Saturday, July 18, 2015

WHAT IS MEDITATION?



Basically, meditation can be defined as self-induced change of mentality in order to raise awareness or emotional well-being. However, narrow definitions vary according to the beliefs that surround them.

Beliefs are different between different people, so the understanding and practice of meditation also vary greatly. Some commonly known types of meditation tend to have a heritage of Eastern religions, but there are aspects of it in many Western beliefs.

 By using ritual chants and repetitive movements an altered state of consciousness was achieved and it was beleived the gods would sooth the dead. Usually, gifts and sacrifices were offered to the gods. Obviously these spiritual rituals were beneficial to the people who practiced them.

In eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism meditation is defined as a means of achieving a higher state of spiritual growth and goodness. Meditation in English is “to consider, to think, grow, reflect,” comes from the Latin “meditari”.

In eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism meditation is defined as a means of achieving a higher state of spiritual growth and goodness. Meditation in English is “to consider, to think, grow, reflect,” comes from the Latin “meditari”.

The original Western Christian meditation is only one aspect of worship, reading, contains reflection, prayer and contemplation. Although a deep tranquility and concentration was induced, there is no repeating of words or phrases and contains no postures or rituals.

OVERCOMING STRESS THROUGH MEDIATION





Stress is part of daily life for most people. Knowing how to cope with stress is an essential life skill. Regular meditation practice can hold the key to feeling calm and relaxed.

Focusing on your breath and counting each inhilation and exhilation until you reach ten is a quick meditative technique to help you relax whenever you feel stressed.

Ovserving your thoughts in a detached manner also helps to keep things in perspective. You may catch yourself repeating the same upsetting thoughts which are causing the stress.

Taking a quick walk while you count your breath and observe your thoughts can be very effective in clearing your head of unwanted thoughts. You will function better when you are relaxed and calm.

Stress may be caused by trying to complete too many tasks too quickly. Cut down your to do list by delegating tasks if possible. Allow yourself plenty of time to complete tasks. You make more mistakes and wrong decisions when you try to rush things.

Make time for a half an hour of meditation practice at the end of a stressful day instead of reaching for a drink. Regular meditation practice is a natural and healthy way of restoring your balance and inner peace.
If you find that you are thinking in a negative way, try giving yourself positive affirmations. Typing out positive affirmations and posting them on a wall in your workspace can serve as a handy reminder to stay positive. Don’t let negative attitudes of others influence your thinking.

The more you practice meditation the greater will be the positive effect on your health and well-being. Of course, the ultimate goal is to live in the meditative state where you feel relaxed and calm in any situation.

IMPORTANCE OF BREATHING AND MANTRAS IN MEDITATION



Today, we live in a fast paced world. More often than not, we do not have the opportunity to react to things thrown at us. We have lost the ability to think things through and have to make decisions of the speed of light. But it should not be this way. Each of us needs to slow the pace down at times to function efficiently. Otherwise, we get stressed and lose the ability to deal with the people around us, not only at work but also at home.

The practice of meditation is a way for us to slow things down and focus our minds until they are quiet enough to cope with the stress of daily life. Some may think that meditation is a very religious practice. It is true that many religions, especially the east, take meditation as an integral part of their practice but this is not necessarily the case. People meditate for a variety of reasons.

Although we have already mentioned that it helps us to be calm in this busy world, people meditate for health reasons and to achieve a higher state of consciousness, among others. So if you think that life stresses you out, it’s probably time for you to do things at a slower pace. Meditation can calm your mind and help you to let go of stress and hassles. Meditation will improve concentration and focus.

On the Internet, there are a number of sites that have video-sharing, gaming sites and other sites for our entertainment. While there is nothing wrong with entertainment, there is a problem with our constant need for distraction. For this reason, it is difficult for us to focus on one thing. We do not have to take extreme measures to help us focus. Meditation can do the job for us.

There are several ways that meditation can do this for us. One is through breathing exercises. Even an exercise as simple as being aware of of the number of times we inhale and exhale can improve our ability to concentrate. Although it may seem easy, it is can be very difficult in practice, especially when we have to deal with distractions like the noise or feeling uncomfortable.

Another method is by reciting a mantra. A mantra is a phrase or a melody that is repeated over and over again. For example, saying to youself, om when you breath in and hum when you breath out. The repetition becomes a centre for the person’s attention and concentration. The mantra helps distract you from thoughts of desires, problems or worries.

