What is Meditation
What is meditation
Meditation is a mental state of thoughtless awareness. This is a mental state, which means it can be reached regardless of what you are doing. It is recommended though to do nothing if you are just starting. Any distractions will block your efforts to reaach it.
This thoughtless awareness state, when reached, leads to having a quiet and silent mind while being completely alert. It's like sleeping while you're still completely alert.
A lot of people confuse meditation with concentration. It's totally the opposite. To concentrate you're using your mind, while in meditation is silencing it. Concentration is a mental effort, while meditation is complete relaxation. It's a "thoughtless" state.
Thoughtless awareness aims at reducing the mind activities that cuase stress while keeping the alrtness at a high level. It's about keeping the mind in the present moment rather than regreting the past or worring about the future. It's like "hakona matata" in the kid's movie Lion King, except that it's not escaping from responsibilities, rather it's accepting them and bringing the awareness to one's abilities and limitations while at the same time accepting them.
If achieved, the meditative leads to ones separation between what is original you and what you've accumulated and added up to you over the years. Talking about you as a mental body, you accumulated knowledge and experience over the years. This collectively is called cognetive structure. Having this cognetive built with you all the time is what makes you YOU. What you need is the awareness of the difference between what is YOU and what is YOURS (experience, knowledge, believes .. etc).
Pondering upton something or imagining a certain picture while closing your eyes is not meditation either. Your mind should be blank.
Benefits of Meditation
I'll be listing my personal benefits of meditation first, then some of the universal ones that everyone is telling you about.
My first benefit of meditation is to be able to accepts things the way they are without judging. Once you strip your mind of all the accumulated believes over the years you can reach the point of accepting things without passing any judgements. They are not good, they are not bad, this is what they are. Once I reached that I was able to deal with everything without stressing. All of stresses in your life can be not stressful at all if you accept them as just things. Deal with them and stop complaining.
When I learned about the death of my father I was in a deep state of sadness, especially that I was thousands of miles away and couldnt do anything to save his life. It became worse when I learned that he had stroke and that I could have helped him through it if I was around. That experience at the time destroyed me. 4 years later I went through losing my marriage and my kids, my job, my home, that's almost everything a man has. Yet it didn't destroy me. I started a business, one of my kids came back to live with me, my wife (still married to each other but separated) started to appreciate my point ... I literally started from zero and with little stress. And all of that is due to the fact that I now see things as things without any descriptive words attached to them. Like: I am jobless, not poor jobless, ok let me act upon it. My choices are finding a new job or starting the business like I always dreamed as a kid.
That was my greatest benefit from meditation.
I also used to have memory problems. Until the end of my twinties I used to have a really strong memory in terms of numbers, names/faces, information, maps, anything you can imagine. My memory capacity started to go down until I reached a point of having a serious argument with my wife about things she says I approved or requested while I can not remember anything about those. I thought that this is it. I have alzehimer too early. After I started gaining the benefit from meditation I realized what was the problem. I wasn't paying attention while making those request or approving those things my wife says I did. With the clear mind and the strong awareness of my surroundings I can remember everything because I am paying enough attention. I wish I learned about meditation earlier, I wouldn't have to go through the broken marriage I have right now.
Other benefits are health related. My blood pressure was all the time high, even with the medication. Now I am able to control my desires to each certain salty and spicey foods, together with my control overy my stress levels, my blood pressure is under control. Still taking the medication, but at least it works now. Before that I was catching myself eating things I am not supposed to. Now I am aware of my decisions and can make healthier choices due to my increased awareness.
How to get into the meditative state
Getting into this state of thoughtless awareness is the obstacle between a beginner and meditating. Maintaining it is another story.
As recommended by the Buddhist center, reading about meditation can not replace learning from a guide, a teacher.
One way to get there is to let the set in an upright comfortable position, relax, and let the thoughts come and go to your mind without focusing on them. Do not try to think about these thoughts. Just let them come and go until you reach a state where you don't have any thoughts. This is the point you need to reach. This is how I do it. I am not trying to imply that this is the way, I am only saying this is my way.
Maintaining this state of thoughtless awareness needs more practice.
How to meditate
Here is the thing. I didn't start meditation the traditional way. I actually tried a dozen of times, and every time I fail miserably. The main reason I never attained the state of meditation despite all of my numerous trials is that I didn't know what it looks like to be in the meditative state. So I was like looking for something that I have vague description of and had never met myself.
That was it until I read an article about brain waves and how they change on the course of the day. I also learned more about brain waves from my sleeping disorders doctor (boy I needed a mobile hospital back then to keep my company). So I did more research and learned more about brain waves.
That was my introduction to know what brain waves are produced by the brain when I am sleeping, awake, and meditating. It turned out that brain waves can be controlled via audiotherapy. That was when I started searching for tracks and music that could help induce this kind of waves. And I found two products that provide this type of sound tracks to use. I used one of them and it was my first experience of meditative state without trying to stay awake while blanking my mind.
After I learned how meditation looked like it was easy for me to achieve it and maintine it on my own.
The two products are:
Center point, a product of Bill Harris, has been around since the early eighties and it was the one I used to achieve the meditative state guided by his tracks. On its own it works too, I can see the difference between my daughters performance at the beginning of the school year (where everyone in her school was complaining) and now we're close to the end getting praised by her class teacher and other special education teacher, while expecting her final report card for the year. Even her behaviour at home improved dramatically, although she doesn't know how to meditate yet. But she gets the benefits of adjusting her brain waves through Center Point tracks.
This one costs $170 and is accessible online. It also needs a good headset to work because you need to hear different sounds from each ear so that it works.
Alpha mind is another product that came out very recently. It uses the same concepts and is backed with a team of scientists and physicians. It costs $130.
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