CONTENTS OF THIS PAGE:
The ability to see and think clearly
Medition is not just "relaxation"
Why meditation is much more practical and useful
This should be required, not optional
How useful is it? Really?
I don't have enough time! Vs. You will have more time!
It's too hard! Vs. It's actually easier than not doing it!
The law of mental health
The formula for mental health
The old introduction
The Commitment to "Peace Of Mind"
The Basic Methods
The Learning And Implementation Program
"I think that 'mind coherence' is the most valuable gift you can give yourself. It is true sanity and order, which is the source from which we create our very life at its highest. Incoherence and chaos in the brain are conditions many today are living in, producing unnecessary anxiety and unhappiness. Meditation is the 'training' method for rewiring the brain for calmness and clarity. This is vital to living a great life.
Take the time, as the payoff will be immense, even determinant of the quality of your life."
THE ABILITY TO SEE AND THINK CLEARLY
Yes, there are physical and psychological benefits to meditation, but the greatest benefit of all is to develop the ability to see and think clearly, to such an extent that you do this regardless of the circumstances. With the ability to see and think clearly, you can fully utilize your "inner wisdom" and be "smarter" than you otherwise would be, but without having learned anything new! Without the ability to see and think clearly distractions interrupt your thinking, your logic, and your focus - and consequently you function at a much lower level - not just in operating efficiently but in terms of happiness and a sense of peace.
Imagine looking "into a pool of calm water and seeing your reflection unperturbed. To be distracted is to throw multiple rocks into that pool and see yourself [life, circumstances, etc.] in bits and pieces." (Svinivasan D. Pillay, MD, Life Unlocked)
Seeing life and all that is within it through an "unperturbed" lens, without an obscuring or biasing lens allows for the greatest power you can have in your life - for it is the entrance to seeing what is necessary to learn and to run your life with huge power to create what you want, both outside of you and inside of you.
This is the entryway to all of what I would like to see each reader create of life. Yes, part of it is to "remove those fragmented lenses and filters" to get rid of what gets in the way of seeing and thinking clearly, but the core of it is to develop the ability to see and think clearly in and of itself.
"Calm coherence " might be the term to use to describe this ability to see and think clearly. And perhaps this helps one to "self correct" by recalling calm coherence to contrast it with the fractionated view one has when one feels other than calm. Calm is the emotion where one is not suffering from negative emotion; and negative emotion is virtually always a sign of "lack of proper coherence" (a "screwed up view").
Coherence can be defined as a condition of "sticking together" in a whole that is logically integrated, consistent, and intelligible, clearly articulated. The "sticking together" means "holding together" as if by gravity and consistency, a kind of integrity where everything fits.
This is, I think, the one "condition" (or "way of being") to remind oneself to return to, to affirm as what one wants and as that which works in life.
My "choosing" affirmation: "I choose to live my life in calm coherence as my base to which I return naturally and as needed."
My "being" affirmation, my "reminder" affirmation: "I am calmly coherent."
(This section has been extracted and given its own page: Calm Coherence.)
MEDITATION IS NOT JUST "RELAXATION"
Although it is very useful to be relaxed while meditating and although there are many similar benefits to relaxation, relaxation and meditation are only overlapping practices.
However, meditation is vastly more useful.
WHY MEDITATION IS MUCH MORE PRACTICAL AND USEFUL
Yes, I have oversimplified what meditation was, down to mostly a practice that is physical and concentrating on letting thoughs go. In a slightly different way, my younger friend Alex (see his inquiries under Enlightenment), who "studied" the area, oversimplified it when, after agonizing over it, he once asked me what he could do to make his mind blank. I told him that was impossible and will not likely ever happen (except maybe in Nirvana?). Yes, there are physical benefits to meditation from the relaxing effect (beyond physical relaxation) of meditating, but the primary purpose was originally that of "reflection and contemplation" to gain understanding of one's own emotions and of life. (I am taking some license here in moving from the original wording of the purposes in ancient days: spiritual understanding. I look at "spiritual understanding" as a means to the end, which is to achieve mastery over one's emotions so that one's "spirit" is at peace.)
The "simple" parts of meditation help one to eliminate mental clutter, increase the beneficial ability to focus, to achieve a sense of control over impulses, and starts the rewiring of the brain to be more peaceful (and happier).
The intermediate part of meditation is to actually learn to see you exactly as you are (not the made-up, untrue views) and to not believe one's thoughts as being reality.
And the highest use of all is to focus one's mind on some thought (meaning, beliefs, etc.) that has importance in terms of determining the quality of one's life. This is better done in a meditative state. When it is used in a systematic way to address the highest priority issues, it has a remarkable effect on one's life.
