Meditation: What’s It All About?

I have read a ton of articles over the past year from various sources touting the amazing benefits of meditation. OK so it's supposed to be good for you and there are some studies which support its benefits to both body and mind. But what exactly is meditation? It sees there are several forms. How exactly is it good for me? And who has time to sit and do nothing? In our rushed and stressed out society it could seem counter intuitive to many. Maybe even a waste of time! This is to those of us that do have a hard time sitting still and turning off our mind. It is very hard for me. However because I keep reading about the abundant benefits I do believe that it is in my best interest to slow down and take a look at what it is all about and try to incorporate it into my life in 2015. New year's resolution? Maybe yes – can not hurt me to at least try it right?

Meditation is good for your mind; it changes your brain's structure!

A study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital showed measurable changes in participants' gray matter. The regions demonstrating change are associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. Gray matter density had actually increased. I think I would love to be able to feel less stress just through building up some gray matter – and all I have to do is sit quietly! Does it still sound like a waste of time endeavor? Not so much. I would rather not rely on prescription drugs to cope with daily overwhelm.

How do we get started?

  • Sit comfortably either cross-legged on the floor. If that is uncomfortable, sit in a chair.
  • Sit up straight and close your eyes.
  • To maintain your neutral tall spelling by inhaling and rolling your shoulders up to your ears. As you exhale roll your shoulders back and down. Repeat this if you feel yourself starting to slouch.
  • Breath simply through your nose; just breathing in and out. Focus on the space between your nostrils and your lips. Observe the sensation as your breath flows over this spot.
  • As your mind wonders bring it back to this space. Be easy on yourself through the process. Some days it will seem easier than others.
  • Observe any thoughts that come and go but do not really judge them. Just focus back on your breath.
  • Start with sessions of 5 minutes. If you feel like going longer, go with it.
  • Likewise if you're not feeling it one day listen to your intuition. If you feel the need to move slowly, you can!
  • Go easy on yourself; it is amazingly difficult to train your mind like this. Especially when you've had a rough day!
  • Do what feels good!

To your health.

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Meditation Do’s and Don’ts

New to Meditation?

More and more, meditation is being seen as the go to self-care practice. Meditation removes brain clutter. It is a simple idea that transforms lives. Meditation is especially important for busy executives and professionals who may be overwhelmed with things to do. This kind of pattern over stimulates certain brain centers and underworks others. Over time it reduces a professional's effectiveness. No matter what your role is-from research, creative to accounting, meditation can mean alertness, sustained attention and clarity.

Did you know that our habitual patterns in the brain make us do the same thing over and over again? you may actually notice that in many organizations, the same work or idea keeps recirculating and people stop having fresh ideas. A regular practice of meditation for busy professionals can mean focusing on important priorities and less stress while working. Less stress means your brain can refresh itself during sleep.

If you are new to meditation, these do's and don'ts make it easier for you to start and sustain a meditation practice.

Meditation Do's

At the minimum meditation should be practiced for 20 minutes a day.

Practice it at the same time every day. This is more effective than 20 minutes snatched whenever, because your brain will get used to emptying at the same time and start doing it by itself. This phenomenon is called brain plasticity ie the self-learning brain.

Try meditation for pain relief, especially chronic pain sufferers. It works and saves your body from toxic chemicals for pain relief.

Try meditation for self-awareness and whole self integration. It is cheaper than going to a talk therapist.

Try a few meditation styles and teachers. Take the time to go to people who appear unusual. It takes some serious mental strength to be authentic.

Introduce meditation to children and teenagers. Get a tape that helps them relax in the evening and is fun to listen. Your whole family can benefit when you start your practice. You can make it a family time activity.

Meditation Don'ts

Do not mix meditation, the practice, with a theory of life or rituals that may be attached with it. Meditation is found in many cultures of the world.

Do not rush to arrive at spiritual transcendence or quick results. Doing meditation does not make you anything except self-aware. Self-awareness is the key to self-fulfillment. If you do not know what you really want in life, how can you ever hope to get it?

Do not think that meditation can solve your problems. You solve your problems. Meditation helps you to take care of your mind, so that you are strong enough emotionally and mentally to solve your problems.

Do not make meditation an escape from the duties and expectations from life.

On the other hand, do not make duties an escape or excuse not to practice meditation.

Do not think that your experiences while meditating should be similar to someone else's. Your gifts of the mind may not be at all like someone else's. Our individual consciousness is unique.

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5 Irritating Sayings About Meditation

A Quick Preamble:

It's been happening forever, is still happening now and will continue to happen … misinformation, poor education or training, ignorance or even just plain old-fashioned spit means meditation, along with certain foods, beverages and a whole load of other general health -benefitting practices, has not escaped the results of being often misrepresented or lambasted by the well-intentioned as well as the plain misguided …

… ho-hum, the beautiful and gentle practice of health-sustaining and mind-strengthening meditation is just another victim of our ever-changing and pretty much over-opinionated society ..!

Cutting To The Chase:

So, meditation has gained serious ground in popularity and use – because the proven benefits can not be denied, but sadly, so also has the lack of detailed understanding by a lot of practitioners and the often mislicing information dished out by poorly trained teachers of meditation. ..

… and that leads me to the main point (or my main rant, if you like) for this specific post:

The most irritating sayings about meditation that people should really stop saying:

Irritating Saying # 1

“Clear Your Mind”

… whaaat ..? .. did you really just tell me – in a really irritatingly soft voice, to “Clear My Mind” ..? ,,, so now I have to concentrate on thinking about 'not-thinking .. ?