By breathing deeply into the somach and swelling out the belly and repeating a mantra, a person’s heart rate slows down, resulting in a relaxed atmosphere. Breathing is also has an important role when a person strives to improve his / her concentration.

Meditation is a state of relaxed awareness where we remain detached from our thoughts and simply observe them like waves on the surface of a pond. By observing our thoughts and not getting caught up in them they eventually slow down and can stop altogether. 

This gives us a rest from the constant flow of thoughts about a want, need, problems or solutions. Thoughts are perceived as ‘waves of perception’ which are separate from who we really are which is a conscious being, or knower or witness

Meditation can benefit you mentally, physically and spiritually. Mental benefits are that you are able to rest the mind and find peace and calm. This reduces thoughts which stress or depress us.

It can also help us get to sleep if we suffer from . Creativity, learning ability and memory are also improves through the practice of meditation. Overall, our level of happiness and emotional health improves. It is even said that we can gain insight into underlying problems which we may be unaware of during the normal waking state.

Physical benefits of meditation include improved breathing and health of the heart. Studies have shown that levels of blood pressure and cholesterol drop from long term meditation practice. Meditation can also help releive chronic pain by directing attention away from the pain. For example, by meditating on waves crashing on the beach the mind is distracted from constant sources of pain.

Spiritual benefits include coming to terms with our own mortality. Through the study of meditation we come to realize that we are not our mind or our body but a conscious life force. We are part of the life force of the planet with no birth and no death. Such realization is part of the attainment of nivana or enlightenment. Self-realization is the realization of the self which is separate from the mind and the body. The self is consciousness or awareness which is immortal and blissful.

ACHEIVING SATORI THROUGH ZEN MEDITATION





I discovered satori and zen meditation quite by accident 25 years ago. I was reading a book called “Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain” by Betty Edwards. One of the exercises to help you draw realistically changed the way I perceived the world. All thoughts and labels disappeared and I saw exactly the way an artist or a Zen monk perceives reality. It was as if a fog of thought had been lifted and I saw colours, light and contours with great clarity.

When I read Betty’s comments at the end of the exercise she stated that the consciousness achieved by completing the exercise is similar to satori which is the goal of Zen meditation. I have been interested in and practised Zen

What has drawing got to do with zen?
The exercise that Betty described in her book was to look at your left hand while drawing with the right hand. The important part of the exercise was not to look at what you draw and remain focused on your left hand. As you follow the outline and contours of your left hand millimetre by millimetre you draw what you are seeing very slowly. It does not matter what you draw.

 It is a warming up exercise for artists to clearly perceive what they are seeing, It teaches you to “see” as an artist sees. Betty went on to describe the resulting change in perception as being similar to way one would see reality while under the influence of mescaline. Colours seem more intense and the contrast of everything is more highlighted.

After completing the exercise for about five minutes I noticed my consciousness had altered. It was an enjoyable and calming experience. I found out that the same state of consciousness could be achieved through Zen meditation.

The goal of Zen meditation is to stop the constant chatter of the mind and perceive reality directly. The mind is described as a pond and thoughts are waves on the surface of the pond. Only when your thoughts are stilled or there are no waves on the surface of the pond do you see the reflection of the moon.

Zen meditation can be practised while sitting or walking. Once you are comfortable you start by following your breath and allowing it to fall into a regular rhythm. Traditionally, a Zen master will give a novice a koan to focus on while meditating. A koan is like a riddle. Two of my favourites are “What did your face look like before your mother and father were born?” and “What is the sound of one hand clapping.”

Of course there is no logical answer to the koan but that is not the point. The koan acts as way of switching off the logical and analytical mind. With practice thoughts slow down and eventually stop. Only then do you perceive reality as it really is without the constant interference of the internal chatter of the mind.

When in the meditative state you are said to be aware of the self which is separate from the mind and body. Awareness of the self is the knowledge that you are the knower or witness of your thoughts and actions. You are consciousness. Forever free and blissful

BENEFITS OF MEDITATION



WHEN I FIRST STARTED MEDITATION I LEARNED TO MEDITATE FOR JUST TEN MINUTES OF TIME TWICE A DAY. THIS WAS GRADUALLY INCREASED TO TWENTY MINUTES TWICE A DAY AND THEN THIRTY MINUTES TWICE A DAY. I FOUND IT VERY BENEFICIAL AS I HAD A HIGH STRESS JOB WHERE I WAS RACING AGAINST THE CLOCK ALL DAY. IT HELPED ME RETURN TO MY NATURAL STATE OF BEING CONTENT, PEACEFUL AND CALM.

