Meditation is the simplest of practices and at the same time it as tremendous subtlety and depth that can create challenges for those who are new to the practice and the benefits that meditation has to offer.
The basics of meditation are simple, sit in a comfortable position, straighten your back, breathe deeply, put your attention on your breath and follow it. That’s the basics of a mindfulness meditation practice.
However, meditation is like any art form, you can keep it simple or you can delve into the depths of the practice. Because of these subtleties and the challenges that someone new meditation encounters, they can sometimes feel as if they just don’t ‘get it’ or they are a ‘slow learner.’
That’s how Therese Borchard felt as she began to learn meditation and, well, I’ll let her tell you the story from her post, “Meditation for Slow Learners.” ﾠﾠﾠ
“…I’m a bit of a slow learner, so even as I promised myself two years ago that I would start each day with 20 minutes of meditation, I am still thumbing through books trying to figure out how, exactly, you do it. I have learned much from Elisha Goldstein’s Psych Central blog, “Mindfulness and Psychotherapy.” Because I believe, on some level, that all forms of meditation are about creating space. And Elisha reminds his readers of that by continually repeating the meaningful quote by Viktor Frankl that says “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”
Space is what makes meditation as well as laughter such powerful tools. Without space, we live from the reptilian part of our brains, the amygdala, or fear center of our brain. So everything is reaction, impulse, panic. Even a second’s amount of space allows us to breathe and grab our mental blankie, if you will, so that we can respond with a higher evolved part of the brain.
While that all sounds so easy, I’m admittedly still challenged in this area. And apparently a lot of other folks are, too, which is why Dr. Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson have written an in-depth guide titled simply, “Meditation.” (Even the title is easy to understand!)
Before you put these guys in an ivory tower away from the muddle that us, non-academic-types trudge through everyday, you should know a little about Dr. Gawler’s story. A competitive decathlete, he was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1975 at the age of 24. Even after his leg was amputated, doctors gave him a five percent chance of living beyond five years. Just three years after that, the same doctors declared him cancer free. Because so many cancer patients were coming to him for advice, he founded The Gawler Foundation, which provides holistic healing retreats for cancer patients.
The authors introduce mindfulness-based stillness meditation with four simple steps: preparation, relaxation, mindfulness, and stillness.
- Preparation is the easy part, the practical details of where you will meditate, your posture, deciding what specific kind of meditation you will try, and everything that relates to how you set yourself up to begin the meditation. According to Gawler and Bedson, “Preparation involves establishing comfort and ease. We create a conducive external and internal environment for meditation by preparing the location, our posture and our attitude.”
- Relaxation is the street corner where the wheels on my meditation bus disassemble and roll down the road to a coffee shop. According to the authors we simply take the time needed to learn how to relax our body and mind. “A tight or tense body often accompanies a busy or restless mind,” the authors explain. “We use relaxation techniques to create more spaciousness in the body, which helps in calming the mind and bringing our attention into the present moment.”
- By the time I have made it to mindfulness, I have usually abandoned the discipline altogether, because my mind is so relaxed that it is thinking about chilling out at the pool with a glass of lemonade, not closing my eyes in an air-conditioned office sitting on a pillow. Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present moment. I don’t know why that should be so difficult, but it is. At least for my monkey brain. Probably because staying attentive to the moment requires that you be free of judgment, like Damn it. I’m thinking about the pool and lemonade again. I totally suck at this. Ideally, if we are truly mindful, we are also free of reaction. Like when the doctor comes after your knee with that rubber thing, and you almost kick him in the nose without even trying to move your leg. Yeah, all that would stop if you were absolutely mindful. You are able to let go of the guilt in the past and the worry of the future. You don’t engage in your usual obsessive thinking … theoretically … so you don’t obsess about your not obsessing. You get the frontal lobes where they are supposed to be.
- That takes us to stillness. Let me just quote from them on this one:
“Gradually, by just paying attention without reacting, we become aware of a stillness. Sounds, sensations, even emotions and thoughts just come and go. Free of judgment. Free of reaction. We notice a background of stillness against which sounds, sensations and thoughts come and go, appear and disappear. We become aware that still and silent presence that is just noticing the movement of sounds, sensations and thoughts. In this stillness, awareness is open and undistracted. Stillness is not a static nothingness; it is alive, alert and non-reactive presence.”