Sorry dude … that just aint gonna cut it for me … I'm thinking so hard about clearing my mind of thoughts that I'm developing a headache ..!

OK, I might be a little overly dramatic here, but you get my point right ..? .. but take note, this is how you tell if the meditation teacher is an amateur trying to do good – and it's usually your Yoga teacher that would be doing this because a Yoga teacher, bless them all, they're very good at their main calling, which is Yoga, but they would normally only get very minimum meditation training – if any at all.

A trained and man-years-practicing meditation teacher will never tell you to clear or quieten your mind – it just is not possible … if you're doing it right, your mind-chatter will subside and then you can slip into the relaxing thoughts of meditation.

Irritating Saying # 2

“Nobody Needs To Meditate” or “I Do not Need To Meditate”

Well OK, that's fair enough … I mean nobody “needs” to eat broccoli to survive, or do weight-training to raise their strength and fitness level – but really, are you going to NOT do something because you do not NEED to, or are you going to DO something because it enhances your life and / or improves your health in one way or another – or even in every way ..?!?

Meditation is actually something that for a whole lot of people is simply a daily habit, a part of their life, that is never looked at as a 'need' but something they enjoy doing because it improves many aspects of their life.

Irritating Saying # 3

“I Do not Have The Time To Meditate”

Get out o 'town … it has been proven that most people throughout Europe, the United States of America, Australia and Japan, spend between 10 and 12 hours carousing around the web and / or various other digital media … that is truly astonishing … and I ask you, “how the heck do you manage to make all that time available for media but you can not spend 20 minutes in meditation for the good of your health and wellness ..?”

Ajahn Chah said: “If You Have Time To Breath, You Have Time To Meditate ..!”

Irritating Saying # 4

“There is no right way to meditate”

Please … in any sport, in flying or driving or any other discipline, there IS ALWAYS A RIGHT WAY AND A WRONG WAY.

There may be slight variations of methodology in a discipline and certainly in meditation, the act of relaxing the mind or the position that you sit in or even the place where you carry out your meditation can vary from person to person – but there is absolutely a right way and anyone would know that if they attend regular, structured meditation sessions.

Irritating Saying # 5

“My Hobby (or whatever activity) Is My Means Of Meditation”

Sorry, but that's just plain tripe … pure and unadulterated BS my friend or (and I'm giving the benefit of the doubts here) maybe just a misunderstanding of the act of meditation.

It's really really … a separated, structured meditation is how you will enter the transcendental state of consciousness that's unique to a scheduled meditation session – an altered physiological and mental state that can and has often been proved with the use of EEG and heart- rate monitoring equipment.

So basically, whereas your favorite activity may very well ensure you concentrate solely on aspects of that activity alone, it can not take the place of a properly structured daily meditation in your life.

A Final Anecdote:

If you know what you're doing then meditation is a really beautiful tool for your mind and bodily health …

… if you do not know, then you can easily find out and learn, but do understand that at the end of the day, as with everything else, you only get what you pay for, so ensure you follow the training of a true meditation master and beware of the fakes or the poorly trained – you may get a bargain but you'll likely be misinformed and your meditations will not be as beneficial as they should be.

Before leave, a couple of excellent meditation quotes from a true meditation master – St. Francis De Sales :

“Where There Is Peace And Meditation, There Is Neither Anxiety Or Doubt”

“Half An Hour Meditation Each Day Is Essential Exceed When You Are Busy, Then A Full Hour Is Needed”

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Create Your Own Rules of Meditation

Today, we are beset on all sides with disruption. Technology and media combine to make a vast, faceless machine of distraction. Thirty second television commercials have been replaced with fifteen second ads in the “attention economy” where advertisers have punished for every scrap of our fleeting time. Seeing people devour their phone screens more than their meal is commonplace in restaurants.

Without a doubt, technology has created a comprehensive environment of efficiency and ease in everyday life. It is not inherently evil. Randy criticizing any new technology is speaking a language of ignorance. Instead, always search for solutions for the negative end of the double-edged sword.

Mainstream mindfulness has achieved considerable notoriety as a potential solution. Meditation is frequently mentioned by business gurus and self-help experts. Several high-achieving public figures praise and practice it, such as Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah Winfrey, Lebron James, and Paul McCartney. The physiological and mental benefits are thoroughly confirmed through thousands of years of research. But what is it really?

Meditating is simply focusing all of your conscious attention on one activity. The typical version you will see is a sitting meditation where the practitioner is focusing solely on the breath. While this is a highly recommended activity in its own right, mediation can assume any form.

Meditation does not require any formalized training. It is immediately accessible to anyone. Begin small, and the next time you drink your favorite beverage focus on nothing but that beverage. Note the temperature, texture, and flavor. Do not think about the follies of yesterday or the anxieties of the future and calmly ask yourself, “what in this moment is missing?”. Repeat this with the next meal you eat.

The act, if practiced routinely, will accomplish two very critical things. First, you will begin to abandon your needless thoughts, worries, and biases of the past and the future. They are away from you know. Keep them at arm's length and out of mind. Of course, these old thoughts will find their way into your space occasionally. Learn to berely be amused by them like a squawking parrot. It is not the effort you put into meditation that makes the difference, but rather the complete lack thereof.

