Meditation is a happening, this is the first point. Second is, meditation is effortless. The key for meditation is effortlessness. It is not doing something but doing nothing and that is meditation. And creating a condition where you really can do nothing is all that is important to look into.
So how can this happen? We saw many methods or many ways.
Through physical manipulation, Yoga, Tai Chi: all these can bring a certain amount of calmness in the mind. Not totally but a certain degree of meditativeness can come by exercise and physical manipulation.
Through pranayama: This is even more important because we have five bodies to us (Panchakosha). The first is the physical body, then the pranic body which is the bio rhythmic force or bio electro-magnetic energy. Then, we have the mind or the consciousness. Then the intuitive body which is a further refined consciousness and then the blissful.
Usually we think the mind is inside the body, but it is the other way around. The body is inside the mind. I usually give the example of the phantom arm. Even though the arm is amputated, a person feels the arm is still there, i.e., the subtle body which is still there. So, through breathing techniques and breathing exercises, the mind becomes very serene, calm and happy.
Through any of the five senses, the mind can become meditative. Through taste, smell, sight, sound and touch.
Through emotions:heightened refined emotions. Love, compassion, sense of service: all these can bring a certain degree of serenity to the mind; it becomes very calm and meditative. Through emotions, you can attain the same meditative state.
Through intellectual understanding. One of the examples I give is when you go to a space museum or watch a space movie, then you see the earth in contrast with the universe and how small this earth is and where you are to what this universe is. That stimulation of the intellect brings a different context to life and makes the mind meditative. That little chattering mind just shuts off.
The mind is chattering all the time, finding fault in others or oneself and suddenly you find all these things are insignificant compared to the vastness of the universe and of this existence.
The awareness about this existence suddenly takes you to another plane of serenity, of calmness. So through intellectual stimulation also meditation happens.
Based on a series of talks entitled ‘Secrets of meditation’ given by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on April 20, 2012, California. These talks have been made into knowledge sheets.