Meditation Benefits: The three Elements of Meditation

The three elements of meditationlead us on our inward journey of self-realization.

The three Elements of Meditation

The three Elements of Meditation


Meditation begins with the breath. Breathing is always with us, whether we are meditating or not. From this place there is never a time when we are not meditating, only a time when we are unaware of it. Meditation is awareness. Meditation centers us in the present moment.

Meditation is a process that involves three important elements. The first is concentration, a place of inner focus. The second is an attitude of non-attachment, where our thoughts are left fleeting unable to disturb our awareness or gain energy. The third element is mindfulness, being fully present in this moment by awakening to our natural state of quietness, where awareness becomes aware of itself.

To deepen your practice of meditation you will want to practice each of these skills regularly.

Concentration

Concentration in meditation is without doing, it is creating awareness without judgment. There’s nothing mystical or spiritual about concentration, and like breathing we all do it in one form or another. It is a way of focusing the mind and applying thought to what is being done.  

Concentration is applying mind to what is felt, seen or thought without an effort to change a thing. It is when we rest our attention on one thing. The focus of our attention when developing a meditation practice can be a candle or Sri Yantra or mandala; more often it is the breath or a mantra.  

In the beginning concentration feels as if it is hard work and can be frustrating. There is, however, a difference between the type concentration we use to solve a problem and the focus we bring to meditation. Meditative concentration is the process of bring together all our scattered energies and letting them settle down, restoring a sense of wholeness.  

Whatever we choose to use as our focus of concentration, whether it’s the breath or a candle, it becomes the center of our attention. In the end the object of attention fills the mind and the energy of thought settles.

Non-attachment

Concentration is the process of letting go of distractions. Thoughts, emotions, sounds or sights in the environment can all disrupt concentration and when that happens, usually we react. And when we react we give energy to those disturbances. The easiest way to have them move out of our conscious awareness is to remain neutral and this is the practice.

Instead of trying to suppress the thoughts (an almost impossible task) we let go of our instinctual need to react to them. This is the process of non-attachment, allowing whatever thoughts that arise in the mind to pass as clouds pass through the sky, dissipating as they go.

The thoughts that distract us in meditation usually center on our cravings and desires. It is these objects of thought that not only disturb our meditation but our daily lives as well.  

Our craving and our moments of silent bliss come and go in meditation; non-attachment is the process of watching without trying to understand them. And when we do not give them new energy through continued attention, the power of these distractions is diminished, they leaves us without acquiring new power.

As the practice develops an experience of one-pointed concentration becomes part of our unconscious mind as well. We create a new samskaras (grooves in the mind) that support our meditation.

Concentration and non-attachment work together supporting each other allowing the other to deepen.

Mindfulness

As our practice of concentration and non-attachment grows there is a transformation that takes place in our awareness. As we become aware of the consistent mind chatter and begin to slowly step away from it, our mind begins to settle and we become aware of our natural state of silence and presence.

The Sanskrit translation of the term “mindfulness” is smriti, and it means ‘to bring to mind’ or ‘to bring to remembrance.’ In describing mindfulness Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn (developer of Mindfulness-based stress reduction) said, “Mindfulness can be cultivated by paying attention in a specific way, that is, in the present moment, and as non-reactively, non-judgmentally and openheartedly as possible.”

In the beginning your practice is a collection of developmental skills that support your practice, including your ability to:

  • Pay attention. In order to develop a mindful posture, you need to pay attention.
  • Present moment awareness. Remain in the present moment instead of fantasizing about the future or worrying about the past, or as Ram Dass put it, “Be here now.” This is ‘seeing’ things as they are, without judgment, being aware of things as they are now.
  • Non-reactivity is the ability to respond to your experiences rather than react to your thoughts. Reaction is automatic; response is with awareness.
  • Sensing your emotion is the process of becoming aware of the emotions that give rise to your thoughts.
  • Becoming non-judgmental. Letting go of judgment allows you to see things as they are instead of seeing thing through the filter of your conditioning. This, especially, includes the judgmental self-talk that is so often our inner companion, and allow the feelings of self-acceptance to wash in and fill the void.
  • Maintain concentration. Maintaining your focus keeps you from being carried away on a train of thoughts.
  • Being Openhearted. To be open-hearted is to be kind, compassionate to other as well as yourself. You cannot find the qualities of kindness and compassion outside of yourself, you must look within; and when you can see yourself with awareness as who you truly are, then you can be genuinely compassionate to others.