Second, you will begin to experience a significant amount of gratitude toward those things that you previously saw as mundane. The hot showers, fresh food, and everything covering base needs will seem monumental. Walking through a park on a nice day will seem next to a transcendent experience.

Next, direct the meditation to an everyday routine like driving. Be absolutely mindful of the cars in front, beside, and behind you. Make sure to notice how fast they are traveling. Chances are you are not going to figure out your mortgage or credit card debt problem in the middle of traffic. You might as well direct all of your attention to driving and away from needless anxieties. An active mediation practice will make you a safer, more mindful person on the road and elsewhere.

The implications on work productivity are extraordinary. If I am working on a paper or project, I create a target and parameter. For instance, the target can be the blinking text cursor on the document. The rule can be: for 30 minutes at a time I am not allowed, under any circumstances, to avert my eyes from the target. Thirty minutes should be more than feasible.

The classic model of “work for one hour to take a ten minute break” never works. If you are “working” for an hour that is constantly interrupted by checking your phone, it's not work. You are deciding to do two or more things simultaneously and half-hearted. Deliberately “monotasking” through projects is a significant and productive way to achieve things. Scattered multitasking will almost always produce nothing but anxiety and inferior work.

Meditation will enhance your work ethic, creativity and create more personal free time. It will give you an indestructible sense of peace and well-being. You will no longer rely on the external for happiness. There are no tricks or the need for “gurus”. The only thing you need is what you have now.

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Fasting and Prayer

“Through prayer, fasting, and studying, God will answer.”

Fasting is commonly an act of willing control or reduction of certain or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. People seem to observe fasting for a variety of reasons such as religious, general, physical, hygienic, some specific worldly gains, and so on. This practice has its origins in human society dating to the beginning of recorded history.

Some people fast as a way to lose weight. When the body is starved of food, it starts to burn fat so that it can make energy. This can lead to weight loss. However, if you fast for too long and periodically then your body will eventually start breaking down muscle protein for energy, which is unhealthy. Which is why people who starve, look very thin and become extremely weak. Even though poor health outcomes later in life. Others fast to try to take treatment to rid the body of poisonous substances, especially alcohol and drugs from their bodies, A person's entire immune system can be rejuvenated by fasting for as little as three days as it activates the body to start producing new white blood cells, a study suggests and a few people fast for religious reasons. Fasting is recommended as willing control, austerity, because it helps us control our senses, and sense control is very helpful in becoming divine conscious. If our senses are out of control and unregulated, we will not be able to come to the mode of goodness, spiritual mindful, which is required for making sure and steady spiritual progress. Fasting is also good for health because it gives the digestive organs a rest.

“As far as the body is concerned, there are few susceptibilities-eating, sleeping, and enjoying. The problem with modern society is that it is trying to increase these demands, but they should be reduced instead. when we need, and our health will be excellent. Because in the beginning, because we are accustomed to eat voraciously, so do not try to eat less artificially. The more you can reduce your sleep and eating, you keep good health, especially for spiritual purposes.

Spiritual Fasting requires self-control and discipline as one denies the natural desires of the flesh. As it appears that people take on religious fasts in a hope of fulfilling a variety of material and spiritual desires. Simply the purpose of religious fasting seems to be to reduce the sense of fear lurking in the deluded mind, and to please God for securing the fulfillment of deep-rooted subconscious cravings, as well as liberation. During spiritual fasting, the believer's focus is removed from the physical things of this world and intensely centered on God.

Prayer and fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. Prayer and fasting often go hand in hand, but this is not always the case. You can pray without fast, and fast without prayer. It is when these two activities are combined and dedicated to God's glory that they reach their full effectiveness.

When it comes to making your final decision about what type of fast is right for you, the best advice we can accept is to follow the leading of the Divine Spirit. He will guide your heart and mind as to what is best for you. Remember, the most important consideration in fasting is your motive. Why are you fasting? To seek something personally from God's hand or to seek His face in worship, praise and thanksgiving?

Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of mostly for all the religious disciples. Through fasting and prayer, the Divine Spirit can transform your life.

Prayer and spiritual mindfulness does not say fast and daily rituals are pointless, the message is that if you do these actions without knowing and remembering the lord then what is the point of these actions. All actions become pointless if you do not remember the lord.

'Without the Lord, other deeds are useless.

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How to Meditate and Why Meditate

Great leaders and millions of people from all walks of life meditate. You do not have to be a mystic, shaman, priest or a “spiritual” person to enjoy the benefits of meditation.

My Promise: No Guru talk. No Religion. Just meditation information and some opinion.

Yes, I meditate and have for many years. It could be 5 or 15 minutes; it could be much longer. I do not have any religious beliefs and will never promote supernatural nonsense. For me and millions of people, meditation is just an exercise to calm the mind and body. That's all. And … that is a wonderful thing!

So why do I and millions of other people past and present find benefits to meditation? The answer is found in the purpose …

The purpose of meditation is to just calm the mind . When our mind is calm and peaceful, we can free ourselves from worry, stress, and enter into a state of awareness and / or nothing – just a certain kind of peace. When we let our mind race with uncontrolled thought and react to life rather than calmly respond to constant outside events, our mind is not peaceful. We find it hard and so very difficult to be happy or content even when we live in the very best of financial conditions.

If you seriously try to meditate every day, you will calm your mind and simply feel better. We become more aware and open to solutions in life if that is what we seek at the time. Most of the time, it helps you start your day in a better state of mind and in the evening, have a more peaceful sleep.

