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what does "meditate on it" mean to you?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
There's an issue that's been bothering me lately and someone told me to meditate on it. Later on I realized that I hear that phrase a lot and don't really know what it means. I do meditate, but using breathing and empty mind approaches that seem totally incompatible with that idea.

What does the phrase "meditate on it" mean to you? If you meditate about a certain issue in your life, how do you do it?
post #2 of 8

For me, meditating does not mean attempting to completely empty my mind or breathing a certain way, but rather it means to focus my mind/heart on something specific related to my faith.  So in your example of having an issue that's bothering you, what I would try to do is focus on aligning my will with God's, forgiveness, gratitude, or something along those lines.  For me, this would also involve prayer and reading spiritual writings.

post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Lily View PostThere's an issue that's been bothering me lately and someone told me to meditate on it. Later on I realized that I hear that phrase a lot and don't really know what it means. I do meditate, but using breathing and empty mind approaches that seem totally incompatible with that idea.

What does the phrase "meditate on it" mean to you? If you meditate about a certain issue in your life, how do you do it?


Someone pointed out to me years ago that meditating is emptying the mind and focusing on the breath-- that when someone says "meditate on it" what they are really saying is "contemplate it". That made a lot more sense to me. Also, in AA it is said that "praying is talking to God, and meditating is listening to God". Whatever your concept of God/dess/Higher Power is.

 

HTH smile.gif


 

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maiasaura View Post


Someone pointed out to me years ago that meditating is emptying the mind and focusing on the breath-- that when someone says "meditate on it" what they are really saying is "contemplate it". That made a lot more sense to me. Also, in AA it is said that "praying is talking to God, and meditating is listening to God". Whatever your concept of God/dess/Higher Power is.

 

HTH smile.gif


 


That's only one type of meditation, though, and it's not the only kind.  There are other meditation techniques which do not focus on emptying the mind or "watching the breath" although that is a very well-known method.  I read that the word meditation comes from the Latin word which means to concentrate, consider, contemplate, ponder.

post #5 of 8

What a great topic for discussion!

I'll do my best to explain meditation, as I understand it, from a yogic perspective, where (as was mentioned above) Meditation (dhyana) differs from contemplation and concentration (dharana).

 

Looking at what Patanjali's Yoga Sutra has to say, the last four rungs/steps/limbs of Ashtanga Yoga ("the eightfold path")  are prathyahara (sense withdrawl), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (absorbtion--and it should be noted that there are different levels of Samadhi).

 

As I understand it, one can't just say "OK, I'm going to practice pratyahara now," but rather pratyahara itself naturally arises as a result of something else, sitting still and closing your eyes is not itself pratyahara, but pratyahara may arise as a result of sitting still and closing your eyes, and then beginning to focus on the breath, a mantra, etc....at some point you turn inward. The senses are no longer pulling you outward. (If any Yogini's can expand upon this please do!)

 

As far as the last three steps are concerned, first of all, an object of meditation must be chosen-- (Interestingly enough, unlike in English, the Sanskrit root meaning "to meditate"--dhyai, is actually a transitive verb, so literally, it's more like "to meditate on.") this could be the breath, a mantra (sacred word(s) or sound(s)), diety, yantra (sacred geometric diagrams), candle flame, religious symbol, etc.

 

The limb that follows pratyahara--dharana--is about concentration, focusing on the object you've chosen--but it is not meditation.

And focus is hard! There's a constant back and forth--the mind wanders, and then it comes back to the object, then it wanders again, etc. focusing takes effort!

 

But maybe, eventually, we come to a place where it becomes effortless--there's an effortless, conscious flow between you and the object; in other words a connection! That's meditation--dhyana.

There's no longer this "struggle" to come back to the object that you were concentrating on--it's effortless.

And there's a connection-- direct communication--between the meditator and the object of meditation

it's no longer "The object and I" but rather, "The object and I and our communication--our connection."

During true meditation, the object actually transmits it's qualities on to you (which is why meditation can lead to such powerful transformation). So there's this  mutual communication and if you look at

the etymology, the root of the word dhyana  is dhi--which means "intelligence"--an awareness of this communication, and the intelligence--those qualities imparted to you by the object of meditation.

 

And then finally, Samadhi--absorbtion (literally, sama=same--aren't English/Sanskrit cognates cool?, dhi=intelligence; so it's this realization--more so than just an intellectual understanding, but true, experiential knowledge--of the oneness between the meditator and the object of meditation.--you experience oneness with the object of meditation.

Though is isn't exactly a complete definition--  as I said, there are different levels of Samadhi--Sutras 1.17 and 1.18 discusses this in more detail (Swami Satyananda Saraswati offers an excellent commentary elaborating on this in "Four Chapters on Freedom," his translation of the "Yoga Sutra."...I don't want to go any more off-topic than I already have :)

 

A really "concrete" explanation, definition is given in the translation and Commentary on the YS by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood--to paraphrase, they say that if the mind is able to focus on the chosen object for 12 seconds--that can rightly be called "concentration," if this is continued for 12 times 12 seconds, that's meditation, If the meditation is continued for 12 time that amount of time, that will result in the lower form of samadhi and if the lower samadhi can be maintained for 12 time that amount of time, then that will result in the highest level samdahi.

 

But..though the above is a very "linear" explanation, the interesting thing is, it's not like it's totally linear, it's a constant process--a constant fluctuation--like a dance in a way, you might touch samadhi and then slip back to meditation, and then concentration, and then back to meditation again, etc.

 

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Purple Sage View PostThat's only one type of meditation, though, and it's not the only kind.  There are other meditation techniques which do not focus on emptying the mind or "watching the breath" although that is a very well-known method.  I read that the word meditation comes from the Latin word which means to concentrate, consider, contemplate, ponder.


Oh! Well, then, I guess we're both right. How cool. Katala, thanks for your explanation, too! 

post #7 of 8

To me it means to sit and clear my mind of any static and then ask for an answer, resolution, or even just simply pose the question or thought and then just listen.

post #8 of 8

I don't use the phrase "meditate on."  When I've heard people use that, it appears to me they are mostly obsessing or thinking logically, and neither of those things are meditation (to me).

 

If something is bothering me, I'll pray about it and release it to the universe, and sometimes I get very clear answers back, often during meditation.

 

I just don't see praying, thinking, or pondering as meditating. Meditating *to me* is about releasing all that and just being.

 

So I don't meditate on anything, rather I practice meditation techniques, such a breath work, during which time any thoughts about what ever is bothering me, just giving myself a few minutes of respite from it.

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