Choosing the Teacher that’s Right for You

Choosing the teacher that’s right for you

Choosing the teacher that’s right for you

Choosing the teacher that’s right for you depends on what it is you want. Is it a meditation teacher or a spiritual master that you want?

A meditation teacher can help you deepen and refine your meditation practice and they can help answer basic questions that arise. If, however, you wish to develop a meditation practice that will help you cultivate a spiritual path then you will need a mentor or a master.

There are many reasons that you might seek out a teacher or a mentor. Maybe you’ve encountered challenges, like dealing with strong emotions of anger, fear or sorrow. Perhaps you simply need some accountability, someone that will help you stay focused on your path.

A spiritual teacher can coach you as you move through the transformational process and they can even help accelerate this process by bring awareness to places where you get stuck.

There are many pitfalls that you can encounter when looking for a teacher, such as idealizing them, expecting them to be perfect, and becoming disillusioned when they don’t live up to that expectation.

In their article, Joel and Michelle Levey, give their answer to the question, “How can I find a qualified meditation teacher?” Their answers contain wisdom…

“As we travel and teach around the globe, many people ask us, “How can I find a qualified meditation teacher?” The answer is not always an easy one. When we first began our own practice, there were three meditation centers in Seattle and two yoga teachers. Now, there are thousands of yoga and meditation teachers and hundreds of meditation centers! In looking for a spiritual or “mind fitness” teacher, the qualities to look for include compassion, knowledge and insight, morality, sincerity and skill — both in teaching and in their way of living — and a greater realization of their true nature and highest potentials than you have. From your own side, you should have confidence in your teacher and be able to communicate well with him or her. However, don’t set out on a frantic guru hunt! We encourage you to proceed slowly, mindfully, and to be both open-minded and very discerning. It may be a matter of years before you meet the person who can answer your questions and be this special spiritual friend and teacher for you.

Meanwhile, you can begin to practice meditation from what you read and from podcasts or recordings on the web, and seek the advice of any meditators whose qualities you admire. The role of any good teacher is ultimately to help you learn to trust your own intuitive wisdom, your own inner guru or inner guidance system, which will ultimately be your most reliable source of true direction.

Because it’s so important, and fraught with so many potential pitfalls, the subject of finding a teacher deserves a special subset of guidelines of its own. A classic Buddhist teaching on “The Four Reliances” advises the spiritual seeker to:

“First rely on the principle, not on the person. Second, rely on the spirit, not the letter. Third, rely on wisdom, not conditioning. And fourth, rely on complete teaching, not incomplete teaching.”

There are many perils on the path of meditation and spiritual growth. Keep your eyes open and your discerning wisdom keen. There are teachers and traditions that are rare and precious beyond belief. If you are fortunate enough to be able to spend time with them, your life will be truly enriched. And, there are teachers and traditions that quite honestly, we don’t send people to. How do you know if you are pursuing an authentic spiritual path, or have met a good teacher?

Signs to watch for are: ethical and moral integrity; service to others; compassion; respect for discipline; personal accountability of both leaders and community members; faith; embodiment; groundedness; respect; joyfulness; fellowship with, or at least tolerance for, people of different faiths; an inspiring lineage of practitioners whose lives have been enriched; a community of kindred souls that inspires your respect and admiration; love; celebration; humanity; respect for silence as well as questions; an honoring of the mythical and the mystical as well as clear reasoning that welcomes debate; a balance of prayer, contemplation, study, and service in practice.

If you find that you are the type who is easily confused or bewildered by exploring many paths or studying with many teachers, it may be wise to simplify your spiritual pursuits. Research and visit different meditation centers and teachers until you find a path that is spiritually satisfying for you, and then through study, practice, and contemplation, go deeply into the heart of that path.

If you are by nature a weaver and synthesizer, your temperament may better suit you to seek inspiration from study and practice with a diversity of traditions. Seek to find the common heart and core around which they come together, and appreciate how each contributes to deepening your wisdom and love, and to strengthening your faith.

If you are a mature practitioner with a clear sense of your path and tradition, there is little to fear and much to gain through encounters with other traditions. These will likely serve to only clarify and deepen your faith and insight. Keep an open heart, an open mind, and seek for a path that works for you.

Spiritual communities, though potential havens, can also become escapes for the socially challenged. And teachers from other cultures, though masters in their spiritual disciplines, may lack the experience they need within their new culture to give realistic counsel to their students — and sometimes get distracted as they encounter the enticements of the West.

We wholeheartedly encourage you to keep your eyes wide open. Open-minded skepticism will help you to find a healthy balance between over-critical cynicism that may miss the real thing, and gullible naiveté that is easily duped into signing up for misleading or dangerous pursuits.

Over the years, in search of a deeper understanding, our work, travels, and research have lead us to encounter many different spiritual paths. Having also encountered many of the perils of the path — and having worked clinically with some of the casualties — we offer the following list of cautionary guidelines to check out before you “sign up” with a spiritual teacher or group. Though it is possible you may find some of the following warning signs on an authentic path, they are often associated with less trustworthy situations. It is always wise to observe the integrity of people’s behavior carefully, and ask yourself these three essential questions:

• Does what I hear make sense to me?
• Does it conform to the golden rule, empathy, and compassion toward yourself and others?
• What is the intention? Is it to harm or to help? Is it for limited self-interest — or service for the good of the whole and benefit to many for generations to come?