The challenges that Therese ran into as a beginning meditator are the same challenges that almost all meditators run into when they begin a practice. In fact the most common complaint of a new meditator is, ‘I can’t stop my thoughts.’ ﾠﾠ
The good news is that meditation is not about trying to stop your thoughts, it’s about ignoring them by using the ‘tools’ of meditation, watching the breath or using a mantra; so that when thoughts intrude on your silence you gently brush them away by returning to your breath or mantra. Now that’s a meditation benefit.ﾠClick here to visit the original source of this post
The concept that we are not our minds ﾠand that its one of the benefits of meditation on the Bhagavad Gita, may seem extremely strange or even a bit incomprehensible to those new to meditation, Yoga and non-dual philosophy.
It becomes a bit easier to grasp the idea that you are not your mind by simply becoming aware of your thoughts as they arise; then you will begin to notice your mind is off wondering into the past or fantasizing about the future. If you continue with this practice, you will soon begin to realize that your mind has a mind of its own and that you only have control of it in those moments of awareness. ﾠ
This is explained so well by Gadadhara Pandit Dasa, I might as well let him take over, enter the teacher…
Have you ever wondered about why your mind works the way it does, and how it comes up with all of its scattered, random and half-organized thoughts? Where are all of these thoughts coming from, and what’s the reason they are there? Many of our thoughts originate from experiences we’ve had in the past, but the mind will also come up with dreamlike scenarios about events that have yet to take place in our lives.
We will find ourselves in a scenario for a future event, and we will be fully imagining the experience of what it would be like to live in that scenario. Some of these situations can be pleasant, while others are very nightmarish.
We’ve all had experiences where we can be eating, sleeping, walking down the street, studying, working, listening to music or even engaging in a conversation with someone else, and the mind will begin to drift away to somewhere else. We didn’t consciously decide to let the mind wander, but it did. It just left us standing there talking to someone while it decided to go away for a while. This happens all the time!
No one willingly chooses to have a nightmare where one is chased by an animal, attacked by a murderer or falls off of a cliff. We can wake up in a sweat with our heart beating a million miles an hour. It becomes obvious that we weren’t in control of our thoughts at that time, and that we are rarely ever in control of our thoughts at any time.
The Bhagavad Gita describes the tendency of the mind as follows: “For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.”
By referring to the mind as a friend or an enemy, the Gita treats the mind as if it were something different from us. Many times it can sure feel as if someone else, or even a whole group of people, is carrying on elaborate dialogues up there that have little to do with our present reality.
Many Hindu texts create a distinction between the physical body, the mind and intelligence. The mind is often compared to an impulsive child who isn’t capable of making proper decisions, and the intelligence is likened to a parent that helps the mind choose the appropriate and healthy course of action.
A mind that isn’t given proper attention and is allowed to run wild can cause havoc in our lives. The uncontrolled mind is the sole source of fear, stress and anger in our lives. We’ve all had the experience of recalling instances where others might have physically, financially or emotionally hurt us. Even though we tell ourselves that “it’s over and that there’s no need to continue to remember such instances,” we find that the mind forcibly brings these thoughts back to the forefront of our consciousness.
The Gita explains that we can either become liberated with the help of our mind or completely degrade our consciousness. Believe it or not, the choice is ours. It may be possible to avoid unpleasant situations, uncomfortable places or unfriendly people, but the mind isn’t something we can escape.
The mind lives within us and controls our thoughts, emotions and actions. We go to sleep with it every night and we wake up with it every morning. If we’re going to spend that much time with someone, doesn’t it make sense to develop a friendship with that individual? The question arises: How do you develop a friendship with someone that you can’t see or touch or really even talk to?
First of all, we have to acknowledge that we have a mind and not that we are the mind. Second, we need to be able to admit that we have very little control over the mind’s activities. Thirdly, we need to know that we’re never going to have complete control over the mind.
Of course, we’re not talking about controlling the mind in some forceful, unnatural way. What we want to accomplish is a harmonious relationship between the mind, intelligence and the soul, so that these different components of our being can be on the same page more often. This will lead to a happier and more peaceful existence. This, of course, requires training and practice. Nothing worth achieving ever comes easy.
For those new to the idea of training the mind the whole concept may seem a bit incomprehensible. Making it compressible is one of the benefits of meditation on the Bhagavad Gita, because this is what the Bhagavad Gita teaches us.
