The heart has long been regarded as a symbol of love and is often used to represent emotion and sincerity. But modern medicine tells us that the heart only plays the role of pumping blood all around the body. Why then was the heart adopted as a symbol of love and emotion? When did this symbolism begin?
Ancient vedic wisdom tells us that there is something more special going on in the region of the heart. It is the seating place for the soul.
The soul has never really been discovered by modern science. Yet there is plenty of reasoning to assume its existence. Science has only been able to establish death as a failure of the body as a functioning system. Yet nothing material separates a dead person’s body from someone who is alive. Therefore, a dead person and living person are materially equal in all respects, and yet a dead man cannot be brought to life.
Near-death experiences narrated by countless number of people consistently show how people have witnessed their body lying on their death bed from the perspective of a third person observing them. Their description seems to redefine the meaning of ‘I’ as something separate from the body. We learn this from those few ‘souls’ who were lucky enough to cheat death and narrate their experience to us. There is hardly anything to verify these claims, but the mysterious consistency in the descriptions evades rational explanations.
The Bhagavad Gita not only acknowledges the existence of a soul, it describes the properties of the soul in great detail. The soul resides in the region of the heart, is infinitesimally small, floating in five kinds of ‘airs’ and is always active. The soul is sat, cit and ananda. The soul is naturally eternal, full of knowledge and always blissful. But if the soul is blissful, why are we not always happy?
When the soul inhabits a body, we are not made up of just the soul. We are also made of of this body, the mind, intelligence and our five senses. In order for the properties of the soul to shine through in this world, all of these have to be harmoniously in alignment and the soul needs to be given the power to control us. But the harsh reality is that we are always trying to satisfy our five senses. We seek pleasure through the senses and the senses rule us. The intelligence and the mind follow suit making decisions and meditating on those thoughts that give us satisfaction through sight, taste, smell, sound and touch. We want more of it. The soul recedes into the background, ignored and powerless to shine through in a world ruled by the external. How then, can we give control to ourselves, the spirit soul?
The answer, as you would be expecting to hear, is meditation. There are so many types of meditation. But mantra meditation utilises the knowledge given in the Vedas to achieve this goal with techniques that are most effective for this purpose, and for this day and age. The soul is naturally active, therefore it is very hard to completely shut down activity in our body. We can do a simple experiment. Pick an object. Any object. Try to close your eyes and NOT think of that object. Try this now.
The mind is often compared to a monkey. If you tell it to not do something, it will do it! This is our condition. If we have little control over our mind, the practice of meditation through techniques like thoughtlessness is then far more difficult. Such practices require tremendous control over our lifestyle, environment and conditioning. This is because we are fighting against our natural state of being. But what if we could utilise our natural state of being in the process of meditation? This design is the process of mantra meditation.
Instead of stopping the senses, we engage the senses in the right things. We focus on specific sound vibrations, we listen to the mantra, we engage the tongue in chanting the mantra, we engage our hands in the process of counting and we engage our sight on the object of our mantra. We engage our entire selves in the process of unlimited love – which is the original and true purpose of the soul.
There is enough research to already prove the benefits of meditation. Research has also been conducted specifically on mantra meditation in institutions such as the Henry Ford Hospital and the tremendous positive effects it has on people has been thoroughly documented. Benefits include improved focus, higher productivity, control over emotions, lower stress, anxiety, to name a few.
Mantra meditation uses the science of the soul to devise the most effective technique that engages, rather than suppress the senses. It relies on minimal regulation to lifestyle to achieve favorable effects; therefore it is more suited for today’s world. But the material benefits that we will experience through this technique is nothing compared to the effect that really matters – the freedom to let our soul shine through in all its glorious true nature.