«Perhaps you are interested in learning how to meditate or you are meditating already but feel the need to gain new insights or experience a ...»
Perhaps you are interested in learning how to meditate or you are
meditating already but feel the need to gain new insights or experience a
refreshing tune-up. This short E-Book, Journey Into Mediitatiion,, may
Journey Into Med tat on
be of assistance to you. I have removed all cost and copyright restrictions
in order that the book can be downloaded and printed, read and freely
shared with others. This short study course has been based on fourteen
years of my experience as a meditation teacher and writer. The contents of the book feature articles, brief lessons, explanations and exercises – all designed to help you take the first steps into your meditation experience.
Enjoy your meditation journey as you make its benefits and blessings your own.
Tablle of Contents Tab e of Contents Why Should I Meditate? … p.3 Getting Started … p.4
Three Meditation Techniques:
1. Breath Awareness … p.5
2. Using Visualization to Focus Awareness … p.6
3. Mantras and Affirmations … p.7 The Chakra System … p.8 Prana – Breathing … p.11 Group and Global meditation … p.12 Merging Meditation Into Daily Life … p.14 Using Music to Enhance Meditation … p.16 About the Author … p.17 Why Shoulld I Mediittatte?
Why Shou d I Med a e?
The subject of meditation and the great benefits it offers still remains a news-worthy topic today as many people now make meditation a part of their daily routine. One of meditation‟s great gifts results in re-balancing the two hemispheres of our brain, each of which has a distinctly different function. Our left brain hemisphere holds the seat of discursive thinking, planning, organizing and analysing. Its busy (masculine) active state is called „beta‟ and in it our electromagnetic brain waves fire at 14 to 30 cycles per second. Our right brain hemisphere (feminine) functions are more intuitive, reflective, creative and are concerned with being rather than doing. These „alpha‟ brain wave patterns fire more slowly – between 7 and 14 cps. In this state we are mentally receptive to the present moment rather than the past and future modes of beta. In an alpha state we also experience a non-judgemental frame of mind.
It has been tested and proven that when those who meditate reach an alpha brain wave state their two brain hemispheres adopt a single, coherent electromagnetic wave firing pattern. This indicates that both sides of the brain are working together in a balanced and synchronous manner. Whole brain functioning also produces neuro-chemicals called endorphins. These create feelings of well being, produce anti-ageing hormones and cause free radicals to move through the body seeking out and destroying harmful disease and cancer producing cells. (Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that contain oxygen. A by-product of normal chemical reactions, free radicals take electrons from undamaged cells to neutralize their own charge, causing cell damage in the process). By experiencing even short periods of whole brain functioning, people who meditate will notice improved memory and stronger concentration.
Beside the physiological benefits to the body there is a spiritual component to the practice of meditation as well. When one can achieve the balance of whole brain functioning and quiet a busy overactive mind, a deep sense of inner calm and peace is experienced. It is in this centre, the still point of meditation, that the tradition of simple silent spirituality, called „Divine Listening‟ by Saint Benedict, can be enjoyed.
Meditation opens us up to the inner senses by adding a totally new dimension to our experiences.
Nadii Sudii Nad Sud There are many different breathing practices in the yoga tradition and these are collectively referred to as Pranayama. Prana is the vital life force that animates each living cell in our bodies. When prana flows unimpeded the body radiates health and the mind remains sound. When prana is blocked the result can lead to sickness and depression. Nadi Sudi, alternate nostril breathing, is a simple exercise to enhance balance. First sit quietly then take in a gentle breath. Close your right nostril with your right thumb, pause briefly then exhale slowly through the left nostril. Inhale through the left nostril, close it with your right index finger, pause for a moment, open your right nostril and then exhale through the right nostril. Continue by inhaling right, switch to the thumb then exhale left, etc. Enjoy this simple Pranayama Yoga technique as you adopt it for balance and stress relief.
Gettttiing SttarttedGe ng S ar ed
It‟s time now to begin learning how to meditate and a positive first step is to select a quiet space where you won‟t be disturbed. If you are more comfortable sitting on a chair, find one with a straight back and no side arm rests. Sit on a cushion if the chair seat is unpadded, with your spine straight, your chin facing forward (not tilted up or down) and your feet flat on the floor. Place your open hands palms up and resting on your thighs. If you like to sit directly on the floor do so using a cushion or meditation stool with your legs crossed in front.
In meditation the body is deeply relaxed while the mind is alert and focused in the present moment. I like to call this the body asleep – mind awake state. Yet though the mind is at rest it is not drifting aimlessly from thought to thought, in a state of reverie.
Instead meditation aids us in developing the habit of our being relaxed, yet focused and aware – the mental equivalent of being physically fit and healthy. Your personal experience of total and deep physical relaxation is always the first important step toward meditation. The following brief exercise will relax you deeply and could also serve as your introductory meditation.
A Body Scan Exerciise A Body Scan Exerc se Sit comfortably and shake your body loose, releasing any obvious tensions. Scan the body at your own speed taking several quiet breaths in each region. Focus your awareness on your head, neck and shoulders, arms, hands, torso, legs and feet. Notice how much tension is held in the jaw and shoulders. Gently move these areas to release any stiffness. As you scan your torso repeat the words, „soft and loose‟ several times. Feel yourself let go, knowing that your spine will hold you upright. When you‟ve finished visualize your body as being relaxed, healthy and pain free. Sit quietly enjoying the sense of calm and well being.
Scanning from the head down is generally more calming in effect, while scanning from the feet upward raises your energy and keeps you more alert. Whenever you decide to end your meditation always take a few moments to leave this state slowly and gently. Notice how your body feels, in comparison to the way you felt just before you began your meditation. You should find yourself more deeply relaxed and at peace.