Beware if you encounter any of the following “red flags”:

• Teachers or circles of practitioners who are out of integrity, or who don’t practice what they preach.
• Settings where questions are not welcomed or answered in straightforward ways, or where raising concerns about conduct or ethical violations is frowned upon — especially if you are told you are being “too judgmental” when you do raise honest concerns.
• Anyone who claims that they can give “it” to you, especially for a price.
• If the price of admission excludes people who are truly sincere.
• If you are expected to purchase lots of expensive merchandise or paraphernalia to get on board.
• Slick, extravagant trappings or heavily marketed, empire-building enterprises.
• Discrimination or attempts to turn your heart against others.
• Hidden agendas.
• Fanatical, narrow-minded sects claiming to be “the only true way.”
• A heavily authoritarian, paternalistic, sexist, or militaristic scene.
• Practices that work with intense energy manipulation or heavy breathing practices without having first established a strong foundation in ethics and personal grounding.
• Teachers, paths, or seminars that seem ungrounded, make outrageous claims, use coercion tactics, or hustle you to get others to sign up.

Be especially discerning if you encounter people who seem to display unusual or extraordinary powers. Spiritually naïve people may easily confuse psychic sensitivity with spiritual maturity, deluding themselves and others. Purported channeling and clairvoyance may have little to do with authentic spiritual teachings. Because some teachers misrepresent themselves, claiming spiritual authorizations, realizations, or backgrounds that are downright lies, it’s always good to check references or question their authenticity. If the biography of a spiritual teacher heavily emphasizes their attainments in past lives, (maybe, but who knows?) we suggest that you stay focused on the integrity of the one you can see sitting in front of you.” Read full article…

No matter their style or approach to meditation and spirituality, all good teachers create space for you, allowing you to experience for yourself, the joy and wonder of the transformation which takes place within you.

Choosing the teacher that’s right for you should always, in the end, be made by consulting the guru within.

Always rely on your inner wisdom and guidance, which was the advice of the Buddha.

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

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Meditation can Heal You in Less than a Day

Meditation can heal you in less than a day, this what the data shows in research done by Yi-Yung Tang, of Dalian University of Technology in China, and Michael Posner, of the University of Oregon. Their research shows that meditation creates physiological changes in the brain in as little as 11 hours.

Meditation can heal you in Less than a Day

Meditation can heal you in Less than a Day

In what amounts to a revolution in science, recent discovers reveal that the human adult brain remains open to change during our full lifespan. How and what we think about creates and regulates a flow of energy and information, understanding this we then understand that the mind can change the brain. In other words, what and how we focus our attention and intention on, how we direct the flow of energy and information can directly affect the brain’s structure and activity.

In his post, Stephan Schwartz, explores this subject. He links the seemingly universal need to connect to something greater than ourselves to meditation, and meditation to science. Scientific studies verify that when compassion is practiced that the social circuits of the brain light up, which helps us to transform all our relationships, even the one we have with ourselves.

According to Stephan Schwartz:

“Of all the things that you can do to know yourself, nothing will serve you as well as developing the practice of meditation. Although meditation is often associated with Asian cultures, it is not Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Satanic or any faith at all. It can be done in the name of any of these faiths, or without faith in a religion — as distinct from a spiritual sense. Meditation is a single term defining many practices.

More than 1,000 papers have been published on meditation in the peer-reviewed literature between 2006 and 2009. There is not one meditation literature, but multiple branches to this literature in several disciplines, from physics to pastoral counselling, concentrating on everything from using meditation to end addiction, to symptom reduction in Fibromyalgia. Much of the research focuses on stress reduction, sleep problems and attention issues. But the emerging evidence on the lasting effects meditation has on our neuro-anatomy, and particularly our brains is, perhaps, the most fascinating research of all.

This work has documented a kind of deep “stillness” that affects the entire brain. When this occurs, the frontal and temporal lobe circuits — which track time and create self-awareness — seemingly disengage. The mind-body connection dissolves. These studies show us that the limbic system is responsible for assigning emotional values to persons, places, everything in our total life experience. Since the limbic system, among other things, regulates relaxation and ultimately controls the autonomic nervous system, heart rate, blood pressure and metabolism, it produces both emotional and physiological effects when you react to a specific object, person or place. This is why your hair “stands on end,” your skin “crawls,” your stomach “lurches” or your heart “beats faster.”

Because meditation affects the limbic system, developing the discipline allows one to become more volitionally in control of these responses. The practice has a calming effect that leaves us relaxed and physiologically more evenly regulated. This, in turn, allows us to be coherently focused, because we are less distracted by our inner dialogue and emotions as well as our physiological responses. And this literally changes your brain.

