The following article is from Meditation. (2009, May 15). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:17, May 15, 2009, from
Evidence of the origins of meditation extends back to a time before recorded history. Archaeologists tell us the practice may have existed among the first Indian civilizations. Indian scriptures dating back 2500-3000 years describe meditation techniques. From its ancient beginnings and over thousands of years, meditation has developed into a structured practice used today by millions of people worldwide of differing nationalities and religious beliefs
There are several types of meditation in Hinduism. Amongst these types are:
- Jnana Yoga.
- Raja Yoga as outlined by Patanjali, which describes eight "limbs" of spiritual practices, half of which might be classified as meditation. Underlying them is the assumption that a yogi should still the fluctuations of his or her mind: Yoga cittavrrti nirodha.
- Surat shabd yoga, or "sound and light meditation"
- Japa Yoga, in which a mantra is repeated aloud or silently
- Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of love and devotion, in which the seeker is focused on an object of devotion, eg Krishna
- Hatha Yoga, in which postures and meditations are aimed at raising the spiritual energy, known as Kundalini, which rises through energy centres known as chakras
The objective of meditation is to reach a calm state of mind. Vyasa, in his commentaries on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, described five chitta bhumis (states of mind): Ksipta, Mudha, Viksipta, Ekagra and Nirodha. The first three are considered hindrances. The last two are considered yoga.
- Ksipta defines a very agitated mind, unable to think, listen or remain quiet. It is jumping from one thought to another.
- In Mudha no information seems to reach the brain; the person is absentminded.
- Viksipta is a higher state where the mind receives information but is not able to process it. It moves from one thought to another, in a confused inner speech.
- Ekagra is the state of a calm mind but not asleep. The person is focused and can pay attention.
- Lastly Nirodha, when the mind is not disturbed by erratic thoughts, it is completely focused, as when you are meditating or totally centered in what you are doing.
The ultimate end of meditation according to Patanjali is the destruction of primal ignorance (avidya) and the realization of and establishment in the essential nature of the Self.
Swami Vivekananda describes meditation as follows:
"Meditation has been laid stress upon by all religions. The meditative state of mind is declared by the Yogis to be the highest state in which the mind exists. When the mind is studying the external object, it gets identified with it, loses itself. To use the simile of the old Indian philosopher: the soul of man is like a piece of crystal, but it takes the colour of whatever is near it. Whatever the soul touches ... it has to take its colour. That is the difficulty. That constitutes the bondage. The colour is so strong, the crystal forgets itself and identifies itself with the colour. Suppose a red flower is near the crystal and the crystal takes the colour and forgets itself, thinks it is red. We have taken the colour of the body and have forgotten what we are. All the difficulties that follow come from that one dead body. All our fears, all worries, anxieties, troubles, mistakes, weakness, evil, are from that one great blunder — that we are bodies. This is the ordinary person. It is the person taking the colour of the flower near to it. We are no more bodies than the crystal is the red flower."
"The practice of meditation is pursued. The crystal knows what it is, takes its own colour. It is meditation that brings us nearer to truth than anything else. ..."
The Bhagavad Gita stresses the importance of meditation. The Sixth Chapter of Bhagavad Gita - "The Yoga of Meditation" describes the technique of meditation, and the characteristics of the Yogi who is well established in meditation. The Bhagavad Gita stresses the importance of meditation as follows "Make a habit of practising meditation and do not let your mind be distracted. In this way you will come finally to the Lord who is the light-giver, the highest of the high."