Beliefs that have been misrunning our lives are modified and upgraded. Higher beliefs are "practiced" until they are a new part of oneself. And one gains the ability to meditate in a circumstance in which something fearful is occurring, using it as an opportunity to see what is happening, to stop and meditate immediately to gain new insights and to make new decisions - and to run one's life in a truly "on-purpose" manner.
Managing thoughts is of the highest importance in life because:
THOUGHTS ARE OUR LIVES.
They determine the content and the vary quality of life.
And effective meditation is a key access to dramatically altering our thoughts. That is its highest purpose. See Meditation's Highest Use.
THIS SHOULD BE REQUIRED, NOT OPTIONAL
If you want a happy, satisfied, fulfilled, alive life, then this is a requirement for living that life. If you want to be more productive so that you produce more of what you want in life, even by using up some time, this is a requirement for producing that which you want in life, for creating the life you love and loving the life you live.
Without it, you cannot live at the highest level of life nor benefit most from life.
HOW USEFUL IS IT? REALLY?
The irony: most people understand there are benefits to meditation but most don't do it, thinking it takes too much time or is "too hard". But it's easy and it saves time.
It also has one think more clearly and make better decisions. It increases productivity in all areas of life - emotional, physical, relationships, career, financial. It has one be better able to focus, to get more results more easily and quicker. It reduces sleep. It helps in losing weight and being healthy. It reduces sleep need. It reduces stress, dramatically! It causes one to act more wisely and not by emotional reaction, in addition to calming emotions. It helps peace of mind. It actually physically rewires the brain for more calmness and clarity of thinking. It increases the immune system and lowers (dramatically) the chances of cancer, autoimmune disease, brain aging. It increases personal and working efficiency so much that it requires less time to get a result, saving more time than the amount of time spent meditating.
And it increases happiness dramatically!
I beg you to learn why meditation works and to understand its full benefits so that you can make an intelligent decision, instead of one based on beliefs, lack of knowledge, lack of rigor, and the believed lack of time to even review these!
I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME! VS. YOU WILL HAVE MORE TIME!
Is eating as a practice or sleeping as a practice worth the time? Of course.
Is meditating worth the time?
The answer is not as obvious.
It lies in the realm of "is physical exercise worth the time?"
There is a pile of evidence that prove both are worth it, but we have trouble believing them. But both of those will dramatically change anyone's life for the better, and, if that is true, then doesn't it seem that they would both be worth it?
While it is worth the time in term of raising quality of life and in prolonging life, it actually increases personal and work efficiency to such a degree that one can produce more in less time, even after adding back in the time to meditate.
Oh, incidentally, meditation for one minute even has a high benefit.
IT'S TOO HARD! VS. IT'S ACTUALLY EASIER THAN NOT DOING IT!
Is it actually hard?
Well, admittedly, it does take some effort to exercise, whether it is your body or your mind. But the "net" effort is actually less than not doing it.
For instance, stopping and taking 4 slow deep breaths does take some effort, but not much, I would purport. But, if you took the next hour after the breaths, your body and your mind will actually take less effort to operate, things will be easier and your thoughts will be calmer and/or less tumultuous or stressfu.
DON'T VIOLATE THE LAWS! PLEASE!
Barbara is very knowledgeable and very intelligent. But she describes herself as "driven", as if it is a permanent, unchangeable trait, a description of her basic being (which is not true!). With that "story", she violates the physical laws, running herself ragged at times, always on the go (until collapse, always surging and forgetting to really do the other part: rest and rejuvenate), always on the alert for illusory dangers, always having to be sharp and "up". And she wonders why things aren't working when she is, after all, so wise.
She recently learned how to turn off her fight/flight response with a drug - with an incredible increase in her energy, so she can be on a high and living with great confidence. Yes, that is exciting, but the machinery cannot be run at that pace without side effects and breakdown, as the body is meant to operate in harmony (it a stable state called homeostasis or healthy functioning). On this high, she does not "slow down" or "pace herself", not quieting her thoughts and excess adrenaline, not practicing meditation or its sisters, relaxation and deep breathing. She is like a car with the engine racing.
Meditation is effective because it utilizes the physical laws, the laws of reality that will bring us down to earth if we violate them, just as gravity will. It just isn't as obvious, but it is just as impactful.
THE LAW OF MENTAL HEALTH
I propose that we honor also The Law Of Mental Health:
Happiness and healthy functioning cannot occur in a mind full of stressful thoughts.
The law is unquestionable by any rational person. The only question is how to get there.
