MEDITATION IN A NUTSHELL

So it’s 2018, by now you’ve heard of meditation and or mindfulness. If you haven’t take a look around, it’s in the news, social media, churches, and, even a few open-minded schools. You may ask yourself why, what benefits are there, how is it done? There are many styles and many more schools, each trying to push it’s favorite version as the the right one. So let’s dive into meditation and a little rundown on it. Let’s look into why people meditate.

Most meditators would answer the question of “Why meditate?” with a Morpheus style “Welcome to the desert of the real” type monologue. One only needs to glance at the world in which we live to see, war, poverty, hatred, violence, and on and on. We live in a world of fast paced information driven, full of disappointments, and a generally pervasive malice. Why it gotta be like that… Like most things stuff gets in a position of lameness due to good intentions and a series of compromises. Does meditation end all of these things, sadly, no. Meditation in no direct way could or would save the world, even if everyone started a meditation practice today. So if it doesn’t save the world, what the hell good is it, and why should I do it?

pexels-photo-823694.jpeg

Meditation can give you powers, what powers you ask, how about the power to kill a yak… with mind bullets!! Obviously that isn’t true, but you were buying it for a minute it’s okay to admit it. All joking aside meditation has many life changing benefits backed science. Meditators experience 50% less illness, this is due to the boost the immune system experiences thanks to the decreased stress levels. 30% of meditators experience decreased anxiety, and 65% stated an increase in the feeling of well being. Meditation has been proven to cause a reduction in the size of the amygdala which is the area of the brain that is active in the famed “fight or flight” response. With reduced amygdala also comes less fear based impulsive behavior. As a meditator. with 9 years at it, there are benefits which cannot be quantified. There arises a base level of joy, it’s weird and hard to explain but it is just a hanging positive vibe. Even though I have perfected 0 meditation practices, there is still this amazing amount of focus. Like having exercised a muscle the focus gets stronger in short order. You will notice an increase in your compassion and empathy towards others as well as towards yourself. Something about getting to know the way you tick helps you to understand the way everyone else ticks. And once you know that how mad can you really get a someone else, even if they screw up? So let’s get into the how of the thing.

monk-hands-faith-person-45178.jpeg

How does one meditate? I’m sure you envisioned some old guy, with a dope fu manchu, robes, and, a bald head. First off that’s profiling, and profiling is wrong… Just kidding things like that mental image come to mind when we think of meditation because that is the image we are fed by movies and it’s just not true. Yes there are sects of hermits that hide away in mountain cave and monasteries spending nearly every waking minute devoted to the practice of meditation. Most simplistically you can perform a serenity meditation (or as Buddhists, the O.G.s of meditation, call it Samatha for more check out the link). To do this style of meditation find a straight backed chair, one which you can sit with nice straight backed posture. The straighter your back the less fatigue you will feel. Or if you’d like to get even more traditional you can sit on the floor. If you choose to sit on the floor you’ll want to use a rolled up pillow or blankets to key your buns elevated above your knees, as for your legs any variation of cross legged posture you find comfortable will do. Play around with cushion configurations until you find the winner, everyone is different but if you’re willing you’ll find the winning combo. I prefer to take a bed pillow and roll it up, it sounds weird but it works for me. Once you’ve found a cozy little spot it’s time to get on the brain work. Your eyes can be open or half closed which ever you find more comfortable. Now breathe where do you feel your breath? Some answer under the nose, or the upper lip, still others find the rise and fall sensation of the diaphragm more noticeable, again it’s all about what works best for you. And… that’s it, set yourself a timer so you don’t stay too long, and just focus on that sensation in and out… in and out… or rise and fall lather, rinse, repeat. I know it sounds simple but the results are no less than profound. Let’s get mindful!

pexels-photo-542705.jpeg

Mindfulness is a little different from Serenity meditation in a few key ways but is no less profound in it’s effects. First, Mindfulness meditation has a few names. Mindfulness, Insight, or, Vipasana are all synonymous(for more on Vipassana check out the link). To practice mindfulness there really are no prerequisites. You merely need to pay attention to your senses and what arises you make a mental note. When you’re walking “left, right, etc”, when thinking “thinking”. The key is to keep the notes very vanilla and don’t attach to any one of them. The purpose is to build up a more objective point of view. For some this style is easier as it is more mobile and it can be taken any where. For others this method is too dry, it really comes down to you and your temperament and mental strengths. This article is just to pique your interests, and provide a little background knowledge

Sign up below to become one of the Unusuals

Sign up to get special offers and updates from ya Unusual Boi

Whether you seek to follow meditation to the point of Enlightenment or you just want to start a mental hygiene practice. Meditation has the ability to completely change your life for the better. It isn’t about morals or ethics but leads to a more moral and ethical individuals. You may catch some static from Christians stuck in the old way of things but you aren’t doing this for them. So stay strong, build that practice, and THRIVE!!