Meditation is not about self-enhancement but self-transcendence. To realize the self is the gift of meditation and the means to understand and experience the center of consciousness within.

The three elements of meditation, concentration, non-attachment and mindfulness, help us move along our inward journey of self-realization.

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Meditation Benefits for Baby Boomers Only

I could have titled this piece, “meditation benefits for baby boomers only or how to age gracefully and well,” it would have been a bit long, but accurate. I can remember Swami Rama, a great teacher, writer, humanitarian and founder of the Himalayan Institute, being asked what he thought was one of the greatest benefits of Yoga, to which he replied, ‘being able to tie my own shoes at ninety.’ ᅠA simple, yet, profound benefit, especially for those of us who find ourselves not quite as supple as we were even a few years ago.

Meditation Benefits for Baby Boomers Only

Meditation Benefits for Baby Boomers Only

Part of Yoga is about flexibility of the body, but it is equally about maintaining flexibility of the mind and this is where meditation, which is the essence of Yoga, comes in. Recent studies on meditation and stress have shown that the practice positively influences the very expression of our DNA and Telomeres activity (telomeres are caps at the end of our DNA strands and are biological markers of age). But, for all its physical and mental benefits, meditation, is ultimately, a spiritual experience, which by definition is personal and unique.

Lewis Richmond takes the spiritual, via the Buddhist approach, to aging well. I’ll let him tell you in his own words about his experience of being, “one individual face to face with his own aging.”

“Forty years ago, when my Buddhist teacher Shunryu Suzuki was in his mid-sixties and the students around him were mostly in their 20s and 30s, someone asked him, “Why do we meditate?” He replied, “So you can enjoy your old age.” We all laughed and thought he was joking. Now that I am the age he was then, I realize he wasn’t joking at all….”

“…For the last several years I have been developing a contemplative approach to growing old and aging well. I have come to believe, as my teacher did, that spiritual practice can help us to age gracefully, and that the last part of life is a fruitful time for spiritual inquiry and practice. As part of my research, I logged on to Amazon, put in the search word “aging” and sorted by descending best-seller. Yes, there were a lot of best-selling books with the word “aging” in the title. But when I looked more closely I could see that most of the titles really weren’t about aging per se, but about postponing, disguising, or reversing aging. It was only when I set aside sales rank as my criterion that I found some good books with a spiritual approach to aging. Two of my favorites are The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully by Benedictine nun Joan Chittister, and Spirituality and Aging by gerontology professor Robert C. Atchley.

What other resources do we have for accepting aging with grace, about learning the lessons of wisdom that aging teaches, about investigating the deep questions of our human life? 2,500 years ago, the Buddha had a lot to say about the inevitability of loss and change. What could all of us aging folks learn from his teaching today?

The Buddha taught that “everything changes,” and many of today’s Buddhists repeat that teaching as a patent truism. But suppose we were to rephrase those words to say, “Everything we love and cherish is going to age, decline, and eventually disappear, including our own precious selves?” Suddenly this “truism” takes on a different coloration and urgency. It’s all going to go, the Buddha is saying, all of it — everything that matters to us. In fact that process is always happening; everything is aging, all the time. How is it that we didn’t notice?

