Questions and answers on meditation

Why meditate?

Everyone begins meditation for unique personal reasons, sometimes out of curiosity, sometimes out of a desire to become happier and more peaceful, or sometimes to follow a spiritual path. Whatever the reason, it does not matter. When we begin to meditate, we open a doorway to an inner journey and as our meditation practice blossoms, this journey unfolds for each of us in a unique and special way.

If everything is perfect in our lives and we are completely happy with what we have and what we are, then there is no reason to meditate. But for many us, if we are honest with ourselves, when we look within, we may find that we are lacking in real peace and joy. As life goes on, some of us reach a point where we feel that in order to be truly happy we need to explore beyond the range of the normal outer realities of life to seek an inner source of peace and happiness that is independent of outer circumstances. At this point, some of us find ourselves stumbling upon meditation.

Whether or not this is true for you at the current stage of your life is not important. If you feel inspired to give meditation a try, then why not have a go? All you need is a little curiosity and a willingness to try.

What is meditation?

Meditation is an ancient practice used in many spiritual traditions and paths to reach a state of awareness or consciousness beyond the everyday experiences of the mind and body. In this state of consciousness we become aware of previously unknown inner qualities such as inner peace, inner joy, inner happiness and divine love. We experience these qualities not merely as transient ideas or thoughts of the mind, but rather as tangible inner realities that spontaneously change the way we experience and interact with the world around us. People who embark on a regular practice of meditation generally find that they feel happier, more peaceful and less affected by the natural ups and downs of life.

How does one meditate?

Before we can enter into the state of meditation, we first need to silence our minds. The mind is constantly roaming from one thought to another without any rhyme or reason. If we try to stop this endless progression of thought, we might be successful for a few seconds, but after this we once again drift away into thought. However, when we focus our concentration on a sensation, such as the flow of the breath, or an object, such as a candle or flower, the mind naturally starts to slow down and after some practice becomes silent. When we reach this point, we spontaneously enter into the state of meditation and begin to experience the inner qualities of peace, joy and love.

Can we benefit from meditation even if we are unable to silence the mind?

When the mind becomes silent we spontaneously enter into meditation. However, even focusing the mind on the breath or a flower or candle will bring forward an experience of inner peace and joy when practiced regularly.

How often is it necessary to meditate and for how long?

To be effective in transforming our daily life into a happier and more peaceful experience, meditation needs to be practiced daily. In the beginning, a daily practice of 10-15 minutes is all that is needed. As your practice grows and develops, you can naturally extend the length of your daily meditations accordingly to your own inspiration and how much time you have available.

Does meditation have any practical benefits for daily life?

Meditation is extremely practical. Not only does it greatly improve our quality of life, it can be of tremendous help in dealing with the normal ups and downs of life. People who meditate are generally calmer, friendlier and happier people and this alone means that that they generally have better personal and working relationships than they had prior to taking up meditation. Meditation also tends to bring forward our intuition and this intuition can help us with many of the decision-making processes that we are involved with every day. Meditation also improves the quality of our sleep, as well us affecting our physiology in many other significant ways. There are many other practical benefits of meditation, but these are just a few of the main ones.

What is the philosophy behind meditation?

Each spiritual tradition or path will explain meditation in its own way. However, fundamentally, meditation re-connects us with a deeper reality within us. Spiritual masters often describe this reality as an aspect of the soul or a spark of God. Sri Chinmoy sometimes described meditation as an experience where we listen and God speaks and prayer as an experience where we speak and God listens. Our workshops are generally attended by people from a wide range of religious backgrounds and spiritual traditions and many of our attendees find that meditation is a valuable addition to their current spiritual practice.

Not the power
To conquer others,
But the power
To become one with others
Is the ultimate power.

                       ~ Sri Chinmoy

More Resources on Meditation