Exploring Meditation – the Purpose and Benefits
“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed” Gandhi
Until fairly recently the word ‘meditation’ was thought by many to relate to the chosen few, and conjured up images of Buddhist monks in ancient temples, or long haired hippies sat cross legged in a field.
However, since our everyday lives are now so full of noise and bustle, we have become more aware for the need for calm, and slowly we are realising that it is vital for our well being that we find some personal time to turn our thoughts inwards towards quieter things.
Our consciousness is so caught up with outside stimulus that we tend to lose sight of who we actually are, and what we actually need out of life. So the idea of meditation is to focus attention away from the hazards of everyday life.
There are a multitude of benefits that can be received from meditation:
Easing stress, grief, and fear
Accessing creative potential
Healing (physical and emotional)
Contacting Higher Forces
And of course, all these things lead into the one, which is:
Greater Spiritual Awareness
There are many different forms of meditation, but very simply they can be divided into two areas:
Details of some of these, and how to use them are described on later pages.
How do I begin?
You don’t have to be a Yoga expert, or a hermit, to achieve excellent results from meditation. In fact you don’t have to be the least bit interested in these concerns.
However, you do need to find a “private place” for yourself, away from as much outside influence as possible, so you can relax without fear of interruption.
Below are some useful hints that will help you get started
Wear loose clothing and always sit or lie in a position that is comfortable. It is not necessary to sit with your legs in the lotus position, but it is advisable to try and keep your spine straight, which enables energy to move up and down the chakras (energy centres) without obstruction.
The area needs to be warm, but not so warm that you go to sleep!
Some people prefer to meditate whilst walking in the countryside, which is one form of Active Meditiation. It is important, therefore, that the correct clothing is worn for the place and circumstance. Being too hot or too cold is not ideal, and will affect concentration.
Food and Drink
It is not necessary to meditate on an empty stomach.
People brought up in the West are not attuned in the same way as those in the East. Too little food, or too much can disturb attention.
It is well known that alchohol and any form of drugs are damaging during meditation as it is notthe aim to distort consciousness, but to enhance it under our own control.
It is traditional for some people to light a candle .
This is both comforting and relaxing. and helps to focus attention on the task at hand.
It is very important not to leave a candle unattended.
Candles should be put out – not by blowing – but either with the proper extinguisher or with the back of a metal spoon. However, if you are staying in the room with them, it is quite nice to allow them to burn down completely.
The first target of meditation is to bring about a state of complete relaxation.
Some techniques for doing this can be found on the following page.
Try to find a special place that you can use regularly for the process. We are, by nature, creatures of habit, and using the same place and time each day or week, helps feelings of confidence and security. Soft background music is also often found helpful.
It is a common misperception that we have to make the mind a blank.
Some people work well with this idea, but the majority do not. It greatly helps to start with some sort of focus i.e. concentrating on breathing, colours, an idea, or even a question. Any of these things help to control the ‘outer chatter’ of our mind, and allow more hidden thoughts to slowly move into your consciousness.
Some people like to ask for support from their spiritual guides.
They are there to assist you but need to be asked. They cannot do anything without your permission. There is nothing “spooky” in this, and there will be noghosts floating in the atmosphere – but you may find yourself impressed with thoughts that are very enlightening!
Expectation is the mother of Disappointment.
Try not to have pre-conceived ideas on what will happen. There is no special result that you are supposed to achieve. Some people see things, others feel things, and others just sink into a deep state of relaxation. Every individual’s experience is different, so be patient and things will unfold in their own time, in a way that is beneficial for you.
Don’t worry about doing it ‘right’
Trying too hard, or attempting to force yourself to see or feel something will just bring difficulties. It is also very important not to try to analyse what happens until after the meditation is over.
You have not failed if nothing seems to happen straight away. The only thing you seeking to achieve at first is to relax and become totally aware of living in the moment. The less restrictions you put upon yourself the easier it will be.
It is never too late to start meditating, and you don’t have to have any specialised knowledge in order to reap its benefits.
In the initial stages, it is advisable to study the page on Relaxation Techniques, which will also give you preparation ideas. The different kinds of meditation are also outlined on the following pages. This will give you a chance to really get into the relaxation mode, and find out the methods that appeal to you before you seriously begin.
The main thing to remember is that Meditation is not supposed to be difficult, and much depends on your ability to put away any pre-conceived ideas, and curb the tendancy to analyse everything while you are experiencing it – there is plenty of time to do this afterwards.
Many people are amazed by how much they achieve in the early stages but – like everything worth having – the more you put into it, the more you will get out. The more you practice, the more your confidence will grow; thus enabling you to find, develop, and improve on the perfect mode of meditation that is right for you.