What is dhyana?
Dhyana (meditation) is not a specific act, it is not a doing but a happening. If you want to grow flowers in your garden, you have to sow the seed and create a situation to aid the process, and the flowering happens. If you want to cook rice, a lot of preparation is needed, but the cooking happens by itself. Likewise, meditation is a happening. Sitting in a specific posture in a specific garb in a corner, facing east, lighting a lamp and reciting the same mantra at the same time every day – this has nothing to do with meditation. Meditation is against automation – it cannot be a habit or a practice.
Meditation is a technique to bypass the body and mind in order to reach the goal of self-realisation. But dhyana itself is not the goal. The map cannot be the destination. Any mantra or worship or meditation is a vehicle to transcend the body and mind, and transcendence is necessary because at this level the experience of bliss is not possible. In the beginning, it seems an effort, but when you start enjoying the process itself, everything becomes meditation. Our own body and mind are the basic obstacles to this, as we are slaves to them instead of being their master. This is an utterly disgusting state to be in, for we are blessed with intelligence to come out of it – that is what Lord Krishna commands Arjuna to do when the latter laments that he cannot let go of attachment. The Lord calls Arjuna a coward who cannot use his innate intelligence to come out of ignorance. So it is easier for the intelligent to meditate – ‘dhi’ (mental attitude; intelligence) is a prerequisite to dhyana (meditation).
Meditation is emptying the mind of memories of the past and imaginations of the future. It is playing with the mind, witnessing the mind, exploring its qualities and contents, transcending it, and finally abiding peacefully and completely in the present moment.