Most people (including myself), find it difficult to control what experts in meditation call the “monkey mind .” All kinds of thoughts roll around and it's hard to meditate. This is normal. The reason is because the uncontrolled mind is reactive to external circumstances and ingrained habit. It could also be something in the past we need to resolve. Or as I said, just habit.

The good news : If we learn the basic steps of meditation and practice every day, within a short time we remove from our mind the attachments and allusions of life that cause all our problems and suffering. In time … we experience a state of inner peace. We try to make it permanent.

How to Meditate: Basic Steps for Meditation

The best way is to start is with a simple breathing meditation. Choose a quiet place to moderate and sit in a comfortable position. You can sit in the traditional cross-legged posture or in any comfortable seated position. I learned and still prefer most times to sit in a chair. Ensure that where you meditate is private and quiet and that you keep our back straight to prevent your mind from becoming sluggish or sleepy. It is very easy to nod-off.

Sit with our eyes partially closed or lightly closed, then turn your attention to your breathing. Breathe naturally through the nostrils and without trying to control our breath. Concentrate your eyes on a spot between the eye brows. It is a great focal point and has another purpose for later study. Also, it may be helpful to have meditative recordings in the background. As you become accustomed to meditation, you will not need any supportive audio.

Now, become aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. It is cool coming in and warm going out. This sensation is our object of your meditative attention. Focus on your breathing

Your mind will have thoughts that try and take you away from your meditation. Observe them at let them go. Return to the breath. You should become aware how your mind is always working and that you can control the focus. This is the wonderful habit you will develop. Return to breath. Repeat this return as many times as necessary until the mind just settles on the breath.

You will find that daily practice , first in the morning, lastly at night, that gradually your distracting thoughts will subside and you'll experience a sense of inner peace and relaxation. Commit for at least 30 days and see the difference in your life! Even though breathing meditation is a basic stage of meditation, it is quite powerful.

Just by doing this breathing meditation for fifteen to thirty minutes each day, you will reduce stress – guaranteed . You will indeed experience a calm feeling in the mind, and many of your usual problems will fall away. Difficult situations will become easier to deal with, you'll naturally feel warm and open towards other people, and your relationships with others will improve.

Back to why we meditate: When uncontrolled thoughts subside and your mind becomes still, a deep calming state of happiness and contentment arises from within. This state of mind is who we truly are. Coping with the business of life can become a joy. Clarity becomes a norm. In reality, so much of the stress and tension we normally experience comes from our mind, and many of the problems we experience, including ill health, are caused or aggravated by this stress. Meditation helps with all issues.

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5 Facts Every Woman Needs to Know About Meditation

Despite its popularity today, very few of us really know what meditation really is. Some think it is a form of mental concentration; others consider it as a visualization of something to feel peace and satisfaction.

Indeed, both of these concepts are part of mediation. The ultimate purpose of mediation is to slow down and eventually stop all the restless thoughts in your mind.

Meditation is a state of thoughtless awareness. It is not an act of doing, but a state of awareness – a state of profound, deep peace, calmness and silence.

The concept of meditation is often misunderstood. Here are 5 facts to help you understand about meditation and how this leads to a healthier and happier you.

1) Meditation Does Not Require Spiritual or Religious Beliefs.

Meditation is beneficial for everyone and it does not require any form of spiritual or religious beliefs. In fact, some meditations have no particular religious beliefs at all or are considered atheist. The purpose of meditation is to experience the inner quiet and feel the numerous physical, mental and emotional health benefits that come with practice.

2) Meditation can be simple.

Meditation is not only reserved for saints and yogis. It is for everyone and you can meditate anytime and anywhere. Meditation techniques can be self-learnt as simple as focusing on your breathing or silently repeating a mantra.

3) Meditation is Not Controlling Your Thoughts.

Do not be overly focused on how to stop your thoughts or empty your mind as both of these approaches only lead to frustration thoughts rather decide how much attention to direct to them.

As you meditate on a regular basis, you'll find the space in between your thoughts which is quiet and silent. In this space, you'll then become an observer of your thoughts rather than a controller.

With time and practice, you'll have an increasing state of expanded awareness and silence.

4) The Effects of Meditation Can Take Place in a Short Period of Time.

The benefits of meditation are both immediate and long-term. Many scientific studies, such as Harvard University, provided evidence that meditation has substantial effects on the mind and body within just a few weeks of practice.

Women have experienced decreased anxiety and great feelings of calming and growth in the brain with association of memory, empathy and the sense of self.

5) A Few Minutes of Meditation is Better Than None.

Even as our life is filled with a busy schedule on a daily basis, remember that a few minutes of meditation is better than none. In life's paradoxical way, when we take the initiative to practice mediation on a regular basis, we actually have more time.

The nice thing about meditating is that it does not take very long at all. As little as five minutes, once or twice a day, can do wonders for your health.

This is because during meditation, our breathing and heart slows down, blood pressure lowers and our body decrees the production of stress hormones.

Some of the benefits you experience in your health and life are:

  • You feel as though you have a purpose in life
  • Your decision making skills are enhanced
  • Your memory works much better than it used to
  • You stop abusing things such as cigarettes, drugs and alcohol
  • Your energy levels are increased
  • Your immune systems works better
  • Your self confidence levels are increased
  • Your relationships are better
  • You just feel happy and optimistic about your life
  • You become much healthier overall

So if you are not totally happy or satisfied with your health and life then you may want to incorporate a meditation practice.

