Meditation offers a fascinating window into human consciousness, psychology and experience. During meditation a state of mind is reached which is characterized by deep relaxation as well as increased internalized attention.
Meditation is the freedom from thought, a state of no-mind. It is a state of pure consciousness with no contents. It is the activation of natural ‘seeing’ activity, of the ‘Self’ or Consciousness. It is the finest way to increase one’s personal energy by
getting connected to the Source. Meditation is one such technique that helps to purify, control (nirodha) and slowdown (praçamana) the mind and its modifications (vritti) by skill (kaushala) and regular practice (abhyasa). The process of meditation begins with concentration (ekägrata) and focused attention (dharana) on the chosen object and dhyana happens only when mind becomes effortlessly and continuously one-pointed like the flow of oil poured from one vessel in to another. Sage Patanjali says “dhyana is an uninterrupted, spontaneous flow of mind on its object. This itself turns into samadhi when the object alone shines and the thought of meditation (and of the meditator) is lost, as it were”. The five characteristic features of meditation (dhyana) are (i) single thought, (ii) effortlessness, (iii) awareness, (iv) slowness and (v) expansiveness (defocusing). Meditation involves three factors i.e., meditator, the object of meditation and the process of meditation (triputi).The object of focus is generally sacred and can be personal or neutral, stable or dynamic, concrete or abstract, a word or an idea, an image or a symbol, a divine form or personality.
Meditation on OM: Relevance from ancient texts and contemporary science
In Indian scriptures the sacred syllable Om is the primordial sound from which all other sounds and creation emerge which signifies the Supreme Power.
Aims: To explore the significance of the syllable OM from ancient texts and effects of OM meditation in contemporary science.
The descriptions of Om have been taken from four Upanisads (Mundaka, Mandukya, Svetasvatara, andKatha), the Bhagvad Gita, and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
Scientific studies on Om:
According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (circa 900 B. C.) there are two meditative states: focusing on the object of meditation (called dharanain Sanskrit; Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 3:1) and a meditative state characterized by no effort and by ‘de-focusing’ (called dhyana in Sanskrit; Patanjali’s Yoga sutra 3.2) are supposed to follow one another, in sequence. Based on these description a study result suggests
focusing on the symbol Om in dharana may favorably influence selective attention, concentration, visual scanning abilities, and a repetitive motor response compared to the de-focusing dhyana.
Autonomic and respiratory studies showed the maximum changes in autonomic variables and breath rate during the state of effortless meditation (dhyana). The changes were all suggestive of reduced sympathetic activity and/or increased vagal modulation which suggest that there is a combination of mental alertness with physiological rest during the practice of Om meditation.
Evoked potentials studies suggest a decrease in sensory transmission time at the level of the auditory association cortices, along with recruitment of more neurons at mesencephalic-diencephalic levels. A subsequent study results suggested that information transmission along with the auditory pathway is delayed duringcancalata, ekagrata and dharana, but there is no change during dhyana. It may be said that auditory information transmission was delayed at the inferior collicular level as the wave V corresponds to the tectum.
It is considered that a person who realizes Om, merge with the Absolute. Scientific studies on Om suggest that thefocusing on the symbol Om in dharana may influence attention, concentration, visual scanning abilities, whereasde-focusing’ effort less mental repetition of Om results inphysiological alertness with deeper level of psychophysiological relaxation, and increased sensitivity to sensory transmission.