Since I have retired I have been able to pursue my passion for meditation for longer periods of time, sometimes for hours on end or even days. I like to meditate on the front porch and look out over the garden. I observe the clouds, plants and also the birds as they come and go. I listen to the waves crashing in the distance and the sound of the wind through the trees. I feel the warmth of the sun and the cool crisp air as I breath it in.

I observe my thoughts flow through my consciousness like fish swimming in a stream. My thoughts appear from nowhere, pass through my mind and disappear. As time passes fewer and fewer thoughts pass through my mind and I focus on what my other senses are communicating to me. It is a feeling of bliss and peace I can return to over and over. I am “at home” in the meditative state.

I sit when I meditate but I also like to walk by the beach and through the park. When I walk I simply observe the beauty of nature. It is like a film passing before my eyes. I can choose to focus on anything I like. By tuning out my thoughts and simply focusing on what I see, I feel at one with nature. I am living in the here and now.

MESSAGE TO THE ENLIGHTENED





The more you desire the more you suffer. It is better to drop all desires for material possessions and sensual pleasures and seek nivana. Desire nothing and simply live in awareness. Be conscious of thoughts emotions and actions. Avoid bodily desires and avoid sadness and fear. By obseving thoughts and stilling the mind learn to see things as they really are.

The more you scheme and scam and plan the more you suffer. Is it not better to meditate and seek peace of mind. Sure, have your interests to alleviate boredom but don’t get sucked into them and let them consume your life.

Your hobbies and interests are not your life. What is happening to you now is your life, what happens to you minute by minute.

When you simply observe and not get carried away in your thoughts, time slows down and you learn to enjoy the moment. When you are content there is no need to do anything. Being content is where you have enough of everything, you desire nothing.

Learn to control money, don’t let money control and motivate you. It is much easier to save money than it is to earn it. People are enslaved by money by their own stupidity and greed. They will do anything for it. They are hypnotized by it.

It allows them to buy glittery shiney objects which go kaput or end up being worthless as time goes by. they trade their time for glittery shiney objects or land and houses.

The supposedly intelligent ones in our society earn more and waste their lives accumulating more and more houses and land. What they end up with is more money worries and more material objects to maintain and protect from theft or destruction.

You have enough of everything, you are content. Only help those who earn merit or are in genuine need. Live in peace and let things be. The greedy and the wicked will always be out there. You have found a way out. Your knowledge will protect you. Be careful of who you spend your time with. Do not spend time with fools.

You are the only one who saved you. They are the only ones who can save themselves. You cannot teach them wisdom or give them experience.

KEYS TO NIVANA




1st Key
 
Focus on your breath. Simply observe the flow of your breath for a minute. Next breath in to the count of 5, hold to the count of 5 then exhale. Remember to breath deep into your belly so your belly expands. Repeat the deep breath, then allow your beathing to return to its natural rythem.

2nd Key
 
Focus your attention on the muscles in your toes. Tighten these muscles to the count of five then relax.
Focus your attention on the muscles in your feet. Tighten these muscles to the count of five, then relax.
Focus your attention on your calf muscles. Tighten these muscles to the count of five, then relax.
Focus your attention on your thigh muscles. Tighten these muscles to the count of five, then relax.
Focus your attention on your buttocks. Tighten these muscles to the count of five, then relax.
Focus your attention on your stomach muscles. Tighten these muscles to the count of five then relax.
Focus your attention on your back muscles. Tighten these muscles to the count of five, then relax.
Focus your attention on your chest muscles. Tighten these muscles to the count of five, then relax.
Focus your attention on your arm muscles. Tighten these muscles to the count of five, then relax.
Allow your head to roll from side to side, relaxing the muscles in your neck.
Stretch the muscles in your face, opening your mouth and eyes wide, then squeeze your face up like a prune to the count of five. Then relax.
Go over your body again relaxing any muscles that are still not relaxed.

3rd Key
 
Now close your eyes and simply observe the blue black space before you. I want you to observe your thoughts in a detached manner, like fish swimming in the stream of your consciousness. They appear, linger for a while, then disappear. After a while fewer and fewer thoughts or fish will appear until the water in the stream is still. You will notice a reflection of the moon in the stream and you will notice the reflection of the trees. At this point you will have entered Nivana.

