There are many different types of meditation practiced in the world today. Often people practice meditation to achieve benefits such as stress reduction, increased mental clarity and concentration, better sleep, easement of anxiety and depression, improved immune system and energy levels, reduced blood pressure, and so on. It is widely accepted that the regular practice of meditation yields enormous mental and physical health benefits.
But there is an even higher purpose for meditation and a higher benefit. In fact, the ultimate purpose of meditation, as it is utilized in the ancient yoga system, is for spiritual realization. Used in this way, meditation not only supports our mental and physical health, it enables us to be spiritually healthy and spiritually happy.
We are eternal spiritual beings temporarily wearing a material body.
In the ancient yoga scriptures it is explained that although we currently exist within a material environment, we, ourselves, are not material. Rather, we are eternal spiritual beings – made of spiritual energy – who are temporarily residing within a material mind and body. The gross physical body is like an outer layer of clothes and the mind, or subtle body, is like an under layer of clothes. Just as we are not the shirt, pants, or undergarments we are wearing at this moment, we are not these “clothes” either.
However, because our spiritual form is covered by these layers of material energy and we have become so closely identified with them, we generally live under the misconception that we are the material mind and body. We think of our self in terms of these material coverings and the labels associated with them – such as male or female, young, middle-aged, elderly, short, tall, slim, heavy, rich, poor, American, Italian, Latino, African American, Asian, and so on. But, actually, we are not any of these labels. The labels describe the “clothes” we are wearing. But these clothes are not us. We are spiritual beings wearing a material mind and body.
As spiritual beings, we need spiritual nourishment to be healthy and happy.
Certainly, it is helpful for our mind and body to be in a peaceful, calm, healthy state. And by practicing meditations that employ only material techniques – such as focusing on the breath, visualizing a calm scene, listening intently to peaceful nature sounds, engaging our body in physical poses, etc. – we can actually help our mind and body to feel more relaxed and calm. We can experience a wide variety of material-level health benefits. But because we are spiritual beings, we need something more than what can be had through material activities. In order for us to be completely happy, healthy, and fulfilled, we need to engage in a type of meditation that actually nourishes us spiritually.
In fact, in the original yoga system, meditation means focusing our attention on the Transcendent. Everything else, all the techniques that help us to maintain our body or gain better control of our mind – including yoga asana and pranayama breathing – are considered to be pre-meditation techniques. Meditation in the original yoga system is when we take whatever ability we have and use it to focus our consciousness on, to link up with, the Supreme Person.
Yoga Mantra Meditation provides us with the spiritual nourishment we need.
There are different types of meditation that are recommended in the yoga scriptures for each age, or yuga. In this current age, the recommended method of meditation is Mantra Meditation. The process of mantra meditation involves hearing and chanting or singing the Names of the Supreme Person.
The Names of the Supreme Person are not ordinary sound. They are the Supreme Person Himself appearing in the form of spiritual sound vibration. The Supreme is always the Supreme regardless of where or how he chooses to appear. So when He appears in this world in the form of His Names, He is not diminished in any way by contact with matter. On the contrary, God’s Names have a purifying and nourishing effect on the consciousness of any living being who comes into contact with them.
Our dormant love for the Supreme Person is awakened by hearing and chanting His Names.
Every time we engage in meditation upon the Supreme Person by hearing and chanting or singing His Names, we become increasingly purified of all material misconceptions. We are able to experience our true spiritual nature with increasing clarity, and also to revive and consciously experience our natural loving relationship with Him.
The Supreme Person is the source and foundation of our existence, our closest relative, and eternally our dear-most Friend. When our consciousness is covered by material misconceptions – by material ways of thinking about our self, others, and the world – we are not able to clearly remember God and our innate relationship with Him. But when our consciousness becomes purified of these misconceptions by hearing and chanting or singing His transcendental Names, we can clearly remember Him again. We can remember again our natural relationship with Him, and the natural love for Him that resides eternally in our hearts. When this love for our Supreme Friend is awakened by hearing and chanting His Names, we become spiritually healthy, spiritually happy and fulfilled.
Even while we are in the initial stages of spiritual realization, we are able to begin tasting the nectar of this loving relationship. We are able to experience an extraordinary warmth, joy, and affection growing within the core of our hearts upon hearing and chanting the Names of our eternal Friend. As we regularly, daily, humbly, hear and chant His Names, this tiny seed of spiritual love steadily grows, until at last it blossoms into the all-encompassing love that completely fills our hearts, our minds, our entire being. Generally, this is a gradual process, but well worth the effort.
Love for the Supreme Person is the vital nourishment that we need in order to be completely healthy, happy, and fulfilled.
There is absolutely nothing else that is so completely and utterly fulfilling, so absolutely, exquisitely blissful and nourishing for us than to be actually experiencing our love for God and His love for us. According to the yoga scriptures, this love is the vital nourishment that we, as spiritual beings, need in order to be completely healthy, happy, and fulfilled. All that we are seeking in our heart of hearts is contained within this most special relationship of love with our Supreme Friend. So when we are again able to fully revive this relationship, this extraordinary love, we become fully at peace, happy and satisfied.
Spiritual health and happiness is our natural condition.
This is the ultimate goal of meditation and the highest purpose of yoga. It is within the reach of every person to experience this love, to experience spiritual health and happiness. In fact, it is our natural condition. We have fallen away from this condition due to forgetfulness of our true spiritual nature. But, by re-focusing our efforts and attention back on the spiritual, by sincerely applying the recommended process of yoga Mantra Meditation to our daily life, our loving relationship with our Supreme Friend can be completely restored. And, in this way, we are restored to our natural – spiritually healthy and spiritually happy condition.
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