Countless people through fifty centuries have practiced meditation for peace of mind and health of body. Google lists 55 million results for “meditation. " How can an ordinary person learn anything useful about such a vast subject?
Well, there are 206 bones in a human body, with countless muscles, ligaments, tissues, brain cells, and all the other parts scientists study. But every ordinary person knows enough about his or her body to stay conscious and walk around in the world.
We know about our bodies by living in them.
So here is a simple, practical way to learn about meditation by living with it for a few months. Most people find that practical daily meditation like this helps make them more calm, rested, energized, and alert, so they can work and play more happily.
It is not a ticket to Nirvana or Enlightenment (whatever those words mean), nor self-hypnosis. On the other hand, it is more than self-talk or reading inspiring literature.
What is it? To find out, practice the instructions below.
Before you begin, choose a “word" of your own - a pleasant two-or-three syllable sound that has no literal meaning to you. (You can call it a mantra if you like. ) Use this same word each time you do this meditation.
You can make the word up by yourself, or combine random index syllables in a phone book - for example Ani, Granal, Ohana, Renkah, Simonu - or you can ask a meditation teacher you trust.
When you've chosen your word, do this:
1. Sit in a comfortable position.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Gently think your word to yourself in your mind. Repeat it. (Take your time. ) Repeat it. Keep repeating it.
4. Soon you will notice that you are thinking about something else, not about your word. Gently, without scolding yourself, start thinking your word again.
5. After 20 minutes, stop thinking your word, open your eyes, and congratulate yourself on a perfect meditation.
Do this practice once or twice a day for 100 days (but if you miss a day be kind to yourself and keep practicing).
Then, on Day 100, ask yourself how you feel. Have your mental clarity and emotional stamina improved? Wouldn't you like to continue your practice?
The rest is commentary.
Q. What if I experience unusual feelings? - strong emotions, vivid mental pictures, or blank moments when the mind seems to have visited another dimension ("transcended, " as some meditators call it. )
A. Let these experiences come and go. They are NOT the object of the practice, just scenery. Meditate like a mountain.
A mountain wears much changing scenery on its face - fields, trees, rivers, sun, wind, snow, day and night. But the mountain pays no attention to these appearances. It just sits.
Q. What if I experience unusual or uncomfortable side-effects or after-effects of my meditation?
A. Well, if you learned table-tennis - ping pong - and found that the sight of the white ball bouncing back and forth caused you to experience dizziness or headaches or severe mood swings, you would naturally stop. You would probably want to see a doctor or psychologist.
But this is quite unlikely. It's also unlikely that you will experience any such reactions from trying this practice. (Much research bears this out. ) But if you do, use the technique of Common Sense, taught by wise guides of every age and nation. Stop your practice and check it out.
Q. Do I need a unique mantra of my own, assigned by an “expert?"
A. Some day in the future, a specialist in behavioral psychology and brain neurology who studies meditation might be able to answer this question scientifically. For now the evidence says “No, choose a word that you like. "
More than 35 years ago Dr. Herbert Benson first described the clinically detectable response that can be triggered by practices like this meditation. In his well-known book, “The Relaxation Response, " Benson recommends that the meditator choose his or her own “focus word. "
Patricia Carrington, Ph. D. , the author of “Freedom in Meditation, " is a psychologist who has taught a practice like this since the 1970s, to study its effects. She calls it Clinically Standardized Meditation.
A guru from India who helped with her research maintained that the choice of a mantra is not crucial to success.
Master Seung Sah, a distinguished Korean American Zen teacher, has not written a book, but he has founded dozens of Zen centers around the world. He claims that “coca-cola" will work as a mantra.
In other words, it's not so much the word that matters; it's what you do with it.
Q. How does this meditation fit with religious devotion or prayer?
A. The method is not religious itself, although many people find that it makes their mind and emotions more responsive to prayer and religious contemplation.
If your religious teacher strongly objects to this practice, you must deal with that challenge by common sense. There is no quick answer.
Q. How does it fit with psychotherapy?
A. Many therapists have reported that this method, or one like it, has helped their patients make better progress in their treatment.
Some psychiatric patients might react badly to this or a similar practice, just as they react badly to some therapies -as they react to life itself. A psychiatric patient should always inform his or her therapist about using this meditation.
Q. After all, is it worth time and discipline to learn a practice like this that seems rather complicated?
A. This practice is not complicated to do.
Eating and sleeping are not complicated to DO, although Google lists millions of items to READ about them. It's simple to eat a sandwich and take a nap.
This practice is simple, too. Go back and count. Each session has just 5 easy steps. You can meditate happily like this without a textbook or a computer.
As Zen suggests, eat when you're hungry and drink when you're thirsty - and meditate if it makes you feel good
Douglas Spencer, is now helping to change the lives of people from all over the world through his innovative and thought-provoking newsletters and websites. Founder of Club C'est La Vie and creator of http://www.ForSuccessInLife.info , simplifies personal growth by showing you step-by-step how to create and live a life that works well and feels great! He aims to help people achieve greater awareness in living and experiencing life. To evolve human consciousness to higher levels. To change lives and to create possibility. To revolutionize the way we understand
The Essence of What is.