Meditation as a Practice or State?

Those of us who practice meditation have often wondered if we are benefitting from our practice. Especially in the beginning, when it can be challenging to stick with meditation—knowing we are benefitting helps us stay the course. When Integrated Amrita Meditation (IAM) was first introduced, Amma told us that 90% of the success in the technique was in doing the practice. So, the very act of completing the steps of this meditation is beneficial.

The more we practice the technique, the more we can appreciate knowing about Amma’s assurance about the benefit. Even after years of practice, the monkey mind (restless jumping from thought to thought) can kick in, especially during times of extreme activity or daily pressures. Also, Amma says, “As you meditate more, you will experience that more vasanas (latent tendencies and desires) will come up. It is only for the purpose of being destroyed that the vasanas arise in this way.” So, during meditation, it isn’t always easy to quiet the mind to the point that we feel we have gone deep in the practice.

This brings us to the topic of just what meditation is. Is it a practice or is it a state? When we say, “I meditated today for one hour,” what does that mean? Did we practice meditation, or did we get into a state of pure awareness for one hour—or is it a combination of the two? Chances are that most of us who say we meditated may have experienced a state of pure awareness for only a portion of that time.

Amma has said that even two seconds of experiencing a state of pure awareness is of great benefit to the person and the world. She explains, “If you can see with a subtle eye, you will find that there’s a gap between thoughts. This gap is thinner than a hair’s breadth, but it is there. If you can keep the thoughts from flowing without control, as they do now, this gap will increase. This is possible only in a meditative mind that concentrates on a single thought. In meditation, the mind must dwell on one single thought, not on many thoughts.”

Amma explains, “Meditation is the technique of knowing how to be in the present moment. It is an experience. It cannot be explained verbally. Meditation happens when you go beyond your mind and all your thoughts.”

Again, Amma has said we get the benefits of doing IAM just by following the steps as taught. If we happen to experience states of pure awareness, so much the better!

It is inspiring to observe the difference in how we feel during the day after meditation—perhaps even just a little more patient, content, and peaceful. Maybe there is a little bit more awareness, a little more time to respond to a challenging situation, rather than immediately reacting.

Amma says, “We should be able to transmit the inner silence and stillness we gain through our meditation into our actions. In fact, meditation helps us to gain a deeper insight into all aspects of our life.”