A team at the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, headed by Sara Lazar, used MRI to scan the brains of long-term meditators to see if the physical structure of their brains really were different. In 2005, they reported their findings in Neuroreport:

“Brain regions associated with attention, interoception and sensory processing were thicker in meditation participants than matched controls, including the prefrontal cortex and right anterior insula. Between-group differences in prefrontal cortical thickness were most pronounced in older participants, suggesting that meditation might offset age-related cortical thinning. Finally, the thickness of two regions correlated with meditation experience. These data provide the first structural evidence for experience-dependent cortical plasticity associated with meditation practice.”

In 2009, at the Center for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience at Denmark’s Aarhus University, Peter Vestergaard-Pulsen led a team seeking to explore the effects of long term meditation on brain structure. They found, as they report in their paper, also in Neuroreport:

“Using magnetic resonance imaging, we observed higher gray matter density in lower brain stem regions of experienced meditators compared with age-matched nonmeditators. Our findings show that long-term practitioners of meditation have structural differences in brainstem regions concerned with cardiorespiratory control. This could account for some of the cardiorespiratory parasympathetic effects and traits, as well as the cognitive, emotional, and immunoreactive impact reported in several studies of different meditation practices.”

That same year, a research team at the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, Department of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine, publishing in Neuroimage, reported:

” … meditation practice has been shown not only to benefit higher-order cognitive functions but also to alter brain activity … meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the right hippocampus. Both orbito-frontal and hippocampal regions have been implicated in emotional regulation and response control. Thus, larger volumes in these regions might account for meditators’ singular abilities and habits to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability, and engage in mindful behavior.” Read full story here…

Though the study by Yi-Yung Tang and Michael Posner shows that meditation can heal you in less than a day, even Mr. Schwartz believes that a person should commit to at least a nighty day program in order to affect lasting changes. His belief is that if a person practices meditation for ninety days, they will have established a regular practice.

So take a deep breath, sit and quiet your mind, take a break from your daily stress and overwhelm from multitasking and running on autopilot, and balance your brain and let the connections in your brain improve along with the connections others and yourself.

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Meditation Benefits: What is Spirit?

Meditation Benefits: What is Spirit

Meditation Benefits: What is Spirit

When we ask the question “What is Spirit,” the answer that all the wisdom traditions have in common is known as the perennial philosophy, which as three basic threads of commonality. First, there’s a deeper reality that underlies the world of ordinary physical and mental reality. Second, that within each of us there exist a quality that is a part of this greater reality. And that the purpose of life is to realize, or awaken to, this larger reality.

The deeper reality that underlies the world of ordinary physical and mental reality is, according to the great traditions, a Spiritual or Divine reality that really exists, known to some as God or Holy Spirit, for others its described as the ground of being. Other language used to describe this deeper reality is, Tao, essential nature, emptiness of Self. Whatever language that is used to describe this sacred reality, it’s the reason, meaning and purpose of life.

We are the connected to and a part of this Divine reality. Once again there the language differs but the meaning is the same. Known to the Hindus as Atman, to the Buddhist as Buddha nature, to the Christians as Soul and to Jews as the Divine spark within. While the words used to describe it differ, all the traditions agree that there is something that connects us all to the greater reality.

The purpose of life is to realize, or awaken to, this larger reality. Millions of us acknowledge our connection to Spirit in church, temple or synagogue and many of us yearn, like the Buddhist monk, to awaken it. However we choose to acknowledge it, whether we are Christian and seek to embody the Holy Spirit or like the Sufi mystic long to unite with it, there is a natural and deep desire to realize this deeper reality.

No matter how you describe it all the wisdom traditions agree that the reason we suffer, and the primary difficulty that we need to resolve is the feeling of separation, the loss of connection to the deeper reality; we feel isolated, cut off from our own essential nature.

Why do we feel separated from Spirit?

Deepak Chopra addresses this question on his blog, giving his answer to what Spirit is.

Asking “What is spirit?” is another way of asking “Who am I?” Your true Self is pure, infinite spirit. Spirit isn’t something outside you, but is intertwined in everything you feel, think and do. Looking for spirit, the Vedic sages observed, is like a thirsty fish looking for water.

Even when you know that your essential nature is spirit, you can easily be deluded by the incessant activity of your mind and ego . . . the continuous cascade of thoughts, sensations and emotions. The mind can get mired in a conditioned pattern of thinking, returning again and again to thoughts of anxiety, stress, depression and limitation.”

Some of the traditions define the ego as self-image, personality or pride, and it’s the inner turbulence created by this self-centered preoccupation that keeps us feeling separate and from realizing true self-awareness.

These ego patterns can be buried deep within us and can require years of meditative practice to unravel. At a deeper level of awareness there is no, and never has been, a separation from Spirit.      

The Benefits of Meditation, Expanding Your Spiritual Awareness

Deepak explains it this way:

“In truth, you are always free. You can go beyond mental conditioning by using the timeless tool of meditation to expand your consciousness and access the field of pure potentiality. Meditation allows the mind to become quiet and experience the silence and peace of pure awareness. Numerous studies also show the many health benefits of meditation, including lowered blood pressure, stress reduction and increased immune function.

