Meditation: not just lying on a mat

Héctor Cruz Rico

My Mexican grandmothers and my mother pray with their rosary; with each of the beads they repeat the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary. Some repeat 'om mani padme hun' the Tibetan mantra when they meditate and when I do kundalini yoga, I repeat 'sat nam' ('truth is my name, truth is my identity') Anyway, my grandmothers, my mother and I meditate. All of them. 

The word meditation comes from the Latin meditari (reflecting, studying), which is derived from mederi (caring for). The Tibetan word for meditation is gom (getting to know yourself), Buddhism and Hinduism call it dhyana and in Japanese it is zen (seeing without eyes, contemplating without judging) which is derived from Sanskrit. In any case, there is not just one definition of meditation; there is a wide spectrum of ways to meditate and also combinations of these.

We know that man has been meditating since the beginning of his life and singing repetitive and rhythmic chants. And so it always has been, for the Aztecs, for example, meditation was the bringing together of people and their environment; plants, flowers, animals and the weather. This helped make the right decisions about what was on their mind at the time. The Aztecs knew for sure that their inner wisdom, connected to the earth and nature, would provide the solution (they probably weren't well connected when the Spanish army invaded Mexico, but that's another story).

In some religions, such as the Christian, people meditate (pray) and sing to praise God and people go to church for it. Buddhists concentrate on small details, such as the scent of a flower, the light of dawn or the sound of water. They meditate in temples. Aztecs meditated and sang for Tlaloc (the god of water), but also to reassure themselves. Aztecs did not specifically go anywhere to meditate. They could meditate both at home and in the temples or in public; the most important thing was to be in contact with nature. And this is the art and the advantage of meditation for me: I don't necessarily have to go to a specific place to meditate. I can do it at home; I just need the will and a little bit of time.

Recent studies clearly demonstrate the benefits of meditation and repeating (religious) hymns. They range from emotional balance, stress reduction to improved fertility and strengthening of the immune system. In addition, it is said to take away depression, migraines, hormonal disorders and pain.

What I have learned and experienced is that meditation is not so much a process of relaxation, or of fantasizing or contemplating, but more of a process in which my mind familiarizes itself with constructive and useful mental actions, such as developing focused attention. Thus meditation becomes a way in which you can regulate your mind with internal effort.

Mentally free

Meditation is my strategy, my tool for change. It is the most noble, gentle and delicate moment in my day. It is time for me, but also a moment of connection with the world and with my ancestors. But the most important thing - as a yogi and as a scientist, I think - is that meditation gives you the strength to be mentally free and to live in the here and now, which is the only way to be happy.

Xochipilli. According to the Aztecs god of love, flowers, beauty, song and dance

Héctor Cruz Rico is an analyst at ftrprfHe wrote this article in a personal capacity for the theme Meaning & Spirituality

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