter of the Holy Geeta that human mind cannot stay for a moment without doing anything. Obviously, one is tired and stressful, looking for peace and tranquillity. Meditation offers an answer to such a human need. This writer stumbled upon a report “US Turns to yoga to make troops fitter” published in Times of India dated 8 March, 2011. The report said that US army has been using the ancient Indian meditation art to treat cases of ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders’ (PTSD) reported from tough engagements of the army in Asia like Afghanistan. The report also brought to light the opinion of experts that the soldiers who took to yoga had reported remarkable results in suppressing PTSD and mental tensions. The report further said that “yoga uses meditation, deep relaxation, gentle stretching and breathing to reduce physical, emotional and mental tension”. It is not uncommon to find that meditation is becoming increasingly popular. These circumstances made this writer to explain here certain finer points of yoga and meditation.

8 Limb Path

eight graduating stages of steps leading one to the final stage of Samadhi

Firstly, let it be clear that yoga and meditation are two separate and distinct branches of knowledge. Yoga primarily deals with physical parts of body, a kind of physical drill aimed at toning up of the body and making it fit, whereas meditation mainly deals with focusing of mind or bringing it to a point. There is another valuable knowledge described as Yog, claiming to take one to a blissful state of mind, transcending the material world. Obviously, Yog seeks to connect one with spiritual world as distinct from Yoga which is mainly concerned with the fitness of body. Meditation is a necessary tool for Yog whereas it is not so for Yoga. In other words, it may be clarified that meditation has an existence separate from Yoga. The aim of meditation as a tool is to work both for spiritual and physical wellbeing of a person. The aim of Yoga is primarily the wellbeing and fitness of body. Therefore, some use meditation along with Yoga. The argument working with them seems to be that if one has a sound mind, it would have a corresponding wholesome impact on health. That is the intention in adding meditation to the practice of Yoga. Thus, meditation in practice comes into picture and the same is being explained here.

As said earlier in this article, meditation is an inward concentration of mind and intellect by focusing these on a particular thought or object or point so that there is no distraction. Such a practice is expected to bring about not only the effective functioning of the mind but also necessary rest to the mind by restricting or limiting its swift movements. Three well-known methods of meditation in practice world over are explained here in brief:

1.         One method is known as Vipasana which is a Hindi language word. The detailed explanation here is expected to convey the meaning of the phrase or concept in Vipasana. This method of meditation is in vogue in many countries. Under this method, one has to study through intellect the thoughts originating in the mind. This would require inward journey of the intellect. Acts meditated or done and desires, fulfilled or unfulfilled, leave their imprints permanently on the mind. Present thoughts are coloured by such permanent past imprints in the mind. The study of thoughts through intellect will enable one to sift or separate the negative thoughts from those considered positive for removal for all times to come. On having identified a thought as negative or one which should not have originated, effort is made through intellect to drive it away. But it so happens that such a thought gets removed temporarily to come back to its original place. An effort would require to be made afresh to drive the negative thought away. This process would be repeated countless times. It may take months or years of effort before success can be had because mind has the general tendency to long for either the past imprints on the mind or new negative and positive thoughts. It is believed by the practitioners of this method that the continuous practice for removal of negative thoughts would yield to positive thoughts, paving the way for purity of mind as also for having control over the functioning of the mind. This phenomenon would evidently be expected to control the stress.

2.         Meditation under Patanjali Ashtang Yog. This method of meditation is a part of Hindu spiritual philosophy consisting of eight graduating stages of steps leading one to the final stage of Samadhi, a transcendental state of mind. When in transcendental state, mind loses complete touch with the outside world and is in contact with the soul through inward journey of mind including intellect. One is in a blissful state because the disturbances of the outside material world do not touch the mind. But the transcendental state of mind is not endless. It has a break. What happens then is explained here by a happening.

In order to extract honey, a person drives away the honey-bees from their bee-house. But the honey bees attack the usurper in large number. The latter flees and dives deep into the water of a nearby river and gets relief. The honey bees chase the usurper and reach the site. As soon as the usurper comes to the surface of the water because he cannot remain under the water indefinitely, the honey-bees waiting outside the water surface attack him again.

Similar is the case with the transcendental state of mind. So long as one is in that state of mind, the mind is not exposed to the outside material world and its disturbances and hence is in blissful state of mind. But the moment one comes out of transcendental state of mind, the world and its problems become operative because mind cannot remain in Samadhi or transcendental state of mind indefinitely. Obviously, it can be said that meditation under this method which requires tremendous patience is not believed to be offering a continuous and perennial solution.

3.         Meditation in Devotion to God. In this method, the practitioner is required to concentrate his or her mind on the form or shape of God or the divine being of practitioner’s choice. There are certain conditions:

i.   First condition is that the divine being must be so, in a real sense, otherwise there will be no impact;
ii.  Second condition is that the practitioner must have absolute faith in the existence as well as divine power of such a divine being;
iii. Third condition is that the practitioner must strive with patience in meditation as best as he or she can.

Now, a question arises: how a practitioner can meditate on God or divine when the same has not been seen by him or her? This question was clinchingly answered by Lord Krishna to his disciple friend Arjuna during the course of a dialogue between the two in the battle field of Kurukshetra ( a sacred place in India related to the war of Mahabharta), as found recorded in the Holy Geeta.

It was clarified by the Lord that, in view of the compulsion of the human beings, he would accept the focusing by a practitioner for himself in any form or shape that may be liked by the practitioner, provided the conditions mentioned above for focusing are satisfied. Obviously, the same ought to be applicable in the case of other divine beings or powers. If someone focuses his or her mind on Lord Jesus Christ, it will have impact because Lord Jesus Christ is having divine power. It is believed that the impact under this method of focusing has everlasting impact of purifying the mind and may even, in certain mature cases, turn a practitioner into divine being.

Lion picture

Let this method be explained by an example from day-to-day life. A person was in deep sleep when he sees a lion running towards him. He sweats out of fear, gets up and falls to ground. When awake, it is realized that there is no lion because all happened in the state of sleep. But why the impact? The person in deep sleep in his subconscious state of mind had firm belief that lion is running towards him and might eat him up. Similarly, the firm faith in the Lord will bring divine impact on the mind.

Conclusion

This is the description of meditation, the prevalent methods of going about it and its usefulness for the mankind. It will be noted from the foregoing that the three methods of meditation are distinguished by their separate and distinct way of going about it. But peace of mind or stress control is the common goal. Of the three methods mentioned above, the one about meditation in devotion to God or divine personalities as at (3) is claimed to have impact of lasting nature for all times to come . But it requires perseverance, absolute faith and patience.

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About Kushal Kumar

Kushal Kumar is is an India-based internationally known writer of Vedic astrology; also practical spiritual life including meditation and devotion. His distinguished  articles on both these areas of knowledge have been published by premier magazines in the west, including  Mountain Astrologer (TMA), Astroemail from Paris, Journal of British Astrological Association, London and Midheaven, a Newsletter from Toronto. He has contributed about 19 articles, covering practical aspects of Vedic astrology, to www.Astrologyweekly.com which were published and can be visited by going to Archives of the articles in the site. He is a regular contributor to The Astrologer’s Notebook, a quarterly print Newsletter and Diamond Fire, also a quarterly print magazine on spiritual and esoteric  themes published by Joseph Polansky from North Port, Florida. Kushal Kumar also deals with individual questions,covering such aspects of life as health, wealth, education, love, marital, profession , business  etcetra. This is based on birth chart applying Vedic astrology/Jyotish. Kushal may be reached via kushal1948@gmail.com

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