Meditation

With the hectic pace and demands of modern life, many people feel stressed and over-worked. It often feels like there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done. Our stress and tiredness make us unhappy, impatient and frustrated. It can even affect our health. We are often so busy we feel there is no time to stop and meditate! But meditation actually gives you more time by making your mind calmer and more focused. A simple ten or fifteen minute breathing meditation as explained below can help you to overcome your stress and find some inner peace and balance. Meditation can also help us to understand our own mind. We can learn how to transform our mind from negative to positive, from disturbed to peaceful, from unhappy to happy.

Overcoming negative minds and cultivating constructive thoughts is the purpose of the transforming meditations found in the Buddhist tradition. This is a profound spiritual practice you can enjoy throughout the day, not just while seated in meditation. On this website you can learn the basics of Buddhist meditation. A few books are mentioned that will help you to deepen your understanding if you wish to explore further. Anyone can benefit from the meditations given here, Buddhist or not. We hope that you find this website useful and that you learn to enjoy the inner peace that comes from meditation

Why Learn to Meditate:
The purpose of meditation is to make our mind calm and peaceful. If our mind is peaceful, we will be free from worries and mental discomfort, and so we will experience true happiness; but if our mind is not peaceful, we will find it very difficult to be happy, even if we are living in the very best conditions. If we train in meditation, our mind will gradually become more and more peaceful, and we will experience a purer and purer form of happiness. Eventually, we will be able to stay happy all the time, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Usually we find it difficult to control our mind. It seems as if our mind is like a balloon in the wind – blown here and there by external circumstances. If things go well, our mind is happy, but if they go badly, it immediately becomes unhappy. For example, if we get what we want, such as a new possession or a new partner, we become excited and cling to them tightly. However, since we cannot have everything we want, and since we will inevitably be separated from the friends and possessions we currently enjoy, this mental stickiness, or attachment, serves only to cause us pain. On the other hand, if we do not get what we want, or if we lose something that we like, we become despondent or irritated. For example, if we are forced to work with a colleague whom we dislike, we will probably become irritated and feel aggrieved, with the result that we will be unable to work with him or her efficiently and our time at work will become stressful and unrewarding.

Such fluctuations of mood arise because we are too closely involved in the external situation. We are like a child making a sandcastle who is excited when it is first made, but who becomes upset when it is destroyed by the incoming tide. By training in meditation, we create an inner space and clarity that enables us to control our mind regardless of the external circumstances. Gradually we develop mental equilibrium, a balanced mind that is happy all the time, rather than an unbalanced mind that oscillates between the extremes of excitement and despondency. If we train in meditation systematically, eventually we will be able to eradicate from our mind the delusions that are the causes of all our problems and suffering. In this way, we will come to experience a permanent inner peace, known as “liberation” or “nirvana”. Then, day and night in life after life, we will experience only peace and happiness.

Length of Time for Meditation
Your objective should be to meditate once a day for a full hour. If you are inspired, you may start immediately at one full hour every day. However, you can begin an effective practice with just 15 minutes (a full 15 minutes!) five days per week. Do not beat yourself up for days you miss. Just wake up 15 minutes earlier than you would and take this time all by yourself. Pray for the grace to fulfill the goals of your meditation practice.

As a beginner, if you find meditation difficult using one of the focus techniques described above, you may use music as your focus. Play the music. Some techniques use soft music. Others use loud music because it vibrates within the body and helps to overwhelm ordinary thinking processes. Keep returning your mind to each note of the music. Do not listen to the melody or structure of the music. Experience it with a “beginners mind” — as if each note were a unique moment of experience. Then, just as with any focus technique, you may notice thoughts, feelings, body sensations, sights, etc. Just let those things be and keep returning your mind to the music.

Set an alarm to sound at the end of your meditation time. Because of the depth of some meditative states (and the risk you may fall asleep as a beginning meditator), the alarm will help you to end your meditation and to accommodate the rest of your daily schedule. To help return from deep meditation, you also may be prepared to play some music that will engage your attention and heighten your awareness out of the meditative state.

Easy steps to start Meditation:

1. Choose a place where you can sit calmly without any disturbance.

2. Sit in any posture in which you can sit comfortably for a longer period, with your hands resting on knees.

3. Keep your spinal column straight ( so that flow of energy may not be disrupted)

4. Close your eyes and try to gaze at the middle of your eyebrows with your eyes closed.

5. Do not force to see any thing, just relax yourself.

6. Flow of thoughts will start coming to your mind which do not arise in normal course. Do not try to stop the flow of thoughts but again try to concentrate and again the flow of thoughts will start and again try to concentrate at the middle of your eyebrows……..

