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In recent years meditation has become a valuable tool for finding a calm oasis of relaxation and stress relief in a demanding, fast-paced world. We all have the inherent power to meditate, to turn our attention inward and still our mind in meditation.

When we meditate our mind feels spacious and afterwards we feel refreshed and many of our usual problems fall away.

Benefits of Meditation

  • stress management

  • feeling of centredness & balance

  • concentration improved

  • improved function of the immune system

  • decreased anxiety

  • quieter mind

  • increased alertness and more energy

Why meditate?

Meditation brings a sense of fullness and completion and is the only permanent source of tranquility available to human beings. All other forms of serenity are temporary and dissolve into conflict and chaos over time. The euphoria of drugs quickly lead to misery and self-destruction. The wholesomeness of love, so beautiful and ethereal, is a relatively short lived and fleeting experience. As J. Krishnamurti said, meditation brings order and "That order is the order of the universe. It is irrevocable and doesn't depend on anything." Meditation is the eternal essence of nature taking on conscious form within the mortal human frame.

Meditation is an adventure of self-discovery. How can you live without knowing who or what you are? If someone asks you who you are during the day you may state your name, as if a temporary label actually means something important. Ask yourself who you are when you are in deep sleep, unconscious and without even a dream to prove that you exist at all. Ask yourself who you were ten months before you were born and who you will be just one moment after your body dies. Meditation increases awareness of the natural phenomena that is actually going on behind your own eyes. Self-knowledge has intrinsic value, even without the indescribable bliss nature generously unleashes in those who practice meditation with sincerity and patience.

Sitting Meditation

Classic sitting meditation is a vital part of all meditation traditions and has taken many forms, some more effective than others. Some traditional approaches demand that the student sit motionless for hours on end, as if becoming a frozen human statue is the key to enlightenment. A more scientific approach does not make the human body our enemy, but rather works with our natural physiology to allow more intense meditation with less effort and discomfort. Masochism is not an effective path to self-realization.

Begin by finding a relatively quiet place to meditate where you will not be disturbed. All forms of classic sitting meditation should be done in silence with no background music. You can sit cross legged Asian style on a meditation pillow on the floor or use the recliner chair method described below. Eyes may be fully open, half open, or slightly open, letting in just two small slits of light. Meditating with eyes fully closed is fine as long as the room remains brightly lit so that enough light passes through the eyelids to keep your brain alert. Meditating with eyes closed in a darkened room presents fundamental physiological problems.

When you sit quietly with your eyes closed in darkness your brain interprets this situation as a signal to start shutting itself down for sleep. Sleep inducing hormones such as melatonin are released at the same time your circulation and heart rate are reduced due to lack of movement. You feel swept away on a sea of quiet relaxation. This pleasant experience may be light sleep state hypnosis, not meditation at all, and thus does you little more good than taking a nap. Meditation means that you are relaxed as if sleeping, but your consciousness is fully and intensely awake. Therefore, if you meditate with your eyes closed the room must remain very brightly lit so that a significant amount of light passes through the eyelids. I use a bright 500 watt halogen torchiere lamp when I meditate, and this helps keep me alert and awake.

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