What is Meditation?
What is meditation? When you ask this question to different people, you will get different answers, as the many reasons as to “what” it is, is as diverse as the people and cultures who practice it and in the vast amounts of ways it is practiced. This serves more often than not to confuse people with these answers and these types of contradictory opinions often mislead people as well, especially those just getting into the practice.The act of Mediation has been used for arguably as long as humans have thrived on this earth. As a trained practice, Meditation has been used for thousands of years in one form or another. Meditation has illuminated our souls, expanded our minds, and creates new and powerful perspectives in our lives.Defining meditation in a few words can be difficult at best. But for the purposes of this course work, we are going to stick to a few of the more common things that most practices have in common. Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a very long and rich history that traces its roots to the Eastern part of the world.
Meditation is generally practiced by most people to increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological and emotional balance, and enhancing overall health and well-being. Meditation is a practice that will take you to a state of mind where only consciousness and awareness will remain, transcending into a state of being. Regular practice of Meditation provides a perspective of inner- peace and wholeness with all of the parts that make you, you. An inner-stillness that provides insight that was not visible to you before. It helps provide a perspective of oneness when looking at the bigger universal picture, that is, we are many individuals making up one living breathing consciousness.
With that being said…One big misconception is that people tend to believe is that meditation has a strictly religious or spiritual connection. That the practice is for those who are exclusive to a particular philosophy or religious slant. This only causes people who could otherwise benefit from its practice to be turned away by these falsehoods. What you need to understand is that meditation does not belong to the monks, the gurus, the strict devotee exclusively and those everyday people can and do enjoy the benefits involved with daily meditation practices.If you are like many of us, it was not an easy task as it can be difficult learning to sit still and focusing on thoughts or no thoughts. If you are committed and disciplined, you will achieve the desired results. Various meditation practices adopt different methods of approach. The basic principles will always remain the same and all good practices will always aim at achieving a state of rumination through contemplation and concentration.There are many types of meditation that you will undoubtedly come across in your travels, but most have a few elements in common: a quiet location with as few distractions as possible; a specific, comfortable posture (sitting, lying down, walking, or in specific advanced positions); concentration and/or contemplation (a specially chosen word or set of words, an object, or the sensations of the breath); and an open attitude (letting distractions and thoughts come and go naturally without judgment).
The incorporation of meditation practice into daily life has brought many people tremendous insight and focus into the nature of their inner selves, the nature of life, a connection to the foundations of the universe. It has been shown to improve mental clarity, emotional balance, overall confidence, and has generally helped people be much more positive inside and out.
Our minds tend to naturally want to wander and move from thought to thought making it very difficult to focus and become aware. We are easily distracted by today’s technologies and the general GO! GO! GO! attitude that is dominant in our modern world. The benefits of simply being aware of the moments in your life and the ability to focus on the important things would be enough for most of us to see a life-changing difference. Meditation does these things for us, it helps us learn how to consciously focus and become aware of the things and people around us moment to moment.
Many believe that meditation also helps with improved creativity, a higher developed intuition, expanded consciousness, improved productivity, improved memory, pain control, more restful sleep, and improved empathy. A quick search on the web yields a ton of results on the benefits of meditation that may or may not be true for everyone, all of the time. The general consensus is, however, that just a few moments a day practicing meditation will change your life in many different areas.
For the body, meditation is reported to have a great many benefits as well. Improvements such as; higher brain capacity and function, better regulation of blood pressure, pain management, better vitality and vigor, longevity, decrease in stress and anxiety-related physical issues, insomnia, and improvement in the nervous system and related functions of the body.
There have been hundreds or more studies done since around the 1950s regarding the mental and physical benefits of meditation. The problems with the studies are for the vast majority of them; it wasn’t that meditation provided no clear benefit in the eyes of medical science, the problems lie with the way that these studies were conducted. We don’t believe that our technology is at a point yet where science has found a suitable way to study meditation with a satisfiable methodology that produces the data needed to prove or disprove.
In other words, the conclusion when looking at the vast majority of these studies finds that the methodologies are flawed, not the results themselves. But all you need to do is ask 50 meditators what has improved in their lives since learning and regularly practicing meditation, to know that meditation vastly improves the everyday lives of those who do so.
It seems like a lot more people today than before, are visiting various physical and mental medicine practitioners in record numbers due to the sheer business of life and all of the chaos, turmoil, and stress that comes along with it all! Research has shown that a huge number of people find it extremely difficult to cope with the stress and strain of this highly demanding world.