When we are young, we don’t notice. In youth, life is full of opportunity, and when things go wrong there are do-overs and second chances. But on the downhill slope of life, we start to notice the worrisome finitude of time. We go to more funerals, we visit more hospitals, we view the daily news with more distance, and we start to feel an autumnal chill in the air. There are joys too, of course — grandchildren, time for travel (if we can afford it!), the pursuit of long-dreamed-of avocations and new beginnings, as well as the energizing impulse to “give back” to community and society.

There is also a fresh opportunity to look to the inner life, to revisit the deep questions that a busy career and family responsibilities might have long pushed into the background. A regular contemplative practice can indeed be a part of this journey, and Buddhism offers rich resources in this area. In my upcoming book Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser (Gotham Books, January 2012) I offer many such contemplative practices — from traditional meditations on breath, gratitude, and compassion, to more innovative reflections on time, worry, fear, and what I have ecumenically termed “the inner divine.” The last section of the book — “A Day Away” — is a guided personal retreat that uses these contemplative exercises as a way to reflect on aging in all its many dimensions. I use the term “elderhood” to refer to the totality of this effort.

Elderhood is the culminating stage of a life fully lived. When the time comes, we can (although we may not always ) assume the mantle of elderhood as a kind of birthright, and traditional cultures have all honored and supported elderhood, giving their elders specific roles and tasks to do. In today’s wired, youth-oriented world, elders don’t typically garner that same kind of respect. These days, each of us has to imagine and construct our own expression of elderhood, and find ways to bring it forward.”

Lewis continues with a poignant example of “elderhood” that occurred in the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan and the resulting damage to the nuclear reactors, in which elder Japanese volunteered to help clean them up.

The meditation benefits for baby boomers are that research has found that older people that practice meditation have improved behavioral and cognitive abilities live longer and are happier than those who don’t. Click here to visit the original source of this post

Benefits of Meditation in the Facebook Age

This post is for all the techno geeks out there who might not think that meditation would play any part in the cyber world. Well, guess again, because Ajit Jaokar, a respected mobile and web industry author, blogger, publisher and teacher, has just published a book and that begs to differ.

Benefits of Meditation in cyber world

Benefits of Meditation in Cyber World

The concept that he is proposing seems on the surface paradoxical, but paradox and meditation have gone hand in hand for millennia, which is the simultaneously disconnecting from the external world while connecting exponentially increasing number of inputs because of the growth of technology-based networks.ᅠ

Jaokar defines meditation as the sense of presence and focus required to achieve seemingly-impossible things. Landing a plane on the Hudson, for example.

According to Ajit one of the benefits of meditation is that it, “…becomes a technology that will cause an exponential uptake in human intelligence and evolution.” It seems that meditation just may turn out to be the best way to the coming hyper-technology.

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Top Research Psychiatrist Promotes Meditation Benefits

This post is, essentially, an interview with Norman Rosenthal, M.D. professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, who is best known for his study and treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Dr. Rosenthal as just published a book, “Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation,” which features case studies and interviews with meditators, including such celebrities as Paul McCartney, Russell Brand and many others.

At the end of the article there is a video presentation with Dr. Rosenthal and in it he starts off qualifying himself by saying, “…I’m not a TM insider” and noting that he came to the practice later in life. However, Dr. Rosenthal, quickly makes it known that he’s did his research and in the process discovered a large volume scientifically measurable data.

A world-renowned psychiatrist is speaking out about a powerful antidote, he believes, for many of our modern woes, a way to help overcome stress-related disorders while opening a new window to the potentialities of the human brain.

There have been a number of posts this week about Dr. Rosenthal speaking about Transcendental Meditation and his new book; this one by Jeanne Ball is by far the best. Dr.  Rosenthal is another scientific voice adding to the validity of the benefits of meditation.

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Is Learning how to Receive Support and Love a Meditation Benefit?

Becoming more self-aware is the number one benefit of meditation, because self-awareness creates the opportunity for self-acceptance. You need to know and accept who you are now, especially if you want to transform any aspect of your life. When we are more self-aware, it also means we have the opportunity to become less self-critical and allowing ourselves to open to receiving.

