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I want you to do something today. I want you to get rid of all the things that you have heard about meditation so far – everything – all those things about focus, attention, sitting upright, closing your eyes, focusing on breathing, sound, this and that – everything – even the things that you have heard from me. Let’s try it shall we! Let’s start afresh. Let’s take a fresh look at meditation. What is Meditation? Forget everything you know about meditation and simply think. Meditation simply means – thinking over – to think over something – to put your whole attention on something without pressure – anything. That is the simplest explanation for meditation. Meditation is simply thinking over.
Today meditation has become a kind of hectic practice where you sit upright and do a lot of breathing exercises, this and that – and they call it Raja Yoga, Vipassana or something else. They need to call it that way because this way they can keep it mystical. And the more they can keep it mystical, the more they can gain from it. Simplifying it doesn’t make the whole business of yoga, meditation and all that, profitable, does it!
So let’s simplify it, shall we! Meditation has been proposed as a means to psychological well being – and that means usually comes along with specific methodologies. The Buddhists have their Vipassana technique – the Hindus have their Kundalini nonsense. I am calling it nonsense because of all the mysticism it brings along. The mystical advocates of all that kundalini stuff, truly believe that there are actual energy centres throughout the human spine, and by unlocking them one could attain glorious spiritual potential. The Hindus also call this method of unlocking the kundalini centres of chakras, Raja Yoga, as if its something supreme, and not an ordinary mental state to be attained by an ordinary human. So, when the very practice of Raja Yoga proposes the notion, that it is something not ordinary, and basically unattainable without a teacher – that it is something higher than normal human practice, you naturally feel like you are supposed to go to an expert. This makes it profitable. Hence rises countless spiritual institutions upon the edifice of the primitive elements of human mysticism.
Now let’s throw all that mysticism away and look without judgement and preconceived mystical illusions of intellect. Meditation simply means focusing on something, thinking over something. Now the question is, do we need to sit upright and practise meditation the conventional way – closing our eyes, focusing on breathing or chanting or say Aum and going through a million other rituals! Is it necessary? Well, if it suits your taste then, of course, it’s okay – nobody is condemning it. It will bring you obvious health benefits, surely. But it’s only the way of the novice, also the most robotic way. Meditation means thinking over. But think over what? Do you have something to think over – something that you’d just think over, simply to take the pleasure from it – to simply be yourself in it – anything – a practice, a habit, a hobby, an idea, anything – something you can think over without any pressure of technicality, ritual or norms – that you can pay your whole attention to, simply because you love it, not because some great so-called guru tells you to practise it or some great scientist tells you to practise it! Do you have something like that – do you – anything – painting, writing, going out for a walk of contemplation, filmmaking, photography – any human activity that you can engage yourself in, without all the pressure that comes along with the very term “method”!
When you love doing something, there is no method, there is no risk, there is no fear, there is no insecurity of failure, there is just doing it. You just love it and do it. Often we also use the term “passion”, but I think, the word “passion” is a petty human attempt to justify the activity in front of the society. Why do you need to justify it! You simply love it and you do it. When you love it and do it, you are basically meditating upon it. And when the humans have something they love to do, and they do it, which means meditate upon it, they give a certain amount of time from their daily schedule to that activity, not out of pressure, not out of the insecurity of psychological obscurity, not out of a revolting attitude against the social norms, but simply to be themselves in that activity. When you do that on a daily basis, or find time to do that every now and then, every week, you are basically engaging your brain almost in the same manner as anybody else does in practising the conventional way of meditation – sitting upright, closing their eyes and focusing within. The brain functionings in both cases are basically similar – and they bring the same kind of inner emotional stability, same kind of inner content more importantly – basically the same kind of internal well being, which is sustained in the long run, if you can simply do what you love to do on a regular basis. This way your brain goes through a kind of unique refreshment – that basically is the product of meditation – the simplest meditation – meditation upon the activity that allows you to be you.
Meditation is a method-less act – an act of contemplation – an act of being. And this contemplation or this being is not a Buddhist thing, a Hindu thing or a Jewish thing – it is simply a human thing. No pranayama, vipassana or kabala has any kind of exclusive authority over meditation whatsoever. All these ways are merely the means of the novice to begin the journey. But the means is not the real act itself. Seeing the method of meditation as meditation itself is like confusing the menu for the meal. The real journey takes place when there is no means whatsoever – when the self does not need to make efforts to be the self – that’s real meditation – the meditation where you simply are who you are and do not seek methods to attain a superficial state of mind.
If you find something you love and make that your profession, then you’ll never need to practise the conventional meditation in your life, in order to be psychologically well, because your very profession would be the best meditation for you. If you don’t exactly have that dream profession, then simply taking time out from your daily schedule to do what you love to do, would still be a better meditation for you than the conventional one. And if none of these is an option for you, then you can resort to the conventional form of methodical meditation. The final call on this matter would be made by nobody else but you. But bear in mind, kids meditate on things, the adults meditate on the self. Meditation on the self is the highest form of true method-less meditation, for it brings self-awareness – which is beyond the everyday joy and sorrow. True meditation does not put you in control of your sorrow, rather it takes your mind beyond that very sorrow, as well as joy, into the kingdom of contentment – a kingdom without ideology – without cognitive extremes, such as radical rationalism, radical romanticism or radical emotionalism. In that kingdom, you simply are a human, with no name, no nationality, no tradition, no culture, no religion, no gender and no social image – simply a human.