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What is Meditation and Why Bother?

There are many forms of meditation, each with its own special purpose. Some people say they do not meditate but in point of fact everyone does meditate at some point during the day. Whether is is while walking, exercising, enjoying music, dancing, praying... We all do it.

There are also formal practices of meditation (some are listed on this page). When one engages in a formal meditation practice the results are more predictable, more stress can be released, healing can occur at a deep level and the best part is that spiritual advancement is faster. Click on the area of interest below or just scroll down.

What to Expect from Meditaion
Research has shown the following to be true for people who meditate on a regular basis:

  • Increased peace of mind
  • You will be Calmer
  • Intuitive capabilities will open up
  • it will lower your blood pressure
  • It will reduced your heart rate
  • Your ability to concentrate and focus will improve
  • Your grades and school work will be improved
  • Your moral values will become stronger
  • You will experience a closer connection with nature
  • You will have an increased desire to preserve nature
  • There will be more beauty in your world - things will begin to look shiny and beautiful
  • You will experience improvement in relationships
  • It will be easier for you to see the Truth that pervades all
  • It will improve your discernment abilities
  • You will have a deeper understanding of all that is
  • You will notice the miracles that come into your life every day
Warning: you will get to know yourself

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How to Meditate:
There are many forms of meditation below is one way to do a sitting silent meditation based on the vipassana (Buddhist) style.

Sit with your back straight, in a chair is easiest for most people, with your legs uncrossed, unless you are sitting on the floor. Use a shall or blanket if you like, especially if you get chilled when sitting.

Hold your palms up with the index finger gently touching the end of your thumb. If you had trouble staying grounded then place your hands face doen on your thighs.

It is best NOT to meditate in bed as it is too easy to just fall asleep.

Find a special place. Build an alter (it maybe as simple as a candle), have a special room or chair where you will not be interrupted. Mute the phone, close the door, turn off the TV/radio and be at peace.

Same time every day - first week every morning (allocate 30 minutes), 5 to ground yourself, 20 to meditate and 5 to re ground yourself.

After the first week, meditate twice a day for twenty minutes. After about two years (or when you feel ready) you can change to meditating forty minutes once a day by adding 5 minutes to the morning meditation and taking 5 minutes from the evening meditation. Do this over the course of 6-months or so (or whatever feels right to you). Then meditate for life. The above time line is a general rule of thumb for a first time meditator. Adjust the duration and instructions based on your own past practices.

It is important to have a place and time for your meditations and to make a habit of it. The place and time gets the mind ready for the experience. The habit means you will not forget. It is best to meditate every day but life sometimes does not allow this, so do your best.

First create a ritual to be your process. For now you can use the following as your process:

  • Go to a quiet, special place and ground  (imagine your feet sinking deep into the earth)
  • Light a candle
  • Set the intention to meditate as you light the candle  
  • Sit in posture (see above) and take three deep breaths, very slowly  in and out
  • Say a prayer to set your intention (I wish my mind to be quiet for the next 20 minutes)  
  • Enter a sacred space mentally  
  • Notice the slow in-breath  
  • Notice the slow exhale  
  • After 20 minutes - very slowly come back into the room
  • Re ground

During the Meditation:
Sometimes during meditation, ones mind wanders. If this happens to you then just notice the thoughts and go back to your anchor (breath, mantra, what ever it is). To be alive is to have thoughts. They cannot be "shut off". But we do not have to fololow them. Just notice them then let them go. As you get better at this you will notice the time between throughts will grow longer. This inbetween time is bliss.

Ending the Meditation:
If you come back too quickly or do not ground afterwards you may get a headache and be cranky or experience light headedness. Give yourself time and space.

Meditation is about slowing down and going within - not going to sleep; mentally you will be in a heightened state of awareness not unconsciousness. If you find yourself going to sleep during meditation then you need to get more rest so that you will be able to meditate effectively. That said, some studies have shown that twenty minutes of meditation is worth about two hours of sleep. In today's fast paced world with many stresses pulling on us and sleep depravation prevalent, having a daily meditation practice will help to mitigate the negative affects of everyday modern life.

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Anchors are the focus of a meditation. They can be the breath, a mantra, silence, a mandala, motion, or any thing that keeps the left brain occupied so that the right brain can be receptive.

Types of Anchors:
  • Breath - notice the breath at first, then begin to notice body functions, notice thoughts
  • Silent Prayer - Clear the mind and notice what happens
  • Mantra - this is a repetitive phrase or word (see below)
  • Moving Meditations - waking with purpose, Tai Chi (and many other martial arts), dance
  • Visual journey to a place - like a garden or a beach (you can use prerecorded media for this or create your own journey)
  • Drums and rattles - you can use our own drum or rattle, or use a  tape/CD
  • Music - chanting, Bach, Metaphysical, didgeridoo....
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Mantras are another form of anchor. They bring in the energy of the mantra being chanted. Using modern mantras will create unpredictable results as they do not have the test of time to ascertain their affects. Using established mantras will create predictable results. Use your inner guidance as to which mantra is best for you.

Pronounced 'OM', is a very ancient and sacred sound. It is the all-encompassing, uncreated, unchanging essence. It is the "mind" of the Universe. The original nature of Buddha.

This mantra functions on many levels, below is a rudimentary explanation:
OM, AH and HUM represent the three bodies of Buddha nature. Where OM, is the universe, the universal, the all-encompassing, the uncreated, and/or the unchanging. The "mind" of the Universe. The original nature of Buddha. While AH, is the Truth embodied, the Word and "speech" of the Universe or Dharma. HUM is the fruition, and refers to physical manifestations i.e. the "body" of the Universe or Sangha. SOHA is the termination of the mantra. This mantra is the trinity.

In Buddhism, OM is the universal Buddha mind. It is enlightenment or Nirvana. It is simultaneously the source and the destination of everything. From the center, out to all sorts of individualities and then back to the center again.

AH represents the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (Buddhas to be), such as Shakyamuni Buddha, or Padmasambhava founder of the present day Tibetan Tantric Buddhism.

HUM would be correspondent to Siddhartha Gautama, the human being who became Shakyamuni Buddha, the first incarnated Buddha. It is the fruition, and refers to physical manifestations, i.e. the "body" of the Universe or Sangha.

"SO HA" means something like "amen", "so be it", or "let it be".

Most Tantric mantras have the format of "OM AH HUM SOHA"

OM Mane Padme Hum
Everything has many levels of meaning - those presented here are only one view. Roughly Translated: OM, salutations to The Jewel of Consciousness (the mind) which has reached the heart's lotus.

OM - seed syllable
Mane Padme - "Jewel in the Lotus"
Hum (Sanskrit) / Hung (Tibetan) - seed syllable

The Jewel in the Lotus is frequently taken as a reference to Avalokitesvara (Chinese name), the Bodhisattva of Compassion, known in Tibetan as Chenrezig.

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Meditation Books

There are many books available on meditation. Recommended books can be found at this site on the Meditation Books page.

Dancing Bear's meditation book is currently out of print but a new version will be re-released in 2009.

Recommend a Book Have you read a book that had an impact on your life or that you found particularly enlightening. Please use the Contact Us form and submit your recommendation to Dancing Bear

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