A Breath of Sheer Bliss - Preksha Dhyana
Meditation is the art of living in the present. We normally choose to recollect our past or predict the future, rather than think about the present. This leads to a vicious circle of hopes, failures, regrets and tensions. Meditation allows us to stay with the present, keeping us away from the past or future.
Through meditation, we can control the emotional area of the brain. Today, we are over-whelmed by the fear of being ousted in the race for survival. However at the same time, we strive for more luxury, more wealth, more success. We crave intellectual knowledge. In fact, we strive for superiority in every area of our life. But we never bother to delve deeper into the reasons behind our feelings of anger, greed and fear. That's where Preksha Dhyana (meditation) comes in.
Dhyana means the concentration of our mind on one object. At any given point of time, the mind is cluttered; however when the mind is made to detach itself from all distractions and focus on one entity, then concentration occurs. According to Hatayoga, dhyana is the most important gate to attaining samadhi (eternal happiness) and the ultimate aim of yoga is to attain this happiness. Samadhi is that state of mind where there is no pain or sorrow, only eternal happiness.
From ancient times, numerous methods of meditation have been practiced, one amongst them is Preksha Dhyana which means 'see thyself'. Seeing, in this case, does not mean external vision, but a concentrated impartial perception; a mental insight. The word Preksha is derived from the Sanskrit 'pra + iksha' which means to observe carefully. Our mind never relaxes even when we sleep. In Preksha Dhyana, the mind is told to relax through auto-suggestion. Preksha Dhayana does not forcefully stop our thought process. Instead, it teaches us to develop the art of merely observing our thoughts without forming any reaction or getting involved. Gradually, the thoughts themselves cease. The technique of Preksha Dhyana is a practical and powerful tool for setting down a restless mind.
Based on the wisdom of ancient philosophy and formulated in terms of modern scientific concept, Preksha Dhyana can bring about a change in behaviour and modify and integrate your personality.
It is difficult to define the sweetness of sugar without actually ever tasting it, similarly, it is difficult to explain Preksha Dhyana without experiencing it. It is best to learn the technique of meditation from an expert. Preksha Dhyana can be learnt by anybody. Usually a ten day camp is adequate to acquire the basics of Preksha Dhyana.
For an effective meditation session no fixed time is prescribed.
If we just need to relax, 15-20 minutes of meditation are more than sufficient. Before deciding on any fixed time span, we should consider what is convenient, and the reasons why we are meditating.
What does Preksha Dhyana do?
Maintains a balance between activity and rest: relaxation.
Develops will power.
Purifies the mind.
Increase tolerance levels.
Brings about peace of mind.
Changes mental attitudes.
Prevents and cures psychosomatic diseases.
Aid effortless concentration.
Free you from nervous and emotional tensions.
For successful mediation, you must relax the tension in the entire body.
Concentrate your mind on each part of the body from the head to the toe, one by one.
Allow each part of the body to relax by the process of auto suggestion and feel that it has relaxed.
An internal journey (Antaryatra)
This exercise promotes better generation of nervous energy which is essential for the subsequent meditation.
Maintain the posture, focus your full attention on the Sakti Kendra (anterior end of the spine). Direct the energy to travel along the spinal cord to the top of the Gyana Kendra (top-most part of the head). When the energy reaches the top, direct it to move downward taking the same path, until you reach the Sakti Kendra again. Repeat this exercise for five to seven minutes.
With complete awareness notice the life energy and the vibrations occurring in the back of the spinal cord.
Starting from the Sakti Kendra, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems reach towards the Gyana Kendra. When these two are activated, life energy increases.
This is the source of vital energy and life.
First breathe slowly and rhythmically. Breathe out air slowly and then breathe in very slowly from both the nostrils. Practice this for at least two to three minutes.
Now bring your attention to the navel region, observe it with closed eyes. You will notice how it expands and contracts. Do this for at least five minutes.
