A question, I am often asked by many, is there a difference between meditation and introspection? Let me say, the word ‘meditation’ is quite loaded. When I use the word ‘meditation’, it includes within itself the word ‘introspection’ too.
You cannot meditate without introspection. Introspection is to give complete attention to something–an idea, a form, an icon, an image, or even a sound. To give ‘Shraddha’ or to give complete attention to something is introspection. Here, one is exclusively thinking and unraveling the layers of one’s own mind during introspection.
For this introspection, great deal of attention is required which comes through meditation. That’s what I mean by meditation. One-pointed attention should not be confused with concentration that involves straining and a lot of trying to fix one’s attention on something. One-pointed attention means one is completely relaxed yet fully alive and sensitive. As you can see, there is not much difference between meditation and introspection here.
In true meditation, one’s (the subject or object of self-consciousness) is clear and not confused. In the context of meditation, I am also asked if it is necessary to have a personal Guru or a spiritual teacher to start the process. In fact, you can start meditation by reading a book or listening to somebody or just sitting by yourself beside a river and watching it flow by.
“The idea is to just sit down quietly, be relaxed and let your mind settle down. There is no need to do anything complicated here.”
When I was wandering with my Master and teacher, Maheshwar Nath Babaji, in the Himalayas, watching the river flow by was one of the meditation practices he advised me. Naturally, the question that follows is whether you can meditate without a Guru. In today’s world, access to a Guru can be a difficult thing and it would be a good idea to start meditating on your own.
The idea is to just sit down quietly, be relaxed and let your mind settle down. There is no need to do anything complicated here. There is a great advantage though in having a real teacher. I am not speaking of a spiritual teacher who is caught in the material race of collecting more disciples. I mean the teacher who is solely interested in guiding one from confusion to understanding, from despair to true happiness, and from uncertainly and illusion to reality. To actually find that kind of a teacher, with whom one can develop a relationship to find the right guidance, would a great advantage and the most fortunate thing.
There is a law of spirituality. When one–an aspirant, a seeker–seriously and longingly searches for a spiritual teacher, a teacher appears. One does not have to run to the Himalayas looking for a teacher.