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Words That Heal And Kill

Did you ever make plans to go out to dinner with a friend or meet at a special place and have them stand you up? Well, this happened to me just the other night. Our plan was to meet at the party, but she never showed up. Around a month ago, I called one of my close friends that I have not seen in quite a while. We chatted for a long time and we both said how much we missed seeing each other. We made plans to meet at a certain place at a specific time on a specific date. I got on the road early to make sure I was there on time, but she never showed up or called.

Sometimes, that happens and, although it's a behavior pattern that some people do unconsciously, it's very expensive to their health and well-being. I am sure I have probably done it myself sometime in the past. I would get caught up in something and forget an appointment or something or someone, and piss them off. I had a habit of always coming late to family events, like parties and dinners. Until one day, I showed up late as usual to a family dinner. My father-in-law, which I greatly respected, pushed me away, and said, “What makes you think your time is more important than mine?” That was the last time I was ever late when we made a plan to see each other. But the stigmata lingered with the family, and they always assumed that I would be late for everything, or even worse, not show up.

Not everyone is able to be responsible for his or her own word, but they would if they knew the dangers in the consequences. People do not fully understand the power of our word and how it affects every aspect of our lives. When you keep your word and your commitments, you draw power out of a situation. But, when you break your word, not only do you lose face, your Qi is drained away and so is your life force. The words we speak are powerful. If you could see the energy behind our words and how our words direct energy, and how energy responds to and manifest, we would use our words with a lot more skill. We use words as a method of communicating, and we are often unaware that we are also directing energy with those words. Every sound we utter sends out an energy wave that helps in creating or destroying the world around us. In many meditations, there are sounds to set up a certain vibration to clear the energy or bring in more energy to a situation. These sounds or mantras are an instrument of the mind, a powerful sound or vibration that you can use to enter a deep state of meditation. There are thousands of mantras and they are very powerful. Once you learn to use them and do the yoga behind the teaching, you will become a force to be reckoned with.

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How to Meditate and Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana meditation is an interesting type of meditation, strict and rigid. Generally practiced in silence and using your breath to meditate. It is something you may want to discover a little later in your experimenting. How to meditate is far more important first before tackling Vipassana.

So today we are going to learn how to meditate with a simple and easy kind of meditation that anyone should be able to do.

Meditation, also know as mindfulness, will help give your life meaning and perspective. A sense of awareness of being and living in the now.

When we slow down our mind and relax our body, we can start to sense a change of attitude, a change of outlook and a change of life.

Meditation has no rules, it is part of no religion and it transcends boundaries. Where can you meditate? At home, in the park, at work and even waiting in line at the football or supermarket.

Let's start with what I call a Two Minute Breath meditation. Get yourself comfortable and relaxed, turn off your phone and get your partner to mind the children if need be.

With eyes closed begin to focus on your breath. Become aware of your breath as you breathe in and out. Feel your breath as you inhale and sense it filling your lungs. The breath is invisible and yet we can feel it, almost touch it, but we can not see it but we know it is there. It is a sacred element giving us life.

Once you learn this technique your life will never be the same. When you focus on your body and just your breath it is very hard for other thoughts to come into your mind. Your focus becomes intense and laser like giving your mind greater clarity.

This practice is easy. Vipassana is tough. This one takes no longer than two minutes a day. If you can moderate both morning and night then wonderful and good for you. That's four minutes out of your 24 hour day. I am sure you can spare that.

It will be well worth it as you start to change in very subtle ways. You become calmer, relaxed, you do not worry so much, you become focused and inspired to do the things that you love doing. You will also stop worrying about what others think of you.

Vipassana meditation is a free course over 10 days and I highly recommend them once you have been practicing at least 2 years. These courses are in silence for 10 days. There is no physical contact, no eye contact and no reading or taking notes. If you are looking for a higher level of meditation then vipassana may be the answer for you.

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Blocked About Meditation? Part 2 of 2

Regular meditation combinations many benefits, such as: increased brain function, creativity, physical health, and relationships; reduced stress; and a more evolved spiritual life. But for those with an active mind, traditional silent meditation can prove to be challenging. Here are two alternative forms of meditation that provide all the benefits with far fewer hindrances.

Take a Walk, Grasshopper

Nature has a grounding effect that is very powerful to still and center the mind. One form of meditation is as simple as taking a walk. The key is to leave behind your normal distractions (smart phone, MP3 player, bluetooth, etc.) I typically leave my phone at home when going for a walk (much to my husband's dismay) but else I find it to be too much of a distraction.

Albert Einstein is said to have removed bait from his hook while fishing because when the fish nibbled, it disturbed his train of thought. Without my phone, I notice trees and birds, grass and clouds, the sound of wind chimes or nearby pets. I hear my footsteps rise and fall, I experience various smells of the outdoors, and I become more aware of my breathing. This makes it a moving or more active form of meditation.

On these mindful, reflective walks, I have no agenda. I'm not out to get exercise or burn calories, I'm not looking to photograph trees or clear my lungs, and I typically have NO goal or timeframe in mind (for example, to walk five miles or for so many minutes). I just walk.

I spend the first fifteen to twenty minutes of my walk processing through the things I “need” to think about, working through one item at a time inside my head, and once my mind has done its job, it suddenly grows very quiet.

