Taming the monkey mind, as we know it, is no easy feat. The world is a noisy place and the mind no different. Try as we might, it’s hard to find solace even within oneself. The spiral of negative thoughts beckons the mind to swirl into a self-bound state. And the next thing we know, we’re constrained and restless within ourselves. Thankfully, there is a tool that can aid us in this helpless state.
Meditation is one of the most effective tools we can use to hone the mind. It is known to improve memory, concentration, discipline and sleep. But what really is meditation? In her Tedx Talk How Meditation Changed My Life, meditation trainer Mamata Venkat explains: “Meditation is an exercise that trains your mind to regulate itself.” Given the kind of mental congestion and exhaustion most people undergo today, meditation has become a sought-after mental workout regimen.
Not everyone approaches meditation from the same standpoint. Many often associate the practice with mindfulness, the art of focussing on a task at any given moment. However, this is a modern construct. Yoga expert and meditation trainer Rajesh Jain observes, “People talk about being mindful while meditating, but what they’re really talking about is concentration. The true form of meditation requires one to be free of thoughts, not mindful.”
This idea of meditation as a state of thoughtlessness is reiterated in the extensive research by professors of religious studies David McMahan and Erik Braun, in their book Meditation, Buddhism, and Science. In fact, even the 8th century AD Advaita philosopher Adi Shankaracharya is known to have preached ‘Achintaiva param dhyanam’, that to be thoughtless is the highest form of meditation.