Preksha Meditation ► What is Preksha?

Posted: 12.03.2010




Everyone is in search of peace. In the individual and family life as well as social and international relations, peace is the ultimate goal. In Indian philosophy, the ultimate aim of soul is moksa (emancipation) or nirvana.

Another word for this is shanti (peace). That is, the ultimate aim of soul is Peace. Peace, therefore, is undoubtedly the highest good and the total good. Mental peace is the case of an individual and world peace in the international affairs are eternal goals for man and the mankind.

Attainment of peace is possible only if the mental disturbance is absent. In a turbulent mind, or an agitated person, peace cannot prevail. Thus, the key to peace lies in overcoming all mental fluctuations, or in other words, complete concentration of mind.

Now, concentration of mind can be of two kinds:- (a) Concentration on a thought or an idea, (b) Concentration on "perception" or "seeing".

The Preksha Meditation is "concentration on perception."

The word preksha is derived from the rout 'iksa' which means 'to see'. When the prefix 'pra' is added, it becomes pra+iksa=preksa, which means "to perceive carefully and profoundly."

Here 'seeing' does not mean external vision, but careful concentration on subtle consciousness by mental insight. Preksa-dhyana is the system of meditation engaging one's mind fully in the perception of subtle internal and innate phenomena of consciousness.

'Sampikkhae appagamappaenam' (Skt. Samprekseta atmanamatmana), - the aphorism from the Jaina canon Dasavealiyam, forms the basic principle for this system of meditation. It simply means: "See you thyself" - "perceive and realise the most subtle aspects of consciousness by your conscious mind." Hence 'to see' is the fundamental principle of meditation. The name preksa-dhyana was therefore assigned to this system. Thus this technique is basically not concentration of 'thought', but concentration of 'perception'.

The term dhyana (meditation) is usually defined as the 'concentration of thinking on a particular subject for a length of time'. Now, the mind is the instrument of 'thinking' as well as 'perception'. And, therefore, when linked with 'preksa', 'dhyana' becomes 'concentration of perception' and not of 'thought'. Perceiving which is an important aspect of human mind is generally underestimated. Most of us give importance only to such mental faculties as thinking, intellectual analysis, logical or rational conception, but rarely try to develop the faculty of "perceiving". Now, fortunately, scientists also have recognised the value of perceptive meditation. In the words of Fritj of Capra, the author of the famous book 'The Tao of Physics', "the firm basis of knowledge on experience in Eastern mysticism suggests a parallel to the firm basis of scientific knowledge on experiment. This parallel is further enforced by the nature of the mystical experience. It is described in the Eastern traditions as a direct insight which lies outside the realm of the intellect and is obtained by watching rather than thinking; by looking inside oneself; by observation", (p. 22, Bantam, Rev. Edition, 1984).

In preksa, perception always means experience bereft of the duality of like and dislike. When the experience is contaminated with pleasure or pain, like and dislike, perception loses its primary position.

Aim of Preksa-dhyana

The main purpose of the practice of Preksa-dhyana is to purify the mental states. Mind is constantly choked by contaminating urges, emotions and passions. This hampers the flow of wisdom. The hurdles of uncleanliness must first be removed. When the mind is cleansed, peace of mind automatically surfaces. Balance of mind, equanimity and the state of well-being are also experienced simultaneously.

It should always be remembered that the ultimate aim of Sadhana is purity and equanimity - freedom from contamina­tion of passions. The state of well-being is not our ultimate aim. It will inevitably ensue; nevertheless, it is not the objective. Similarly, peacefulness is also a secondary benefit and will always be achieved, but it is not the aim. We have to transcend both these mental states to reach our ultimate purpose, viz. total purity of mind and goodness.


Preksa-dhyana is an uncomplicated, easy-to-learn technique of meditation. It is comprised of the following:

  1. Kayotsarg (Total relaxation with self-awareness) - First of all, one has to concentrate the mind on each and every part of the body, one by one, starting from the toe upto the head, and achieve relaxation of each part through auto-suggestion. This is called Kayotsarg. It literally means abandonment of the body coupled with high degree of conscious awareness. In practice, it is conscious suspension of all gross movements of the body, resulting in relaxation of the skeletal muscles and drastic reduction of metabolic activities. This physical condition results in relieving mental tensions and is an essential precondition for meditational practice.

    Every muscle in each part of the body is persuaded to relax by auto-suggestion. When the whole body has become relaxed, the body is cast off and forgotten and the conscious element reveals its separate existence. Thus kayotsarg is not only total relaxation, but actual perception of the self, quite apart from the material non-self i.e. the body.

  2. Antaryatra (Internal trip through spinal cord and Brain) - In the second step, one has to practise antaryatra in which the conscious mind is allowed to travel inside the spinal cord upwards from its lower end upto the brain and again downwards upto the lower end of the spinal cord. This internal trip of conscious mind is repeated several times.
  3. Perception of Breathing -
    1. Complete scientific breathing - One has to concentrate one's mind on breathing i.e., each inhalation and exhalation, making it deep, slow, calm and rhythmic. Such complete breathing is achieved through diaphragmatic breathing i.e. allowing the abdominal muscles to contract and expand respectively during each exhalation and inhalation and thus allowing to raise and lower the diaphragm and facilitate the lungs to use their maximum vital capacity.
    2. In another exercise one perceives the flow of breath while alternating it through each nostril and intermittently holding it after each exhalation and inhalation.
  4. Perception of Body - One has to concentrate one's mind on the subtle intrinsic phenomena occurring in each and every part of the body, one by one. One perceives the various chemical, mechanical and electro-magnetic processes taking place within each and every cell of the body. The process is centripetal, that is, from outside to inside. Commencing with the outermost layers of the body, one has to penetrate deeply inside. Thus the successive stages of the exercise would be perception and awareness of:
    • Superficial sensation of the skin such as contact with clothes, warmth, itching, perspiration etc.
    • Sensations of the muscular movements.
    • Deeper sensations of the internal organs.
    • Subtle vibrations of the electrical impulses in the nervous system.