This is when I become more aware of sights and sounds, and as I am noticing the wonder of nature, I spontaneously receive ideas, solutions, creative prompts, and more. Soon, I can not wait to circle back to my home to get to work (or play or creative time) and start putting these ideas into action.

By the time I return home, I feel refreshed, centered, energized, and excited to move into implementation mode. Of course, you do not have to do it this way; I'm simply sharing what's worked for me. You should feel free to do whatever works for you. But if you do not know what works, then why not try it this way and see what happens? Or, try this third form of alternative meditation.

The Guided Visualization

Do you love movies? If you're like most people, you really enjoy kicking back and allowing yourself to become absorbed in a good flick. Guided visualization is perfect for movie-lovers because it's like the story is being narrated to you, as it plays inside your head. Which means you can be the leading star in your film, and you can look however you want to look! You can set the stage, choose the props and play any part.

Guided meditations which are really well done will have a pace and tone that is pleasing to you (have you ever heard a guided audio and thought, “Ick! I can not listen to this.” Yep, me too! But do not give up – try some other ones until you find someone you like.). In my experience, the best guided audios are the ones that I could listen to again and again.

Alternately, you can make your own (although not everyone enjoys listening to the sound of their own voice, and some find it hard not to critique their own performance). Sometimes it's just easier to relax when someone else is doing the talking.

A guided visualization may have a specific goal in mind (for example, to help you discover some hidden truth or block inside of you and / or to clear that block), to help you to open up to or become more proficient in something (overcoming shyness or procrastination, for example), or the purpose of the audio may be simply for the purposes of relaxation.

These audios are usually in an MP3 format, and can be downloaded to your smart phone or mobile device, so that you can listen whenever and where you like. Some folks enjoy listening while sleeping in bed, just before sleep (as it is helpful to feel relaxed before falling asleep), while others will carve out time during the day or first thing in the morning. What works best for you? Try different times of day to see what you find most enjoyable.

Even young children can enjoy this form of alternative meditation. The Dalai Lama once said, “If every eight-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”

Which of these alternative meditations methods is your favorite? How can you begin to incorporate meditation into your daily routine, so that it can quickly become a regular habit?

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Blocked About Meditation? Part 1 of 2

The benefits of meditation are clear and have been scientifically proven. Individuals who meditate regularly experience enhanced creativity and brain function, reduced stress, improved physical health and personal / social relationships, and a more developed sense of spirituality. But just because you may be aware of the benefits of this age-old practice does not mean you feel inspired (or even competent) enough to practice it regularly.

For years, I researched meditation. In fact, I can recall a time when I told a friend, “I'm just going to be quiet for a little while to clear my mind,” to which she responded, “Oh, you're going to meditate?” and I was quick to correct her “No, no! I'm not going to meditate! I'm just going to be still for a little while.” I had a lot of hang-ups around it, so I could not get myself to really embrace meditation, or at least what I understood meditation to mean.

Sometimes, when we hear the word “meditation” we imagine someone sitting in lotus pose, chanting “om” and keeping the mind devoid of all thought. If you have an active mind like me, that form of meditation can be challenging and even a bit frustrating. Fortunately, there are many forms of meditation and when you find the method that resonates with you, you can quickly discover that meditation is not only easy, it's fun and delightful.

Personally, I prefer meditation that gives my mind something relaxing to do, or at the very least, gives it the freedom to roam and wander.

Practicing “mindfulness” is an active form of meditation, during which you are meditating while performing tasks that are necessary (albeit boring). For example, you can practice being mindful as you wash or rinse dishes, fold laundry, prepare a meal, eat, shower, etc.

Be Mindful During the Mundane

Have you ever heard this quote? “Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.” One of the things I enjoy about the show “Survivor” is the fact that even though they are playing a game for a million dollars, which means they must be constantly alert and aware of strategy and the social element of the game; even though they are tired and weary from a lack of food and rest, they still must fetch water and tend to the fire and cook their meager daily allotment of rice. In my mind, it keeps a certain “real” element to the reality show.

Even in our modern technology-driven lifestyles, we must shop for food, consume meals, clean our clothing, and tend to our homes. But so often, our minds are everywhere during these processes. We're distracted by yakking on the phone, texting, thinking of what we must do next, watching television or listening to talk radio or music, etc.

What if you simply practiced being mindful during these mundane daily tasks?

Since I began the practice of “being mindful during the mundane,” some of my most profitable ideas have come to me while I folded laundry or shook. My intellect takes a break as I focus on the virtual mindless task at hand. While folding laundry, I notice the feel of each piece of fabric in my hand, and I notice any stray threads (without feeling the need to trim or snip them). I let thoughts come and go (perhaps musing how the children have grown, or how the middle one is now wearing the old one's favorite outfits, or recall confirmed memories) and I have no agenda. During this time of mindfulness, I do not talk on the phone, I do not text, I do not think about what I have to do next, I do not fly through it and do a half-ass job, I just sit and fold or hang the laundry.

And because my mind is at rest during this, wonderful ideas will often pop in most unexpectedly. And as a result, I find laundry folding to be relaxing and therapeutic, as opposed to a dreaded weekly burden.

What tasks must you tend to today, that you could actively choose to perform more mindfully?

If mindfulness during the mundane is not your cup of tea, be sure to read part two of this article series to discover two other methods of alternative meditation.

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The Real Scoop on Meditation

There is a lot of flowery, poetic language about meditation and what it will do for you. Let me give it to you straight. Meditation is setting aside a fixed amount of time, even a minute, to do nothing, achieve nothing and be free of daily demands. It is just a space .