With a regular practice, the expansive awareness you enter during meditation begins to permeate your life outside of your meditation sessions. You might experience flashes of elation and notice feelings of well-being sweeping over you at unexpected moments. You will begin to walk with more buoyancy and feel a warmth and peace in your heart. These are all signs that you are opening to spirit.” Continue reading 

Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi

The way Ramana Maharshi said it The only thing that separates you from the Self (Spirit) is the belief that you are separate.”  

Ultimately the question, “What is Spirit” can only truly be known and understood by asking the question, “who am I?”

Orgasm and Meditation it’s not What You Think

 

Orgasm and Meditation it’s not What You Think

Orgasm and Meditation it’s not What You Think

William James, the famous American psychologist and philosopher, once said that the ‘self’ was a kernel of consciousness that carries through all our various sensations and experiences. This ‘self’ is consistently vacillating between our interior ‘voice,’ the self-talk going on in our heads all the time, and our exterior stream of consciousness, except in those rare moment when we slip into being, those moments of pure awareness.

 

 

 

 

These moments of ‘mysticism,’ as Nadia Webb, described it in a recent article in Scientific American, are where orgasm and meditation share a common distinctions which are, a lack of self-awareness, changes in bodily perception and a reduced awareness of pain. It’s this escape from our continuous ‘running critique’ that is what seems to be the catalyst for our pleasure.

Meditation is not about escape but presence, awareness and transformation. The link between the two experiences, however, has been that’s recognized by the practitioners of the wisdom traditions for millennia.

 

This link between meditation and orgasm was explained this way in an article published in the Huffington Post, “…Osho, the Indian spiritual teacher formerly known as Rajneesh, was famous for his acknowledgment of the mystical value of an orgasm. “The experience of orgasm itself is always nonsexual. Even though you have achieved it through sex, it itself has no sexuality in it,” he once said. “And my own understanding is that meditation has grown out of the experience of orgasm.”

 

I’ll let you reach your own conclusions about the “neurobiology of bliss,” so I’ll turn over to Nadia Webb…

 

“In studies that observe the brain in action, the right hemisphere seems to be the sexy hemisphere. It lights up during orgasm—so much so that, in one study, much of the cortex went dark, leaving the right prefrontal cortex as a bright island. New research suggests the right hemisphere is also hyperactive amongst the “hypersexual,” a symptom of brain injury loosely defined as groping, propositioning or masturbating in public without shame.

What is surprising about this is that pleasure is classically thought of as the province of the left hemisphere, not the right. The left is most active when recalling happy memories, meditating on love for another, and during the expansiveness of grandiosity or mania.

The left hemisphere is even preferentially more active among people free of depression and less active among the unhappy. If the brain were a simpler and more cooperative organ, the left hemisphere would be lit up like the Fourth of July during an orgasm. Instead, it is surprisingly silent. Why might this be so?

Until eight years ago, neuroscience had little scientific basis from which to comment on bliss, sexual or otherwise. Despite our public fascination with things sexual, as researcher, Gemma O’Brien put it, “orgasm is not impersonal and third person enough for the sciences.” Neuroscience was hobbled by the avoidance of such squashy topics, even if it meant setting aside important parts of human experience. However, a clearer portrait of pleasure is now emerging. Bliss, both sacred and profane, shares the diminution of self-awareness, alterations in bodily perception and decreased sense of pain. And while the left frontal lobe may be linked to pleasure, the other three characteristics are bilateral.

Absence of pain is predictably akin to pleasure, but the other two—losing a sense of identity and of bodily limits—are less obvious. Self-awareness, apparently, is no picnic. William James described the self as that kernel of consciousness that persists throughout various experiences and sensations. The self is divided between the stream of consciousness and an internal observer—except in those rare moments when we dissolve into mysticism.

Self-awareness exists as a running critique organizing conscious experience. Telling stories to ourselves (often about ourselves) is the cognitive default.

Escaping continual self-observation seems an underappreciated pleasure. Roy Baumeister wrote an entire book devoted to the premise that self-awareness is frequently a burden. Across cultures, we blunt awareness with alcohol, drugs, auto-hypnotic rituals and when times are dire, suicide. Meditation offers relief from this self-preoccupation and one of the few tools for creating a durable boost in happiness—perhaps by dampening activity in regions implicated in judgment, comparison, planning and self-scrutiny. Left prefrontal cortex activation correlates with happiness and Tibetan Buddhist monks have created the greatest measured spike in activity in this region produced by simple thought when meditating on compassion. The reported depth of meditation also corresponds to activity in the brain’s pleasure centers, such as left forebrain bundle, anterior insula and precentral gyrus. This overt pleasure is accompanied by a shift in emotional self-regulation; meditators are more aware of thoughts and feelings conceptually, but less emotionally disrupted by them, according to one study. Both hemispheres are involved in self-observation.” Click here to visit the original source of this post

Understanding that there is a common experience in meditation and orgasm it has only been natural to combine the two. It begs the questions, why would you want too and what could it possibly add to the experience? The answer is, meditation will enhance your lovemaking tremendously by giving it your complete attention and full awareness, by being fully present in the moment.