For me a guided meditation or centering technique is like a poetic journey that my mind agrees to take By simply choosing to

Because the Universe operates through a constant exchange of energy and information, with giving and receiving being the different aspects of the flow, creating homeostasis or balance is the key to peace and happiness. And the act of being able to graciously receive is as necessary as giving, especially when receiving life’s most precious gifts like love, appreciation, laughter, wisdom, support or joy.

Self-awareness creates discernment, allowing to dig deeper and distinguishing the root causes of feeling and emotions, which are often different than what they appeared to us to be on the surface.

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Meditation it’s not What You Think

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.

 

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Is meditation Safe?

Because there are so many benefits from meditating and because you’re almost never hear anything negative about meditation, does that mean that there are no possible negative consequences?

For the hard core, Newtonian oriented science types, the greatest consequence of meditating too much would be that you might feel a little spaced out.  But as the author, Stacey Nemour, points out others many have a different perception. According to Katie Weatherup, author of Practical Shamanism, “multiple hours a day of meditation can increase any tendency to dissociate, especially in trauma survivors because meditation is in itself an exercise of separating our minds from our physical reality!”ᅠ

There are countless benefits that come from meditation. Scientific studies show meditation activates the part of the brain that helps one make better decisions. Other benefits are anti-aging, healing, enhanced abilities and feeling balanced,

So is it simply a matter of a belief system that determines whether or not meditation poses any dangers? This question goes to the heart of the debate between materialist and spiritualist. Is there one central reality or do we each create our own?

What are your thoughts? What would happen if your shifted your perspective from the one you’re holding so close?

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Meditation can Help your Clear your Mental Attic

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.

Use the same place to do this every time. You just might find that the urge to sit and stew gets weaker over time. Consider taking an actual course or program to learn meditation and mindfulness techniques. Practice what you learn,  
Albany Times Union (blog)

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.

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Traditional meets Alternative in seeing Meditation as a Benefit

Slowly but surely, traditional western medicine is embracing, what used to be called ‘alternative’ practices. Now many of the so called ‘alternative’ practices have redefined as complementary, a better definition, for at least some of these practices.

One of the reasons is because of the new ‘hard science’ that’s now arising around these practices. There are a multitude of new studies extolling the benefits of meditation, yoga, deep breathing and other relaxation therapy’s.

The benefits of meditation alone have been linked to a reduction in the side effects of cancer treatment, a decrease in depression for MS patients and, along with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), to help elevate the symptoms of clinical depression and meditation has been shown to boost cellular health.ᅠ

Check out this primer for do-it-yourself meditation from the Mayo Clinic, or find a class near you. Yoga: Of the many potential benefits of yoga, certain forms have been associated with improving recovery from breast cancer, lessening anxiety and

Of course not all ‘alternative’ practices have proven beneficial effects, but for those with the research behind them, I believe that complementary and traditional western medicine have begun to, at least, ‘shake hands.’

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The Benefits of Meditating in Nature

Nature has a way of creating a meditative state within us, without effort. When you meditate in a place of natural beauty, you know that you’ve arrived a place that feel like home, even if you’ve never been there before, that what meditation is.

The Benefits of Meditating in Nature

The Benefits of Meditating in Nature

When we walk in nature and something beautiful takes our breath away for just a moment, for that moment we are part of the experience, for that moment meditation is not something we are ‘doing’ it’s something we are ‘being.’ᅠ

It didn’t occur to Remington that he was meditating. After a year of clairvoyant training and studying a variety of meditation techniques, it became clear those moments in nature were effective meditations. He shares these nature-based techniques and

There is a magic in nature, notice how your mind settles down, the stress melts away, your breathing deepens and your heart fills with joy.

We evolved in the natural world so make it a practice to meditate in nature as often as you can, and notice how easily your heart opens.

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