Meditation is a simple practice. Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes approaching stillness. Direct your awareness deeply inside, releasing it from the stimulation of your senses. Continue to concentrate and focus until you are able to quiet the chatter of your mind, and then unite your individual spirit with universal consciousness. Simple really, but it is one of the most difficult practices for us to establish. However, from this simplicity comes a transcendent experience that is both rewarding and healing, one that cannot be achieved through any other exercise.
Our bodies and minds are practical constructs, always externally focused on the experience of the world around us, a world that is in constant motion. We live on the earth that is constantly rotating, circling a sun within a solar system that is also in continuous motion, in a universe that is expanding. Outwardly we are part of that nature, formed from the same material, ostensibly stable. Yet, the apparent solidity of our bodies is an illusion: unrelenting activity within, heart pumping, fluids circulating, digestion occurring, breath moving allowing oxygen to permeate all of our tissues, cellular activity, and molecular machinery with subtle motions beyond our observation. Additionally, this unit called our body is in unceasing movement through the cycle of life, coming into and out of existence. Our thoughts are endless, ever-present changing as quickly as the next item to catch our fancy. We have preconceived ideas, expectations, and judgments that shift with our desires, desires that drive us to distraction, anger, fear, and ultimate misery. So much of this motion is occurring beyond our attention, yet we do feel the helplessness and lack of control. It manifests in the daily mood swings and stress reactions that we contend with, the disrupted sleep and illnesses that bring us to our knees. So much of the time we are searching for change, thinking that something new will alleviate our discomfort, the irony is that we are trying to change something that is constantly changing.
Rajoguna, the yogic term given to this quality of nature that is the cause of our surrounding whirlwind can be subdued by bringing our attention to the center calm. Meditation achieves this process; it helps us to understand a new reality. It changes the way we perceive the world, affording us the ability to let go of our pre-conceived ideas, judgments, and expectations. We learn to cultivate skills that develop our ability to concentrate and focus. With a continuous, persistent practice we can develop detachment, peace, and tranquility. Knowledge is at the core of practice, an understanding of who we really are and how we relate to the external world and the internal environment of our mind.
Every religion has a meditation practice of some form. However the practice of meditation itself does not have to be a religious choice. It is a choice of self-exploration and knowledge. The various teachings have some fundamental differences but many commonalities. The choice of which method to employ depends on the character of the individual.