Meditation is composed of two main ideas.
For example, the breathing and switching nostrils in Nadhi Shuddhi Pranayama is a Dharana.
Dhyana is the state of mind you achieve with the meditation. In other words, people use a Dharana to achieve Dhyana. Dhyana is what most people think meditation is — a particular state of mind of understanding, peace, or concentration.
The reason there are many meditative techniques is that people have unique cognitive fingerprints. The brain is made up of different lobes and sections that can differ from person to person.
For example, the visual cortex, somatosensory cortex, and auditory cortex can vary between people which influences how we respond to sensations like art and music.
The unique cognitive fingerprint of a person determines what meditation technique, or Dharana, gets to the state of dhyana the easiest.
For example, take a person with ADHD. Their cognitive fingerprint makes it so their attention focuses on many things. The key for this person would be a meditative technique that works with their ADHD rather than against it. A technique would look something like focusing on several different sounds in a noisy environment.
There are about 112 meditation techniques and theoretically, there should be one for every person who lives, has lived, and will live on this planet.
Anxiety, sadness, and depression are all a part of the mind. The goal of meditation is to be conscious without the function of the mind. Therefore, being separated from the mind means that those feelings go away. The goal is to give your brain a break from yourself.
Meditation develops the one-pointed mind, which holds the potential to create the most change in someone’s life.
For example, when we think of a light bulb, it shines light in all directions. But it does not do much except provide heat when near it. Compare this to a laser beam, which is a concentrated source of light and as a result, it can cut through many things. The mind is like a source of light where if we focus it, then it can achieve a lot of things.
Accomplished people tend to have a strong mind. A strong mind is one that is focused and unwavering. On the contrary, people that we call lazy tend to have a desire to do something but do not end up doing it. Often we do not carry out our desires because we get distracted. That kind of mind is weak and dissipates when we try to concentrate on carrying out our desires.
To fix the problem of following-through, we need a strong, concentrated mind. Meditation is a way to teach yourself Dharana, which is the practice of concentrating the mind on a single point without wavering. When you attain this skill, you will no longer be lazy.
When we think of trying to do something like going to the gym or working on a project, our resolve is very strong and committed at that moment. However, on the day after, we do not follow through not because our resolve has changed, but rather, because our focus has changed.
This is what procrastination is — when your resolve to do one thing is equal to the resolve to do something else.
This pull between two directions causes your mind to waver and fluctuate. Therefore, the goal of meditation is developing a practice to train your mind to focus on one point.
Flow state is the state of mind where the mind is concentrated. People enjoy the feeling of being in the flow state. That is interesting because we think enjoyment comes from the outside, but we don't think of it in terms of ourselves. If we look into our enjoyment of things, we are engaged and concentrated on our experience.
For example, a good movie is something that draws you in and your mind is fully focused on it. But if someone were to get a phone call or talk during the movie, we get distracted and we are pulled out of our immersion. Our concentrated mind shatters and our enjoyment decreases.
If we were watching a boring movie, the movie would not capture our attention, and our mind would wander as a result. A wandering mind is a mind that is not enjoying itself.
The difference between understanding something on the first try vs understanding on the 5th try is the level of focus.
Adderall and other medications can be used to artificially increase our concentration, which improves the quality of studying. But it is not the Adderall that makes you a better at studying. Rather, it is the focus you gain from it that prepares the mind to study.
The flow state is a period where the mind is ultra-focused and loses a sense of self. It improves performance and filters anxiety. Flow state is similar to meditation in the fact that you are conscious, but during meditation you lack mental activity. Similar to meditation, the more you chase the flow state, the harder it is to achieve the state.
It is good to cultivate flow states because successful people seem to have flow states more often and for longer periods. The quality of the state of mind determines its productivity and meditation helps prepare the mind to achieve these flow states more often.
Exercise to see the effects of flow state: Look at Dr. K during his interviews and try to see when he is in a flow state and when he is not? Then see when he is logical and when he is not (determine when he is using intuition)?
Once, Dr. K helped a patient that was trying to stop smoking. Dr. Kanojia recommended that they meditate and they worked together to stop smoking, but the patient continued to relapse. One day the patient went hiking and they were focused on breathing because of how hard the hike was. While breathing, they realized that smoking affects their breath and that their breath is more important than smoking. After this realization, the patient was able to quit without relapsing. Intellectually and logically, smoking is bad, but that information does not change a person. The realization and understanding through experience and reflection can change a person.
This realization is facilitated through concentration. Meditation trains the mind to be concentrated and influences all parts of life. There is a saying in psychiatry: “All boats rise together”, meaning that all aspects of your life change if one aspect of your life changes. So if you improve the mind, a problem-solving tool that you use throughout your life, then your whole life will improve.
Video games help your mind concentrate, bring it enjoyment, and helps it relax. It is like an induction to Dharana.
For example, if you were playing League of Legends or DOTA 2 and someone comes into your lane and feeds, then you get tilted. It distracts your mind and drops your enjoyment. But sometimes some noobs feed, but you don't worry about them and you do not rage. You stay focused on your gameplay and you still have a decent time. The difference between these situations is your focus on the game, and when you focus, your performance improves and your enjoyment improves.
The problem with video games is that while they cause our minds to focus, they do not train our minds to focus. Just like good food, the experience is so good that it causes you to focus and enjoy it. That is why we need to meditate because we need to train our minds to be focused.
So the real question is how do we find who we are and find a stable self?
The answer is meditation. Meditation removes us from our mind, which removes us from those identities and consequently the suffering.
