Meditation in yogic terms is described as sustained temporal concentration on an object. According to Patanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga, mediation is not attempted until one has reduced mental and physical tensions, controlled the emotions and learnt to harness the mind through the breath. This is what is meant by physical and mental purification. These are established through the practise of the other 7 limbs of yoga – Yama (relationship towards the self), Niyamas ( relationship towards others and the world), asana (yogic postures), pranayama (breath work), pratyahara (control over the senses), dharana (concentration) and finally dhyana or meditation (sustained temporal concentration on an object).
As focus on the breath becomes more continual and un-interrupted, the ground work for meditation has been set. To attempt meditation prior to being ready will only result in a restless session of random thoughts springing into the mind, and possibly evoking emotional responses; which is counter productive to the objective at hand.
When some degree of sustained concentration has been achieved, a mantra may be introduced. This is a positive statement, which is repeated, whilst trying to keep the mind singularly focused on it.
According to yogic philosophy, this process is about the development of the ‘observer’; where the ‘drama of life’ is the ‘observed’, and your deep intrinsic self the ‘Observer’.
According to Buddhist philosophy, Dukkha is the unavoidable emotional pain of living. No matter what we do, at various points in our lives, we will suffer sorrow/ pain/ illness/ loss and disillusionment. All of this accompanies the inevitability of change over time.
Being emotionally identified with Dukkha causes suffering. Cultivating the Observer enables us to transcend these emotional states and dwell in the ocean of peace, – which is the Observer.