Meditation is the tool, not to control the mind, but to go beyond it or at least to ignore it, because you don’t have to learn to stop your thoughts, an impossible task anyway; instead, whenever they intrude, and depending on which approach to meditation you chose, you gently return to your breath or your mantra. After you have developed a regular practice you will noticeﾠyour thoughts beginning to subside, you will be able to remain focused for longer periods and will experience increasing peace in your life.ﾠClick here to visit the original source of this post
The first time I heard this phrase, it was in a talk given by Jon Kabat – Zinn, Ph.D. where he mention that he had a tee shirt with the ‘it’s not what you think’ saying printed on it.
The reason this quote is popular among meditators is because it says it all and it’s said, every pun intended. As the Shapiro point out, in this piece, meditation is not about ‘thinking’ it’s about letting go of thinking, not ‘trying’ or ‘doing,’ but ‘being.’
Many “try” to meditate but their minds are so busy they get frustrated and quickly believe they are no good at it. Others turn into diehard advocates of a particular method or technique and become like a salesperson trying to sell a product. …
One of the points addressed by the authors, which is often overlooked, in the rush to ‘learn’ to meditate, is that meditation is a natural process, one that just happens.
All the techniques, styles and types of meditation are simply methods help us quiet our “monkey minds.” Whether you are drawn to TM, Primordial Sound, Vipassana or any other of the many meditation techniques, the best one is the one that works for you.
Think of meditation as a way to do some mental spring cleaning, sweeping out that constant chatter that’s always cluttering things up in your head. Most of the time we are living in our heads, either in the past or on the future, in fact, if we are in the ‘now’ than we aren’t in or heads at all, we’re simply present.
Meditation is the practice of getting out of our heads and slipping into the gap between our thoughts, you know, silence, or into the present moment, and that would be mindfulness. Either way, the self-talk stops, at least for a time and with it goes the worries, anxieties and general mind drama and in slips peace.
The benefit of meditation is that the more you practice it the more it becomes a part of your everyday life, which means more peace and less worry and happier, healthier life. And I would say that’s a spring cleaning worth doing.
At Harvard University researchers analyzed blood samples and found that there was a difference in how genes expressed themselves between meditators and a control group. This met that meditation caused hundreds of genes to turn on and off.
What was the significance? A number of the genes were involved in the body’s response to ‘oxidative stress’ and cellular metabolism. One of our biological responses to mental and emotional stress is oxidative stress, which produces free radicals.
The conclusion of the Harvard study was that there is verifiable scientific proof that meditation has positive genetic effects influencing cell metabolism as well as a positive response to oxidative stress.
Meditation not only affects our genes it also affects our DNA. In a 2010 study, meditation was shown to have a positive effect on telomerase activity in the immune cells. This is important because, telomerase is an enzyme that can repair the telomeres.
And what are telomeres and why are they important? Telomeres are little caps at the end of our chromosomes that protects our DNA. It turn out that these little caps ultimately have an effect on the aging process.
There is a new blood test that measures the length of the telomeres, which can be used to measure how fast a person is aging. The hope being that maybe the test will motivate people to take action, or better yet sit quietly and meditate, to improve their health.
Stress hormones, which play an important part in aging, are regulated by RNA, which is a copy of the DNA. RNA is the active copy and is constantly changing instructions. So by choosing a lifestyle that reduces stress your RNA responds by producing fewer stress hormones
Meditation may not be the actual fountain of youth, and yet, because of the meditation benefit for our DNA created by relieving the symptoms of stress and helping us to let go of our daily anxieties, meditation, just may be as close as we can come.