The Kama Sutra, the ancient text of India is both an inspiring spiritual text and as the title is sometimes translated, “instructions on pleasure,” and is proof that meditation and sex have been successfully combined for all of human history.

 

One of the best translations of the Kama Sutra is Deepak Chopra’s which includes the “Seven Spiritual Laws of Love.” His translation is not only a ‘study on sexual pleasure but an inspirational spiritual text.’

The Heart Meditation Benefit for Relief of Loss and Loneliness

 

The Heart Meditation Benefit for Relief of Loss and Loneliness

The Heart Meditation Benefit for Relief of Loss and Loneliness

We can define suffering as, a pain that feels as if it will never heal, one that makes life feel meaningless. We will all, at some point in our lives, suffer, loss, grief and loneliness, because it is part of the inevitable process of life. And if that sadness and grief builds up it will become depression.

In searching for a meaning to suffering, especially from a spiritual perspective, Deepak Chopra, in his book, “The Deeper Wound,” says that there are three answers. The first answer, based on nature, is that suffering is an inevitable part of life. The second answer says that we humans suffer from the inside out and is the result of sin and ‘wrongdoing,’ which cause us to feel shame and guilt. The third and last answer is the one based on transformation, which says that within suffering there is a hidden spiritual message, the seeds of the transformation and that makes it very different from the first two. The message contained in the third is that out of suffering can come love.

Through meditation it’s possible to heal suffering, to hold it gently and lovingly. With meditation you become aware of your thoughts, images and memories which keep reoccurring and you open yourself up to the whole range of experiences that surround suffering. With awareness there is the opportunity to transform suffering and you may discover that your emotions are not as overpowering or infinite as you feared.

Meditation offers the opportunity for continual awareness so that you can ‘name’ the emotion, a process that will allow most emotions to flow through the body and begin releasing; a process that you keep gently repeating as many times as the persistent emotions arise.

In this excerpt, reprinted on the “care2″ website, Deepak offers us a meditation for the heart…

“The ache of loss is difficult to bear, and often the worst part is the fear that nothing exists behind the ache except a void. Know that emptiness is an illusion. No matter how much you have suffered, your soul sees you as whole.

Affirm today that you share this vision and have the intention to allow the light of spirit to come in and fill any voids it may find. To aid in this repair, close your eyes and see white light surrounding you like a bubble or cocoon. Visualize the light filling the entire space within you, seeking out rifts, tears, holes, and gaps. Ask for these to be completely filled with light.

One of the worst parts of suffering a great loss is the feeling of utter isolation. The problem of loneliness, which exists for countless people, requires deeper healing than simply seeking out company. Loneliness can happen in a crowd and may feel most intense when you find yourself alone on a packed city street.

As a child it was easier to cure loneliness, because the presence of a parent was enough to offer reassurance. As an adult, loneliness becomes more existential – it feels as if you have been abandoned, yet you cannot say by whom.

Invite spirit in with a meditation on the heart. Sit quietly for a moment, placing your attention on your heart, at the center of your chest under the breastbone. When you are settled, repeat the word “peace” silently, and see its influence radiating out from your body in all directions. Do this three times, and then say the word “happiness” the same way. Repeat three times, then go on to “harmony,” “laughter,” and “love.”

Sit quietly for a few minutes after each session with eyes closed and simply appreciate the simplicity of quiet awareness. End it by sitting quietly and asking to be allowed into the refuge of your heart. Feel your heart as a soft, warm enclosure; settle there with your attention, and rest as long as you wish. If you repeat this technique enough times, you will find that the presence of spirit is very real and accessible.”

Pain and suffering are not always the same thing, there are many ways to relieve pain, but relief of suffering comes with self-awareness or spirituality. Here Deepak offers us the following wisdom, suffering is a paradox because suffering “ennobles people, teachers us lessons, guides us toward insight, and purifies our nature.”

If you would like deeper insight and help with how to hold and release suffering cause by loneliness and loss, then I would recommend reading “The Deeper Wound,” and practicing the “Heart Sutra.”

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The Growing Trend of Mass Meditation: Is there a Benefit?

 

The Growing Trend of Mass Meditation: Is there a Benefit?

The Growing Trend of Mass Meditation: Is there a Benefit?

The number of mass meditations is a growing phenomenon, like the one recently held in Berlin’s Olympiastadion, part of the World Culture Festival, and that raises a couple of questions. First of all why, and second, is there a benefit, beyond the benefits an individual receives when they practice meditation?

When people meditate on their own, they create a certain balance in their physiology and that balance of body-mind-spirit authenticity influences those around them. By gathering in groups to meditate there is a reinforcement of the other’s practice, which in turn, has a powerful effect on those in their environments. The belief is that when enough people begin practicing meditation that a critical mass will be reached and that it will positively impact to whole of society.

Research has shown that the practice of Transcendental Meditation by, even a small, group of people in one place with a specific intent had a powerful and measurable effect on the surrounding community.

