MEDITATION 1: WHAT IT IS
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BASIC MEDITATION TECHNIQUES 1: WHAT IT IS
The course is divided into three sections. Section one deals with
what meditation is and how it plays a part in the lives of those who
use it. Section two will go into the techniques and tools of meditation. Section three gives suggestions on how to use what you've
learned, in everyday life. A list of books for further reading on the
subject, will be given at the end of section three.
Webster defines meditation as "The act of meditating; close or con-
tinued thought; the revolving of a subject in the mind."
To meditate is to focusmentally on one thought, idea, or concept.
It may also mean, to revolve an idea in your mind so as to change the
way in which you think of that idea. Meditation is therefore, a tool
with which you may manipulate thought in an organized manner.
Many people view meditationas a very difficult thing to learn. In
reality though, we do it often without even knowing it. When you
daydream or find your mind fixed on one thought, that is a form of
meditation. Have you ever watched a bird in flight, or stared up at
the clouds in the sky, or maybe even found yourself watching a stream
of water flow by? If you have and at that moment the rest of the world
around you has seemed removed, then you were in a state of meditation.
The real key to this practice, is to be able to exercise control over
your thoughts and awareness of the world around you.
There are many groups of people for whom meditation is an everyday
ritual. Others use it at special times as a means of relaxation and
"mental house cleaning." It allows the individual a freedom unlike no
other freedom. The freedom to look inside oneself and learn just who
you are. Some use it as a way of being closer to nature or Goddess. No
matter how you wish to use it, you will find it a healthy and very
Most all religions practice meditation in one way or another.
Eastern philosophies such as Yoga, and Buddism are not the only ones
to view meditation as a way of looking for the Truth found in one's
own consciousness. Even in Christianity meditation finds a place of
value. The Bible itself mentions the value of meditation. In writing
to the Phillippians, the Apostle Paul tells them this. "Finally,
brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever
things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be
any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
So you ask,what can it do for me. Well, beyond just being a good
way to really relax, which we can all use in this hectic world, it can
be a doorway to the truth inside yourself. It is a way of gaining
wisdom. Knowledge has always been fairly easy to come by. Wisdom on
the other hand, is a bit harder to grasp onto.
In "The Task" by William Cowper, the following line is found.
"Knowledge dwells in heads replete with thoughts of other men: Wisdom,
in minds attentive to their own."
For me, meditaion becomes a way of "grounding" myself, of reaching
a place of peace and stability, where I can find how I fit into the
In many philosophies, meditaion is viewed as a necessary skill. All
those who are students of these philosophies must learn the ways of
meditaion early in their training. Although the techniques may vary
from one group to another, the most basic concepts remain the same.
The ability to be able to focus on one thought and selectively block
out all others is the foundation upon which many more advanced skills
will be built. These skills may range from telepathy to the ability to
move objects with only the mind.
It is well known that Yogi adepts can lower their breathing and
heart rates to near death levels. This is something you should not try
as it takes years of practice to learn and can be quite dangerous.
Still, these yogis are proof of the type of power the mind can exer-
cise over the body through meditation.
In some cultures, the use of drugs to achieve a meditative state is
encouraged. The american indians for example, used drugs derived from
various plants to put themselves into an altered state of concious-
ness. This was usually done as a religious practice and as an event
marking the change from one state of life to another. A good example
would be the ceremony marking the coming into manhood of a young boy.
Today there are still many, who advocate the use of drugs to achieve
these altered states. It is my opinion that such measures are neither
necessary nor good. You can reach an altered state of conciousness
without the use of drug induced "highs". It takes practice, but
it can be done.
In New Age philosophy, the art of meditation is highly valued. We
also find another well developed skill which is called "creative
visualization". This is the idea of visualising what you want to the
point of it becoming reality. A good example would be a salesman
visualizing himself as successful and prosperous. The concept is
simple, if you can visualize a personal reality, you can change or
bring that reality into being. "Positive Thinking" is a very
similar idea. The technique of creative visualization goes beyond
positive thinking however. It deals with the premise that we all
create our own reality and therefore have the power to change many
aspects of that reality. The idea of "personal reality" is a lengthy
one and we do not have enough room to cover it in this course.
So far we have looked briefly at what meditation is and how it is
used. By no means have we touched on all the aspects of this practice.
There are many books on the subject which cover it in much more
detail. My purpose is to give you an overview of the many facets of
meditation in the hope that you will wish to learn more.