Whether you christen it Nirvana, the Tao, the Self, or the Kingdom of Heaven Within, it is true; please go in.
If you are searching for the whole kit and caboodle – a package of belief, lifestyle and doctrine – every religion from Christianity to Buddhism has a contemplation component. It may not be your inclination to change your lifestyle and belief system, so do your research before engaging in something that might be far too consuming for you. The interweb has countless information (and misinformation) as does your community library and bookstore.
One of the reasons the TM system continues, for illustration’s sake, to be widely practiced is that if doesn’t fit into any of the categories discussed – it is neither contemplation nor concentration, and hence easily adapted by persons of various natures, ages, personalities and intellectual capacity. Because it involves neither religion nor philosophy nor change in lifestyle, it appeals to those who wish a secular self-help approach to self-development. Although no meditation program offers a quick fix, some are more possible to deliver tangible benefits more quickly.
Contemplative practices, such as visualization, prayer, mindfulness and any procedure that involves letting the mind wander or involves being attentive to the wandering mind, all keep the mind actively engaged in thought. This is counter-productive to transcending thought.
According to some scholars, techniques that involve concentration can exhaust the mind and not produce the transcendent state that one desires. While the transcendent state finds the mind highly concentrated, it is not the technique of concentration that is the means to that end. Methods that involve focus or concentration keep the mind bound and active in personal perception, disallowing unboundedness.
So what is it all in relation to? According to the more profound texts about meditation, its objective is to bring together the conscious mind with the universal cosmic basis of life. This is the pure form of Yoga, which in sanskrit, means union. The experience of transcending relative phases of perception to experience silent, absolute, non-changing way of life is open to all, according to the texts and teachers. The value of this supreme achievement of the silent Infinite is found in the finite routines of daily life. Self realization becomes self-actualization–greater energy, intelligence, creativity, compassion, tolerance and bliss-when we open our eyes after meditation. The results are worth the trip down the path-it is just a matter of which is the most effective path.
Once Transcendental Meditation courses became widespread , the media began reporting about it. After public figures, like the Beatles, Donovan, and later Merv Griffin and Clint Eastwood, talked openly about their benefits from the TM technique, other schools of meditation sprang up like wildflowers. Everytime you turned around a would-be guru was touting his or her path, none of them extensively scientifically researched, but offering a myriad of results nonetheless. Eventually the phone book was filled with choices, publications on yoga and on meditation filled the shelves in bookstores, and your next door neighbor’s eighteen year old hung out a shingle and taught you to focus on your breath.
Reasons for knowledge to reflect vary widely: relief from stress seems to rank highly on the list, but better health ranks as a very close second reason. During the much-sentimentalized 1960s, meditation became famous largely due to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the popularity of his Transcendental Meditation (TM) program. Maharishi was clever enough to take his authentic, very old practice and have current science verify its benefits. Thus began the presentation of meditation and the quest for enlightenment in the modern, scientifically oriented west, although both had long been intrinsic to culture in the east.
According to some polls, 10% or more of all American citizens now practice some type of meditation. People of all ages, including ten year old kids in their schools, are closing their eyes and going inward for self-development.
This is learning to meditate.