    Some of the above sensations may be pleasant whereas some others may be unpleasant. Here, perception means experience free from duality of like and dislike.

  5. Perception of Psychic Centres - In the next step, one has to practise concentration of mind on certain "psychic centres" situated at different parts of the body.

    There are certain portions in our body where psychic energy is more concentrated than in the other parts. These, therefore, are called "psychic centres". Perception of psychic centres means "focussing of full attention on these centres and perceiving them with deep concentration". These centres are associated with ductless glands (or endocrine glands) which are situated at these places. The endocrines exert profound influence' on mental states and behaviour of an individual. These psychic centres are the fields of consciousness influencing the endocrine system and the nervous system of our body.

    Psychic Centres

    Endocrine glands


    1. Shakti Kendra


    Bottom end of the spinal cord

    2. Svasthya


    Lower abdomen

    3. Taijasa

    Adrenals, Pancreas, Islets of Langerhans


    4. Anand


    Near the heart

    5. Vishuddhi

    Thyroid, Parathyroid

    Adam's apple, throat

    6. Brahma

    Sense-organ of Taste

    Tongue (tip)

    7. Prana

    Sense-organ of Smell

    Nose (tip)

    8. Chaksusa

    Sense-organ of Sight


    9. Apramada

    Sense-organ of Hearing


    10. Darsana


    Middle of the eyebrows

    11. Jyoti


    Centre of the forehead

    12. Shantikendra


    Front part of the head

    13. Jnana Kendra

    Cerebral Cortex

    Top of the head.

  6. Perception of Psychic Colours - In the next step one practises colour meditation which is called "Leshya-dhyan". It is perception of psychic colours. In this practice we perceive a specific colour on a specific psychic centre. Since for a successful meditational session, actual appearance of the desired colour is essential, it is necessary to know fully about the quality of various colours. In lesya-dhyana we visualise bright colours and not gloomy ones.

    To bring about the actual appearance of the desired colour, it is essential to concentrate and actually see the colour mentally, Visualization is the key to this technique. Once it is sustained and intensified, the mind will project the colour and there would be actual appearance. Visual aids in the form of the coloured bulbs or coloured cellophone paper wrapped on the lighted bulbs are useful. When one looks at a source of coloured light with open and unwinking eyes for a few moments, he will visualize it with closed eyes.

    For actual appearance of colour, steadiness and concentration of mind is essential. Concentration here means intensified and sustained visualization of a single colour. As mental steadiness increases and visualization is intensified, the desired colour is produced.

    At this stage, the experience is real and not imaginary.

    The following table shows the psychic centres, colours to be visualized and what is to be experienced by intense willing:

    Psychic Centres

    Colours to be visualized

    Intense willing and experience

    1. Centre of Bliss (Anand Kendra)

    Emerald Green

    Freedom from psychological faults and negative attitudes

    2. Centre of Purity (Vis'uddhi Kendra)

    Peacock-neck blue

    Self-control of urges and impulses

    3. Centre of Intuition (Darsana Kendra)

    Rising sun red

    Awakening of Intuition - bliss

    4. Centre of Wisdom (Jnana Kendra) or Centre of Vision (Chaksus Kendra)

    Golden Yellow

    Acuity of Perception-clarity of thought

    5. Centre of Enlightenment (Jyoti Kendra)

    Full moon white

    Tranquillity, subsidence of anger, and other states of agitation and excitation.

  7. Bhavana (Auto-suggestion) and. Anupreksa (Contemplation) - Preksha-dhyana is a comprehensive system of meditation. Though perception and awareness are primarily used for concentration, concentration of thought i.e., contemplation is not excluded. Thus the system of preksha-dhyana bifurcates into (a) concentration of the perception, and (b) concentration of thought, i.e., 'preksa' and 'anupreksa'. In the former technique of meditation, perception is primarily used for concentration, while in the latter the conscious mind is encouraged to concentrate on a thinking process, i.e., contemplation. Both techniques are competent to develop practitioner's conscious rea­soning and modify one's attitude and behaviour.

    Whenever one concentrates on a single theme and takes a purely objective view, acuity of his cognition increases manifold. Ancient philosophers used this technique extensively for realizing the truth. Modern science also used this process to ascertain the ultimate structure of the material universe.

    Practice concentration is twofold:

    1. Contemplation and reflection on a single theme.
    2. Auto-suggestion and repeated recitation (japa) of a selected syllable (mantra) or a slogan.

    Contemplation of eternal truths such as 'transitoriness' (anitya anupreksa), 'solitariness' (ektva anupreksa) etc. comprises the first kind and is necessary to reinforce the power of the reasoning mind.

    Eradication of psychological distortions such as irrational fear by auto-suggestion is an example of the second kind. Repeated recitation of arham, so'ham etc. can progressively develop high levels of consciousness.

    Relaxation and the motionless posture of the body are essential pre-conditions in both kinds of exercises.

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