Meditation is one of the most natural and yet most pro foundly rewarding of all human activities. Practised on a daily basis it produces astonishing results on all levels of your being: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It connects you with your inner powers of vitality, clarity and love.
Although the process of meditation can be stated simply, the actual attainment of the deepest states requires dedication and discipline. Even a little practise of meditation will give immediate results.
Meditation is not:
– a mental escape into a state of passivity
– a form of mental speculation
– sluggish day dreaming.
Meditation is directing your consciousness inward – to find the source of all life’s manifestations. Meditation can be seen as a tool to attain your goal. This goal can be anything worthwhile you wish to achieve or obtain.
It is a goal for progress towards which body, mind and spirit are disciplined, refined, and perfected by psychophysiological techniques, many of which provide health, relaxation, and self-mastery, quite apart from the mystical end-goal for which they are a preparation. In each of us there is an innate yearning to expand our awareness; to understand the nature of the universe; to know who and what we really are; to experience union with your Higher Self/Cosmic Consciousness.
At a certain stage of this “eternal quest” we are led inevitably to still the mind and practise meditation. Mental thoughts are a kind of mental ‘static’, which must be silenced if we are to hear the whispers of our inner self.
Physiologically: meditation has been found:
– to reduce stress
– to strengthen the immune system
– to help the body’s healing processes.
– the breath and brain waves slow down
– blood pressure and metabolic rate decrease
– circulation and detoxification of the blood increase.
Mentally: meditation focuses and clarifies the mind better than any other activity. It also improves creativity, concentration, mental alertness and memory as well as increasing productivity. Regular meditation has assisted people overcome addiction to tranquillisers and has reduced hypertension, insomnia, migraine, depression, anxiety and other psychosomatic illnesses. When you meditate successfully, the alpha brain waves that are produced allow you to experience the most balanced, relaxed, harmonious state you are able to attain. Recent research into the function of the human brain suggests that meditation expands brain function by encouraging a balance between the separate hemispheres of the brain: the lefthand side, responsible for logical, rational and scientific thought and the creative, imaginary righthand side. The healthiest, the most productive and fulfilled people are usually those in whom the activity of these two hemispheres is well balanced.
The first stage in meditation is relaxation. One should be able to relax before you can begin to meditate effectively. Relaxation is thus an integral part of successful meditation. There are two immediate advantages of learning to relax: Firstly, as you begin to practise relaxation techniques, you will become aware at once of the areas of your body that are most prone to stiffness and pain. This can help keep you on guard for factors that may exacerbate the strain:- your posture, the shoes and clothes you wear, and the way you use your body in general. Secondly, you will simply feel much better almost immediately. Five minutes spent loosening your face, neck and shoulder muscles may banish a headache and leave you feeling calm and refreshed, while twenty minutes of deep relaxation can rest and revive both mind and body as much as three hours of sleep.
Mind Control and Alpha State Mind control goes hand in hand with meditation. Without the ability to control the mind, meditation becomes laborious. Mind control is learning to use lower brain frequencies with awareness and apply this energy to make stronger impressions on brain cells. Since more information can be recalled when it has been strongly impressed, we see the memory is enhanced. We might say that mind control begins with the regulation of brain wave frequencies.
Body awareness and posture is important in the practice of meditation, because you must be able to sit comfortably for a long period in a relaxed way. Visualisation is another powerful way to focus the mind for meditation. Visualisation bypasses the verbalizing areas of the brain and therefore helps enormously to focus and calm the mind. It is also taught to enable the person to learn to expand the mind as a form of mind control. It thus teaches you concentration – keeping your mind focused on what you are engaged in.
It is possible to significantly reduce stress with something enormously powerful: your own imagination. This practice of positive thinking in the treatment of physical symptoms was popularised by Emil Coucé, a French pharmacist, around the turn of the century. The author of Creative Visualisation and Living in the Light, Shakti Gawain, states that visualisation is a form of energy creating life and life’s happenings. Everything is energy and our minds create our world, much as a movie projector projects a “world” upon a blank screen. Visualisation techniques are used extensively as a part of anti-stress and selfimprovement systems e.g. Silva Mind. These are increasingly being used by doctors, dentist, athletes, pilots, artists and teachers, in the Unites States and Europe, to defuse stressful situations.
