5 Reasons Why You Should Learn Meditation
Reason One: It relieves stress.
Meditation is simply a means of resting your mind. If you can rest your mind by letting go of your thoughts for awhile, naturally this relaxation will relieve stress.
But not only that…
Studies have also shown that meditation raises your stress levels so that over time, small things that might bother you no longer trigger emotional reactions because you have a higher stress barrier. That’s two benefits in one.
…and it’s FREE!
Reason Two: It makes you healthier and helps you live longer.
Have you ever seen someone come back from a vacation looking gloriously refreshed and relaxed? Meditation does the same for you — internally and externally — without requiring you to leave home…and it doesn’t cost anything as well.
When you can empty your mind and shed stress levels, naturally your body will work better. Your vital energies, or life force, will be able to start circulating without any obstructions. If a hinge is well oiled it will last that much longer, and if the energy in your body flows without obstructions, it will last longer as well.
This is the basis of health and longevity. Meditation is one of the few activities you can do in life that doesn’t tire you out but gives you energy and renews you. Meditation actually promotes health and longevity.
Oh, by the way…when your vital energies start moving because of meditation, it tends to decrease your aches and pains. You simply feel better, too!
And since meditation ignites your vital energies, it empowers your sex life.
Reason Three: It produces clarity of mind, and maximum creativity.
As your thoughts settle due to meditation practice, your mind will become clear and bright and your powers of awareness will heighten. That’s when your wisdom can come out and your creativity will increase without bounds.
Why? Because meditation — freeing yourself from the dependence on thoughts — unleashes the powers of your mind.
Reason Four: It will help you drop bad habits and change your behavior.
Meditation teaches you how to let go of thoughts and impulses that might impel you. It helps you cultivate awareness, and because through meditation you can learn how to see what’s going on within your mind without becoming involved in the drama, it helps you learn how to detach from those very behaviors you most want to change.
First, it helps you “see” the behaviors you want to change. Second, it helps you stop them in their tracks because awareness gives you the choice of not following their impulsive inclinations.
If you’re thinking about changing some habits and behaviors, meditation should be part of your arsenal! If you can actually change your negative habits and behavior, you can even change your fortune and destiny!
Reason Five: It’s the basis of spiritual practice.
All the great religions have meditation in their spiritual practices. In fact, most of their spiritual practices are actually some form of disguised meditation.
Meditations to Open the Heart
A remarkable opportunity is available to us through the a meditation method that embraces learning how to open the heart. While we are meditating, we are learning to be non-resistant to the various thoughts, images and feelings that come up, to simply be there and experience whatever is going on within. This non-resistance, this inner lack of censorship, allows the deeper feelings to rise to the surface. Often, these feelings are ones that we have rarely, if ever, acknowledged, and some of them may be quite potent.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons that addicts do so well when they participate in a regular meditation practice. One cannot practice denial when they’re practicing a non-resistant meditation method. The feelings that may arise, the inner perceptiveness that will naturally open up, creates a natural consciousness of the truth within us. As a matter of fact, the difficulty that some people have with meditation could probably be traced to the fact that they are immediately faced with ideas and feelings that they expend a lot of effort in avoiding during “normal” consciousness.
If we are willing to continue the meditative practice even in the face of this phenomenon, very deep healings can take place. We all have “stuff” that we use to protect ourselves from emotional pain. In meditation it isn’t necessary to bring in these defenses, since there’s no one there to defend against. Therefore, if an unpleasant thought or feeling arises, we need do nothing. I repeat, we need do *nothing.* All that has to happen is that we permit ourselves to just exist with that thought or feeling, let it run its course or simply be there with it. Inevitably, the energy from it will drain away if we are not adding energy to it by our resistence. Frankly, the outcome is a new level of personal sanity. The mind is no longer “bent” in the direction of or the direction away from that thought or feeling.
As we get comfortable and accustomed to our emotions being safe to experience, our heart will naturally open. This is simply a case of familiarity. As we get used to feeling our feelings and thinking our thoughts without inhibitions, we learn that this isn’t such a dangerous method to incorporate into our meditating afer all. The special nature of meditation is that the more we do it, the more that we get out of it, so it just gets better and better. Using meditations to open the heart not only aids in healing our emotional pain, but it also brings opportunity to experience peace of mind.
Benefits of Meditation: Expanding Your Consciousness
What is it about meditation that expands consciousness? How can sitting there quietly change anything about you? Let me explain an exceptional benefit from meditating.