I set aside 2 x 30 min meditationa sessions per day. One in the morning and one in the evening.
When you first start to pracitice meditation you may find that your thoughts are racing at 100 m.p.h. in a mono-dialogue. With continued meditation practise you should find that your thoughts become random and spaced. This is normal. The internal chatter starts to quieten.

Let us know how you are progressing.

Unlock Your Mind's Power

MANDALA MEDITATION




Mandala meditation can help you achieve alpha consciousness. Alpha consciousness is any state of consciousness achieved by an individual when emitting alpha brain waves that can be measured by an EEG machine.

One is said to be utilising the right hemisphere of the brain which is associated with creative, imaginative and intuitive capabilities. When using the left hemisphere of the brain it emits beta brain waves..

Most people are in beta consciousness which is characterized by logical, analytical and judgemental thought.

 What Are Mandalas And How To Use Them

Mandalas are common in many cultures thoughout history, such as Aztec, Inca, Chinese, Christian, Islam and Hindu. Mandala means circular.

To use a mandala focus on the centre for three to five minutes. This will trick your logical left brain or beta consciousness by giving it a conceptual and spatial task to perform. Eventually, it will give up and allow you creative and intuitive right brain or alpha consciousness to dominate.

While focusing on the centre you may notice that the outside of the pattern changes shape or colour. This is normal, but you should always return your focus to the centre and see it clearly.

When you look away from the mandala, you may notice an after image in the shape of the pattern you were meditating on. It will disappear after a few seconds.

When you make the shift from beta consciousness to alpha consciousness colours will be more intense than usual and light and shadow will be more distinct. This is because you thoughts have ceased and you are able to percieve reality more clearly. You will “see” the way an artist sees.

You will find it very relaxing and calming and your mind can have a rest from the constant chatter of beta consciousness.

WHAT IS ZEN?



Do You Have A Zen Mind?
Describing zen in words can be tricky. It is like trying to explain to a person who has been blind since birth what colours are. Unless the person has had experience of the zen state of consciousness it can be an elusive concept. If you think you understand then you don’t. The purpose of zen meditation is to drop all thought. Entering the silent world can be the key. 
To the average westerner silence and no thoughts sounds like a very scary place to be. They are used to constant distractions and entertainment. But people from the east have been exposed to these concepts for thousands of years. 

Zen and Burglary


When people ask me what is zen I am reminded of the story about an aging burglar and his young son. The burglar’s son had turned 18 and asked his father to teach him burglary. He said to his father that he was getting old and he should teach him the tricks of the trade so he could carry on the family tradition.
So they went out one night to a neighbouring village and selected a large house to rob. They entered into the main bedroom while the family was having their evening meal. After a few minutes they heard the maid coming down the corridor towards the bedroom. So the father said to the son hide in a large chest at the foot of the bed. When his son climbed in he locked the chest from the outside, made a loud noise and jumped out the window.
The son realised he was trapped in the chest and he could hear the maid searching the bedroom for an intruder. The son started making a sound like a cat and the maid opened the chest to investigate the noise. The son immediately jumped up, blew out the maid’s candle and escaped out the window. The family realised what was going on and gave chase to the son. The son reached a well just ahead of the pursuing family and he threw a large rock down the well making a large splashing sound. He then hid in some bushes. When the family reached the well they gathered around it trying to see in the darkness of the well. While they were doing this, the son escaped into the darkness and returned home.
When the son returned home his father was waiting for him.
The son was furious and asked why his father had locked him in the chest. His father replied, “You said you wanted to learn burglary. If I had not locked you in the chest you would not have learnt burglary. The fact that you made it home without getting caught is proof that you have now learned the art of burglary.”
Zen is similar to learning the art of burglary. It cannot be taught traditionally otherwise you will suffer “paralysis by analysis” and get caught. It has to be experienced. It strikes like a flash of lightning. You drop the logical and reasoning mind and act intuitively.
The ordinary mind can be thought of as a mirror with dust on it. The dust are your thoughts. The purpose of zen is to clear the dust from the mirror so you can see clearly.
The story only illustrates that some things can only be taught by direct experience and practice. I definitely do not recommend taking up burglary to learn zen :)