Yoga and Medication
Meditation for Wellbeing and Enlightenment: Science, Practice, and Benefits
by Ac. Dhanjoo N. Ghista
I. Meditation: Yoga by ideating on Cosmic Consciousness
The fundamental entity pervading the entire creation is Cosmic Consciousness. The unit consciousness of living beings is derived from Cosmic Consciousness. Human evolution entails developing higher levels of consciousness, until the unit consciousness can merge with Cosmic Consciousness. Thus, the practice of Yoga (union of unit consciousness with Cosmic Consciousness) involves Meditation, by recognizing the divine presence around us and ideating on the Cosmic Entity or Divine Entity.
II. Mind Body Interaction: Chakras
1. Energy Centers (or Chakras) and Endocrine Glands, Linking Mind and Body
Linking the mind and the physical body (or the organ systems) are subtle psychic energy centers or chakras (depicted in Figure 1), which control our mental propensities and behavioural expressions (as well as the body through the endocrine glands, as indicated later). The chakras are connected by subtle energy channels (or nadis), through which the vital (bioplasmic) energy (or pranah) is conceived to reach each and every part of the body. The chakras are associated with and control specific endocrine glands, as depicted in Figure 1. The chakras regulate organ function through these glands, by stimulating their hormonal secretions; this is how the chakras influence the body.
In the human mind, various thoughts are constantly emerging and dissolving. Behind these psychic phenomena are the underlying propensities (formed according to the past-psychic impressions on the mind). The propensities are expressed by the vibrational expression of the chakras, which in turn affect the endocrine glands through their hormonal secretions (Figure 2). Both the expression as well as the control of these propensities is dependent upon the chakras. Emotional stresses (such as anxiety and insecurity) are known to be responsible for such diseases as coronary heart disease and even schizophrenia. When subject to stress, the endocrine glands release hormones into the blood stream, which affect blood vessel calibre, digestion, metabolism, etc. For instance, when a person becomes extremely afraid, it affects the Anahat Chakra (refer Figure 1), which results in palpitations, inability to act decisively and even heart attack (Figure 2).
Both mental and physical health of the individual depend on the proper energy balance between the chakras and between the endocrine glands to which they are related. Disease is caused by an imbalance in the energy flow to and from one of more chakras.
2. Mental Pain and Organ Dysfunction
In this era of increased mental (as opposed to physical) involvements and preoccupation, psychic ailments, neurological diseases and mental depressions are increasing. Just as excessive mental interactions and endeavour stresses the corresponding physiological system, so also excessive mental interactions and endeavours stress the portions of the mind that perceive and do the work of perception. The ego associated with the "I exist portion " of the mind is what makes the 'doer' portion of the mind perform actions, which can result in outcomes that are either painful of pleasant and subsequently disappointing.
The mind has to always have something to ideate on; it has to have objectivity. In daily life, the objectification of the mind resulting from harsh interactions and painful situations produces deformations of the mind. At times, these situations persist and the resulting feeling of helplessness, at not being able to alleviate or cope with the resulting painful deformations of the mind, produces mental pain and psychic ailments (due to imbalance in energy states of the chakras), also resulting in dysfunction of certain organ systems (due to imbalanced secretions of the endocrine glands).
So then, what is the remedy for the acute and chronic painful states of the mind, and concomitant physiological ailments, resulting from intimical interactions? It is meditation into higher consciousness, as presented below.
Figure 1: Chakras and their roles in connection with Endocrine glands
Figure 2: Effect of Endocrine glands on the body organs
III. New Science Paradigm: Integrated Theory of Consciousness, Physical Universe, Mind development and Evolution
For understanding psycho-somatic diseases and therapy, what is needed is a new paradigm of Science, which can integrate the notion of Consciousness with the traditional science, resulting in an Integrated Theory of Consciousness, Physical Universe, Mind development and Evolution.
In this new science paradigm, first and foremost is the concept of Absolute consciousness (or Consciousness). The integration of body and mind in human psychic development as well as in psycho-somatic medicine is based on this new science paradigm that Consciousness is the fundamental entity, incorporating the cognitive and Operative principles.