In order to understand this, there is a spiritual principle which many of us have heard, but not everyone has a subjective experience of – all that you could ever need is already within you. This is the literal truth. In our day-to-day life however, we are not often conscious of this truism, being distracted by thoughts of what we don’t have or what we don’t know or what we think must be in the far distant future for us. What has been a proven fact in traditional psychology for many years though, is that our minds record everything that we perceive, in split-second increments throughout our lives. This includes every book we’ve read, all that we’ve been taught, every television show and film, every word that’s been said in our hearing. In addition to that, if you’re willing to concede the idea of reincarnation (or something similar), there’s even more mental information to draw upon. On a purely material, brain-oriented level, we practically have access to the wisdom of the ages.
From a spiritual point of view, we could look at the idea that we are created in the image and likeness of Divine Omniscience, the All-Knowing. It seems to me that somewhere in there we have a pipeline to some serious info.
So how do we interface with this remarkable storehouse of information? How do we get to know what it is that we know? Meditation and contemplation have been the tool of choice in this endeavor for saints, mystics and geniuses throughout recorded history.
Meditation, the act of stilling the mind, creates the opportunity for the mind to function in a far more effective manner which is an exceptional benefit of meditation. By eliminating the petty distractions and nervous “tics” that a mind can develop to keep itself occupied, its pure power will inevitably rise to the surface. It is then capable of amazing feats of perception, logic and memory.
Contemplation, what occurs when we focus the mind upon a certain concept or area of thought, also tends to eliminate distractions. During this activity extraneous thoughts are shredded, in order to focus on the idea at hand. Then, this focus acts something like a heating element, activating the energy behind that idea or thought, causing it to release its component parts, recombine, and generally take on a sort of life of its own. It will attract other relevant thoughts and together they will form new concepts and ideas.
Both of these activities, having in common the trait of stilling the usual chaos of the mind, allow a sharpening of our perceptions. You’re familiar with the way that your vision and hearing will become more acute when there is a sudden silence. You will hear your heart beat and objects around you take on greater definition. This is what we train the mind to do in the regular practice of meditation and contemplation, until the perception and quality of thought are far greater even at the dullest of times than what they used to be at the best of them.
As we continue, we will begin to “see through the cracks” of the physical world. It will become apparent how it is composed solely of energy, and that our thoughts have an attractive power on objects and situations that we could not have previously perceived. If we choose, our minds will become spongelike, capable of soaking up new information at a much more rapid rate and with far greater retention.
Thus, consciousness is expanded. Ahh, what a meditation benefit, indeed!
Techniques of Meditation: Creating a Safe Space
In order to make progress in our meditation practice, we must know that we are in a safe space thus learning how to meditate needs to incorporate the concept of safety. For some of us this is a unique idea because we are so accustomed to living in threatening conditions. This is particularly true of those who live in large cities.
Since a major part of the purpose of meditation is to relax, this is an area which must be addressed. It can become an endless loop for the meditator, “I can’t meditate because I can’t relax. I can’t relax because I can’t meditate.” So learning to connect with a safe space is an important technique of meditation.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
To handle the practical matters first, you may need to meditate in a locked room. This may be especially necessary for those of you with young children who don’t understand boundaries. This will help to teach them respect for your time and space.
Next, choose a realistic time period for your practice. For those of you with busy, active families, the best time might be early in the morning or late in the evening. If you live alone or will be alone in your home when you meditate, choose a time of day when you feel safest, such as your lunch hour.
Meditate in a time and space that feels as safe as you can make it. Turn off the telephone, your beeper and anything else that could interrupt you. This is your time. Give yourself permission to experience it and respect yourself enough to allow it to be sacred. Be aware that if you permit others to impinge on these few moments, you are sacrificing your dignity and well-being for what is very likely a far less important issue.
In your self and guided meditations, try this affirmation, repeating it as a mantra, “I am completely safe”. Practicing this for only 10 to 15 minutes a day will make a significant difference in your attitude and in your life. You will find yourself feeling and being less threatened on a permanent basis and this technique will help your meditation practice.
A Basic Lesson in Meditation Stages
Back to a lesson on basic meditation- what to do and what’s likely to happen when you start on the pure road of true spiritual practice.
All the meditation methods of the world involve learning to let go of your thoughts so that you can cultivate a state “Empty” of mental scattering, and free of “Rather Invisible Undercurrent” scenarios of mental interpretation and clinging.