Another benefit of meditating with others is the sense of belonging, a connectedness with others, which besides improving the quality of life, has been proven to increase in life expectancy.

The event in Berlin put on by, Ravi Shanker’s, Art of Living Foundation, is just the most recent of the mass meditations and Lisa Cleary shares her experiences and the foundations aim to “reflect the best of our world.” Here from Lisa Cleary is a view of the event…

For a second, close your eyes and picture this: 70,000 people from around the world assembled in mass meditation, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a shared moment of silence, their eyes closed and minds free from any cultural or religious differences.

Earlier today, visitors from 150 countries did just that as an international effort of meditation. The event is just one of many at the World Culture Festival, hosted by the International Art of Living Foundation to commemorate the organization’s 30th anniversary. Here, at the two day-long affair at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, guests can experience traveling the world by taking in the sounds of Costa Rican folk music or perhaps by tasting a sweet or two from the Middle East.

“It is an occasion to enrich every individual with the diverse cultures of the world. The festival offers a platform for one to participate with the global community,” said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living and leader of the meditation session. “It is also an opportunity for one to see that they are a global citizen and part of a global family. It is where each one can celebrate the diversity, shun the prejudice against race, religion and culture, and find deep inner peace in a dynamic atmosphere.”

According to John Osborne, a senior Art of Living faculty member and resident of Santa Monica, mass meditating has been one of the most memorable experiences so far. Osborne, who was raised in a devout Catholic household, describes the 25-minute long session as an awe-inspiring step toward international unity.

“It was as if, by going to the deepest part of myself, I was able to connect to everyone else at that same level. It was an amazing experience knowing that millions of people around the world were involved in the same activity and having the same intention for world peace,” he said. “It felt very powerful and transformative–a feeling that we were, on a deep level, having a very real effect on the possibility for peace in the world.”

Mawahib Shaihaibani, CEO of the Art of Living Gulf and Middle East, traveled from Abu Dhabi to attend the festival and believes that, as a Muslim, all religions lead to one God.

“When you meditate with the mass, you all become one and times stops,” said Shaihaibani. “This event is very unique because people from 150 countries are coming together to celebrate their culture, food, dance, music and belief for a united world full of tolerance, love and peace. This means a lot to me because these days we have so much … unrest in the Middle East, and the youth need to broaden their vision and see that we are one world family.”

“The Foundation’s aims reflect the best of our world: empowering women, promoting human rights and preserving our planet,” said Pelosi in a statement.

To further promote physical, mental and spiritual unity among festival-goers, over 1,000 yoga instructors from around the world have joined forces at the Yoga Park to demonstrate the benefits of yoga as well as to lead workshops and seminars. Folks may also participate in a variety of mass musical performances, designed to literally and figuratively fuse the voices of diversity. The Grand Guitar Ensemble for Peace, one of the performances, included more than 2,000 guitarists who strummed to “Amazing Grace” and “Hare Narayana.”

Dafna Paz, PhD, a secular Jew, additionally notes that the event is an opportunity to form friendships by learning from others and their religious backgrounds. “The World Culture Festival is a beautiful event that brings people from different cultures together. It is important for me to take part in an event of this magnitude especially because of the message of peace and harmony, which is so important for me as an Israeli,” said Dr. Paz, “it feels like we can change the world.”

At the end of the day, among celebrations of diversity, Ravi Shankar asks that people from all walks of life view religion not as an ideology of separation but as a uniting code of conduct–in this way, diversity can be celebrated within a harmonious and kind global community, expressive of varying cultures.

“It is time to celebrate the differences and celebrate life on this planet. With all the volunteers, we are sure we can create a stress-free, violence-free society for our children,” summed up Ravi Shankar at the festival. “Poverty eliminated, differences celebrated and connection to the inner Divinity. One Divinity, one humanity, celebrating differences, this is our sacred duty.”

One of the agreed upon benefits of mass meditation is how it enhances and motivates individual practice and will accelerate spiritual and personal growth. And on a practical note, having the opportunity to meditate with others can help keep your own practice from getting stale and it provides a place where questions that come up, can be discussed or answered.

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Entering the Ground State of Creation: A Meditation Benefit

Entering the Ground State of Creation: A Meditation Benefit

Entering the Ground State of Creation

As human beings dealing with everyday situations, relationships and events, we have grown accustom to living life within limitations and reacting to life based our socialized conditioning. There’s a meditation benefit that’s not discussed as often, as say, stress reduction, and yet this deeper benefit opens powerful new possibilities.

In meditation we slip into the space between thoughts, the field of non-local awareness and pure silence where we gain access to energy, creativity and new possibilities for personal growth and wellbeing.

While our physical experience in space-time, meaning they have a beginning and an end, and our thoughts, while they don’t exist in space, do exist in time. In meditation we step beyond space-time into the infinite, outside of space-time, and discover the real us, the one who is experiencing the space-time events.