Here are the posts on this Weeks topic ~ the Positive Benefits of Meditation on DNA
Spiritual-Wellness-Happiness: DNA and Rejuvenation
Outside the biologists test tubes and flasks, DNA gets influenced by your every thought, feeling, and action. The stress hormones that play such a critical part in aging are regulated by RNA, which is a copy of DNA; even though the DNA …
Publish Date: 04/29/2011 7:00
The Use of Meditation in Cancer Treatment | Neuroscienze.net
The benefits of meditation are therefore in direct contrast with so-called “modern” medicine which is carried out hurriedly, aggressively and using expressions such as “It is useless to look elsewhere, there is nothing else that can be done ”. ….. To explain this hypothesis has been formed that meditation could help to achieve a very good state of balance in biochemical development which would maximize the efficient use of DNA to induce itself to self-repair. …
Publish Date: 05/17/2011 5:44
Scientific Research – Get Truth About Meditation
Many other researchers have described the benefits of alpha and theta brain wave states. Budzynski has done extensive research on learning and suggestion when the brain is in a theta state. Theta, Budzynski suggested, is the state in which superlearning takes place—when in theta, …. Cells that are at sub-optimal levels are stimulated to ‘turn on’ and produce what they’re supposed to produce, probably through DNA, which is stimulated through the cell membrane… …
Publish Date: 02/01/2001 0:00
Harvard Study finds that Meditation Impacts DNA | David R Hamilton PhD
People have meditated for years and enjoyed better health (and a slower aging process) but many others have been skeptical as to its benefits. Now, we have solid scientific proof of the positive genetic effects of meditation in that it …
Publish Date: 04/19/2011 4:40
Enjoy a couple of You Tube Videos that use binaural beats so your DNA can kick back and relax.
Conscious Release www.unisonicascension.com This Silk Road inspired meditation incorporates 10 Solfeggio frequencies in total, from delicate background sounds, to the featured oriental Koto tuned to: 396Hz, 417Hz, 528Hz, and 639Hz. This beautiful Kot…
528 Hz Alpha binaural beat HQ mp3 download: www.unisonicascension.com 528 Hz ; the love frequency, is used as a binaural beat at the speed 10 Hz for this 528 Hz binaural meditation. www.unisonicascension.com The 528 Hz Solfeggio frequencie is from an…
Best known for describing seasonal affective disorder (SAD), Dr. Norman Rosenthal, believes that we would all benefit from a daily meditation practice. Just as a musicians tune their instruments, we can and need to tune our brains. Meditation is the means to do the tuning and Rosenthal recommends transcendental meditation, though any mantra based, inner awareness meditation will have the same affect.ﾠ
A mantra is a word without meaning that “anchors” the mind, which allows us to still our thoughts and eventually leads us to self-realization. This self-realization is the gradual releasing of attachment or the process of enlightenment.
In the end, the benefits of meditation can be experienced in the same way that the benefits of exercise can be, through a daily practice.
The Purpose of Life is to be Truly Happy
According to the wisdom traditions the purpose of life is to be truly happy, and our desire for happiness is an integral part of our nature, and it’s evolutionary. The mistake we make very often is, believing that if we get, accomplish or become something else, then we will be happy. Not realizing it’s the other way around, that by being happy now, it will lead to our getting, accomplishing and becoming what we most desire.
The wisdom traditions teach that happiness is found in being and not by doing, and it’s defined as bliss, contentment and joy without need or cause. Understanding intellectually, what happiness is and where it’s found, is much different than applying that knowledge. You can learn to address the root causes of unhappiness, but that’s only half the challenge, the other half is in the application and the practice. This is where meditation becomes a benefit.
Happiness and meditation have been long been linked together and now western science understands why. Scientists have now identified, the happiness set point, where happiness is located in the brain and the neurotransmitters of happiness.
The Neurotransmitters of Happiness
According to these researchers, it’s the release of neurotransmitters in the seat of higher thinking, the pre-frontal cortex, which changes the brains set-point for happiness. Meditation stimulates the release of neurotransmitters, including opiates, serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine. So, we now know that happiness isn’t some elusive emotion, it’s a physiological state which can be studied and measured. The effects of meditation on all the neurotransmitters change the brains set point for happiness in a way that no single drug can.
The Most Powerful Benefit of Meditation
As important, as the physiological effects are, there is a more powerful benefit that meditation offers in awakening true happiness. The Eastern spiritual traditions, from the beginning, understood that life inevitably contains suffering, from accidents to aging, from natural disasters to death. These same Eastern traditions diagnosed suffering and found five main causes of unhappiness and then came to understand that all of them were contained in the first; ignorance of your true identity. Once you experience your true nature, who you really are, then your suffering will come to an end.
Meditation is the key to discovering your true identity which lies in deep in your consciousness beyond your mind, intellect, and ego. Meditation allows you to discover, and most importantly, experience, that part of you that transcends space-time, cause and effect; the part of you that’s immortal, your core consciousness. The experience of self-realization is experience of enlightenment, which is the only permanent cure for unhappiness.