You will feel your breathing has become slow, deep and rhythmic.
Shift your attention from the navel and focus it inside the nostrils, on the tip of the nose. Now become fully aware of each and every breath. Not even a single breath should come in or leave without your knowledge. Feel the freshness of the incoming breath (oxygen) and the warmth of the outgoing breath (carbon-dioxide). This exercise should also be done for five minutes.
If you find your mind wandering away from the breathing then hold the breath for a few seconds (kumbhak). But be careful not to force the breath in. Initially, your mind may wander, thoughts may creep in - don't try and stop them; just observe them without getting involved. Once you have perfected the art of observing the thoughts too will stop intruding.
Maintain awareness during the whole sadhana.
To end the meditation, take one or two deep long breaths and open your eyes slowly. For beginners, 15-20 minutes of meditation is sufficient. This can be increased slowly with practice.
Benefits of meditation : Diet control is only possible when the desire to eat actually becomes less. Thought meditation we can actually learn to control our desire for food.
If you want to test the depth of the man then test the quality of his language and speech. One of the major causes for misunderstanding is the lack of control we have on our speech. And one of the major benefits of meditation is disciplining the tongue. Sudden anger too is the outcome of an unstable tongue.
Meditation reduces the intensity of feelings such as anger, pride, fear, hate, complexes, etc.
Through meditation we learn where exactly in our brain these feelings arise and how we can control them.
Though meditation there is a notable decrease in feelings or sorrow or dissatisfaction. Tension, restlessness, unhappiness are all caused by an unstable mind.
Though meditation the brain cells become so activated and sensitive that one can immediately catch the vibrations going on in the other person's mind. Mediation increases awareness.
Before meditation, you take 16 to 18 breaths per minute, after meditation there is a decrease in the rate of breathing starting from 14 to even six or four per minute, one count of breath includes both inhaling and exhaling. When we experience peace inside us, our emotions will be balanced and the number of breaths we take will decrease. This can resolve many problems like BP, heart trouble and other physical ailments.
Meditation teaches you to become more compassionate and understanding.
It is the key to improving your mind and thoughts. It is also the golden road to usher in a new personality and a better life. However, meditation is not a magic wand by which we can change everything in a fraction of a second. The change will happen surely; but it will happen slowly.
The various types of Preksha Dhyana
Svasa Preksha (awareness of breaths) : Inhaling and exhaling are automatic actions. With some practice, we can increase the interval between one breath and another and lower the count of our breaths. Svasa Preksha causes amazing results not only on our neuro system but also on our internal organs. When our breathing rate is regular, the efficacy of the mind is increased.
Sharira Preksha (perception of the body) : In Sharira Preksha the various organs and body parts are observed minutely one-by-one with closed eyes. The mind studies the whole body from the top of the head to the toes of the feet and focuses on each and every body part one by one. The mind is sharpened by the act of observing and acquires healing powers.
Chetanya Kendra Preksha (perception of the physique centres) : Preksha of the endocrine system is called Chetanya Kendra Preksha. Our body is surrounded by an electromagnetic field. There are specific zones in our body that are influenced by these electro magnetic fields. Once we concentrate on these parts through Chetanya Kendra Preksha, we can overcome our anger, fear and endless worries. By meditating on the navel, our adrenaline glands get activated.
Step by Step Method : Posture is an important feature of Preksha Dhayana. You must remain quiet, motionless and alert for the duration of the exercise. Any strain or discomfort must be avoided during the session. You can choose any of the following postures:
Padamasana (lotus posture)
Ardha Padmasana (half lotus posture)
Sukhasana (simple posture)
Mudra (the position of your hands)
Keep your right hand on your right knee and likewise your left hand on the left knee, palms facing upwards. Touch the index fingers to the tips of the thumb. Keeping the spine and back upright, close eyes lightly.
Source : "Vardhaman" A Book On Jainism, Published By Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd.