WE NEED TO LEARN TO MEDITATE & EVEN MASTER THIS SKILL OF FOCUS & DISCIPLINE WHICH TRANSFORMS ANYONE SO PROFOUNDLY THAT WORDS CAN NOT DESCRIBE.....BLISS IS CLOSE!!!
The basic idea generally associated with why people meditate is that during our day we are constantly subjected to sensory input and our minds are always active in the process of thinking. We read the newspaper, study books, write reports, engage in conversation, solve problems, etc etc. Typically, as we do these normal activities we engage in a constant mental commentary, sort of an inner "The Drama of Me." Usually people aren't fully aware of all the mental thought activity that we are constantly engaged in.
Meditation allows all this activity to settle down, and often results in the mind becoming more peaceful, calm and focused. In essence, meditation allows the awareness to become 'rejuvenated'.
Meditation can be considered a technique, or practice. It usually involves concentrating on an object, such as a flower, a candle, a sound or word, or the breath. Over time, the number of random thoughts occurring diminishes. More importantly, your attachment to these thoughts, and your identification with them, progressively become less. The meditator may get caught up in a thought pattern, but once he/she becomes aware of this, attention is gently brought back to the object of concentration. Meditation can also be objectless, for example consisting of just sitting.
Experiences during meditation probably vary significantly from one individual to another, or at least if different techniques are involved. Relaxation, increased awareness, mental focus and clarity, and a sense of peace are the most common byproducts of meditation. While much has been written about the benefits of meditation, the best attitude is not to have any expectations when practicing. Having a sense of expectation of (positive) results is likely to create unnecessary strain in the practice.
As well, since meditation involves becoming more aware and more sensitive to what is within you, facing unpleasant parts of oneself may well be part of meditation. Regardless of the experience, the meditator should try to be aware of the experience and of any attachment to it.
Failure to experience silence, peace of mind, mental clarity, bliss, or other promoted benefit of meditation is not in itself a sign of incorrect practice or that one can't concentrate properly or concentrate enough to be good at meditation. Whether one experiences peace or bliss is not what is important. What is generally considered important in meditation is that one is regular with their meditation -every day- and that one make a reasonable effort, but not strain, to remain with the object of concentration during the practice. With regular practice one inevitably acquires an increased understanding of and proficiency with the particular meditation technique.
Some people use the formal concentrative meditation as a preliminary step to practicing a mindfulness meditation during the day where one tries to maintain a calm but increased awareness of one's thoughts and actions during the day.
For some people, meditation is primarily a spiritual practice, and in some cases the meditation practice may be closely tied to the practice of a religion such as, for example, Hinduism or Buddhism.
Is meditation different from relaxation, thinking,concentration or self-hypnosis?
Relaxation: Relaxation is a common byproduct of meditation. Relaxation itself can assume many forms, such as taking a hot bath or reclining in the Lazy-boy and watching tv, etc. Meditation is an active process where the meditator remains fully aware of what the awareness is doing. It also attempts to transcend the thought process whereas many forms of relaxation still engage the thought process. Meditation allows the body to relax and can offset the effects of stress both mentally and physically to a potentially much greater degree than passive relaxation.
Thinking: Thoughts generally consume energy in the process of their formation. Constant thought-activity, especially of random nature, can tire the mind and even bring on headache. Meditation attempts to transcend this crude level of thought activity. Through regular practice one becomes aware that they are not their thoughts but that there is an awareness that exists independent of thought. Descartes ("I think, therefore I am") obviously was not a regular meditator!
Concentration: Meditation begins with concentration, but after an initial period of concentration, thought activity decreases and keeping the awareness focused becomes more spontaneous. At this point the person may or may not continue to employ the object of concentration.
Self-hypnosis: Self-hypnosis, like meditation, involves at least an initial period of concentration on an object. However in hypnosis one does not try to maintain an awareness of the here-and-now, or to stay conscious of the process. Instead one essentially enters a sort of semi-conscious trance.
What are the different meditation techniques?
Meditation involves concentrating on something to take our attention beyond the random thought activity that is usually going on in our heads. This can involve a solid object or picture, a mantra, breath, or guided visualization.
Typical objects employed include a candle flame or a flower. Some people use pictures, such as a mandala - a highly colored symmetric painting - or a picture of a spiritual teacher in a high meditative state. Mantras are sounds which have a flowing, meditative quality and may be repeated out loud or inwardly. The breath is also a common focal point. Finally, guided visualization is also considered by some to be a form of meditation. A guided visualization can help to bring one into a meditative state; also, visualization may be used once a meditative state has been reached to produce various results.
What are a the recommended guidelines for meditation?
# It should be done every day, preferably at the same time
# It should preferably be done before a meal rather than after a meal
# A spot should be set aside for meditation, which should be a quiet place and used for nothing but meditation
# One should sit with the spine straight and vertical (a chair is ok to use)
When I meditate I experience physical pain in my body. What should I do?
The point of practicing meditation is to develop mindfulness. The object of meditation isn't all that important, although the breath is a good object since it is always available, simple and peaceful.
But if it's difficult for any reason or something like pain comes up, then focusing on that is possible too. The practice of walking meditation (paying attention to the sensations at the feet as you walk from one point to another and then back again) is also very good and can be mixed in with sitting meditation over a period of an hour (35 mins sitting 25 minutes walking, say).
Sensations (itching/aches/pains) can arise in the body when meditating for several reasons. Sometimes the cause is just an uncomfortable posture--make sure that your posture is comfortable under normal circumstances. Other times the cause is that sensations in the body are more noticeable in meditation. The body and mind are calmer and you are able to notice more details in your bodily experience. It is often interesting to simply observe these sensations in your body : to use them as the objects of meditation. Sometimes these sensations just go away without your having to move or change your posture. Remember that a quiet body contributes to a quiet mind.