Thoughts are always flying around in your mind, and you’re always subtly clinging to them without knowing it. They are like a cloud of mosquitoes that have chi energies attached to them that interfere with the true human that actually functions with clear awareness.
Get rid of that incessant clinging, get rid of all sorts of layers of invisible “False” thought that screen you from your original nature, and at the minimum you’ll attain a mental scenario of peace called “Samadhi.”
At the best- if you clear away everything including the notions of being an ego , you can achieve seamless union with the “Ultimate Ego” that we call God or the original nature.
That’s the formless original nature beyond being and non-being, existence and non-existence. The way to that achievement is through consciousness rather than prayer and ceremonies because that original foundation has the function of awareness, and you can use that function to get closest to its essence. Naturally, that doesn’t mean thinking because thinking is just another function of that essence and screens you from its clear nature.
Because chi and consciousness are linked, clinging to your thoughts creates a barrier of chi energy that interferes with the natural chi circulation of your body. Let go of your thoughts and that natural chi energy circulation will reassert itself.
When children are young and don’t have too many thoughts, that’s often why they are psychic. However, past the age of puberty when they become more mentally complicated and their sexual desires arise, and those powers usually disappear because like everyone else they start clinging. Experience an accident that affects your chi and chi channels when you are older, and sometimes those psychic abilities reassert themselves.
When your natural chi circulation starts to reassert itself because you let go of your thoughts (you don’t BLOCK them but let go of them), it will clear your chi channels, your chakras will open, gong-fu happens, superpowers are achieved and ultimately, if you train correctly in letting go you can attain samadhi.You must cultivate Samadhi correctly to create a foundation for the spiritual path, and then with wisdom you might be able to “See the Tao,” or as Islam puts it, “To see God’s face.”
A thousand, ten-thousand, a hundred-thousand different meditation methods are available to help you quiet your thoughts and cultivate your vital energies. Many books go into those methods, but what really happens as you start to make progress on the spiritual path?
Here’s what you can expect, if you meditate correctly.
First, your mind will start to become clearer. Initially it becomes clearer without you noticing it, then one day you notice it, and then with further progress you actually think you are retrogressing.
Why, with progress, will you think you are retrogressing?
Because you’re finally unleashing your vital energies which travel up to your brain and create all sorts of random thoughts and secondly, you finally start to notice all those thoughts for the first time with real clarity.With real clarity you see them which is something you never did before and seeing all these thoughts you think you’re actually retrogressing.It happens to everyone, but you really aren’t backsliding.
Actually it’s like a glass of muddy water that is settling. When the water is all stirred up and muddy, you cannot see any individual dust particles. However, when the mud starts settling you can start to see the individual particles of dirt and dust for the first time and that’s the stage of progress.You see, your awareness is becoming detached from thoughts, so now you can finally see them.
That’s why most meditation methods teach you “Neti Neti” (“not this, not this” so don’t cling), to “Let Go, Let Go” and to act like a third person observer. It’s all a matter of training you to break your habit of clinging, and to stop clinging especially to the body consciousness.
Two barriers are especially troublesome at the early stages of the path ,sexual desire and the habit of clinging to the body/ego thinking it to be the real you. Let go of both and you’ll find that your consciousness is non-local.
Okay, now your vital energies are being unleashed because of proper “Emptiness Generating Meditation”- what else can you expect?
Usually, now it will become easy to get irritated or angry because your unleashed kundalini life force vital energies are now always “Below the Surface” shaking at the vital chi energies you cling to that are involved with your habits and personality. They’re trying to go upwards and are hitting all these other obstructions.
Because that entire suit of chi you’re clinging to (wearing) is unstable, it’s very easy to set it off and become angry or irritated, especially now that your mind is clearer and you can see everything. Usually there’s liver energies involved in this, but to go into with depth is a complicated discussion.
At the early stages of progress, it’s easy for those ascending vital energies to ignite all sorts of latent infections in the body, especially when they reach the skull, because your vital energies are now penetrating every nook, cranny and pocket in the body and that’s where latent infections hide.
That’s why the qi-gong crowd is crazy thinking they can guide their chi with their thoughts to become enlightened, for your chi will go everywhere and knows where it must go and what it must do. There’s no way for you to know how and where to guide it.
Usually the chi has problems passing through the back of the head. Go look up any picture of the cerebral spinal fluid channels in the skull and you’ll see problems at the back of the head. When the chi impinges upon this area, some people will see things because it hits the nerves in the visual cortex. If it starts passing through the tiny channels in the ear, some people will hear voices. Most of these things are nothing true, just psychological reactions.
