December 13, 2013
And Meditation For All
For quite some time now, I have been interested in formal meditation. I do have my own Rayshell-version of meditation, but I figured it was time I learned more about meditation from experts and practitioners in order to enhance my meditation. I want my meditation to be as fruitful and beneficial as possible. I meditate to help me connect my mind, body, and soul. I meditate to help me with stress and anxiety and overworking. I meditate to feel the calm of the world. I meditate because I feel better afterwards.
I do not meditate for religious reasons; that is to say, meditation is very much about me and the here-and-now. I do feel spiritual benefits, but even my spirituality is less religious than it is simply connecting with Nature and my surroundings. I include this because meditation for me is about health and Nature not religion.
So, I figured perhaps redOrbit readers would like to know about meditation from one practitioner who focuses not on the spiritual side, but on the personal one. I found this really great article on The Huffington Post with just such an individual, Sam Harris. Harris explains how to engage in mindfulness meditation, which is less spiritual than other forms. He says this form of meditation is good for scientists, secularists, and nonbelievers because it really focuses on the individual. Here’s the process he suggests:
Sit comfortably, with your spine erect, either in chair or cross-legged on a cushion.
Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and feel the points of contact between your body and the chair or floor. Notice the sensations associated with sitting–feelings of pressure, warmth, tingling, vibration, etc.
Gradually become aware of the process of breathing. Pay attention to wherever you feel the breath most clearly–either at the nostrils, or in the rising and falling your abdomen.
Allow your attention to rest in the mere sensation of breathing. (There is no need to control your breath. Just let it come and go naturally.)
Every time your mind wanders in thought, gently return it to the sensation of breathing.
As you focus on the breath, you will notice that other perceptions and sensations continue to appear: sounds, feelings in the body, emotions, etc. Simply notice these phenomena as they emerge in the field of awareness, and then return to the sensation of breathing.
The moment you observe that you have been lost in thought, notice the present thought itself as an object of consciousness. Then return your attention to the breath–or to whatever sounds or sensations arise in the next moment.
Continue in this way until you can merely witness all objects of consciousness–sights, sounds, sensations, emotions, and even thoughts themselves–as they arise and pass away.
This very much reflects the type of meditation I do although I add in an awareness of Nature. Mindfulness mediation is an act that redOrbit found helps greatly with anxiety. In fact, the redOrbit article says that the study of mindfulness meditation found it reduced anxiety up to 39 percent in the participants.
In a different redOrbit article, another study showed that meditation might help freshmen college students: “the team noted the effect of the meditation was stronger in classes containing a higher percentage of freshmen students. As they claim, this may show meditation may be more beneficial to members of a freshmen class as courses geared to this class will more likely contain students for whom the benefit of meditative training is greater.”
Yes, meditation may have a history with religion, but those of us who do it without the religion can still reap the benefits. We can still find peace and calm even without the Buddha or whichever deity. Scientists, secularists, nonbelievers, and spiritualists without the confines of religious dogma can have healthy meditative lives as well.
And for those of us who are religious, meditation naturally fits in with many faiths: Buddhism, Hindu, Christianity, Jewish, Islam, and many, many others. For religions, meditation and prayer work similarly.
So, what is keeping us from trying out specific meditation practices?
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