Dhyana or meditation is an ancient technique that helps individuals in achieving a more focused, stress-free, and calm mental state.
Meditation was initially observed by the followers of Hinduism as the earliest record about dhyana is found in Vedas and now it is spread across the world.
Meditation is now not only limited to a spiritual or religious purpose, businesses, organizations and many institutions are using this technique to create a stress-free work environment, to reduce depression, anxiety, and mental well-being.
The world dhyana came from the Sanskrit word dhyai which means to meditate, the world meditation itself comes from the French word meditacioun which means “to think”.
Hinduism and Meditation
The seventh step out of eight-step of yoga as given by Rishi Patanjali is Dhyana, according to him if you want to achieve eternal bliss you need to focus on eight components of yoga and dhyana is one of them.
In Hindu culture meditation is done to connect with the inner self, one can find texts about dhyana in ancient epics like Mahabharata, also the benefits of meditation are mentioned in Bhagwat Geeta and Upanishads. As per the Upnishads meditation is a state at which you become calm, concentrated, and able to connect with yourself (atman).
The purpose of meditation is to become aware of your inner self and to explore your capabilities, dhyana also helps in better focus. In process of meditation, one withdraws mind and senses from distractions. Once free from distraction one can control their thoughts, can overcome negative thoughts, fears, and anxiety. With regular practice, one can understand how our body acts, control actions and reactions, fluctuation of our mind, reason of our suffering, and resolution.
As written in Bhagwat Geeta, there are four types of yogas by the help of which one can attain liberation, these are-
i) Karma Yoga
ii) Bhakti Yoga
iii) Jnana Yoga
Iv) Dhyana Yoga
Karma yoga is the yoga of work in the world, Bhakti yoga means when one is fully devoted to religion and religious acts, Jnana Yoga is the yoga of knowledge and intellectual endeavor, and dhyana yoga is the yoga of meditation.
In the sixth chapter of Bhagwat Gita, Shri Krishna talks about the benefits of dhyana yoga and explains how to practice dhyana yoga. In this chapter, Krishna tells about the obstacles one can face while practicing dhyana yoga and methods to beat these obstacles.
In the first verse of chapter 6, Krishna explains that one should do Karma without expectations of favorable outcomes, one should perform the action based on their duty and not results. Shri Krishna says that to be a yogi one should constantly concentrate on the mind and its thoughts, the body and the mind should be free from any expectations and it should be free from the acquisition. Krishna explains the steps to perform yoga from verse 10 of chapter 6. He says one should sit in a resting position not too high neither too low, the Asana to sit for yoga should be made either of cloth or grass. While sitting in a meditation position one should concentrate on the purification of internal organs, keeping the focus of mind one-pointed, the idle position to meditate is keeping the head, neck, and body in a straight line. While seated in dhyana one should be fearless keeping the mind in control, once the mind is controlled the practitioner gets unlimited peace and attains liberation. But controlling the mind is not that easy, to control the mind one should give up all the desires but the duties.
Patanjali Yoga Sutra
Rishi Patanjali wrote about yoga sutras(formulas of yoga) and dhyana is one of them.
The first sutra of the third sutra says deśa-bandhaḥ cittasya dhāraṇā ॥3.1॥ (देशबन्धश्चित्तस्य धारण॥) which means Dharana is the fixation of the mind(Chitta) on a particular point in space.
The second sutra says tatra pratyaya-ikatānatā dhyānam ॥3.2॥ (तत्र प्रत्ययैकतानता ध्यानम्॥) and it means that In Dharana the continuous flow of similar mental modification or focusing on the particular point in space(object/objective) is called dhyana Or meditation.
In chapter 3 from verses 1 to 20 Rishi Patanjali explains the benefits, ways, and outcomes of meditation.
What Science says about meditation.
Researchers have investigated and found that meditation can help in multiple ways in our day-to-day life, with meditation high blood pressure can be controlled, it also eases depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Experts are still researching on many benefits of meditation.
Many experts from Vedic times suggest that meditation helps in better concentration, improves productivity, and reduces stress and depression. Nowadays many corporates organize meditation and mindfulness sessions for the mental well-being of their employee. In the current situation and lifestyle, most humans are dealing with anxiety, depression, and stress. By practicing meditation for a few minutes a day these issues can be avoided.