The second important stage is that Consciousness devolves into Cosmic Mind, and Cosmic Mind (which emanating microvita) devolves into matter. How? Through the Operative principle, the Cosmic Mind expresses itself into the five fundamental (ethereal, aerial, luminous, liquid and solid) factors, providing the constituents of physical universe.
The third stage is that of the development of the primitive mind. In the earlier stage of the Cosmological cycle, Cosmic mind emanates microvita, which energize matter to form ectoplasmic mind. Under the influence of mircovita, matter evolves into subtler structures by means of synthetic reactions, thereby providing the templates of primitive life structures, represented by primitive states of mind (and consciousness), as depicted in Figure 3.
From this point onwards, the process of organic evolution begins, and constitutes the fourth stage, whereby primitive unicells and bacteria give rise to simple plants and animals, and eventually to self-consciousness human beings. From primitve organisms to complex organisms, there is an unfolding of consciousness due to increasing reflection of Consciousness, with a corresponding increase in psychic dilation of the mind and concomitant increase in complexity of the nervous and anatomical structures. Increasing psychic dilation of the unit mind leads to intellectual and eventually to parapsychic and intuitional development.
Eventually, human mind becomes subtle enough to merge back to Consciousness. The psychic dilation of the mind eventually culminates in its achieving mental liberation (from its psychic propensities), and merges into Consciousness.
IV. Fundamentals of Meditation Practice
1. Our meditation practice involves the process of ideating on the Divine Entity by recognizing the divine presence around us. This brings in divine energy flowing into one’s mind, flooding it with blissful feelings and literally lighting it up. This gives one immense happiness, based on the feeling of being taken care of by the Divine Entity.
By this process, over a time period one’s mind gets cleared from its embedded impressions (or samskaras) formed by one’s actions and reactions. This not only relieves stress, but verily brings a peaceful feeling of ‘oneness with Divinity’, as enlightenment.
2. The Goal of Meditation is total happiness through union (or yoga) with Cosmic Consciousness or God.
Meditation is taught in two forms: Group Meditation and Personalised Lessons.
Group Meditation involves teaching the process of how to come in contact with and feel one with the Divine Entity or God, and realize the feeling of extreme happiness and peace.
Personalized Lessons involve initiation into the process of meditation. A spiritual seeker begins the path of self-realization by receiving initiation into the process of meditation. It is an important event in the life of a sadhaka (spiritual practitioner). One learns her or his personal technique of meditation, and the latent spiritual potential within is awakened.
3. Our system of Meditation was developed by Sadguru Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. It is a very elaborate system comprising of six lessons, including Pranayama and Chakra Shodhana (involving energization of the cakras).
Herein, we will explain the First lesson called Iishvara Pranidhana, meaning offering one’s mental self to God (or Divine Entity), and making union with God.
Herein, the aspirant is taught how to ideate on and feel one with God or Divine Entity. This gives one immense happiness, based on the feeling of being taken care of by God. This is done by concentration at one’s “I feeling” or Ista cakra (mind centre), and the use of a general mantra (or personal or “Ista mantra” given according to one’s individual psychic vibration), to ideate on the Divine Entity. Three steps are required to raech this stage.
4. Meditation Steps:
Step 1 consists of recognizing and manifesting the presence of the Divine Entity around us in the form of mellow light. In this step, the meditator is only feeling divine presence and is not aware of surrounding people or structures.
Step 2 involves developing a spirit body, to enable ideation on and union with the Divine Entity. In this step, by a special method, the mind or "I feeling" of the meditator is brought very carefully from its disassociation with the external surroundings and the physical body feeling to where the "I" sits or the location of one’s mind center. At this stage, one is only aware of oneself or one’s mind and the Divine Entity (or Cosmic Mind) surrounding it.
Step 3 now involves the mind ideating on the Divine Entity by the use of a 2-syllable mantra. The Mantra has a specific meaning and an acoustic sound. The general meaning of all mantras is “You are my Guide, and with your guidance I can become divine”. This 2-syllable mantra is repeated mentally in consonance with one’s inbreath and outbreath. This brings in divine energy flowing into one’s mind, flooding it with blissful feelings.