THE FORMULA FOR MENTAL HEALTH
I propose that we honor the formula:
I. Control the mind
Train the mind so that it has more muscle and easy habit
Stop toxics from entering/staying
The ability to see clearly what is going on
II. Rework the toxic thoughts, clean them up and out, so less toxics are entering
the brain and so that more homeostasis and positive-chemical-inducing
thoughts are generated. (This is accomplished through having knowledge
to supplement the increased awareness and alertness and so that one can
rework dysfunctional beliefs into reality beliefs. Yes, we want shortcuts,
but they don't work, as the only way out is "through".)
I propose that one without the other is less than one tenth as effective as both together - and my measure of effective lies in producing happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment in life.
THE ORIGINAL INTRODUCTION
Meditation is easy, relaxing, and helps actually rewire the brain for calmness and clarity of thinking. See List of Meditation Benefits. (Also, it could be beneficial to be fully understand the effects of "concentrating" and meditating by reading the piece called The Low Attention Span and The Effect Of Increasing It, which applies to everybody except meditators. Follow what it says and the effect on life is more significant than you'd think.)
However, many people misunderstand it, believing that it is for the Indian gurus and/or one has to eliminate all thoughts (which it was never meant to do, as that is impossible without a lobotomy plus).
Once practiced for a relatively brief period, it can be used with even briefer periods of a minute or two, with immediate effects. It can even be done in the middle of a meeting, with nobody knowing it, but more people wondering how one can be so centered, calm, insightful, and in charge.
All of the major thinkers in the world in this area recommend it - so who are we to argue or think we know better.
But my view is that we need to do a sufficient amount to get at least 80% of the benefits and not make it so difficult or time-consuming. (See www.live8020.com.)
This all ties also into all the methods of "Calming The Mind", which include not one's internal conversation (modifying it rather than "stopping it" or just "identifying the thought"), establishing an excellent philosophy of life, keeping the body in a non-stressed, healthy mode, and excellent life management practices - all of which also determine the quality of life. This is the objective of this site - managing life for maximum enduring deep happiness.
THE COMMITMENT TO "PEACE OF MIND"
The biggest effect is to commit to always keeping oneself in a state of centeredness and calm. Part of that would have to include reminders to keep one aware enough, as one of the keys is noticing at all times what is going on with one's body (and immediately correcting it, like a thermostat that has enough sensitivity not to let the [emotional] temperature get too far out of whack).
THE BASIC METHODS
Basically, the methods are as follows: (Notice that they are strictly designed to "redirect" one's attention to something other than stressful thoughts that do no good to enterain and that all result in a reprogramming of the primitive brain sections to feel safer and set off fewer alarms [which shut down our thinking power]. See Mind Management and the explanation of how the brain works, which is essential understand for this and for life in general.)
I. NOTICING AND FOCUSING ON your breath and/or body. Google "breath awareness". Also, google "deep breathing" for instructions on a variation that is useful.
II. RELAXING THE BODY - So it functions far better than in the tense state - LEARN THESE! (Click on the red underlined link to that section.) Below is only a partial listing. Progressive relaxation - tensing and relaxing - How To Do It .
To put the body in a more efficient, less tense operating condition
Done when one cannot sleep
Optional extra one: "Autogenics" (deep relaxation through having body feel heavy,
III. THINKING ABOUT A TOPIC that is calming, inspiring, meaningful, and/or joyful.
IV. FLOW. Being so caught up in what one is doing that thoughts of oneself disappear. This is when one is sufficiently challenged within one's capability and interested that total involvement occupies the mind entirely. It is a sustained state with no ill after effects, as opposed to addictions.
That's it. Simple. Just a few basic skills available for use in different combinations as you deem fit. And, once learned and practiced, all we need to do is set up times and reminders so that we use this to live a more effective, happier life.
THE LEARNING AND IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAM
1. Buy one of the two books recommended in the Resources For Meditation section. Read the book and read the articles cited above.
2. Download at least 5 of the free meditations from the resources. Put on a CD or
mp3 player, to use any time.
3. Set a commitment for each day on how much you will "meditate", with a
minimum of 1 minute twice a day. Have the CD or mp3 available to make it
4. Get a partner to be accountable with.
5. Practice for at least 21 days. (Consider at least listening to meditation either when
going to sleep or when waking up, with peace.)
6. Put on the calendar to write down when you've completed 21 days how you felt
and whether you were calmer and more grounded or centered.
For going further, use a coach!
1. Use a teacher (local) or, for convenience using the phone, Lisa Hepner at
www.peacefulearth or Nancy Napier (see Meditation Resources).
Depending on your level of commitment, there are two books (one at each level) that you might buy to do this correctly, practitioners who can help you implement it better (with supervision, guidance, and accountability) are listed and there are CD's (or mp3 downloads). See Resources For Meditation. Downloadable meditations of 1 minute to 5 minutes are certainly very easy to fit into the program and it is easy to use one to go to slip to. There is something to fit each level you may choose - and you'll benefit from regular use of either.