Meditation FAQ

What is meditation?

The basic idea generally associated with why people meditate is that during our day we are constantly subjected to sensory input and our minds are always active in the process of thinking. We read the newspaper, study books, write reports, engage in conversation, solve problems, etc etc. Typically, as we do these normal activities we engage in a constant mental commentary, sort of an inner “The Drama of Me.” Usually people aren’t fully aware of all the mental thought activity that we are constantly engaged in.

Meditation allows all this activity to settle down, and often results in the mind becoming more peaceful, calm and focused. In essence, meditation allows the awareness to become ‘rejuvenated’.

Meditation can be considered a technique, or practice. It usually involves concentrating on an object, such as a flower, a candle, a sound or word, or the breath. Over time, the number of random thoughts occuring diminishes. More importantly, your attachment to these thoughts, and your identification with them, progressively become less. The meditator may get caught up in a thought pattern, but once he/she becomes aware of this, attention is gently brought back to the object of concentration. Meditation can also be objectless, for example consisting of just sitting.


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More Meditation Techniques

Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana means “insight” -to see things as they really are, through a process of self-observation. It means insight into your own nature which enables one to recognize himself the cause of suffering and eliminate it.

Method:

It is usually done in a course of 10 days, when the participants refrain from reading, writing, and even talking (except discussing difficulties faced during meditation with the teacher). Set aside 15 minutes. Find a quiet place. Sit down cross-legged on the floor or a chair with a straight back. Become aware of your breath. Take a mental note of whatever feeling you are experiencing.

Open your eyes slowly after 10 or 15 minutes and get up gradually. Do not worry if you do not get any great insights in your first session. Try to be aware of your senses and emotions and their impact on you.

Benefits:

It is free of rites. Allows one to study sensation in the body like cold, pain, itching etc. One develops wisdom.

Raja Yoga Meditation

Raja yoga meditation fills the yogi with super-sensuous joy or bliss which is the highest and the most ennobling experience. The bliss elevates the mind and raises the yogi above carnal pleasures, and moulds his bad habits.


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Mantra Meditation

One of the very important tools which help in this meditative awareness is incense. Incense helps in creating a favorable atmosphere which calms the mind and makes it suitable for enjoying the meditative experience.

In a certain school of thought, meditation can also be practiced by chanting “AUM” or reciting and repeating words called mantras. The aim of these methods is the same - that is to stop desire and to enjoy the experience. Only then can the mind become focused and samadhi attained which is the highest goal of Yoga.

Mantra chanting creates powerful vibrations which are said to be directed to the right “chakras” to attract divine forces. This process is said to mysteriously heal the spiritual, physical & psychological body. It is important that when the mantra is chanted, the words and their rhythm must be enjoyed and one must surrender oneself to this experience.


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Chakra Meditation

Chakra Anusandhana means “discovery or search of the chakras”. It is a simple way for beginners to explore the chakras self-tutored. It helps in awakening them gently, and in a balanced integrated way.

How to:

It can be done sitting, or lying.

Close your eyes, adjust your body, clothing.

Let the breath relax, slow and deepen, but do not control it.

After a few minutes of settling in, commence Ujjayi pranayam, and carry on for some time

Now bring awareness to the spinal passage, such that awareness of breath is from bottom to top, Spend a few minutes establishing this inner breath pattern up and down. Ascending with inhalation, descending with exhalation.

Begin to locate chakras within that channel. Need not pin point the exact location, just focus on general area. Try to feel the location of each station and mentally repeat its name as you pass by it. On your way up mentally repeat from Mooldhara to Ajna, and way down reverse the order.

Just before finishing let go of breath sound, then names. And chant mantra’ ‘Om’ 3 times.

Precaution:


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Meditation Techniques

Mantra Meditation :

In this the Lord’s name is repeated continuously either mentally or in a whisper. There are certain “mantras” which are said to be extremely powerful in their benefits. They may be repeated in this form of meditation.

Yogic gaze (Trataka):

Stare at an object such as a candle flame, a physical object etc. Be careful not to strain the eyes. Rest the eyes if they start to water and then restart.

Chakra Meditation:

Chakras means “wheel” and represent the major nerve plexi which branch off the spinal cord to serve the major organs of the body. Chakras represent a different level of energy manifestation and consciousness development. There are 7 chakras.


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Meditation: What It Is

An ordinary person may consider meditation as a worship or prayer. But it is not so. Meditation means awareness. Whatever you do with awareness is meditation. “Watching your breath” is meditation; listening to the birds is meditation. As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation.

Meditation is not a technique but a way of life. Meditation means ‘to join together or to yoke’ . It describes a state of consciousness, when the mind is free of scattered thoughts and various patterns . The observer(one who is doing meditation) realizes that all the activity of the mind is reduced to one.

A Tibetan Lama was being monitored on a brain scan machine by a scientist wishing to test physiological functions during deep meditation. The scientist said - “Very good Sir. The machine shows that you are able to go very deep in brain relaxation, and that validates your meditation”. “No”, said the Lama, “This (pointing to his brain) validates the machine!”.


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Meditation and Relaxation Isn’t Enough?

We�ve unwittingly scheduled our time so that it�s difficult to get off the roller coaster long enough to take stock of our lives and see that we are doing too much � we have too much on our plate.

We are making sure we take that thirty minutes per day for ourselves, praying or doing meditation, eating as well as we think we can, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, playing sports and numerous other things we�ve read about that might reduce stress. We�ve used time management skills in order to accomplish more. Tomorrow we wake up and repeat the entire process again. It�s no longer unusual � it�s accepted and expected.

We live in a society that values activity. A friend calls on the phone and asks what we�re doing. We answer, �Keeping busy.� We�re so busy being active that we haven�t taken the time to consider alternatives to the methods we�re presently using to manage stress.

There might be a better way to manage if we could slow down long enough to recognize it, analyze it and plan for it. Our emphasis has shifted from prevention to relief.


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Care and Use of Your Mala Beads

What is the purpose of a Mala? The purpose of the Mala from the point of view of the Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem or Christian traditions is for counting of of sacred mantra(prayers) during a period of recitation. For example, one might recite, “Om Mani Padme Hum,” “Hail Mary, full of Grace…”, or “Om Tare Tam Soha” and keep a count of each mantra by moving your fingers over each bead. Of course, one can use the Mala for any sacred prayer from any spiritual or religious tradition.

The Mala, rosary or prayer beads would be best seen as inseparable from God, Buddha, or the Deity. It is not jewelry, and should not be considered as such. If one treat the Mala with respect and care, and the magnetism of it will grow proportionately.

Do not lay it on the ground or floor. If you drop it on the ground, clean it off, and place it on top of your head as you say Om, Ah, Hung, OR another prayer of blessing from your native tradition.


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