When they cannot find a solution to various issues, they inevitably go to qualified professionals for help and that is exactly why they have become inundated with work. We want to point out that these outlets are extremely important for some who need serious help with many different ailments that affect the mind and body. There is no shame in this and their importance should not be discounted!
The following are some quick facts about the effects of stress according to WebMD:
- Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
- The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
A healthy amount of stress is an important part of surviving, as the body assists with those powerful fight-or-flight hormones your body produces which give you that burst of energy, strength, and clarity. These levels can get out of hand, and as such you need to learn to manage them.
A good number of people who seek professional assistance for chronic illness caused by untreated stress, make a positive impact in their lives, studies have shown. But the majority of people are not at the point where serious treatment is needed. Something else to consider: not everyone has access to the types of professionals and treatments needed in some places. That is exactly where meditation steps in. Meditation, along with a healthy diet, exercise, and other tools available to anyone, make a powerful impact when practiced daily.
Here are some of the more personal benefits of Meditation reported by our instructors;
- Improved memory
- Improved self-control
- Improved emotional states
- Improved physical energy
- Clarity of thought
- Clarity of focus
- Improved health
- Awareness of Thoughts and Emotions
- Better Decision Making
- A stronger connection to spiritual self
- Better control of spiritual energies
- Better alertness
- Ability to feel truly rested
- Improved appreciation for little things in life
- Better spiritual senses/intuition
- Improved ability to think creatively
That being said, different meditations improve different things in different ways. Meditations focusing on the vast flow of the universe provide a lot of these results, while meditations on a single point of thought often only help with awareness around that single idea. Some meditations are built for restoring energy and provide better alertness and a feeling of being awake while others provide more health benefits along with physical healing.
We believe that most everyone can and should practice at the very least, basic mindfulness and meditation techniques, no matter how severe or minor your stress and other issues affecting you. The benefits of these techniques are life-changing.
What makes Meditation universally appealing? Meditation makes you mentally, as well as physically, healthy. It influences your mind in a positive manner and when you persevere with practicing meditation, you will be blessed with clarity of thought. You will also notice that much of the harmful stress you experience becomes manageable and less damaging.
Meditation techniques will influence your bodily functions in a positive manner too, such as keeping unwanted stress under control. With effective breath control, your muscle tension will be lowered greatly; your blood flow will get increased, and a deeper level of physical relaxation will become a reality. Meditation has also been linked to improving your immune system and can teach you how to relax your nervous system.
These aspects demonstrate only a fraction of the subtle ways in which meditation works, and why it should be understood more deeply. As we dig deeper into this introductory guide, you will realize that meditation is the best option available to rid ourselves of unwanted worry and stress, which is normally associated with this fast-paced world.
This course and all the materials created for it (to include the workbook) is intended to be a gateway into the practice of meditation. In the coming weeks, we will bring meditation to a place where you will find it useful and beneficial to your life regardless of your religion(s), philosophy(ies), or lack thereof. Mediation is for, and useful to, everyone.
Don’t let success or defeat define your practice, nor some arbitrary number of attempts. Some people need a year to learn basic breathing meditations; others pick those up easily but need a greater amount of time to pick up visualization meditations. If you are putting a meditation down, do so after considerable effort and with a clear understanding of what you are letting go of in terms of what that meditation provides. Likewise, don’t hold to arbitrary numbers in your day to day practice. If you find that five minutes of a clearing meditation is enough, then spend only five minutes. Supposing you find an hour of breath focusing meditations grants you some great benefit then don’t feel you need to stop early.
In going into this, go into it with the confidence that you can learn, and can grow. Too many people start out meditation with a defeatist attitude. Defeat is only certain when you are convinced you must be defeated. Setting yourself up for defeat is a waste of your time, and should be avoided. Instead, go into this knowing some things will come easier than others, but that you ultimately have the power to achieve results with everything in this book. Cultivate the attitude of victory to ensure you achieve it!
So many people, cultures, disciplines, etc. claim the mantle of being “first”. We tend to get so wrapped up in the details that it only serves to muddy the waters for people who are coming to meditation for the first time. In fact, people tend to make meditation seem so complicated when really it is a simple practice that takes a lifetime to master. But it doesn’t take a lifetime to see benefits from. … Continue readingMeditation week 1-History
This is the cyberspace Home of the Knights of Awakening! For years, the KOA has been providing countless hours of conversation, learning, and entertainment on multiple media platforms. Starting out as a single radio show, the KOA has grown to encompass a larger multimedia footprint in the world! … Continue readingHome
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