By Dr. Raju Hajela
Meditation is a commonly used term that sometimes means different things to different people. It is often thought of as a way to relax and empty your mind. People also feel that it requires a lot of effort and training for which people don’t think they have the time! Sometimes when people seek some peace and quiet, they are overwhelmed with the mental chatter and get frustrated that their efforts to empty their mind appear futile. In fact, meditation being a way to empty your mind is a myth!
Our mind generates a lot of thoughts all the time. The mental chatter can be quite distracting and stressful, especially when related to fear, anger and/or shame. What people often do not appreciate is that meditation is a mental technique to let go of the chatter rather than fighting it! The frustration that one feels with the chatter is when attempts are made to quash it or use distractions, which may or may not work because of issues with control.
In fact, contemplation, imagery and concentration techniques, often called meditation, can be useful in focusing the mind on something pleasant and create a relaxation response that can be of some benefit. However, these techniques are sometimes not sustainable over time and do not necessarily provide the true benefit of meditation, which is related to surrender, acceptance and equanimity!
Wikipedia defines equanimity as: Equanimity (Latin: æquanimitas having an even mind; aequus even animus mind/soul) is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. The virtue and value of equanimity is extolled and advocated by a number of major religions and ancient philosophies.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a very specific technique that uses a personalized sound that is remembered internally effortlessly, after one is taught it by a qualified teacher. The effortless practice of 20 minutes twice daily allows one to accept the mind as it is, without feeling or acting on the compulsion to do something with the thoughts and feelings generated by the brain/mind. That acceptance during meditation consciously connects one to the transcendental state of consciousness that in turn gives rise to a state of deep rest, while being fully alert! This conscious practice of surrender and acceptance has an immediate benefit of decreasing fear and anxiety. It dissipates anger and shame over time such that people can be better in touch with their feelings to accept those that cannot be changed and take action in situations where change may be possible. The resulting calmness of mind allows for better sleep too. Research on TM has demonstrated success in dealing with health problems such as mental stress, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, ADHD, Addiction, PTSD and chronic pain.
TM facilitates one in becoming more efficient and focused in one’s life, regardless of what one chooses to do, with equanimity. It improves creativity and learning ability, in addition to better health and well-being overall. The beneficial results are cumulative over time. You can learn more about TM by visiting www.maharishi.ca