Meditation - a path to transformation of mind
We are responsible for the creation of the states of our mind and, therefore, we possess the capability to change them, which is the only real antidote to our personal sorrows, anxieties, fears, hatreds and general perturbation that beset the present human condition.
Meditation is a means of transformation of the mind. The regular practice of meditation encourages and develops concentration, clarity, emotional positivity and experience of calmness in the true nature of things. By engaging in regular practice of meditation, we learn the patterns and habits of our mind, which then offer a means to cultivate new and more positive habits; it creates focused states of mind that are profoundly peaceful. Such experiences can have a transformative effect and can lead to a new understanding of life.
The different meditation techniques basically employ the concentration of mind on an object for a period of time or mindfulness of an object for a period of time. The attentional object can be the image of an object (a deity or a symbol) or mantra or a positive thought or affirmation and the object of the mindfulness can be our breath or our thoughts arising in the mind. During the concentration of mind, the meditator focuses one-pointed attention on the object and if his attention wanders away, he then brings it back to the attentional object. Over a period of time, with persistent practice his attention wanders away less and less. During mindfulness meditation, the meditator focuses on the incoming and outgoing breaths and becomes aware of the movement of air through the nostrils or he simply becomes aware of the thoughts arising in his mind but does not mentally dwell on them, pushing them away effortlessly. Both these practices gradually increase the awareness of the meditator toward different healthy and unhealthy emotions and feelings arising in him.
In a normal person, there is a mix of healthy and unhealthy factors affecting the mental states. There are periods when a person experiences a period of either wholly healthy factor or unhealthy factors. But most of times, we experience a mixture of both factors. However, there are a few persons, who experience only healthy mental states because they have become expert in creating the presence of only healthy factors. Healthy factors include mindfulness, humility, discretion, confidence, non-attachment, non-aversion, impartiality, adaptability, rectitude and composure whereas delusion, shamelessness, egoism, greed aversion, envy, worry, avarice and confusion are unhealthy factors.
A person normally experiences these factors as a group either negative or positive. In any given mental state, the factors comprising it are present in varying strengths. Whichever factor is the strongest at that time, the person will experience the mental state that is produced by the dominating factor. For an unhealthy factor there exists a healthy factor that can neutralize it.
How does meditation transform the mind? –
The original programming of the mind purely involves the programs based on the inclusion of the healthy and wholesome qualities but, over a course of time in life, an individual gets many varied experiences derived from various sources, which gradually get established as new experiences. The new experiences replace the original qualities of the mind, thereby changing the programming. When the new experiences are undergone many times, they get well established in the mind contributing significantly to our personality and are expressed frequently in our mental states. Many of these experiences are unwholesome. This is how our original mental programming is influenced by the newly formed unhealthy mental qualities. However, there still exist healthy mental qualities depending on the individual experiences. The healthy and unhealthy qualities are expressed in varying percentages in different mental states depending on a particular situation.
A regular practice of meditation can dramatically eradicate the unhealthy factors in the meditator. The progress of the meditation is gauged by the progress of the cultivation of healthy qualities in a person solely at the expense of the unhealthy qualities. The process gradually eradicates all the unhealthy qualities if the meditator persists steadfastly in meditation. The existence of one unhealthy factor is nullified by a healthy one. The healthy factors are intrinsically the true properties of the mind. When the meditator focuses his attention on an object, they will come to dominate his mind as a bye-product of the meditation. The success of the meditation is measured by the stabilization of the healthy factors in the person. The regular practice of meditation develops seven qualities of enlightenment in a meditator, which include mindfulness, wisdom, energy, calm, concentration, equanimity and rapture. These qualities of enlightenment keep on increasing gradually with the constant practice of meditation. These seven qualities are to be dexterously balanced by the meditator to achieve the highest level of enlightenment, which is termed Nirvana in Sanskrit. Wisdom, energy and rapture make the mind wakeful and alert, and calm, concentration and equanimity make the mind tranquil and still. The quality of mindfulness is quite strong so that it not only serves to strengthen all other qualities but keeps them in proper balance.
With steadfastness and persistence the personality characteristics are permanently altered in a meditator. The following characteristics become more marked in his or her personality.
- There is absence of – greed, sense desires, anxiety, resentment, aversion, lust, anger, need for approval and dogmatism of beliefs.
- There is predominance of – alertness, calmness, compassion and loving kindness, impartiality towards all, equanimity in all circumstances, accurate perception of situations and receptivity to the needs of all.
The above characteristics start appearing in the meditator in various percentages during the course of his or her spiritual journey. They appear in highest percentages when the meditator has achieved the acme of spiritual enlightenment, called Nirvana.
We have a capacity to alter our states of mind since they are created by us. Our states of mind are composed of healthy as well as unhealthy qualities; the true nature of a particular state of mind depends on the predominating healthy or unhealthy quality at the time of occurrence of the state. These qualities deeply affect our life depending upon which one predominates mostly since that quality constitutes the hallmark of our personality. But we can change our states of mind favorably by rooting out the unhealthy states from our mind by means of meditation.
The regular practice of meditation encourages and develops concentration, clarity, emotional positivity and experience of calmness in the true nature of things. A normal person has a mixture of both healthy and unhealthy states, which greatly influence the states of mind of the person. The nature of the mental state, brought on by a particular situation, solely rests on the predominating healthy or unhealthy mental quality. The mental states that appear most frequently and strongly become well established and thus form dominating trait of the personality. The personality of an individual greatly influences how he or she conducts himself or herself in life.
A regular practice of meditation can eradicate unhealthy mental states, restoring the mind to its original wholesome and healthy state. With persistent practice a meditator can completely eradicate the unhealthy states of mind and thus become free of them. Such an individual is said to have attained spiritual enlightenment which will keep on growing with constant practice till it reaches its acme. At its acme, the individual always experiences happiness, bliss and equanimity and has compassion and loving kindness towards all.