Within this space you can calm your breath, practice relaxing and releasing, calm your thoughts, discover something new. OR NOT. Who knows what will fill the space but

  • set your timer,
  • put your body there
  • and see what happens

Here is a typical meditation session for me and I do not do it every day. I know I should but I'm being straight with you. I set my timer for 10 minutes and this time I settle into a low chair that lets me rest my feet on the floor. I like to try different chairs and pillows to see how they feel.

So, I remember to focus on my breathing, in and out, and within seconds I'm thinking about what I want to wear because I'm still in my PJs. This switch happens so fast I did not even feel it until I realized I was in the middle of it. So dutifully I go back to my breath, this time amusing myself by making it go to one side more than the other side, my elbow raising like a chicken wing. And zap! I'm making a grocery list!

Back to my breathing I remember I'm supposed to learn to relax and I do notice my jaw is tense and my toes curled. I enjoy releasing some muscles and do begin to feel a little softer. Nice.

Zap, incoming judgment where I wonder why I'm bothering to meditate. Does it really make a difference? Would not a nap do the same thing? Back to my breathing, back to sensing tension in my body and then I'm surprised to have the image of my brain as a calm pool of water. Where did that come from?

I sit back and enjoy the calm and notice a couple of worries bubbling up but they are in the water and I'm watching from the side. The water is silver blue and the worries break the surface. Well, what do you know? Both the worries are about someone else's problem that I think I can fix. I wonder if I do that a lot? I let those two worries swim away to their own pool.

Zap again but this time it's the timer and I'm surprised because, for a moment, I really traveled inside and forgot I was forcing myself to meditate!

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Why Meditation Is So Important

Is not it true, that we experience almost all of our lives as a series of ups and downs?

We are like surf board riders on a vast ocean of experience. Sometimes we can ride the waves, while at others we are buffeted and bullied about by the endless ebb and flow. We get so caught up in the 'drama' of what appear to be 'happening' that we seldom, if ever, take note of the screen upon which it is all being played out.

No screen, no drama. Yet who notices the 'screen'?

If only we knew how near and how unspeakably simple the greatest truths of life really are. How much more peaceful and joyful our lives would be. How quickly we would un-complicate things to give ourselves and others ease.

Meditation, in its truest form, helps us to re connect with who and what we really are. It helps us to become aware of the 'screen.'

In its purest form, meditation is effortless, formless and completely un-contrived.

However, in this day and age when form is greatly emphasized, it is often turned into a 'practice' which is entrenched in ideas, expectations, and a sense of 'doer-ship.' It has become something marketable and brand worthy. There are so many different kinds of meditation in the marketplace now that it has become more difficult and tiresome than ever just to figure out how to get started with it.

In our age of super, super markets, where one can enter a department store and find fifty varieties of one item and feel quite overwhelmed by the number of choices, so too can it be with the beginnings of our spiritual journey into meditation.

Therefore, it is really vital to clarify our understanding of the meaning of the word 'Meditation,' we can thereby save ourselves a lot of expense, extra stress, time, discomfort and also, sadly as can be the case for many, temporary disappointment .

Most people who take up a practice of meditation believe they will get something out of it and there are many different techniques available to bring about the suggested and desired results. These might include relaxation or an enhanced concentration or a sense of calmness and well being etc. While all of these are valid in and of themselves they are contrary to the true goal of meditation.

In order to avoid probable disillusionment down the road, it is important to recognize that the benefits of all of the above are both temporary and impermanent and that the true significance of meditation by far surpasses any and all of it's transient advantages.

True meditation is an exercise in un-compromised humility.

How else can one bypass the veils of mind and the illusion of 'doer-ship' to recognize the magnificent silence in which, all of that, arises?

Meditation should lead to a permanent and permanent shift in our awareness of awareness. If we approach it in the right way, it will take us right to the portal of liberty which is not something based within time and space. It can happen right here and right now.

It has nothing to do with postures and positions, how long one is able to situ, how focused and so on. That is all the dance of mind made projections.

True Meditation allows us simply to be as we are. As we really are …

Naturally this 'view' flies in the face of how we normally hear about or think of meditation. Many so called meditation teachers have led us to believe that, to achieve the ultimate results, we must sit in a certain way, have in a certain manner, breath differently, stop our thoughts, etc, etc …

Yet, despite the positive aspect of these various techniques and their effects of relaxation, enhanced concentration, bliss and so on, none of them has any thing whatsever to do with the real purpose meditation. It is not about controlling the mind, or sitting for a certain period of time in a particular posture, or reciting a mantra. Relaxation and greater peace are useful, bliss is addictive and enjoyable but one must be careful that they do not become the goal of meditation itself. Greater peace, clarity and increased concentration are all worthy signposts along the way, however we must bare in mind the minority distinction that true meditation is beyond a 'meditator.'

In the maelstrom of 'busyness' that engulfs our day to day lives it is more essential than ever that we give ourselves the chance to reconnect with who and what we really are. The beauty of true meditation is that it does not require that anything in our outer life be changed. This means that where ever we may be, what ever we may be doing, we can always take a moment to turn our gaze inward.

To be inwardly silent …

We do not need to make any elaborate preparations to do this, we do not need a special room, a special time, a special place, a special frame of mind …

We just need to stop for a moment and let be … even if it is just for a few minutes on the bus or during the office lunch break, or even in the bathroom!

