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    - commune with yourself!

Meditation is a technique to help us relax, relieve stress and be in touch with our own essential selves and our own wisdom.

"As one lamp serves to dispel a thousand years of darkness, so one flash of wisdom destroys ten thousand years of ignorance." Zen quote

Meditation is a way to bring us back in contact with ourselves. Life is so busy. From the moment we are born we are busy being socialised into our particular social setting. What happens in our early life to a very great extent determines who we think we are. Even the language we learn to a great extent shapes us. People tell us who we are and if we are told it often enough we begin to believe it. Sometimes we develop a 'false self concept' because of this. We can believe we are this particular person and that we must remain as that person or we will be letting ourselves and others down. It can become very stressful.

Life is stressful and the more modern technology we have the more stressful it seems to become. Meditation offers a way out of this. It offers a way to quiet the constant chatter we have with ourselves, a way back inside to become centred and in touch with ourselves.

So often we are living in yesterday or tomorrow or even ten minutes from now. Meditation is a way of bringing ourselves here into the now, so that we may experience ourselves exactly as we are and we may experience what is going on as it is.

A simple form of meditation is as follows:

Kneel or sit cross legged with a cushion for support or if you find that uncomfortable sit in a comfortable chair. There is really no reason why you cannot meditate even lying down - though if you fall asleep, you will miss the experience! Assuming you are sitting, put your hands comfortably on your legs, palms up. For some reason this gesture seems to help the flow of energy within you. Just sit there for a minute or two and feel what your body feels like. Notice any tension and try to relax into that spot and accept it. After a couple of minutes, concentrate on your breathing. Don't try to change your breathing, just be with it, experience it and stay in this moment. Be aware of any feelings you experience but just experience them. There is no need to analyse them, just allow what is. If you notice yourself thinking, just bring yourself back to your breathing. Try this for ten minutes.

Many people find that when they first try to sit simply listening to their own breathing that it is very difficult to do. Really this is simply because we are all so used to our minds racing. When we meditate we begin to live in the present. We tend to live either in the past or worrying about the future and by so doing we miss out on the very moment we are living. Whatever we do, be it washing the dishes, talking with a friend, having an argument or making love, the goal of meditation is to bring us fully into that moment so that we can experience it most fully. Far from putting us into some kind of trance like state as some people imagine, meditation is a vehicle to help us be truly alive and experience life as it is happening.

Most towns and cities offer places where you can go to meditate nowadays and there are also some very helpful CD's and programs. I would recommend Mindfulness Meditationby John Kabat-Zimm. He has a very down to earth way of teaching meditation, without religion, and yet it is in that very down to earthness that we can most easily become in touch with ourselves. Highly recommended.

My favourite book on meditation at the moment is Buddhism without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor.

See also Quieting the Mind, opening the Heart  

      Meditate to unlock your hidden Potential Part 1

      Meditate to unlock your hidden Potential Part 2


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