What do you consider a meditation technique?
I consider anything that helps your mind come into focus, and brings a greater awareness or mindfulness of who you really are and what the world really is. It needs to lift you out of the everyday pursuit and worries that are identified with being a body. Meditating can be, other than the traditional sitting kind, repeating affirmations; reciting mantras; chanting; reading sacred scripture; focusing and being inspired by poetry and words of wisdom; hearing wisdom tales;and moving in a conscious way, including sex. You will find samples of all of these on this site.
Is there a best meditation?
It depends upon you. How much time do you have to formally sit? Do you have a busy lifestyle? What do you want to achieve? When I first started meditating as a young man I had plenty of time to practice. I was not married, had no family to tend to, so I could do a lot more complicated meditations. Such meditations were more like a sport, and sports was something I was used to. I liked to challenge myself and try to attain goals. If you are a householder, a family to tend to, a lot of responsibilities to maintain, having a practice that you can do anywhere and at anytime is ideal. Go through this website and try various ones that appeal to you, and then stick with one for a while.
Why am I not noticing any benefits right away?
For most people, we have let our minds run riot over many years. Very few people are really aware of all the thoughts that are flying about in their heads, as we are occupied with our work, watching entertainment, listening to music, or socializing. We are constantly distracting ourselves with outward activities, instead of being quiet and spending time with our selves. So what generally happens when we start our inward journey is that our mind just sends up a barrage of chatter, like bats screaming out of a cave when a spelunker descends. It is important not to give up or to even push for the results. Pushing for a quiet mind is like a parent yelling at his child to be quiet. Have no expectations. Relax, even with all the inner screaming. Breathe. Eventually the naughty mind will see that its tantrums are not getting it anywhere and will lose interest. Persevere and you will see benefits.
Whenever I meditate I find it hard to sit still. Why?
Your mind wants to be in charge. It doesn't want you to discover its source. So its doing whatever it can to prod the body into outward activity. And besides, to learn something new takes practice. We are not taught to just sit without doing anything. The habit to be busy is hard to break. (And watching television does not count,because that is actually more like sleeping.)If you feel the urge to move, just breathe and relax and try to go through it. If you can't sit anymore, than get up and move about. Shake out the energy. And then try to return if you can. If not, no worries. Next time it will be different. It is important to not judge your self. One minute of deep silence is better than sitting for 30 minutes in anguish and thinking only about ending your session.
My meditations are getting worse. In fact, I am experiencing horrible thoughts and I seem to be having more nightmares.
It takes great courage to dive into the depths of one's being. While there are beautiful aspects of our self to discover, there is also the ugly. One of the reasons for meditating is to come to a place of centerness, like the center of a wheel. And from that center you can watch the wheel turn, with its ups and downs. From that divine center all becomes one and all things, beautiful or ugly, is realized as divine.
I had this incredible meditation, a while ago; but I have not been able to have anything like that since. What's wrong?
I had a dear friend that had a cosmic vision while meditating where he saw himself as the creator of the universe. He had become God Himself. And then the vision ended. Every meditation afterwards he craved for that vision. And the vision never returned. There was not a day when he would not longingly recall that vision. And he was just miserable with each day being a failure, because he was not at God's level. And he died that way. Miserable.
Visions come and go. There can be beautiful celestial visions or the opposite, where all the demons inside raise their scary faces. Either one of these visions are just visions. Who is the One who is seeing these visions? That is the Awareness you need to hold onto. That is pure consciousness. So just watch and let the visions, the sensations, the sounds, that came in your meditation, do what they may. Just be present.
I love meditating so much I am having a hard time hanging out with my family. What to do?
I once knew a parent at a Waldorf school I taught in who became so enthralled by meditating that he basically spent all his time in his room with his eyes closed. His two children became lost to him. He told his wife that he no longer wanted anything to do with the family and she and the kids could do whatever they wanted!
His is an extreme case, but I have known many family people who will spend hours and hours meditating, while neglecting their family. There is no need to do this. Twenty minutes in both the morning and evening of going deep and connecting to the source is all you really need. During the day, make sure that you step back now and then into awareness. The practice of Self Inquiry I have found so effecient that I can do it throughout the day, no matter what I am doing. Other tools, such as the affirmations and call to see past our misperceptions of the world that "A Course in Miracles" offers in its workbook, offer opportunities of reality shift throughout the day. Now if you are free of responsibilities, and the call for you to devote all your time to meditation, by all means heed it and dive deep.
Is a guru or teacher necessary to learn meditation?
No, not to learn meditation, unless they are meditations that are complicated and work with specific breathing techniques and other techniques that are designed to rise one's spiritual energy, or kundalini. With such practices you really need to have a teacher look after you to make sure you remain balanced. With most of the meditation techniques you will find on this site, they are basic enough that you do not need a teacher. They are pretty safe.
Nevertheless, it certainly is recommended that you have other meditators, hopefully experienced ones, to talk to for advice, feedback and encouragement.
Now if you have a chance of sitting with someone who is operating on a high vibration, do so. It is a great boost to one's practice. The only caution is not to think that that person is the source of that spiritual light. If they are true guru, they will simply remind you that you are looking at yourself, that your power lies within you. As Swami Beyondanada said: Guru means, Gee, u r u.
Why are there some meditations that cost over a thousand dollars to learn, while others are free? Are the expensive ones more efficient?