Andrew Cohen, founder and Editor of “EnlightenNext” magazine, always expresses this experience so beautifully. So here’s Andrew Cohen from his, “Aol Healthy Living” blog post…

“When you go deeply into the meditative state, your awareness detaches itself from the thought-stream. Then your identification with emotion, memory, time and body begins to fall away. You become aware of something very mysterious. Imagine that you had been fast asleep in a small dark chamber and then you suddenly awakened to find yourself floating in the infinite depth of a vast, peaceful ocean. You literally become aware of a new dimension, when moments before you had experienced yourself as being trapped, a prisoner of your body, mind and emotions. When you awaken to this new dimension, all sense of confinement disappears. You feel that you have access to the whole universe and also to that which the universe exists within. You’re aware of body, mind, time, and space, but there’s another dimension that extends in all directions, unlimited by any of it. Meditation is the portal to this dimension, a door to the realization of limitlessness.

Why is this experience significant? Because the infinite context you awaken to is not just a quiet place inside your own head. It’s a deeper dimension of reality itself. Life, death and everything in between, reality as a whole — the seen and the unseen, the known and the unknown, all that ever was and ever could be — is made up of both the manifest and the unmanifest. But most of the time, all we are aware of is the manifest dimension, the domain of time and space and becoming. Meditation will give you the direct, conscious experience of the unmanifest dimension, which is the ground of being itself.

The “ground of being” is empty. It is an objectless, timeless, spaceless, thoughtless void. But everything that exists has come from this no-place, including you and me. Paradoxically, while empty, this no-place is pregnant with infinite, unborn potential. It is the ground we all emerge from, the womb of the entire universe. When something came from nothing, 14 billion years ago, the nothing didn’t disappear. That unmanifest, unborn dimension is the ever-present ground out of which everything is arising in every moment. And meditation allows you to know this ground within your own experience. Even in the awareness of the body and the movement of thought, beneath it all, in the state of meditation, you become conscious of a current of stillness that is the echo and the reflection of the ground of being. There is a great mystery there. In the infinite depth of that emptiness, there arises a knowing, a pure knowing itself that seems to answer all our questions and relieve us of all our existential doubts.

Whenever we journey far enough beyond the conditioned mind — beyond thought, beyond form, beyond time — we will always discover this same mystery. That is why we meditate, so we can awaken to the instantaneously liberating nature of the ground of being. The more profound is our experience of the ground of being, the more we begin to emanate that mysterious knowing which is enlightened consciousness itself.”

Through the meditation benefit of quieting the mind of all your inner turbulence, you begin to reflect your deeper connection to peace, joy and wellbeing in your actions, thoughts, words and deeds, into your everyday world, transcending your unconscious socialized conditioning, allowing your desires and intentions for happiness, health, peace and love to be fulfilled.Click here to visit the original source of this post

Transcendental Meditation Benefits: Topping the Bestseller List

Scientific reductionism has its place, but much can be lost or overlooked when the whole is not kept in view, and that has never been more true than when science has investigated Transcendental meditation benefits, or any of the benefits of meditation.

Transcendental Meditation Benefits

Transcendental Meditation Benefits

Dissecting what is at its core is essentially a spiritual practice to understand its benefits carries with it the risk that the essence, its ineffable qualities, which in the end contain its greatest benefit and impact, will be lost.

Philip Goldberg’s excellent post on this topic is as eloquent as it is informative, so I’m going to let Philip’s post speak for itself…ᅠ

“…In 1975, “TM: Discovering Inner Energy and Overcoming Stress” was propelled onto the list when its lead author, psychiatrist Harold Bloomfield, appeared on Merv Griffin’s syndicated TV talk show (the Oprah of its day) with TM founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The book remained a bestseller for six months, and then had a solid run on the paperback list. During that period, Merv devoted a second show to Maharishi, and TM centers could barely keep up with the demand. By the end of 1976, over a million Americans had learned to meditate.

This was the culmination of a remarkable eight-year run that began when the Beatles famously learned the TM and sojourned at Maharishi’s ashram in India. Between that watershed moment and the two Merv programs, meditation moved from the counterculture to the mainstream, from weird to respectable, from youthful mind expansion to middle-age stress remedy. Now, the celebrity meditators were not rock stars but Clint Eastwood and Mary Tyler Moore, and you could not get more mainstream than the nation’s big screen hero and its TV sweetheart.

The route from esoteric mystical discipline to respectable relaxation technique was paved by science. It started in the late ’60s when a young meditator named Robert Keith Wallace was persuaded by his guru, Maharishi, to study the physiology of TM. The research became his Ph.D. dissertation, and then a Science magazine article in 1970. Wallace’s follow-up study, conducted with Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson, was published in 1971 in The American Journal of Physiology and Scientific American. The data sparked an avalanche of research. By 1975, a substantial body of evidence had demonstrated the efficacy of meditation on various measures of physical and mental health.

Now comes another psychiatrist, Norman E. Rosenthal, with “Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation.” Once again, celebrity endorsements add pizzazz, in this case Mehmet Oz, David Lynch, Martin Scorcese and Russell Simmons, with cameo appearances by the gray eminences, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. And once again science confers credibility. Whereas Bloomfield was fresh out of his Yale residency when Merv Griffin showcased his book, Rosenthal has 30 years of distinguished clinical research and more than 200 scholarly articles under his belt. And by now TM has been the subject of over 300 peer-reviewed articles. The book describes the most recent findings, many of them involving common maladies such as ADHD, PTSD and hypertension, but not limited to medical conditions.

