A countless amount of people through many centuries have practiced meditation for peace of mind and health of body. When searching Google, the search engine lists about 55 million results for the word “meditation.”
How can someone like you and me learn about such a useful topic when it is so vast?
There are 206 bones in our bodies along with countless tissues, ligaments, muscles, brain cells, and other parts of the body that many everyday people don’t know about. However, an ordinary person knows enough about his or her body in order to continue to breathe and to walk from here to there.
We know about our bodies because we live in them.
Here is a practical and simple way to learn needed information about meditation by living with it for a couple of months. Many people find that daily meditation (keep in mind its practical) is able to help them stay rested, energized, alert, and calm so that day to day life so be happy and worth living.
Though meditation isn’t your one way ticket to nirvana, nor self-hypnosis, it has proven to be very helpful. However, meditation is much more than reading literature that inspires or talking to yourself.
What exactly is meditation?
Before you start, choose a word of your own. Try to pick a word that has two or three syllables that has no literal meaning to you. It doesn’t even have to be a real word. But make sure that the word you choose is the word you use each time you meditate.
Making up the word on your own is fun. You can easily make a word by combining random index syllables that you’d find in a phone book. For example, words like ohana, renkah, and granal are words that you can use. If you don’t think you can make a word, find a meditation teacher that can help you.
When you have the word you want to say, do these few things:
1. Sit comfortably.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Think of the word to yourself in your mind. Repeat the word. (Make sure you take your time.) Keep repeating the word over and over.
4. You will probably notice that you are thinking about something other than the world. Without getting mad at yourself, begin thinking about your word again.
5. After 20 minutes or so, stop thinking of the word, open your eyes, and congratulate yourself.
Make sure that you do this practice once of twice a day for about 100 days. On day 100, ask yourself how you feel.
Does your mind feel clear? Is your emotional stamina approved? Would you like to continue meditating after these 100 days?
And that’s it!
The rest is nothing but commentary.
Q. What if I experience feelings I normally don’t? – Vivid mental pictures, or moments where my mind seems to be blank?
A. All you can do is let these experiences come and go as they do. They aren’t the object of meditation, just the scenery. Meditate as if you are a mountain.
A mountain wears and reflects all of the ever-changing scenery on its face. This includes the sun, moon, rivers, trees, fields, snow, wind, and so much more. However, the mountain pays no attention to these. It does nothing but sit.
Q. What is I experience uncomfortable or unusual side-effects of after-effects?
A. If you’ve ever learned to play table tennis, or ping pong, you have found that looking at a white ball that bounces back and forth has probably made you a little dizzy, given you a headache, or even given you a mood swing that you naturally wouldn’t have. You would probably want to speak to a doctor or psychologist.
However, this is very unlikely. It is also unlikely that you well experience anything like this because of meditation. If you do, use something called common sense and stop meditating and see what you can do to fix the problem. You can even speak to someone about it if you are worried.
Q. Do I need a special mantra of my own? Does it need to be assigned by an expert?
A. One day in the future, some specialist in behavioral psychology and brain neurology who does studies on meditation might be able to give you a scientific answer. For now, studies say no. You can pick the word you want.
More than 35 years ago, Dr. Herbert Benson described a clinically detectable response that is triggered by meditation practices. In his book, “The Relaxation Response,” Benson recommends that the meditator pick his or her own focus word.
Patricia Carrington, Ph.D., the author of “Freedom in Meditation,” is a psychologist who has taught meditation since the early 1970s in order to study the outcomes of it. She calls it the Clinically Standardized Meditation.
A guru from India who was able to help her with her research was able to show that the choice of a mantra is not crucial to the overall outcome of meditation.
Master Seung Sah, a distinguished Korean American Zen teacher, has founded many Zen centers around the world. He even claimed that something like coca-cola will work as a mantra.
Simply, it’s not the word that you choose, it’s what you do with the word.
Q. How does meditation fit with prayer and religious devotion?
A. Though meditation is not religious in itself, many people have found that it is able to make their mind as well as their emotions much more responsive to things such as religious contemplation and prayer.
If your religious teacher objects meditation, you have to deal with it with common sense. There is definitely no quick answer.
Q. How meditation fit with psychotherapy?
A. Therapists have reported that meditation, and things similar to it have been able to help their patients’ progress in their treatment.
Some psychiatric patients react badly to meditation, just as they would react to different types of therapies –as they react to life. A psychiatric patient should inform his or her therapist before using meditation.
Q. Is it worth the time and discipline to learn a practice like this?
A. Though many have said it, meditation is not a hard practice to do.
Sleeping and eating aren’t hard things to do, though Google will list millions of websites for you to read about food and sleeping. It’s very simple to take a nap and eat an apple.
Meditation is simple too. Go back to the beginning and count. Each session you have to do is just five steps. You don’t have to have a textbook or computer to learn how to meditate.
As Zen says, eat when you’re hungry and drink when you’re thirsty – meditate if it makes you feel good.