Some of the earliest manuscripts on meditation techniques arose in India.
One particularly famous book is called the Patanjali Yoga Sutra. It was written by the great Yogi Sage Patanjali.
Other great works are by the Yoga Sage Vashishta. There are others texts, too.
These are the world’s original handbooks of meditation techniques.
But they are esoteric and very difficult to understand.
These yoga and meditation practices are exponentially more difficult to implement.
To genuinely achieve those depths of spirit would require a lifetime of practice, if not many lifetimes.
That’s why the most masters are recluses or monks or nuns. You will probably not find them appearing often on television.
The connection between yoga and meditation is inseparable.
Consider this: why were these ancient experts in meditation techniques called yogis? It is because meditation is the central component of yoga.
In fact, yoga means ‘Union’. Literally.
In Sanskrit, India’s ancient language of liturgy, ‘yoga’ means union.
That’s why India’s ancient sages came to be called ‘yogis’ and ‘yoginis’ (for females) -because they strived for union.
But union with what?
Union with their true spiritual self, the spiritual selves of every soul in the universe, and even with the source of the universe – the deity or transcendental consciousness whatever their own teachers called it.
Interestingly, yoga is 100% non-dogmatic.
There are as many definitions of ‘God’ as there were yoga schools (‘ashrams’) in ancient India.
That means thousands of definitions including ‘universe’, ‘supreme consciousness’, ‘self’, ‘nature’, ‘supersoul’, and so many others.
Pick your preference! In fact, any faith is equally valid for meditation and prayer according to the ancient yogis.
“Whatever [your] preference (yatha abhimata),” said Patanjali, one of the great fathers of yoga.
This is a remarkable statement of empowerment and freedom to the student of yoga! Spiritual liberty from the beginning!
Nevertheless, true, complete and inner transformation requires extended periods of meditation (and the God’s grace).
Each session would last three hours or longer.
The Yogi would be required to sit or stand absolutely still. In some postures, the Yogi would be required to stand on just one leg.
Yoga postures were practiced to keep yogis healthy and prepped for long hours of sitting meditation.
As you can imagine, sitting or standing in such a way for extended periods requires not only physical stamina. It also requires suppleness of muscles. If the body was flexible, the Yogi would be able to sit and meditate comfortably for longer periods.
In other words, the twisting into pretzel-like postures were not in themselves the goal of yoga.
The purpose of the twisting postures was merely to make the muscles suppler and stronger. It was merely a preparation for meditation.
Meditation is the heart and soul of yoga.
Without meditation, ‘yoga postures’ are simply gymnastics.
In addition, this meditation was not for the acquirement of worldly, mundane success. It was not intended for fulfilling one’s material dreams.
Meditation was for the purpose of transcending one’s ego – which is usually the very force driving one’s worldly ambitions.
Meditation brings true peace because it re-connects you to your deepest self, your eternal, blissful soul.
The root of all misery can be found in the ego. That is where all misery begins and that is where it all ends.
Meditation ignores the ego and adores the True Self.