In order to understand how visualisation works, its useful to look at several related principles: – The universe is energy: physically, we are all energy, and everything within and around us is made up of energy. Thus, we are all one, even in a literal, physical sense. All forms of energy are interrelated and can affect one another.
– Energy is magnetic: One law of energy is this – energy of a certain quality or vibration tends to attract energy of a similar quality and vibration.
– Form follows thought: when we create something, we always create it first in a thought form. A thought or idea always precedes manifestation eg. an artist first has an idea or inspiration, then creates a painting.
– The law of manifestation and attraction: this is the principle that whatever you put out into the universe, will be reflected back to you. “As you sow, so shall you reap.” Using visualisation: the process of change does not occur on superficial levels. It involves exploring, discovering and changing our deepest, most basic attitudes towards life. This is why learning to use visualisation can become a process of deep and meaningful growth.
Breathing is important in meditation because the breath is the link between the body and the mind. Once the body is relaxed, we need to relax the mind – this is done through various breathing techniques. Breathing is essential to life. Life itself is absolutely dependent upon the act of breathing. “Breath is Life”. Breathing may be considered the most important of all of the functions of the body, for, indeed, all the other functions depend upon it. Man may exist some time without eating; a shorter time without drinking; but without breathing his existence may be measured by a few minutes.
The active principle of life is Life/ Vital Force or Prana. It is found in all forms of life, from the amoeba to man – from the most elementary form of plant to the highest form of animal life. This Life Force is all pervading. It is found in all things having life, in every atom – Life Force is everywhere and in everything.
One of the first steps in breathing and breathing practises is to learn to breathe through the nostrils, and to overcome the common practice of mouth-breathing. Many of the diseases to which civilized man is subjected are caused by this common habit of mouth-breathing. Children permitted to breathe in this way grow up with impaired vitality and weakened constitutions.
Breathing exercises have been found to be effective in reducing anxiety, depression, irritability, muscular tension and fatigue. They are used in the treatment and prevention of breatholding, hyperventilation, shallow breathing and tuberculosis. It is also helpful in asthma, anxiety, tension and stress.
Start by simply observing the flow, the rhythm of your breathing and do not change it in any way. Let the air simply leave your body as you exhale. At the end of the exhalation, allow the new air to flow passively into the lungs.
In order to be able to relax the body sufficiently for meditation, proper posture is very important – you must feel relaxed without falling asleep and the position you use must not make you twitch or fidget or cause cramp or numbness. There is no single “correct” position – essentially it should be right for you.
– Lying on the floor relaxes the back, limbs and internal organs, and supports the body.
– Sitting in a chair with your back supported and your feet and legs comfortable is a popular pose.
– Sitting on the floor, legs out stretched with your back propped up against the wall is also a good position for many people.
– The full or half lotus position, or simply sitting cross-legged, tailor fashion, may appeal to anyone who is fit and active.
Meditation is the practice of uncritically attempting to focus your attention on one thing at a time. This object might be a candle, the breath, sound or on one of the aspects of God. Meditation has three stages – relaxation, exteriorisation and expansion. This process, simply explained is:
– Relax completely, both physically and mentally.
– Interiorise the mind and concentrate it one pointedly on your goal.
– Expand your consciousness until your individual mind merges with your goal.
– The methods used in most forms of meditation quieten and relax the mind. It is based on bare attention, in which there is no intellectual comment or judgement. You sit in a poised posture, breathe quietly and smoothly and let passive attention dwell on a meditation object. You let meditation happen. For successful meditation, the following four basic elements need to be present:
-a quiet enviroment;
-a comfortable posture;
-an object of attention to dwell on (meditation object);
-Gazing: Gazing at a candle – useful for concentration.
-Breath Counting Meditation: Counting your breaths in and out.
-Mantra Meditation: Finding a word or phrase and repeat with breath.
-Mindful Meditation: It is this concentration on the now which allow your body and mind to enter a state of relaxation. Living in the “here” and the “now” E.g. walking or eating medetation.
It is important for the health of the nervous system that the meditator should return gradually from the subtle to gross levels of activity. At the conclusion of your meditation, sit quietly for a few minutes before opening the eyes. Blink the eyes a few times. Unfold your legs and stretch them out straight along the floor. Stretch the arms. Take two or three deep abdominal breaths. Never jump up immediately after meditation has ended.