There is a great debate in the spiritual community about whether spiritual services should have a price on them in the first place. Those in the no camp say that spirituality, and all its tools, are not products; there can be no price put on Spirit. Many of the traditional ways adhere to that principle. However, in these traditions there is the custom of gifting the one who has bestowed a spiritual gift. In the West, that is seen as asking for donations instead of charging a fixed rate.
In the other camp, they say that especially in the West, that people will not appreciate what they have received unless there is a price attached to it. The more money, the more valuable. It is like paying for a monthly membership at the gym, which helps to motivate one to work out more in order to not waste one's money.
Personally, I am of the first group primarily. You can't buy your freedom. It comes due to effort and Grace. While I have a price for my services I have not turned anyone away for lack of funds who were serious in their queries, and I accept a sliding scale. If people want to pay more, great; less, great. The problem I have, is that all my work I see as an expression of Spirit: whether my artwork, my consulting, my storytelling, my teaching, or my writing. I have a family to provide for, so I have to charge.
For myself and a lot of spiritual people, having a loving relationship with money, and not seeing it as seperate from being spiritual, is a challenge. It is a work in progress for me.
So the answer to that last question is for you to decide.
Is it okay to do various meditations or should I stick with one?
Many teachers say it is good to stick with one so you can go deep. If you keep digging you will hit water; whereas, if you do this and that you will only be left with dirt. I agree. Yet I also agree that variety is good as well. Variety is the spice of life. I have done both. I will stick with one that I am drawn to for a long period of time. For instance, I have been doing Self-Inquiry for 20 years as a daily practice. However, around it I will do various other meditation techniques for the joy of it or to attain some benefit, like bringing in more prosperity, health, etc. Experimentation is the way of the child. It is fun.
Is meditation un-Christian?
What do you think Jesus did out in the desert for 40 days? He met his demons out there, far from the distractions of the world. He went beyond them and found that he and his Father were One. Besides, contemplation and meditation have been part of the lives of many saints of the Church. In the Bible, it says, "Be still and know that I AM God." (Psalm 46:10) There could be no greater meditation instruction.
For how long should I meditate? When are the best times of the day to do so?
If you can start the day off going inside and focusing on the Divine, then you start the day with a higher freguency, more relaxed, better able to meet what comes your way. Sunrise, or before, when the silence is strong. Twenty minutes is a good basic duration. If you can go longer without straining, and you are able to meet your responsibilities in time, then do so. It is good to end the day the same way, either before dinner or right before sleeping. With the latter, I usually have found it difficult to stay awake after dinner. And as you lie down to sleep, keep your focus inward, as though you were preparing to die. For, indeed, sleep is called the "little death." If you "die" well, going to sleep consciously, you will be reborn as new person, ready to start a new life, a new day.
Is it better to meditate alone or in a group?
Both. Unless you live in a community where you can meditate with others on a daily basis, you are going to need to meditate alone. It is important to have that daily practice. Meditating in a group can be very powerful, as there is a group effect. Think of yourself as being a goose. The gaggle effect of flying makes it easier and far more efficient to fly in a group. With that said, it can aslo be very frustrating meditating with others, especially in the beginning. There will be the coughing, the rustling and all sorts of bodily sounds; all of which can be distracting.
For me, my ego would raise its hideous head when I began doing my practice with groups of people, whether chanting or meditating. The thoughts would come and tell me how special I was, that I was the only truly spiritual one there, that the others were only faking it. Then I would get upset at myself for thinking such thoughts. It was truly painful at first, but it was finally purged as I just allowed awareness to observe the process.
Do I have to sit in a lotus position to meditate?
No, thank God! I am certainly no pretzel. What is most important is that you are comfortable and be in a position that will keep you awake. Lying down is fine. It's a great way to start the day and pretend you are asleep. I have a friend who does that every morning so her family will leave her alone. If she was meditating they would come in and bother her with their needs. However, it is harder to stay awake lying down. Generally, it is good to have your back straight in order that your energy begins to move upward more naturally, especially with those meditations that are focusing on rising the energy. However, if you are just practicing mindful awareness you can observe your thoughts in any position.
What are the benefits I can expect from meditating?
Everyone is different. I can speak for myself and some others that I know. At the beginning of my spiritual journey meditating was not easy. My mind was the proverbial monkey mind, thinking about this one second and another thought the next second. It was very painful at first; it felt like my head was being pummeled.
However, the more I meditated there would be meditations that became very relaxing, as the mind became more and more silent. After a while, over the years, and sometimes during those early years for shorter periods, I would and do experience the following:
--peacefulness-from general to profound
--relaxation in both body and mind
--living free of judgment
--the need for little sleep
--a quiet mind, from few thoughts to no thoughts for long periods of time
--living in the Present
--an expanded heart, to others and to the Divine
--vivid and lucid dreaming
--higher sensitivity to subtle energies
--moments of bliss and ectasy
Those are just some. Did I achieve these by my own efforts in my meditation? No, definately not. I had some powerful help. Through contact with various teachers, such as Ramana Maharshi, Karunamayi, and others, as well as going to sacred spots, my efforts became magnified. Places and teachers can be like spiritual light sockets where our intentions and efforts can plug into.
If you have any other questions pertaining to meditation techniques and other related issues, please write. Or you can set up an appointment and we can look at your journey together.
Meditation Tools: Aids to Help You on Your Inner Journey
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