document is an excerpt from "Yoga & Meditation " found at www.crha-health.ab.ca
It is written to give newcomers an idea of just what meditation is and to give
tips on how to meditate. We are grateful for their presence on the www.)
What is Meditation?
Meditation is not a religion but rather a technique for coming to know yourself on all levels, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Meditation does not belong to any one culture or religion of the world. In the past 20 years, it has become an increasingly familiar word in our vocabulary. Many physicians, psychologists and other health care professionals endorse meditation as a powerful tool for relieving stress, maintaining health and promoting creativity and vitality. Meditation is a powerful technique which anyone can learn to use to increase their physical well-being, clarity of mind, and awareness of the most subtle levels of their being. A person can learn to create stillness of body and mind and come to notice the many benefits of this stillness. Meditation can give a person the capacity to improve their health, their relationships and their skill in many of their activities.
Some people mistakenly use the word “meditate” to mean thinking or contemplating. Others refer to a state of mind such as daydreaming. It is none of these states. Rather meditation is a specific technique for completely resting the mind and therefore attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different than the normal waking state. Prolonged unbroken concentration leads to the state of meditation. Concentration makes the mind one-pointed, focused and steady. Meditation expands the one-pointed mind to the "super-conscious" state. This 'super conscious" state is more than the conscious and the subconscious levels of one’s mind. Put another way, meditation is the uninterrupted flow of the mind towards one object or concept, and with this flow comes intuitive knowledge. The regular practice of meditation is very therapeutic. It helps relax the tensions of the larger and smaller muscles as well as the nervous system. It provides freedom from harmful mental stress. With meditation, a person can attain a tranquil mind, which helps the immune system and its reaction to stress and strain.
How Does a Person Meditate?
Just as there are many different paths a person can take to climb a mountain, there is a wide variety of meditation practices or techniques. They all have the same goal, however. That goal is to achieve a state of inner calmness, concentration and serenity with the eventual knowledge of one’s true nature.
The following steps are techniques from the Himalayan Raja Yoga tradition. The practice of this yoga tradition should follow the sequence indicated. This technique is described here as an example.
Preliminary Steps to Meditation:
Ø Establish a helpful frame of mind where your mind is pleasant and not angry.
Ø Go through a process of relaxing the tensions present in your mind and your body.
Ø Learn how to sit in a comfortable and steady position for meditation. No matter what comfortable position you choose, your head, neck and trunk must be straight
Ø Establish an even breathing pattern with no jerks or pauses, and use your diaphragm to breathe deeply. The diaphragm is muscle under the lungs that contracts as you are breathing in.
Ø Draw your mind inward, releasing your senses from the external world so that you are experiencing only the present moment.
Ø Focus your mind - make it "one-pointed" and concentrate on a sound or object. Synchronize your breath with the sound if you are listening to, or chanting, a mantra. Remember to keep your breath even and use your diaphragm to draw deep easy breaths.
Prolonged and uninterrupted concentration is essential for meditation so make sure you set aside enough time to take yourself away from the tensions of the normal waking state and into the deep relaxed meditative state. Try to anticipate and remove any possible interruptions before you begin your session.
The following tips will help to prepare you for meditation:
establishing the same place at around the same time each day
not eating for 3 - 4 hours before meditating
developing the habit of monitoring and inspecting the quality of your thoughts on a regular basis.
You can then learn to promote and strengthen those thoughts that are positive and helpful to your growth.
Useful references on yoga and meditation:
Psychotherapy East and West: A Unifying Paradigm , by Dr. Ajaya Swami. Copyright (1983) by The Himalayan Institute of Yoga Svinci and Philosophy, Honesdale, Pennsylvania.
Meditation and Its Practice, written by Rama Swami. Copyright (1992) by The Himalayan Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy, Honesdale, Pennsylvania.
Lectures on Yoga, written by Rama Swami. Copyright (1979) by The Himalayan Institute of Yoga Svinci and Philosophy, Honesdale, Pennsylvania.
This information is of a general nature and may vary according to your special circumstances. If you have specific questions, please contact your physician or an appropriate health care professional.
CRHA Education Services
Reviewed July 2000
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