What are the basics of meditation?

In the yogic tradition, meditation has three stages – Pratyahar, Dharana and Dhyan. There is a fourth stage also but that is the final stage and is called Samadhi. That is for serious spiritual seekers and we will discuss that separately . The first stage Pratyahar means withdrawal of senses from outside to inside ourselves. This is beginning of meditation. The second stage is what is called Dharana. It means to absorb something and be absorbed. Literally it means ‘ TO Hold’. The main purpose is to become a witness to our consciousness and separate ourselves with our mind or ego. The third stage is called Dhyan . It means ‘To reflect’. It is deep stage where you have become true witness and separated your ego from your true self. It is supposed to happen on its own once we master Dharana. In the practice of meditation at awaremind we will focus mainly on Dharana.


The fundamental aim of the meditation is to become the Drashta . It’s a sanskrit word meaning Seer, witness of everything. Meditative practices aim at an individual getting absorbed in the moment by witnessing things very closely and not getting impacted by the happenings or events.  Observation is key to any meditative practice though the object of observation may vary. It could be your thoughts or your breathing pattern or flow of energy through the chakras. In any meditative practice, we move away from being the ‘actor’ to being the witness or spectator. We not only observe the moment and what’s happening in the world at that moment but also one’s own self and our emotions. The moment we observe our thoughts, emotions and physical processes ( i.e. breathing process) we realise that we are NEITHER our mind ( that generates thoughts and emotions)  NOR our bodies. Observation brings us to our true reality. 

Meditation Basics
Meditation Bsics

No self

One of the most important pillar of the dharna meditation is what is called No Self. It is not very obvious and fairly subtle but important nonetheless. Also, it is related to study of the self . Once you start studying your own self, once you experience emptiness, combined effect is No Self. The meaning of No Self is that you are not alone, and you are connected with everything else. In the universe and your awareness is linked with everything else in the universe. So there is no feeling of ego, there is no feeling of self, there is no self-serving behavior, there is no selfishness. So during the meditation the practices are intended to take you feeling of No Self. The idea is that our self are temporary and impermanent. Finally, all the above pillars are interconnected and come together - So if you experience No Self, you become the part of infinity, and that is where we experience infinity and feel impermanence of our thoughts and mental patterns.  

Self study

Self study is denoted by the Sanskrit word called swadhyaya.Now there are two meanings of this word, one is that you study on your own and second is that you study your own self. More often than not, the interpretation of this word in dharna meditation is the study of the our own selves. Meditation is about looking within, looking at our own emotions, are own thoughts, are own memories, and how do we feel about them.How different thoughts come, different memories appear and disappear .It means that you are aware of your self all the time. It could mean observing your breathing pattern, it could mean observing the way you are feeling, it could mean the way you are thinking or different thoughts coming into your head. 

Meditation Basics
Meditation Bsics


During the meditation you will experience   impermanence. You will experience that there are lot of things, but they are impermanent like clouds in the sky. So your thoughts, your memories, sadness, anger, happiness, joys, achievements - all of these are impermanent. Our lives are impermanent. Nothing in this world is permanent. And Dharna meditation makes us experience the impermanence and brings us intouch with real reality which is forever changing. 


The first pillar is, what we call, Emptiness. One of the intended impact of the meditation is to make you empty-make your mind empty of thoughts, make your awareness completely empty, so that it is free distractions, and negativity, and from past memories and future hopes and aspirations.Emptiness will help you to live in the present, be in the present, and observe whatever is happening in the present. Look at emptiness as an empty vessel - the empty vessel can take anything. If you pour water into it, if you pore juice into it, if you pour curd into it; whatever you pour into it, it will take its shape, it will accepted, and it will mould that as per its own shape. If the mind is not empty then it cannot accept new things, it cannot accept new experiences, it cannot accept the reality - that is - current reality. So before we start leaving fully, we need to be empty, and that is what meditation intends to make us-empty. Now there is one more associated concept and that is called infinity. In Dharana meditation the concepts of emptiness and infinity are related. Infinity is to look at things that are  infinite,  to feel calm at the infinity. The way you feel calm, when you look at thin blue sky or infinite see, so at one hand the sky seen empty and the other hand the sky seen infinite.So Dharna meditation has this very interesting combination of emptiness and infinity. Once we experience infinity we tend to be empty, and that is one of the principle of Dharna meditation.   

Meditation Basics