You do not need to believe in the historical reasons why meditation became such a large part of civilization several thousand years ago, but understanding its origins does help to put it into context and also help you understand how to use it today.
The practice of meditation (focusing the mind) and yoga (focusing the physical body) were used as a tool to enter and engage with the spirit in order to bring understanding and meaning to the question of life itself.
Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Still good questions today.
Many spiritual leaders spent decades sitting quietly and contemplating these questions. Starving themselves. Punishing themselves. But it wasn’t until Siddhartha, the first recognized and historically recorded Buddha, had the ultimate breakthrough and was able to unlock his mind and realize the true nature of humanity.
There are lots of historical accounts of this 5th century B.C. figure. If you want to research more, Google, “Gautama Buddha”. But simply understand that he found a way to tune the body into a higher state of consciousness that transcended the physical body and the mind. And in so doing, reveal several truths about our existence.
You don’t need to know any more about Hinduism or Buddhism to gain benefit from meditation or yoga. You don’t need to become a Hindu or Buddhist to benefit.
Anybody can benefit. Young, old, rich, poor, tall, short. All the opposites in fact 🙂
Meditation is not prejudiced and works for all.
The diagram below shows my own interpretation and understanding of the meditation process based on my experiences. You can gain benefits from each stage of the process, but I do believe, understanding this whole spectrum really helps. Especially with the first couple of steps.
Most people tend to skip it, or not understand it, and that’s what trips them up and leads to frustration.
The diagram is pretty simple and probably self explanatory. But I’ll explain it anyway.
Meditation starts on the left side. The initial steps of meditation begin with physical relaxation. We’ll cover the specifics over the next few pages, but without allowing the body to relax fully, you can’t move on to calming the mind.
Mental relaxation comes next. This is a bit of a fight at first trying to get the mind to calm down. But once you learn not to fight, just observe, the mind naturally calms down and becomes quieter on its own.
Now assuming you did step one and step two correctly, you will dip into your subconscious where you may start to have spiritual experiences, and who knows……..maybe enlightenment.