Meditation is the Holy Grail of inspiration. It can bring peace, wisdom, awareness, stress relief, spiritual growth, connection to God’s will, intuition, purpose, improved physical health, pain management, intelligence and even increased metabolism.
There are countless methods of meditation varying from those which aim to achieve complete lack of conscious thought to those which focus on an intellectual problem to solve. Some methods call for complete stillness, others call for vigorous physical activity. In general, they all aim to exercise some constraint on conscious thought. Here is a general guide to meditation:
The General Meditation Guide
- Bring yourself to an environment where you are free of interruptions or things that may distract you. For some, this will be a place of complete silence and solitude: wilderness, a locked room, a backyard at 5AM. For others, nearby noises can be tuned out as long as they do not require a response.
- Choose a time when you do not have to watch the clock. If you need to set an alarm to avoid missing a responsibility, do so to help prevent you from watching time. Meditation can be effective even in small increments of time, even while waiting at a traffic light, but it is most effective when you can continue until you feel that it is time to stop.
- Position yourself comfortably, but maintain good posture. You want to be able to remain relatively motionless without having to think consciously about your body. Good posture will help you avoid pain or cramping that could distract you. It will also keep you from falling asleep and allow your blood to flow freely which will help maintain optimal brain performance. Some people believe that certain positions allow spiritual energy to flow more freely as well.
- Alternatively, meditation can be achieved while performing repetitive physical action such as walking, running, Thai Chi, etc. In this case, practice and maintain good form and rhythm.
- Begin by concentrating on something simple and repetitive: a mantra, breathing, footsteps if you are walking or running, naturally repetitive, external sounds, such as crickets, repetitive bird sounds, waves of a large body of water, a particular thought. The goal is to occupy your mind to avoid thoughts that ramble and drift. Focusing on something simple and repetitive keeps your conscious mind busy without the assistance of the subconscious. Alternatively, you may choose to focus on becoming hyper-aware of yourself, your body or your surroundings.
- Meditate without a goal. To meditate effectively, we should let go of all expectations, focus on the journey and allow the outcome to be determined free of our conscious thought. We may have a long term goal relating to meditation, but it is almost certain that the result, both short term and long term, will be unexpected, with benefits we had not considered.
- Allow your conscious thoughts to drift away. Do not force them out; instead, acknowledge them and gently let them go. You may experience several thoughts drifting through your mind. Be open to whatever comes, acknowledge it and let it go. Do not focus on any one thought or thread; instead, continue focusing on the simple, repetitive item you started with.
One Experience Transcending Materialism Through Meditation – A Personal Perspective
One method of meditation I have found particularly effective is sitting on the steps of the deck in my back yard at night, repeating a mantra silently in my mind. I allow my thoughts to drift naturally and usually reach a point where I feel as if I am connected to my surroundings. The trees, the loud sounds of frogs, crickets and other various bugs are nearly hypnotic here in the summer. Even the distant sound of traffic seems to meld with the natural sounds.
Sitting at the top of the steps with my back straight and my hands on my knees which are straight out in front of me, I feel as if my consciousness expands beyond my body and that I am everything that I see, hear and breath, and that my body is just a part of me: an avatar. I find myself clearly recognizing that the physical elements that make up my body are the same as those which make up the tree in front of me, the crickets I hear, the air I breath and the stars I see in the sky.
This state of mind leads me to selfless observation of the world around me. Making contributions to the universe becomes more significant than my personal desires, because I recognize that I am connected to the universe. The contributions I make to others, I make to myself. This change in focus brings me more joy than any personal, material desire than I have ever fulfilled.
This method of meditation I frequently use is based on Japa, described by Dr. Wayne Dyer as, “repeating the sound of the name of God as a mantra.” His book, Getting in the Gap: Making Conscious Contact with God Through Meditation, details this method with an accompanying CD.