The practices of Ananda Marga encompass a wide range of techniques for physical, mental and spiritual development, the central practice being meditation. Meditation looks at the world and universe from a broad, holistic perspective. This perspective appreciates the enormous influence of the mind and your psychological attitudes in relation to all actions, thoughts and spiritual well being.
For thousands of years, meditation has provided human beings with a powerful tool for unlocking the vast potentials of the mind; a doorway into the inner recesses of the Self.
Where did meditation originate?
Meditation has its earliest known roots in the practices of ‘Tantra’. Tantra was first introduced 7000 years ago by the great teacher Shiva. It is an all round science of life, covering every aspect of personal and social development. The word ‘Tantra’ means ‘that which liberates from ignorance’. Hence, its practices comprise a systematic and scientific way to take individuals from a state of limited awareness to a state of expansive understanding. Tantra’s practices include not only meditation and yoga; but also medicine, dance, music, social service, literature and environmental awareness – indeed a truly holistic approach to life.
The journey of self understanding is the most important path we can follow in our lives. The sooner we start to follow the path within, the sooner we will discover our unlimited potential.
Tantra in today’s society
Tantra is a timeless science; it has no less relevance for today’s world than it had 7000 years ago. In the fields of science, medicine and psychology scientists are only beginning to understand and verify the ancient teachings laid down in Tantra. Its analysis of the human mind has opened up a whole new area of psychology. For example, many psychologists are now fascinated with meditation and are eagerly devising new ways of studying it in their laboratories.
Fortunately, any human being can study the Tantric science of meditation in the laboratory of their own mind. For it is the human mind that is the greatest source of searching and discovery, understanding through clash and cohesion, mystery and wisdom, creativity and factual analysis, synthesis, expansion and liberation. All that is needed for this study is proper instruction in Tantric meditation and the determination to practice it regularly until one attains the timeless and limitless wisdom within us all.
The Science of Meditation
The human brain is divided into two halves or hemispheres. Each is responsible for different functions.
Playground of the right side of the brain
The left brain has been most revered in western culture. Only recently have investigators linked the increase in potential and feelings of wholeness reported by meditators with the activation of the brain. It appears that the increased empathy, relaxation, creativity, and wholeness associated
with meditation may be partially accounted for by the increased use of right brain functions.
Other physiological phenomena that show up predominately in meditation research include relaxation and mental alertness. Experiments showing significantly reduced anxiety in meditators, increases in the sense of self control, decreases in neuroticism and increased self-actualization suggest that meditation may be an important aid to good psychological health.
Research on using meditation and relaxation techniques to help control stress suggests that meditation can be an effective way to reduce the physiological and psychological damage related to stress. A preliminary report on a five year study of Ananda Marga meditators shows that average blood pressures are lower than for a comparable group of non-meditators. Two major studies, one at Dartmouth University and the other at Stanford University in the USA, showed experienced Ananda Marga meditators to be producing a high level of theta brainwaves which seem to be associated with higher levels of consciousness.