Unlike the narrow view of it being a breathing technique, or some method to improve concentration/ focus etc etc, let me briefly describe meditation.
Meditation in true sense is a radical form of being in the absolute present. It is a state where one tries to dispel anything and everything about the past and future. Being in absolute present is a very daunting task given the dynamics of our brain, our long life experiences and our preoccupations with our priorities in life. Meditation is thus an attempt to direct your conscious mind towards just being in the exact nano second of the present happenings.
Well, our mind never stays in present. just try to stop for a moment and think, everything that you are thinking or doing is either driven by something that has happened in the past or is perpetuated by some future aspiration. Any task you perform in you normal course of life has almost zero percentage of being in absolute present ( except for when you sleep).
Well, the state of absolute present it the state of bliss.Let me give you the extreme case of what i mean by absolute present. It is like like the state of a baby in mother’s womb. With no preoccupation of the baby with the past or present, the baby is in the state of absolute bliss. No pain and No delight. Have you heard a baby crying inside? But, as the baby is out, as she starts mapping and modeling the world, the sensation of pain and happiness is imbibed in her.
Now, surely, we cannot and should not aim to reach that state, but it is important to declutter your mind, at least for a small period of time, in order to experience that state. That state of utmost bliss, where your experience no pain or no delight. You just experience the truth and that is the state of being in absolute present.
There are various means to do it. some effective, some not that effective. Some long lasting, some just superficial, but every method tries to reach that state of directing you mind towards being just in the present, to some degree.
Meditation by focusing on an object:
This was common method taught in my school. You just pick up a point object and concentration on that point. As you do the concentration, try to just see that point. with this you just try to engage your optical senses in the present truth in front of your eyes , which is the point object. Well, This technique was ineffective for me since here only one sense organ was involved , while the rest were free to wander.
Meditation by recitation / beads / mantras :
This is a very common methods. This often comes with religious undertones but at the core it tries to direct your speech, your hearing organ towards that state. But for me, even this failed to trick the brain into being in absolute present since my other sensory organs were free to wander. Now i wont go much into the details of other techniques, Let me jump right to Vipassana.
It is a form of mindful meditation. It tries to trick the brain to come to terms with the absolute reality. You mind is concentrated on what is the ultimate truth of every animal life on earth, and that is your breath. When you are in syn with the breath at the scale of every nano second, you cannot be any more in that “absolute present” time-space. You are not visualizing a light reflected off an object ( which itself is delayed by certain amount). Neither is your ear engaged in catching a signal travelling at the speed of sound ( which is slower than that of light). Your breath is ,“THE reality”. The most underrated, yet the most divine thing.
The sensory experience on your body, every small sensation is again a form of reality which is at times neglected in our normal course of life. But when your mind tries to seek and experience every small sensation ( good/bad) on your body, you again come syn with the absolute truth at the scale of every nano second.
Thus, for me Vipassana meditation has provided means to detox my mind of my past and future. You just dispel every superficial layer that has buried your feeling of equanimity. Now, i am not saying you will achieve this state eternally ( surely one does that after long dedicated years of this practice which is also known as the state of “Nirvana”). But given my experience with vipassana, Even a few second of such state in your hour long span of meditation can make you desire that state.
Well, a few things cannot be explained given the limitations of the human language and expression. Yes, we as humans are very limited and under-developed to describe everything in this cosmos. So, i won’t do any injustice by reducing the description of the experience to the limited capacity of our language.
The best way to know of the benefit and experience is to practice it by yourself. I have done it, and have been doing it since a long time. Surely there are a few visible changes in your perception, your outlook and your way of dealing with your life. But that’s a topic for some other day.