[Sri Girdharbhai Bhutani has provided this article which is in Saurashtra Patel Cultural Samaj Directory-1996. The words in square brackets and italics are entered by S. Vyas.]
[The word] "Meditation" is derived from the Sanskrit root medha, meaning wisdom. Meditation is not a religion, but a scientific means for experiencing perfect physical and mental relaxation by uniting the joy of the individual self (atman) with the vast joy of the Cosmic Self (Brahman). Meditation is a special form of concentration in which the mind is essentially liberated from restlessness and is focused on the Self within.
There are many techniques of meditation described in Hindu religious literature. These techniques may be broadly classified into three categories: direct meditation, indirect meditation, and inquiry meditation. Direct meditation is uninterrupted concentration, or a current of unified thought, directed towards an object of meditation, such as a divine thought, a picture of a deity, a mantra, or any object the meditator may use to symbolize God.
Indirect meditation consists of watching one's own thoughts without becoming involved in them. Another method of indirect meditation involves observing one's own breathing. These processes eventually lead to the thoughtless state whereby meditation [peace in mind]occurs spontaneously. In the inquiry method of meditation, the meditator stills [quiets] the body and mind; and whenever a thought appears he inquires, "Who am I?" This inquiry eventually leads to the thoughtless state whereby meditation occurs effortlessly.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation relaxes the body by removing tension from nerves and muscles. Studies have shown that one hour of deep meditation is equivalent to several hours of deep sleep, as far as relaxation of the body is concerned. Meditation decreases mental restlessness, thereby relaxing the mind. A relaxed mind is stronger and more efficient. A strong mind, in turn, [is necessary for to live a solid moral and ethical life].
Meditation purifies the mind of mental pollutants such as anger, short temper, craving, lust, and envy. A pure mind is [the cause] of peace and tranquillity, as well as wisdom and joy.
Meditation sharpens one's memory and intelligence. The energy one taps from within by meditation has been found to gradually stimulate inactive brain cells by activating the brain's neurons, [consequently one becomes more aware and conscious.]
Meditation brings one in touch with one's self (atman), which is the source of unlimited power within. Because of Maya, an individual's attention is normally directed outside of himself. Meditation focuses one's attention inward and guides one in discovering one's own true nature, full of purity and divinity. The purpose of life is to seek union with God, and meditation provides both the map and the vehicle for such a journey to the kingdom of God. Hindu saints bear testimony to this fact.
[Just as a Judo or Karate expert uses the enemy aggressorís attack force and momentum against the enemy, so the Vaishnavas use mindís restless nature to know and serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krshna. Vaishnavas let the mind wander, but only in the thoughts and activities that are meant to serve and glorify Krshna and His devotees. When oneís all the thoughts and activities are in relation to Krshna, then one is in perfect Samadhi. Thus, Vaishnavi meditation is easy and a smart way to defeat Maya.]