Yesterday, one of our (EveningHour library) members asked for a book on Meditations. He was looking for a book on how to meditate and the process of meditation. While we could help him out with couple of books, that prompted me to write about Meditations.

I was lucky enough to go to a course called Arhatic Yoga recently. We were taught five varieties of yogas in the course. For couple of the yogas, we were asked to 'concentrate' and in the rest, we were asked to 'meditate'. Until that moment, while I might have known the dictionary meanings of the words, the practical difference between 'concentrate' and 'meditate' was vague or may be I would have used them interchangeably.

Concentration is the easier one to explain. Concentration is giving one's complete attention to one thing! One concentrates on a GOD, thought, issue, or even exam. While we are concentrated on some thing, the goal is to think about nothing else!

Meditation is not as simple to define. A simple google search will tell you that there are many definitions for Meditation. In his book, "Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul", the author Deepak Chopra says, "Meditation involves the search for a level of awareness that isn't conditioned. It takes the mind in its restless, confused state and leads it to a higher state that is clear and steady." 

In practical terms, concentrate is to put the attention on one aspect, say a favorite GOD, while meditate is to let go - step aside and observe your mind. Let it think whatever it is thinking, when you are conscious of it, push the thought aside and observe again. It is a state of being aware.

So what is the purpose of meditation ? Meditation has a purifying effect. Purification is necessary in achieving Calmness and remove the stress in your system. It also strengthens your connection to your Higher Soul. 

How to Meditate is the next important question. Breathing exercises/Praanaayama are by far the easiest technique to meditate. Breathing exercises regulate our thoughts and emotions as well. That is why whenever someone is under stress, they are strongly recommended to take deep breathing. And along with the expelled air, comes out the negative thoughts and the negative energy. What is also important, very very important, is to exercise soon after the meditation. Otherwise, the excess energy in the body may stays clogged within the system and not distributed thoroughly through the body.