Remember it’s your practice own it!

By J.Martin

 

Advertisements

Samatha

The first stop on the meditation tour is Samatha or serenity meditation. The goal is to focus on the breath.

So take a seated position of comfort either in a chair or on the floor. Be sure your back is straight, posture is important. I personally roll up a pillow, towel, or blanket if I’m going to be sitting on the floor. It’s good to have your buns higher than your knees to avoid back pain

For hand placement I was taught to place the hands palms up right hand on the bottom left hand on top, thumbs gently touching, the idea being you could slide a piece of paper between them. Honestly the exact placement isn’t really what is important what is important is to place the palms up as this is a “receptive” gesture. Think of it as part of opening up.

Now comes the fun part, the mind and where to place it’s focus. The main key here is to focus on the sensation of the breath and it’s rise and fall. All breathing should be from through the nose. Some focus on the space under the nostrils, some choose the tip of the nose (generally inhalation causes a cold sensation, where exhalation causes a warm sensation), still others choose the rise and fall sensation of the diaphragm (this is my preference as I can feel a rise and a fall specifically). Amongst those 3 take your pick or try them all. Go for what sticks out to you as pertaining to the breath.

At this point some choose to count breaths stopping at 10 and counting over again. I find that too tedious myself but this exercise is about you not me. For the time set a gentle timer, or just wing it. 5 minutes is just the beginning if you feel like you can do more please do.

Inevitably you will ‘lose’ the breath from time to time. Just gently redirect your mind to the sensation of the breath. My master used to say training the mind is like training a puppy at the end of it you want to be on good terms with it. Enjoy!

Meditation: A crude overview

Let’s talk meditation. Some folks are rocking some serious misconceptions about it. There are many types and styles with endless variations in between whether you count breaths while passing beads through your fingers, imagine yourself in a serene place, or focus on each moment of experience to it’s very edges; just know there is no right or wrong, the goal is a healthy introspective view. Rather than break down all the individual styles that there are in the world, which would most likely occupy the rest of this current lifetime, we will discuss the 2 main styles that are in use in Buddhism, Samadhi and Vippassana.

Samadhi, this is the stereotypical image of a bald man sitting cross-legged and possibly hovering with laser beams coming from his head or something similar. Many think the Buddha himself “invented” this kind of meditation. While he did use it frequently he by no means invented it. Samadhi (sitting quietly with your bare awareness) has been practiced going as far back to the Indus River Valley people, well before the time of the Buddha. He did teach it, use it, master it, and advocate it’s usage. The practice of Samadhi is awesome in it’s deceptive simplicity, and it can be used by those in really any religion or school secularly or theistically. Samadhi is conducted generally in a seated position, it can be in a straight back chair or on the floor. You can have your eyes closed or half opened. The goal here is not to just close your eyes and space out, quite the contrary in fact, we want to focus on the breath. The breathing here is done through the nose, and the focus is on the physical sensation of the breath, either on the rise and fall of the chest, or on the feeling of the breath touching the upper lip just under the nose. Sounds simple enough if you haven’t attempted it. For those of you who have in it is quite the endeavor. Now when the mind begins to wander, and it always does, we must bring our mind back to the object of meditation, in this case the breath. A really good analogy is that of striking a bell. We initially apply our mind to the object of meditation, like striking a bell, then we hang out there as long as possible, the reverberations of the bell. Our goal is to stay in the reverberations as long as possible, without of course losing our jobs.

In the opposing corner wearing the dark brown robes… we have Vippassana.

Vippassana meditation, sometimes known as Insight meditation, is a bit tougher for some. This involves conducting ones normal activities while intensely focusing on the thoughts and sensations that arise along the way. Here we are fully engrossing ourselves in the present moment, how it feels, how it smells, tastes etc. When thoughts arise we trace the line of thoughts this one leading to that, which led to that and so on. None of the sensations or thoughts are to be clung to of course. Here we merely label them mentally and move on. So if you have a paper to write how does the pen feel in your hand? How does the paper smell? What does the environment sound like? Using all your senses experience all of the moment one moment at a time, then let it go like a boss! This style of meditation has been credited as an invention of the Buddha’s and in some schools of thought is the only path leading to Enlightenment. I’m not sure I agree with that, but that’s a blog post for another day.

This is a rough guide and may have told you some things you already knew. Just a rough overview to spark some interest.

My goal here is to mostly whet your appetite for the meditative arts. Take this a a small starting point and read up, and most importantly practice. You’ll be surprised at what you find. It’s your practice, own it!

-TUB