At inbreath, the Divine Entity is infusing divinity into the mind. Then in response to this, at outbreath, one’s mind expands into divine consciousness, and even gets lit up, giving a feeling of being divine.
By this process over a period of time, one’s mind gets cleared from its embedded impressions formed by one’s actions and interactions. Clearing the mind from its embedded impressions is referred to as Liberation. During this process of liberation, one’s entire mental thinking gets transformed, one’s personality and character gets elevated, and one’s interactions with others enters a new phase. Over a period of time, this brings a peaceful feeling of oneness with divinity known as enlightenment. This is the purport and goal of this meditation system.
V. Meditation Benefits for Body. Mind and Spirit
Herein we will present some monitored benefitting effects of Meditation systems, such as Mindfuless meditation. However our system of meditation involves connection with the Divine Entity, and so it would have more benefitting effects, which we need to research on and monitor.
1. Effect on Body
Boosts immune system: One small 2003 study showed a link between an eight-week mindfulness meditation program and better immune function, and 2012 UCLA research suggested meditation could improve the immune system in older people.
Lowers blood pressure: The Mayo Clinic reports that research suggests meditation could be helpful in managing the stress symptoms of high blood pressure.
Reduces heart risk. A 2012 study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes showed a link between Transcendental Mediation and a reduction in heart attack, stroke and early death from heart disease in a group of African Americans, TIME reported. “The main finding [of our research] is that, added on top of usual medical care, intervention with a mind-body technique -- transcendental meditation -- can have a major effect on cardiovascular events,” lead author Robert Schneider, a professor at the Maharishi University of Management, told the publication. The American Heart Association also says that the stress-busting benefits of different types of meditation can be a boon to heart health.
2. Effect on Brain and Mind
Increases brain gray matter. Meditation may just be exercise for the brain. In fact, a 2009 study from UCLA researchers showed that MRI scans of long-time meditators revealed that certain parts of their brains were larger than those of a control group, particularly in regions known for emotion regulation. Another small study published in 2011 in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging showed that an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program resulted in increases in gray matter in the hippocampus and areas of the brain tied to compassion and self-awareness, U.S. News reported at the time.
Cultivates willpower. Stanford health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. told Stanford Medicine's SCOPE blog in 2011 that meditation can help train the brain for willpower: Meditation training improves a wide range of willpower skills, including attention, focus, stress management, impulse control and self-awareness. It changes both the function and structure of the brain to support self-control. For example, regular meditators have more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex. And it doesn’t take a lifetime of practice -- brain changes have been observed after eight weeks of brief daily meditation training.
Boosts cognitive function. Another Psychological Science study identified a link between mindfulness training and increased standardized test scores, as well as improvements in working memory. What's more, Dr. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital who studies mindfulness meditation, previously told HuffPost that regular meditation may stave off the thinning of the brain's prefrontal cortex, and in turn declines in cognitive function, later in life.
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3. Effect on Spirit
Builds self knowledge. According to a 2013 article published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, mindfulness (defined as "paying attention to one's current experience in a non-judgmental way") can help people to understand their own personalities. "For example, one who overestimates the positivity of his or her personality or status is often disliked by others, whereas having insight into how others perceive the self and acknowledging one's flaws seems to attenuate the negativity of others' impressions," the researchers wrote in the study, as previously reported by HuffPost.
Helps relationship satisfaction. As the American Psychological Association reports: Several studies find that a person's ability to be mindful can help predict relationship satisfaction — the ability to respond well to relationship stress and the skill in communicating one's emotions to a partner.
Improves empathy. A small study from Emory University showed that a compassion-based meditation program, called Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), might help people to read others' facial expressions, HuffPost reported when the results were released in 2012. "These findings raise the intriguing possibility that CBCT may have enhanced empathic abilities by increasing activity in parts of the brain that are of central importance for our ability to recognize the emotional states of others," senior author Charles Raison said in a statement.
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