As a result, meditation helps people get into a neutral state, find the truest version of self, and always have a part of themselves through any experience, good and bad, that is constant. Discovering this self is life-changing because there are people that go through life without a constant sense of self.
One of the goals of meditation is Vairagya, which is the Sanskrit word for emotional detachment from both the highs and the lows. If you find tranquility and equilibrium and are not buffeted by successes , then that quality will also allow you to not be buffeted by the failures.
This is because if you get disrupted when you are feeling positive or are at your peak, then you can get knocked down and face lows.
Meditation is not an avoidance of pain. Meditation is to live life in a tranquil state and enjoy what comes at you and to be able to face it no matter what comes.
According to most studies on meditation, you need to practice meditation for 8-10 weeks, 3-5 days each week, and 20 mins each day to have a substantial effect.
Sometimes people can do 3 minutes of meditation and they will still feel amazing. It all depends on what you are doing. Different people have different minds and different symptoms, which require different techniques.
Individual results can vary because some people can experience results within the first few minutes of meditation.
When we sit back in our chair, we slouch. We also tend to slouch when we sit cross-legged during meditation.
However, if you sit in a chair with your legs straightened out, then your back will straighten out as well. If you sit in half lotus or a full lotus position during meditation, then your back will straighten out as well.
The answer lies in the relation between the position of the hip and the knees. To sit up straight, you need to make sure that your knees are below the hips when you are sitting down. So while you sit in a chair, you should put multiple pillows under your butt and not your legs, so that your knees are lower than your hips. During meditation, you should sit in the full lotus position or half-lotus with a cushion under your butt.
Meditation applications are a good medium to get into the habit of meditation, but they are usually in detail and depth. In addition, the meditations techniques are purposefully varied to keep the monkey mind entertained and focused on practicing meditation. So it is good to build the habit first with the applications, and then move onto one meditation focus that you commit to daily.
If a meditation technique does not work for you, then you should use a different meditation technique that gives you the same result. For example, if someone has a deviated septum they will struggle with the alternating breathing technique meditation. So instead of brute forcing through the mediation, adjusted it or find a different technique.
At some point in their meditation journey, people will run into the most common problem with it, which is creating an expectation. With this expectation, as you are meditating, your mind will not be able to focus on what you are supposed to be focusing on. Instead, your mind will be focused on the expectation. Because of this lack of focus, you will not find the experience anymore. This is the most common problem that people who meditate run into. It weakens and dissipates the strength of the mind.
Your frustration probably comes from meditation not meeting your expectations. If you have an expectation, you are preventing your mind from entering a meditative state. The solution is to trick yourself into meditating without knowing its meditation.
When you are frustrated during meditation, try this:
Close your eyes and listen to the sound of your breathing.
While you are breathing, figure out how to spell your breathe. For example, dogs go woof and cats go meow. What sound does our breathe make?
Notice that there is a difference in sound when breathing in and breathing out. Figure out how to spell those sounds.
Notice and listen for the sound of the breath in other things around you or in the external world.
Meditation was discovered through knowledge. Some people understood how human beings and the mind work, so they made practices and techniques to function on these levels. Once you understand and use meditation, you understand how human beings and their minds work/function on these levels.
In Hinduism, people believe that Shiva was the first person who gave human beings meditation. Shiva taught people about meditation and it spread. However, this is faith-based and not based on science.
Tantric meditations are about the outside world and relate to mysticism. They work by using accumulated energy to affect the outside world.
There are three primary practices in Tantra:
Kundalini yoga is somewhere between Tantra and Yoga — it is about purifying the self to affect the outside world as well as the internal world.
It focuses on the 7 chakras, each of which has certain attributes that bring certain achievements/abilities to the practicing individual.
Some of the potential effects of Kundalini Yoga are:
There are case reports of meditation-induced psychosis. Never practice Kundalini Yoga on your own without the guidance of a proper spiritual guru.
Mantras are phrases that accumulate energy (essentially magic spells) that you chant repeatedly in order to gain understanding and insight, among other things. Mantras are generally given by someone with spiritual expertise i.e a teacher or a guru. Even though you could technically find it on your own, mantras are hard to find by yourself and should come from a spiritual teacher.
Yoga is about the self. It is a practice that works on the internal world and is a system to reach enlightenment.
The word Yoga derives from the Sanskrit word, yuj, which means a union or yoke. It refers to freedom from that which binds us to life and liberates us to the infinite.
Eastern religions have the concept of the Brahman, which is a sea of consciousness. It describes that we are a single drop that embodies the physical form. It says that enlightenment is not about learning something new, it is about remembering something old and forgotten.
Yoga describes several paths to enlightenment:
However, it is not the actual true meditation.
Example: Walking down the street and you smell something cooking, your mind would start thinking about food. The attention leaves your body and goes into whatever you're thinking about - Our mind is occupied externally.
During Yoga, we "knock one of our senses out", enhancing the other senses. Example: What happens to your capacity to listen to music when you close your eyes? it gets better!
Example: When you wear deodorant, you notice it at first, but after a while, it becomes unnoticeable and fades into the background.
In Dharana, we use one object to push all others away. You can't turn off your mind. It's very hard to push off something from the mind. You cannot stop the mind BUT you can redirect the mind.
Meditation is like going to bed and falling asleep. Sleep is not a verb, it's a state of mind. Dharana is going to bed. Sleep is Dhyana. Due to the limitations of the English language, people tend to not teach the difference between a state or a verb. Western meditation tends to be watered down because they miss this crucial piece of information, resulting in misunderstandings.