Mind is always wandering. If our mind can’t focus, we can’t process properly. We become restless and our thoughts start to stray from its path, and without concentration, we can’t work properly. Meditation helps in redirecting our thoughts back to focus, and thus it impacts positively on mental and physical health. Meditation is all about taming the mind, i.e., keeping mind focused on one place at a time. There are several kinds of meditation and the two most popular ones are, breathing meditation and mantra meditation. But which one is better?
Benefits of meditation
There are thousands of benefits of meditation. Several researches have shown, mindfulness actively reduce stress, improve sleep, increase focus, even improve relationship issues. Popularity of meditation is increasing these days as people are practicing meditation to increase productivity, mindfulness, and the awareness about self and surroundings. Since meditation has several health benefits, such as, reducing stress or developing concentration, people are getting inclined towards meditation these days. Practicing meditation can change your outlook to positivity, make you disciplined, even increase your pain tolerance.
The common kind of meditation is breathing meditation which is mostly used for mindfulness. Breathing meditation for mindfulness involves different kinds of breathing, prana, apana, dyana, udhana etc. Patanjali talks about different kinds of breath awareness, and what kind of power they’ll deliver if you observe and practice these different types of breathing. Breathing meditation involves observing the breath in and out consciously. Mindfulness is to be aware of the present. When we use breathing meditation for mindfulness, it completely depends on the concentration on breath in and out. If mind is present and completely focused on the breathing, then one can get enlightened. But to be aware of breathing all the time, it is almost impossible. Because, mind travels even faster than wind.
In the Bhagavad Gita as it is (6.34), Arjuna was disappointed with his inability to subdue the mind when he was afflicted with misery. He asked the supreme personality of Godhead, how could he control his turbulent, restless, and obstinate mind if he finds it more difficult to control than controlling wind.
Breathing meditation or breath awareness is a profound technique when you are trying to understand mind and soul principles.
As science have already proved, everything in the universe in nothing more than vibrating energy. All things in the universe are constantly in motion, vibrating. Not just the moving objects, stationary objects are also vibrating, oscillating and resonating at different frequencies. Similarly, humans are made of cells, which are made of atoms, and then further breaking, atoms are made of particles. These particles are, in fact, just vibrating energy.
Focusing on the breath has a relationship with both the soul and mind vibrations. Because, mind and breath are inversely related to one another. Either you can focus on mind or you can focus on breathing. When you are practicing mindfulness breathing meditation, you redirect your mind to your breathing and all those unsolicited thoughts go away. That’s the approach of practicing Swara yoga, which was mentioned in Shiva Swarodaya, an ancient Sanskrit scripture which is written as a conversation between Shiva and Parvati. The scriptural text was translated by Satyananda Saraswati in 1983. It is termed as “Phonetical astrology” or the “sound of one’s own breath”, and has 395 sutras.
Swara yoga put emphasis on the study and manipulation of breath in order to attain self-realization. It is related to pranayama but in a broader sense. According to Swara Yoga, our breathing has connection to all the movement of time–past, present, and future. The Sanskrit word Swara means sound; it also means the unceasing flow of air through one nostril. Swara Yoga is the knowledge associated to the understanding of cosmic consciousness. Through consciousness or observation, it is about controlling or manipulating the flow of breath in the nostrils. Through the learning of swara yoga, the practitioner or the yogi can become free from all kinds of undesirable influences of one’s destiny and can attain heightened awareness.
According to Sadhguru, if you handle the body, the mind, the emotions, and the energy properly, you become meditative. What we are doing now is without understanding the fundamentals of mind, we are trying to operate the mind which is the most sophisticated machine on the planet. When you’re going at it somehow, sometimes it works, most of the time it is working against. Mind manufactures every kind of misery. Mind should be manufacturing bliss, and ecstasy for you. But it is manufacturing misery. As there is no stable platform, it’s all over the place. Once the mind starts to work for you, once you’re blissful by your own nature, there is so fear of suffering. Then the mind will become a fantastic instrument of wellbeing.