Three Mediittattiion TechniiquesThree Med a on Techn ques
1.. Breatth Awareness 1 Brea h Awareness Once you have moved into your quiet inner space and experienced a sense of relaxation, the physical side of the meditation equation is complete. However the mental side, one that requires us to remain focused and aware, will take some practice. If you are a meditation beginner you will notice how your busy thoughts begin to intrude, jumping back and forth, crying out for your attention. Observe this chatter of the ego in a non-judgemental way for a short time and notice that these thoughts are usually unrelated and are very brief. They generally last only for the duration of an in-breath or an out-breath. Next focus on your breathing by taking in a breath gently through the nostrils, hold it briefly and then exhaling it. It works best if you use your nose for meditation breathing, unless the nose is blocked.
Now hold your awareness on your breath and let successive breaths become soft and regular. Observe your breathing and carry your awareness from the in-breath, across the space before you exhale. If you can cross the space between in and out-breaths you will probably not carry any chattering thoughts along with you. If your thoughts continue to intrude keep them in the background and let the breath become your focus. Maintain your breathing, moving in a steady and gentle rhythm. Used in this way breathing is a device to hold and focus the awareness of your mind during meditation.
A Siimplle Miinii Mediittattiion,, „„Follllow tthe Breatth‟‟ A S mp e M n Med a on Fo ow he Brea h Take slow gentle breaths in and out. Feel the breath as it moves and follow it with your mind. Focus only on your breath – nothing else. You can breathe and notice the breath at the same time. Finish this meditation by moving into the still silence within.
Rest here without thinking. Just enjoy being.
Rellaxed Breatthiing Re axed Brea h ng Open the chest with two or three big sighs.
Now let the breath go – no control at all.
Don‟t try to breathe deeply Let the breath do what it wants to.
Say the words „let….go….‟ as you breathe Feel the breath and your body gradually soften.
Feel your mind slow down and settle in your body 2.. Usiing Viisualliizattiion tto ffocus Awareness 2 Us ng V sua za on o ocus Awareness Some people visualize easily. They may find breath awareness uninteresting and may instead enjoy imagining a beautiful object or recalling a deeply loved face.
Visualization in meditation is another technique to hold the focused awareness and can work on several different levels: imagery, emotion and bodily response.
One can begin by evoking an image, perhaps one that arises spontaneously. It could be an object, a peaceful landscape or something personal. Try to recall its shape, colour and texture with as much sensory detail as possible. Next notice the accompanying emotion that fits this particular image. An image that evokes this subtlety of emotion will grasp your attention more fully. When you fully enter the emotional state accompanying the image, your body will believe it is really there.
(Try this exercise for ten seconds: first imagine that you are alone in a snowstorm, without wearing any coat or hat. Then switch the scene for another ten seconds, visualizing yourself enjoying a warm bath in the sunshine). In the first scene your body will contract and in the second you will feel it begin to expand.
When you have selected your meditation object and moved yourself into the emotional response it triggers, just hold it in your awareness and enjoy the smell, taste, touch or sound of it. When your mind drifts away from the object bring it back again gently.
A Liightt Body Viisualliizattiion A L gh Body V sua za on
Breathe light into every cell as you see, feel and direct it.
Imagine that every cell is being renewed, is being made healthy and whole.
If part of your body is in pain, bathe it with light.
When your entire body is filled with light, visualize this light radiating from your body as far as the inner eye can see.
My Poiintt off Power Mediittattiion My Po n o Power Med a on Relax, close your eyes and try to sense within yourself the source of power from which your own breathing and life energies come. When you feel this source within yourself sense the power flowing outward through your entire physical being, through your fingertips and toes, through the pores of your body, in all directions with yourself as the center. Imagine these rays undiminished, reaching out through the foliage and clouds above, down through the center of the earth below and extending even to the furthest reaches of the universe.
3.. Manttras and Affffiirmattiions3 Man ras and A rma ons
Mantra and the breath meditation are the two most widely used meditation practices worldwide. Eastern meditation practices have frequently employed the use of a mantra to bring oneself into alignment with higher states of consciousness. Mantras are sacred syllables or words, generally in Sanskrit, which are repeated over and over to hold the focus of one‟s awareness. Some mantras have no meaning at all as the sound quality of the words is the most important aspect. Two of these common mantras are OM and SOHAM. The latter is pronounced SoHummmm, repeated
slowly, silently and continually in your mind. SOHAM can be linked to your breath:
SO to the inbreath, HAM to the outbreath. It translates to “I am That” with “that” referring to your consciousness or awareness. This form of meditation is to simply sit with eyes closed and to silently repeat the mantra at a regular conversational speed while the breath remains normal.
Affirmations are phrases, selected and repeated over and over again during meditation. As we are often suggestible when we deeply relax during meditation, affirmations usually produce positive results. The most powerful affirmation should
always begin with the words I AM. Some suggestions for affirmations might include:
I AM THAT I AM.
I AM filled with vibrant good health.
I AM creating a positive and happy life.
I AM loving and fulfilled in all my relationships.
I AM forgiving and compassionate.
I AM one with the Great Creator and all of Its creations.
I AM enjoying financial abundance.
I AM happy and at peace.
I AM willing to make changes, to be open to something new and better.
I give myself permission to truthfully express my feelings.
Divine love and light are working through me now.
Those beginning meditation often find mantra and affirmation meditation very satisfying. You may enjoy creating your own mantras or affirmations to suit your special spiritual needs at the time or to assist you in working through a particular difficulty or problem. To add variety to your meditation practice you may choose to incorporate two or three techniques in the same meditation: breath awareness, visualization and a mantra or affirmation of your choice. Use whatever holds your focused awareness, as even in meditation variety can be the spice of life.