So, how do you define meditation?
According to seers and practitioners, meditation widens the gap between thoughts.
Therefore, we can define meditation as the process that trains the mind to slowly and increasingly widen the gap between thoughts.
Why is it even necessary to widen the gap between thoughts?
Our waking mind is a thought factory churning out thoughts at an incredible speed. This is a good thing when they are engaged in a productive endeavor. However, this is rarely the case; when given free reign thoughts behave like a monkey aimlessly skipping from branch to branch.
They are either engaged in reliving past events both pleasant and unpleasant or speculating about the future. But this is an exercise in futility as the unpleasant events of the past cannot be undone and spending too much time glorying in past triumphs hinders productive use of time. While the past needs to be brought up occasionally for assessment of triumphs and mistakes, excessive indulgence is an energy drainer. Similarly, no one has complete control over the future and speculating about it agitates the mind and leaves the door wide open for stress to walk in and take residence.
The practice of meditation trains the mind to simply observe the play of thoughts, and refrain from active participation.
Generally speaking, the subconscious mind is an ocean of unfathomable depth and the waking mind is a boat drifting aimlessly in its unpredictable waters. Meditation is a sophisticated tool that helps us train the conscious mind to skillfully take control and steer the waking mind through calm and storm with minimum collateral damage.
When we refrain from actively participating in and contributing to the thoughts the subconscious mind dredges up, the fuel that powers the thought engine dries up and thought production is forced to slow down. When this happens, the mind receives a much needed rest, is revitalized, and is ready to take on fresh challenges.
What has spirituality got to do with meditation?
When meditation is given a spiritual flavour, it is preceded by mental spring cleaning. This involves learning to deal with negativity rather than suppressing it or letting it control us. Because of this thoughts turn introspective, which is a necessary step to instigate change and to improve quality of life.
The effects of removing negative thinking and behaviour, when blended with the calming effects of meditation, slowly transforms a person's outlook of life in general and inter-personal relationships in particular. The conscious change in behaviour patterns and attitude, triggers a chain reaction causing the behaviour of people around us to change as well. The process may be very gradual; but it is inevitable. This gradual yet steady removal of negativity nurtures and brings to bloom a sense of calm serenity. When serenity becomes second nature, we are better equipped to deal with the unexpected volleys life deals us with poise and dignity.