There are all sorts of other phenomena that happen on the spiritual path, which is why you need a good teacher or master to help you. “Tao and Longevity,” by Nan Huai-Chin, is the best book I’ve ever found for describing these phenomena and their remedies. It’s better than any Hindu yoga book despite its translation from Chinese into English.
Okay, now what?
If you can learn to keep those energies active, by not losing them through sexual activities, they’ll open up all your chi energy channels and you may be able to attain Samadhi.
From samadhi you should try to cultivate deeper samadhi, and from that attain the Tao. To tell you what that entails takes more than a 5-minute email.
For understanding those higher stages of the path, you need to see a book like “Measuring Meditation” which we have on the site.
That in short is a brief synopsis of some highlights of the path.
So what meditation methods are best?
It depends on the individual.
I personal like people to learn mantra, following the breath, the skeleton method, the fire visualization technique and cessation-contemplation practice. I want them to use a method they love and one they hate, because it’s the ones we hate that usually produce the most progress.
Rarely do I find people I can teach visualization methods safely, or other advanced techniques, because most people cling to the meditation methods or don’t understand their real purpose. To understand how to realy meditate correctly requires wisdom, which is why so few people succeed at the Tao despite intelligence or worldly success and achievement.
Anyway, those methods are just tools to help you quiet your thoughts so that one day you can realize a bit of emptiness, and realize how to practice correctly. Without being able to “See the Tao” and realize how to practice, all the work you do is in vain.
If you are lucky to have a spiritual experience, a real spiritual experience is to realize some stage of emptiness so you know how to practice to let go of thoughts. You want to achieve a state the Zen school describes as “10,000 miles of clear sky.” This offers the most powerful meditation experiences.
That’s what we’re all ultimately after though we phrase it in different ways. Some people think the ultimate stage is heaven, but after your merit is used up in a heavenly state, back you down you come again through reincarnation, incarnating when and where karma pulls you until you learn how to control the process through the Tao.
Anyway, there are levels to the stage of self-realization or enlightenment as well, which is why there are differences, degrees and ranks among spiritual masters. It all depends upon your efforts at practice.
That’s the rule: method + time + effort + discipline = result.
It’s now up to you.
Meditation Experiences: Questions about Meditating
I recently received the following question about meditation as this questioner is wondering what is normal and what can be expected while practicing meditation:
“My husband is buddhist and we sometimes practice meditation, it really helps me to focus later, but my question is when you meditate is it normal to feel like your breath has dissappeared? I also feel like my body is levitated, or floating off of the bed, is that normal? What does that mean? Could it possibly mean that I’m doing it wrong? Please write me back, ever since I’ve had these experiences I’ve had a very hard time meditating.
These aren’t uncommon experiences, though they certainly may be startling when they first occur.
In my experience, these phenomena are manifestations of a certain type of detachment, an out-of-body experience. As far as ‘doing it wrong’, I don’t care for that sort of judgement in meditation practice. The meditative experience is one which puts the individual through progressive changes.
We may evolve through meditation, experiencing different states of consciousness and perceiving a variety of phenomena. The type of detachment described above is a typical ‘stage’ of experience in the cycle.
The solution to all the various things that can go on in meditation is to continue to meditate. We can liken the meditative consciousness to the layers of an onion. As we continue to meditate, our consciousness begins to shed previously imprinted behavior patterns, attitudes, images and systems of thought. We are aiming for the goal of simply being there, without encumbrances.
This is a challenge, since the material world is an incredible distraction. It appears to be based on cause and effect, action and reaction Newtonian physics. Our continued participation in the world can cause us to confuse our spiritual selves with the objects around us. We come to believe that we must react to every stimulus, to be the effect of every cause, just as objects do.
Meditation experience teaches us the fallacy of this belief. By training the mind to not react to every little thing (no matter how interesting) we learn that we can exist in a motionless state, with full consciousness. We can be alert and aware, without being dragged around by every stray thought. We can focus at will, or serenely allow ourselves to experience the flow of life. Perhaps most importantly, it is vividly demonstrated through meditation that we are not part of the physical universe, but that it is part of us. We are not material, but spiritual.
Whatever may come up in meditation, the answer to meditation questions is always to continue. There is no way you can lose by doing so.
Articles Courtesy of Meditation Expert.