That meditation is good for you is no longer an eye-opening news flash. But the new book’s bestsellerdom suggests that a new generation wants to hear the message. In this era of soaring anxiety, depression and health costs, perhaps the only people who don’t think that’s a good thing are the makers of pharmaceuticals.

As someone who has chronicled the transmission of Eastern spirituality to the West, I hope that this time around we can avoid some of the pitfalls of the past. As the title of Rosenthal’s book “Transcendence,” suggests, meditation is not just a medical intervention. The deeper purpose has always been the development of higher consciousness, as described in the Vedic tradition from which practices like TM derive. But when yogic methods become medicalized and their benefits quantified, they tend to get disconnected from their spiritual roots — a loss for all of us.

Another consequence of the popularization of meditation was the rise of imitation practices. Health experts, self-help mavens and entrepreneurs did everything they could to de-Hinduize and de-Indianize the practice. Recently, we’ve seen a similar tendency as practices derived from Buddhism were secularized as “mindfulness.” The advantage of this adaptation, of course, is that it makes such practices far more accessible. The downside is that something vital can be lost in translation, thereby diminishing their effectiveness. Modernizing the language is one thing, but tinkering with the ingredients of a meditation practice is not unlike changing a medical formula or a food recipe..”.ᅠ

In his conclusion on Transcendental meditation benefits, Philip address another common trap or belief about the benefits of meditation, which is that all approaches to meditation carry with them the same benefits. However as Philip points out, recent research has begun to set the record straight. ᅠClick here to visit the original source of this post

The Benefit of Meditation is Way out Is Within

It’s been said that happiness is the goal of goals; it’s a benefit of meditation and is in fact the very purpose of life, called by the ancient wisdom teachers, Lila meaning “play.”

The Benefit of Meditation is Way out Is Within

The Benefit of Meditation is Way out Is Within

 

Far too often we delude ourselves with the belief that when I achieve this or get this, then I’ll be happy, which if it works at all, is as short lived as a sugar buzz. Real happiness only comes from within. Good health or real successes in life are the by-product, or side effects, of happiness not the cause.ᅠ

Here in a post that’s a follow up to their blog last week, “Meditation: Not What You Think,” the Shapiro’s enlighten us on this benefit of meditation.

“Whether through time-tested traditional practices such as meditation or simply being quiet and reflective, taking time to just be with ourselves has both an immediate and an enduring effect. We get more peaceful. We get happier. We get kinder, more compassionate and wiser. We are not disappointed. What more could we want?

Meditation is the greatest gift we can give ourselves but it is easily misunderstood. Just as there are numerous choices in the world — where we live, what we wear, what work we do, etc. — so too there are many choices when it comes to meditation techniques or forms of inner journeying. However, we often see people holding tightly to their method or technique as if it were a matter of dire importance, which misses the deeper meaning of meditation.

In our blog last week, “Meditation: Not What You Think,” we made the point that meditation is actually not any particular technique or method but an experience of radiant emptiness that arises naturally as all trying stops.

In other words, meditation is not about reaching higher states of consciousness, having visions, or even or feeling good — although that is fine if it does happen. It is just about stopping and being with whatever arises, whether good or not so good. It is about freedom in this very moment! We are all part of the same all-pervading conscious.

A favorite story of ours is about a monk who meditated for many, many years always longing for a sign that he was progressing, that his meditation was worthwhile. Then one day he suddenly had a vision of a beautiful golden Buddha that filled his mind. He was so happy he ran to his master to share it with him. The master was very pleased. He praised the young monk: “This is very good, very good,” and then added: “And if you keep meditating hopefully it will go away!” ᅠᅠ

Meditation is not really about doing it’s about being, it’s about consciousness and presence, it’s about being you and being aware of that; meditation is not so much about what happens ‘on the cushion,’ but what you bring with you into the everyday world. The story of the monk, related by the Shapiro’s, speaks with humor to this benefit of meditation.Click here to visit the original source of this post

The Benefits of Meditation Inseparability of Mind and Body

With the explosion of both scientific and popular interest in meditation there is equal interest in how it all works the neuroscience and biology of meditation.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded a number of research projects to study the effects of meditation. One of the questions that is being asked is, ‘can the meditation benefits that meditators claim to experience, such as, stress relief, deeper awareness or greater focus, be seen in real physiological and neural changes?’ᅠ

Benefits Of Meditation. Therefore it would seem that science firmly points to mindful meditation helping our minds in many ways Just these two studies

One of the most intriguing areas of research on the effects of meditation is exploring the possibility that the actual physical structure of the brain my change by regular meditation practice.

The conclusion that is becoming increasingly apparent through research is the inseparability of mind and body, and that we can change not only ourselves but our world with attention and focus, all benefits of meditation.

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