Also read: How Real Are You? – Know Your Shadow Self
Mantra meditation is chanting a specific mantra on beads over and over consciously. In the beginning, mantra meditation could be very challenging, because it is nearly impossible to be present and conscious of the sound of the mantra you are chanting is near to impossible.
Our body is made up of cells and all these cells are vibrating at a certain frequency. When these energy frequencies resonate in balance, we experience a state of peace and relaxation. We feel healthy from inside. However, if we vibrate at a wrong frequency, then our energies get stuck, and we find ourselves in a stagnant stage. We can even suffer from various diseases- mental, emotional and physical. Even before the modern science, our ancestors found ways to keep these energies in balance, and that is transcendental vibrations, known as mantra. In recent years, several studies have suggested that recitation of mantra at a specific frequency induce favorable psychological and physiological effect, when chanted in the right way.
Sadhguru says, sound is the essence of creation. When you’re concentrating on the sound, you’re touching the creation. But if you’re focused on finding a word’s meaning, you’re just going into the psychological structure of human beings. Creation is just a multifarious amalgamation of sounds. Thus, sound is the blueprint of creation. When we try to find meanings of everything, it solely becomes a human thing. Because one certain word can have many meanings in different languages, because it’s all made up by humans. Sound cannot be made up, because it is already existing.
The whole creation reverberates in a certain way, which is not audible to humans. So, when we are not hearing it, it becomes meaningless to us. But it is existing. Only those who are keen observers, can enjoy certain aspects of creation. Otherwise, you’ll only enjoy the psychological patterns made up in your head. Humans always tend to speak in order to find meanings. But the fundamental step to spirituality is silence. When silence gets too overwhelmed for you, you’re psychologically fragile. A psychologically stable human can maintain silence for a longer period such as thirty- sixty days or more.
Mantra need not to have meanings. Because a mantra is to be chanted, not spoken. Chanting is related to the sound, where meaning is related to the word. A chant is basically a sound, a reverberation. Mantra is a pure sound. So, when you are involving into the chanting as a beginner, you can give it a certain meaning by yourself so that you can focus on the sound. But once you get involved into the mantra meditation, you don’t need the meaning at all. Just concentrating on the sound will be needed to concentrate. That’s the process of mantra meditation.
Mantra meditation primarily means involving and dissolving yourself into the sound. Mantra is basically a doorway to the cosmos. Meaning of mantra doesn’t have existential meaning. But the sound of mantra has great impact on the creation. As the whole cosmos is basically vibrating sound, just a form of energy, the chanting of mantra connects you to the divine, only if you do it right.
According to Gaur Gopal Das prabhu Mantra meditation is to be consciously present in a space of thoughtlessness, where nothing is bothering the mind and it is completely absorbed in that mantra sound. But it is very challenging, especially for the beginners to concentrate only on the mantra chanting. Since we are so accustomed to do multitasking, our mind wanders to several tracks at a single time. Our mental space gets occupied by several issues going on in our conscious life, personal, professional, relationship issues, etc. So, to deal with these issues, one can bring a small but profound change that helps right the meditation shortcomings for beginners. Single tasking and being conscious of that exact task. For example, if you are taking a bath, you should only focus on bathing. The water, the feel of it on your skin, the flow of water from top of your head to downwards, and not think of something outside of bathing, say, singing.
Amoghlila prabhu says in that same context, that since meditation is being present in that moment, it cannot be done in a place full of distraction. That’s why the best time and place to do meditation is early morning and in a place where no one else is present, or in the association with others who are also practicing the same. Because, then mind would take inspiration from them. According to his words, if someone wants to advance in a spiritual journey, there is only one way (Krishna Consciousness). All other paths of meditation are ineffective in the way to enlightenment, and that is mantra meditation of Hare Krishna mahamantra.
The Hare Krishna Movement highlights the shloka from Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya Lila 6.242,
The Hare Krishna mahamantra,