What is the best treatment for stress and stress-related illnesses? It used to be some fantastic pill you would pop at the advice of your doctor. Now, if you go to your doctor, she or he will likely tell you that perhaps the best treatment for stress is meditation. But how? And where? And when?
According to those who practice meditation, there are four frames of the mind: the normal mind, the concentrating mind, the meditating mind and the contemplating mind.
Generally, meditation is a three-step process that leads to a state of consciousness that brings serenity, clarity and bliss. The “normal” state of mind is actually quite abnormal. We receive sensory stimuli and react uncontrollably.
Just think, the same thought can bring about diametrically opposite reactions at different times. For instance, we may see a old picture a beach vacation and feel waves of nostalgia. Another time, we may see the same picture and remember how terrible the plane ride home was and how the stewardess was so rude. Tension and uptight physicality follow.
The concentrating mind is the first step of control over this “normal” mind process and the first step in meditation; a gaining control over the mind and thereby life.
The idea is to pick an object/subject and focus exclusively on it without diversion. An example of this would be if you decided to focus on the “safety.” To start, you would relax your body, sit in a comfortable position, calm your emotions and begin repeating the word “safety” over and over. Your mind will try to divert your attention, often by giving you tantalizingly interesting distractions; witness your being distracted and return to concentrating on the object of your meditation.
Once you have gained unbroken attention, the actual meditation happens – an unbroken flow of thoughts, ideas and images. It flows through you, and you cling to none of it. Concentration flows into meditation, and true knowledge about the “self” presents itself. Eventually, the original object choice will unite you with rest of the universe.
The state of contemplation is the penultimate state of consciousness. Usually, we are only conscious of our body and ego, and consider ourselves apart from the rest of the universe. With the experience of contemplation, we become conscious of the cosmos and realize our unity with of it. This is the ultimate realization, or what has been called a type of “cosmic consciousness.”
The journey of meditation may take place anywhere, but for beginners it begins in fairly dark, quiet rooms that limit the distractions. Many yoga studios have meditation classes, which help guide your journey to the so-called cosmic consciousness. Free classes at PSU are often held in open rooms in the second floor of Smith Memorial Student Union. Check the notice boards on the first floor.
In actuality, you can meditate anywhere, so find a quiet spot at PSU and let the cosmic begin – just don’t be late for class. Blaming being late on the cosmic consciousness doesn’t excuse you.