Normally our focus and attention is completely engaged outwardly in the world around us and in our thoughts, moods and sensations. When we take time to just 'be' we let all of this go, even if it is just for the briefest moment.

This moment has the potential to be utterly refreshing. Try it and see.

The fact is that real meditation is about undoing, unlearning, un-contriving …

In the stillness of just being as we are there arises the possibility of recognizing what really is.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Psalm 49:10

Nothing is more vital to do in this world. In its true form, meditation provides a natural and ever present portal into our true and unimaginable inherit …

From such a 'view,' the world that we create, in our own minds and around us, re-aligns itself with something much, much grander than the little dramas that usually engulf all of our attention for most of our lives …

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An Attempt To Meditate With Chocolate

“THE CHOCOLATE MEDITATION” the title read, as I turned the page on what I had started reading as a serious book about mindfulness.

“Open the wrapper and smell the aroma” the first instruction read. So I did so. If chocolate diminishes by taking in the aroma, then the block I had purchased shrank before my very eyes.

“Break off a piece and place it on your tongue Focus on the square of chocolate on your tongue. There are over 300 different flavors in chocolate, how many can you distinguish?” the text read.

Three hundred? I was amazed. Already my knowledge had increased. I had only ever known of three, milk, dark and white.

I count the squares of chocolate. Twenty one. Meditating once a day, that was three weeks of meditation. That will get me half way through Lent … I was really going to enjoy this.

It had been some time since I last tasted chocolate, so to prime my taste buds for what was coming over the next three weeks, I broke off one row (three squares) and popped them in my mouth.

Yep, it tasted much as I remembered it.

Now this was not the actual meditation. It was simply the preparation, so once I finished those six squares (I had to check that the first taste was real and not just a memory,) I placed a single square on my tongue and let it sit. Just as I closed my mouth, my wife walked into the room and asked me what I was doing on such a beautiful day, sitting in a darkened room with the curtains drawn and the lights off.

Of course it is not polite to speak with your mouth full so I quickly swallowed the chocolate and explained, showing her the page from the book and everything. Mumbling something that sounded like “any excuse” she left the room, helping herself to a couple of squares of chocolate on the way and shutting the door behind her.

I carefully placed the next square of chocolate on my tongue in anticipation of my meditative experience when there was a knock on the door. I quickly swallowed that square and went to see who had come visiting. It was a young pimply faced boy trying to get me to change power providers or something. I soon got rid of him and went back to my meditation.

All the while my mouth was salivating at the thought of more chocolate. So much so in fact, that piece slid down my throat as soon as it touched my tongue. As did the next five squares of chocolate.

With just five squares of chocolate left, I was really none the wiser. I had not yet tasted any more than the one flavor, which was one of the three I already knew, and I had not yet meditated for more than a few moments. In an attempt to alleviate the excess saliva, I decided I could afford to satiate my bodily fluids with three more squares, which I did.

It was about then my four-year-old grandson, who was having a little holiday with Grumpy and Grandma came into the room.

“What are you doing, Grumpy?” he ask in his typical inquisitive manner .. (I'm sure he was primed by his Grandma) So I explained about the three hundred flavors and meditation centred around chocolate. I'm not quite sure how much he took in, but after my longer length explanation, he eyed the chocolate and asked, “Can I try meditating, too?” as he helped himself to the two squares of chocolate left on the wrapper.

Note to self: add chocolate to the next shopping list. I'm going to master this meditation thing if it kills me!

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Daily Meditation Can Have a Great Impact on Your Life

Daily meditation can have a great impact on your life. Learning how to meditate for only 30 minutes a day can have significant health changes. Regular mindful meditation can create sense out of our hectic lives.

If you train in meditation, your mind will gradually become more and more calm and peaceful, and you will experience a pure form of happiness. Occasionally, you will be able to stay happy all the time in your life, even in the most difficult and poor circumstances.

This article addresses how to meditate, and how to select your own daily meditation practices.

1. Calmness is the ideal situation in which we should receive all inner life's experiences.
2. You may furnish the meditation area with special objects or icons that have deep spiritual meaning for you.
3. You can meditate anytime, anywhere, anyplace … even driving in your car.
4. Keep your eyes open, to keep all of senses open. The purpose is not to fall sleep, but to keep yourself in a state of relaxed alertness.
5. You should meditate 20 minutes, twice daily. Always try short sessions of four to five minutes, then break for two minutes.
6. Allow your mind and sense to rest lightly on an object. If you come from the Christian religion, this might be an image of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary or the Holy Spirit.
7. Guided meditation is a powerful process that focuses and directs the imagination toward a conscious goal.
8. “Follow your breath” is the most universal of all mindfulness techniques.

By training in meditation, meditator creates an inner space and purity that enables us to control your mind regardless of the external circumstances. Gradually you interpret mental equilibrium, a balanced and peaceful mind that is happy all the time, rather than an unbalanced and unhappy mind that oscillates between the extremes of excitation.

If you train in meditation once, systematically you will be able to eradicate your mind the delusions that are the causes of all your suffering and problems. In this way, you will come to experience a everlasting inner peace, known as “liberty” and “nirvana”. Then, day and night in your life, you will experience only happiness and peace and.

Finally, daily meditation practice is not meditation. One might practice true meditation for years to achieve a meditative state of being. A well experienced meditator might meditate for an hour to achieve a few moments of meditative awareness.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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