World Meditation Day, observed annually on May 21, serves as a reminder to enhance our mental health and stabilize us in happiness and harmony.
Nowadays, it is more crucial than ever to turn to meditation and integrate it into our daily life. Meditation is a certain mental state and a therapeutic technique which is deeply rooted in the ancient Eastern spiritual traditions.
Patanjali in “The Yoga Sutra” described the practice of meditation as a method of perfecting the soul by performing a sequence of certain exercises. These exercises are the last three levels of classical yoga – concentration, meditation, and enlightenment .
Dharana (concentration) is the way of focusing human consciousness on the chosen object of meditation, for example, mantra, yantra, deity, emptiness, etc. However, at this stage, mind has a tendency to get interrupted by the other thoughts. Dhyana (meditation) is an advanced stage, at which a practitioner is able to focus on the object of meditation and nothing can disturb her/him. Their attention is absorbed by the object and concentration turns into absorption, or dhyana. A mental dialogue disappears, breathing slows down, and the circulation of prana in the body increases. If a practitioner continuously follows the object of meditation and does not allow her/his mind to be distracted, she/he and the object of meditation merge into one. This is Samadhi (enlightenment): “You eventually reach a point where you slip into samadhi or single-pointedness of mind. The thoughts disappear for a short period of time and you enter into a state of mind where you’re not processing anything. You’re not letting go of anything. The watcher disappears. And then, in an instant, you’re back again, aware of something” .
Experienced yogis are able to meditate anywhere. However, the beginners need to choose the right time and place for their practice. One of the great yoga teachers Swami Sivananda taught about yoga practice:
“Practice meditation in the early morning from 4 to 6 (Brahma-Muhurta). This is the best time for the practice of meditation.
Sit in Padma or Siddha or Sukha Asana. Keep the head, neck and the trunk in a straight line, and concentrate either on the Trikuti, the space between the two eyebrows, or on the heart with closed eyes” .
Particular attention should be paid to breathing – it is no need to concentrate on it, it is enough just to watch it. Swami Sivananda advised to practice regularly during the same hours daily to get the meditative mood easily. As he emphasized, “the more you meditate, the more you will have inner spiritual life, wherein mind and Indriyas do not play. You will be very close to the source, Atman. You will enjoy the waves of bliss and peace” .
Modern psychotherapists often turn to the practice of meditation: a state of relaxation and an altered state of consciousness are both achieved through meditation that is especially effective in psychotherapy. But more than that, meditation is used as a method of personal growth so that a person can develop a more positive attitude towards life in general. It is worth noting that meditation training may be useful for both patients and psychotherapists. In “The Zentensive: A Psychodynamically Oriented Meditation Retreat for Psychotherapist”, Goldberg and Sachter stress that meditation practice is very helpful for mental health providers: it “may help decrease therapists’ stress and negative affect and increase self-compassion” 
Author: Tetiana Danylova, ORCID: 0000-0002-0297-9473
Goldberg, S.B., Sachter, L.D. (2018). The Zentensive: A Psychodynamically Oriented Meditation Retreat for Psychotherapist. Practice Innovations, 3(1), 18-31. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1037/pri0000059.
Mondo: Samadhi and Zazen with John Daido Loori, Roshi. (2005). Mountain Record. The Zen Practitioner’s Journal, XXIII(3). Retrieved from http://www.mro.org/mr/archive/23-3/articles/mondo.html.
Swami Sivananda. (2009). Concentration and Meditation. Divine Life Society/Rishikesh/India.
Swami Vivekananda. (2019). Raja Yoga and Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms. Hansebooks.