How to MeditateTwo methods of meditation:

People who meditate have long known that this practice has positive health benefits that include improved energy and calmness of mind.

Research shows that meditation also increases levels of melatonin, an important hormone that supports the immune system, promotes deep and restful sleep, slows cell damage and aging, improves energy and may even inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Here are two meditation techniques that are based on those used in research studies. For maximal benefit, try to meditate for twenty minutes to half an hour before you go to sleep using the technique that feels more comfortable for you.

Mindful Meditation

1. Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on the floor with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff. Try to put aside all thoughts of the past and the future and stay in the present.

2. Become aware of your breathing, focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different.

3. Watch every thought come and go, whether it be a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind, don’t ignore or suppress them but simply note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor.

4. If you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughts, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and simply return to your breathing. Remember not to be hard on yourself if this happens.

5. As the time comes to a close, sit for a minute or two, becoming aware of where you are. Get up gradually.

Relaxation Response

1. Find a quiet place and sit in a comfortable position. Try to relax your muscles.

2. Choose a word or phrase that has special meaning to you and makes you feel peaceful. Or you can try the words “Ham Sah,” a Sanskrit mantra meaning “I am that.”

3. As you breathe in, slowly produce the sound “hammm” as if you are sinking into a hot bath. As you exhale, slowly produce the sound “saah,” which should feel like a sigh.

4. Breathe slowly and naturally. Inhale through your nose and pause for a few seconds. Exhale through your mouth, again pausing for a few seconds.

5. Don’t worry about how well you are doing and don’t feel bad if thoughts or feelings intrude. Simply say to yourself “Oh well” and return to your repetition.

6. As the time comes to a close, continue to be aware of your breathing but sit quietly. Becoming aware of where you are, slowly open your eyes and get up gradually.

A Simple Meditation Technique

Make yourself comfortable, sitting upright, with a straight spine. With your eyes closed, look at the point midway between the eyebrows on your forehead.

Inhale slowly, counting to eight. Hold the breath for the same eight counts while concentrating your attention at the point between the eyebrows. Now exhale slowly to the same count of eight. Repeat three to six times.

After inhaling and exhaling completely, as the next breath comes in, mentally say Hong (rhymes with song). Then, as you exhale, mentally say Sau (rhymes with saw). Hong Sau means ‘I am He’ or ‘I am Spirit’. Make no attempt to control your breathing, just let its flow be completely natural. Try to feel that your breath itself is silently making the sounds of Hong and Sau. Initially try to feel the breath at the point where it enters the nostrils.

Be as attentive as possible. If you have difficulty feeling the breath, you can concentrate, for a while, on the breathing process itself, feeling your diaphragm and chest expanding and contracting.

Gradually as you become more calm, try to feel the breath higher and higher in the nose. Be sure that your gaze is kept steady at the point between the eyebrows throughout your practice. Don’t allow your eyes to follow the movement of the breath. If you find that your mind has wandered, simply bring it back to an awareness of the breath and the mantra.

Some Tips to Help Your Meditation

Controlling Your Breath At no time during the practice of this technique should you make any effort to control the breath. Let it flow naturally. Gradually, you may notice that the pauses between the inhalation and exhalation are becoming longer. Enjoy these pauses, for they are a glimpse of the deep peace state of advanced meditation. As you grow very calm you may notice that the breath is becoming so shallow (or the pauses so prolonged) that it hardly seems necessary to breathe at all.

How Long to Practice The amount of time you practice is entirely up to you but end your practice of the technique by taking a deep breath, and exhaling three times. Then, keeping your mind focused and your energy completely internalized and try to feel peace, love and joy within your self. Sit for at least five minutes enjoying the deeply relaxed state you are in.

Where to Meditate If possible, set aside an area that is used only to meditate. This will create a meditative mood. A small room or closet is ideal as long as it can be well ventilated. Your area can be kept very simple all you really need is a chair or small cushion to sit on.

Posture for Meditation There are many ways of sitting that are equally good. You can sit either in a straight-backed chair or on the floor in any of several poses. Two things, however, are essential: Your spine must be straight, and you must be able to relax completely.

Eye Position Focus your attention at the point between the eyebrows. This area, called “the spiritual eye,” is a center of great spiritual energy. Your eyes should be closed and held steady, and looking slightly upwards, as if looking at a point about an arm’s length away and level with the top of your head.

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