Enlightenment is knowing your real self, or as Deepak puts it, “In the world of constant change, there is something that doesn’t change,” know that ‘something,’ is the real you. When you experience yourself as the non-change in a world of change, and come to know the underlying ground state as who you really are, then you have discovered the key to true happiness.
Two of the best sources for deeper exploration into this meditation benefit are; Marci Shimoff’s book, “Happy for No Reason,” and Deepak Chopra’s book, “The Ultimate Happiness Prescription.”
Here are this weeks post on the Meditation benefits of Happiness.
In my work for the David Lynch Foundation, I find teaching at-risk children the Transcendental Meditation technique is one of the most valuable tools you can give a young person. They grow in self worth and inner happiness as they daily …
Publish Date: 04/18/2011 6:10
Sharon Salzberg’s “Real Happiness” challenge: What’s it like to meditate for 28 days? | Our March 2011 review of Salzberg’s new book Real Happiness | Shambhala Sun Audio: Sharon Salzberg (Dec 13, 2010) | Sharon Salzberg: “Surprised by …
Publish Date: 02/18/2011 10:22
“Many studies have shown that meditation is good for the mind. It’s also good for the body; it is good for the immune system, blood circulation, and overall sense of happiness” he said. At the Open Center event, Rinpoche told his …
Publish Date: 05/08/2011 7:16
I think, without them, all the other steps would be nothing. 2. Meditation, Happiness and the Trap of the Intellect (http://www.treelight.com/essays/meditationAndHappiness.html). Here, intellect plays a major role in one’s happiness. …
Publish Date: 05/01/2011 6:58
And Now for Some You Tube Happiness
For more information visit – www.TM.org Russell Simmons explains how through practice of Transcendental Meditation http everyone can easily grow in happiness. Russell Simmons (Def Jam) was one of the founders of the hip- hop movement and is now an en…
anmolmehta.com (free article with full details). If you want to be happy, peaceful and have confidence, then the Smiling Buddha Meditation Technique is perfect for you. Although this meditation uses mantras, mudras, etc to bestow it’s benefits, it’s …
www.ted.com What is happiness, and how can we all get some? Buddhist monk, photographer and author Matthieu Ricard has devoted his life to these questions, and his answer is influenced by his faith as well as by his scientific turn of mind We can tra…
www.selfimprovementsguide.com Happiness Top 20 most famous happy quotes and happiness quotations. Get 16 free self improvement and selfhelp guides with inspirational quotes, affirmations, happiness, meditation, relaxation, positive, manifestation, mo…
The questions asked here are, do you need to have quiet place to meditate or if there lots of distractions, does this mean I won’t be able to meditate? In this article Dr. Puff talks about his personal experiences and how he was able to practice his meditation even in noisy situations.
A couple of observations on this topic, first my own experience was very similar to Dr. Puff’s as my meditation practiced developed so did my ability to meditate anywhere. This ability evolves as your practice evolves and it’s not a recommended practice beginning meditators; for most beginners, distractions lead to frustration.
The second observation is that there are different approaches to meditating anywhere at any time, mindfulness approach and deep inner awareness or transcendental meditation.
Mindfulness is about being fully present without judgment and inner awareness is about transcending, going beyond the challenges. Teachers in these wisdom traditions will share with you that these are developed skills, and except in extraordinary circumstances, are developed or long periods of practice.ﾠ
Where can you meditate? Do you need to have a quiet place free from all distractions and noises or can you actually meditate anywhere, anytime, any place?
Dr. Puff offers some advice in this article and some practices that you can apply. I would add, because it is a practice, go ahead and do just that, practice, remembering to be gentle with yourself and letting go of any frustration if it arises. The number one benefit of meditation is stress reduction, so don’t stress if the distractions are too much, relax and wait until you feel you are in a comfortable place, then meditate.
The fourth state of consciousness is known as transcendence or Atma Darshan, means to “glimpse the soul.” It is a state of non-local reality, beyond waking, sleeping and dreaming, it is beyond space-time altogether.ﾠ
Dr Norman Rosenthal: Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation
Dr Norman Rosenthal speaks at the Meditatio Seminar: “Meditation and Mental Health”.ﾠ
|Time: 19:14||More in Education|
Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal is the psychiatrist best known for first understanding the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and pioneering the beneficial effects of light therapy. In this video he talks about his new passion, “Meditation and Mental Health” and transformation and healing through transcendental meditation.
Slipping beyond space-time, just another meditation benefit.