Aids to Meditation

We all need some help in extricating ourselves from involvement in material every day living.

We need to relieve stress from our duties and workload. We need to resolve in our minds any stressful situations or relationship problems and retrieve our emotional equilibrium. Our minds need refreshment and it is Meditation that provides us with a permanent mental “Getaway”.

But the finest adventure is that our awareness, whilst retreating from the material concerns learns new and undreamed of vistas in the time of action of quietening the mind, and expanding our consciousness, which is the purpose of Meditation.

Although it is decidedly a matter of personal choice, there are certain aids which have proven to be generally accepted as helpful for meditation. But it depends upon one’s emotional and intellectual make-up as to which prove successful in helping you personally. It is best to try several to find out which approach or technique is best.

For example:

Trataka – is to gaze, unblinking, upon an external or material object of appropriate choice such as a flower, a candle flame, a holy object, an artistic design, a photograph, or a beautiful object of art. This is simply to help you to keep up mental concentration by capturing the eyesight and that an unbroken image is impressed upon the brain. At the beginning it is usually necessary to break for a moment when the tears begin to form and to wipe the eyes before trying again. little by little the period of time extends with practice. The meaningful is to gaze, not to stare.

Mandala – this provides both a visual focus and acts as a symbolic exercise for mental concentration and for spiritual attunement. A Mandala is a holy circular symbolic design used for generating particular energies in meditation. The shapes, colours and patterns are designed to create a focal point which will assist the individual. This is a subject which fascinated Carl Jung and nevertheless proves of interest to psychologists and those studying human consciousness.

Yantra or holy object – this depends upon your choice of something of personal importance. It is best that the object you choose is associated with your religious devotions or of spiritual significance, such as a picture of your teacher, Guru, or religious teacher, a gift from a loved one, or an object which has been ritualistically blessed. Such an object provides personal comfort and inspiration. Many like to use their astrological symbol as a reminder of their inherent qualities, capabilities and virtues.

Japa – Affirmation – is the strength of repetition which can be first used in silent repetition of one’s own name. This technique at first may seem quite not harmful or already puerile an exercise and in addition it can have profound influence upon the individual as one creates affirmations to suit aspirations. Another form of Japa is to use many silent recitations of a Prayer or Poem which has been cast to memory. The audible repetition of prayer is known as Mantra.

Mantra – audible Chanting & Prayer The tradition of chanting holy hymns and prayers is shared to all cultures, east and west. In the west we know the beautiful chants of the Christian faith, the Gregorian Chants, and hearing them is sufficient to generate a meditative state.The Lord’s Prayer is the most potent of the mantras used in the western world by Christians. The most without exception used mantra is that of “OM” or “AUM” that represents the sound behind creation – universal life. Its holy sound resonates in our English words ‘Omnipresent’ ‘Omnipotent’ and already echoes in our information for ‘home’.

Pranayama- the art of breathing includes many controls of breath advised to assist meditation. The simplest when applied with complete mental concentration is always reliable, and consists of attention upon rhythmic breathing which is increased progressively both in duration of the breath and quantity until complete thorough breathing without strain is established. Both inhalation and exhalation of the breath is by the nose unless specifically instructed.

Mala – The mala is a string of 108 beads with similar use as the Roman catholic rosary, and is possessed as a holy token worn or used by all who follow the traditions of Yoga. It was always blessed by the Guru and is never to be touched casually by another person. It was considered as a holy psychic link between pupil and teacher and to his teacher beyond and in Brahmin tradition was comprised of precious gems. Most simple malas are made of various wood including the holy tulsi wood or sandalwood. Wealthier students may choose amber, crystal or semi precious stones.

Subtle Aids — Flowers – Colour -Incense – Music It is important that the aesthetic aspect of the ecosystem is considered. Although some people are more sensitive than others to colour, perfume and sound, all these factors have a important influence. But it is best to rely upon flowers for beauty and colour, incense or oils for perfume to help with breathing, and silence, instead of inappropriate music.

Expanding Good Qualities Take any virtue or quality; name it, define it, focus upon it in your meditation, clarify with it, magnify it, increasing and expanding your thought and feeling to the limits of your imagination. Take love, for example. At the commencement, tune in to the emotion felt for a loved one, expanding little by little from the particular to the impersonal until your feeling grows to allow a sense of love for many individuals, nations, people, the whole world stretching to immeasurable love – universal Love.

Astrological qualities – This is a very fine focus for those interested in studying astrology, who are aware of the influence of the planets and zodiacal powers. The exercise involves focusing upon one quality and one part of the body at a time, until the 12 zodiacal virtues or positive energies and the 12 sections related to those parts of the body are harmonized. It is a very powerful psychological aid to one’s Sadhana – a way to enhance both body and personality.

Relaxation is the meaningful to most increases and expansions of consciousness in Meditation or Dhyana. To be free of stress is important. To be free of muscular and physical stress, emotional fears, mental anxieties and soul disturbances is clearly considered attractive and motivates us all in making our meditations pleasant, uncommon and enriching experiences.

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