Here at Sacred Elephant we burn a lot of incense during meditation and we meditate a lot.
The benefits of meditation are no secret, and this ancient practise is becoming increasingly utilised within our modern society- even in our mainstream, it's benefits extolled by celebrities, musicians, athletes like Kobe Bryant and Novak Djokovic as well as medical and education experts! We hear about a variety of types for a variety of purposes; there seem to be as many different styles as there are different people. if we look to its Eastern source though we can learn more about the depth it's practise has to offer us.
Meditation has its roots in ancient India where, like yoga, the purpose was very much spiritual. Though some people are content with simple relaxation (this is no small feat in our fast-paced modern society!), if we do want a spiritual outcome from our practise, we actually have to know the difference between spirit and matter. We may want self-realisation, but do we know what "the self" actually is?
According to the Vedic understanding, there are various layers of self. Some are temporary (thus called "false") and some are permanent (thus called "real"). The temporary coverings over our factual self include the body, the mind, the intelligence and the ego. Then the real self is what is often called the "life force" or "soul", a particle of consciousness that does not change like these illusory veils.
A simple way to relate to this idea is by recalling a vivid childhood memory: the cells of our body have completely changed, and our personality has evolved, but we are still the same person. That "I" that remembers and stays the same no matter our age, mood or hair colour, is our essence.
Without such an understanding of the difference between the spiritual and material parts of our being, we may be cheating ourselves out of the highest benefits of meditation. We may get relief on a psychological level without going deeper to the root of our existence. Ultimately only peace on that level will be lasting and satisfying.
Luckily for us, the scientific process of realising and living this knowledge comes with a vast literature of descriptions and directions for the soul. Like any science, it contains instructions for us to conduct our own experiments and we perceive the results very tangibly in a positive change of consciousness. As with a recipe, the closer we follow the original, the more accurate the result.
We found the Bhagavad Gita to be the Vedic text that gives the clearest and most concise guidelines that deepen our meditation practices and, well, we just wanted to share that with you :)