Ananada Seva Mission
Active and Passive Meditation
19 June 2020
There are many types of meditation practices, and there are also practices for relaxing the mind and body. When one does a relaxation exercise the body becomes deeply relaxed and the mind becomes more susceptible. That is why deep relaxation is used for guided imagery and hypnotic processes. But for meditation the purposes differ. The point is not to relax the body but to becomes aware of that which is beyond the sphere of one’s normal cognitive capacities. So the point of the two processes differ.
There are many types of meditation practice, but there are two primary thrusts. First, there are those practices in which one empties the mind, makes the mind devoid of thought, devoid of image. One does not try to focus with intentional concentration. One merely watches the mental processes until the mind becomes, of its own natural accord, still and quiet. As the tension of the thoughts become released, the mind begins to settle into a deeper state of awareness. Like a stone sinking slowly through the water, the mind goes deeper, though no effort is made — only the stone is allowed to sink. So this is one basic approach to meditation practice. There are many practices from around the world that incorporate this type of approach. It is utilized in many Buddhist practices.
“Through mantra, through visualization, or through various systematic processes of ideation…there is an active effort to concentrate the mind, to withdraw from the senses, and to turn the mind inwards in ideation upon the Great.”
Second, there is the approach of concentration of the mind. The first type of meditation is a passive approach; the other is an active approach, where one chooses an object of ideation beyond the comprehension of the mind. Through mantra, through visualization, or through various systematic processes of ideation, one removes the mind form its association with external phenomenon and thought projections and actively concentrates the mind upon the sublime. In these types of meditation practice there is an active effort to concentrate the mind, to withdraw from the senses, and to turn the mind inwards in ideation upon the Great.
Through this concentration comes the state where the mind is naturally associated with its object of ideation, so that it no longer becomes an effort to remain focused, but all of one’s thoughts and feelings revolve around the object of ideation. This leads to the stage of complete absorption, or sama’dhi, in which the ideation becomes so focused that the object and the subject become one.
The mind is a malleable substance, and one may change its form, one may actively mold it to a particular shape. Through active concentration of the mind in a proper meditation practice, where the mind is focused inwardly, there is the potentiality to achieve the experience which occurs in sama’dhi where the malleable mind becomes absorbed in the object of its concentration and there is an expansion of mind into a new dimension of experience. In yoga, active meditation is utilized for the transformation of consciousness.