Why Choose Ascension
Six things to Consider When Learning to Meditate
What comes to your mind when you think of meditation?
For most people, it is visions of eastern sages in Himalayan caves who have renounced the world. For others, it is something only for hippies or lost ‘New Agers’ who have no grip on reality at all. Perhaps it is references to a famous meditation teacher, Mindfulness meditation or guided meditation that immediately come to mind.
Meditation for beginners seems so difficult to find. In fact, meditation and meditation techniques seem so complicated, where should one even start? Does the ancient art of navel-gazing have any real purpose? Is it something which would bring benefits to everyone? The answer is most assuredly YES. Meditation is sorely misunderstood and misrepresented in our society. As a result, it is seen as useless and inaccessible to those who could most benefit from it.
The classic image of the yogi sitting cross legged, avoiding all contact with the outside world, is not necessary to practice meditation, (thank God!). It is not required to leave society behind, change your diet or your circle of friends. It is not necessary to struggle with visualizing beautiful scenery in your mind or wrestle with trying to stop your thoughts.
The benefits of a meditation practice are both immediate and far-reaching and are available to all people of any age, background or belief. So, what are the benefits of meditation?
"The thing about meditation is you become more and more you " - David Lynch
The number one killer in the world today is stress. It taxes the body's resources, reduces physical fitness and suppresses the immune system.
Many of the diseases from which we suffer are directly attributable to the amount of stress in our lives. Our bodies and minds are impacted by the impressions of every experience we have ever had. These impressions support layers of judgement through which we view our world. These impressions, and the mental structure which accompanies them, create an enormous burden on our whole being. The energy it takes to maintain all of our habits, beliefs and judgments, is mirrored at the surface level of our mind as a constant barrage of chaotic thought.
There have been studies done that show that the average person thinks somewhere between 90,000 and 130,000 thoughts every day! The majority of these thoughts are of no value to our lives; many are actually self-destructive and mutually contradictory.
In many ways, our bodies reflect our habitual patterns of thinking. This is something that even western medicine is coming to realize. From a very young age, our bodies start to function on adrenaline and stress rather than deep rest and natural energy. By the time we are young adults, our sleep at night no longer provides nearly enough rest to release the impressions of even one day of activity. The stress begins to accumulate, taxing the body’s energy, weakening and prematurely ageing the nervous system.
Along with sensible diet and exercise, the most effective way to restore balance, well being and erase the subconscious habit of thinking that keep us locked in a stress-filled existence, is to meditate. Meditation practice very quickly leads to deep rest and frees the mind from limited perspectives and patterns.
So, if all the thoughts are the problem, then the way to meditate correctly is obviously to make the mind stop chattering, right?
"Meditation is not about stopping thoughts, but recognizing that we are more than our thoughts and our feelings.” — Arianna Huffington
Have you ever tried to make your mind still? If you haven´t, take a moment and try it now.
If you are one of the rare ones who made your thoughts cease, it probably only took a moment or so before the thoughts started up again, maybe with even more force than before! Forcing the mind to be still is not the answer. It further stresses the nervous system and is the reason why most people stop meditating after only a few days, or never learn in the first place. It is not so much the thoughts that are the problem; it is our identification with the thoughts that causes stress.
True meditation practice is effortless. During the time spent meditating, the mind will begin to move to deeper and deeper levels of experiencing, which in turn allows the body to access deep rest.
In true meditation, after about 20 minutes, the body will move into levels of rest which are roughly twice as deep as the deepest sleep at night, even for beginners. It is this level of rest, with regular practice, that allows the nervous system to release a lifetime of stored up impressions and the mind to return to a state of clarity and focus. Taking a small amount of time each day to meditate is beneficial for everyone to do. It helps restore balance and harmony to life, physically and emotionally.
As well as the benefits of stress relief, regular meditation brings many other gifts to life. With regular practice, the mind naturally begins to function at deeper and deeper levels. Most of us are viewing our world through chaotic thought and lifelong habits of judgment. Once the mind becomes accustomed to moving inward, we begin to operate from these levels of awareness throughout our day, bringing increased energy, clarity of perception, focus, peace, joy and creativity. As these things naturally increase, we are more able to deal with the challenges of our lives.
So, the benefits of meditation are apparent, on every level. How do you find a real and effective meditation practice?
If you do an Internet search, or even glance at an alternative health magazine, you will see that the number and variety of meditation practices available are daunting. Guided meditations, mindfulness, transcendental meditation, body scan meditation and many more. All of them promise well being, peace, and learning to let go into the present moment. With so many different systems of meditation, how do we find something which will not only be useful but which applies to modern life? There are several things one should look for when seeking to learn to meditate:
Six things to Consider:
1) The method itself should not be a belief system.
It is then possible for meditation to pull awareness beyond the structure of the mind. The thinking mind is rooted in belief. To go beyond belief and into direct experience, a method that involves no belief is a big head start.
These types of meditation can be practised by any person regardless of background or culture. The meditation tool will then have its effects whether one believes it will or not.
Lastly, if the approach is free of belief, it will also be beyond the beliefs and dogmas of those who teach it. It would be best not to be asked to believe anything during the meditation course blindly. The teaching may be inspiring, but meditation is entirely experiential.
2) The meditation tool will be in the native language of those who learn it.
It is valuable for there to be a connection with meditation at the surface of the mind. This not only makes the method more effective, because the patterns we are transcending are formed in our earliest context, but it will be more enjoyable to meditate. It is difficult for most people to comprehend that meditation would be enjoyable, yet techniques exist that are exactly that. They are increasingly charming to the mind at deeper and deeper levels, and so effortlessly draw the awareness inward.
3) It will not be necessary for the body to maintain rigorous or challenging postures while meditating.
If the body is in pain or discomfort, then most of our attention will remain with the discomfort rather than moving to deeper levels of the mind. Our western lifestyle does not always lend itself to being able to sit comfortably with an unsupported, straight spine. It is beneficial if possible for sure, but it is not a requirement. Comfort while meditating is an important thing.
4) You will easily be able to use the practice with the eyes open.
We spend the majority of the day with our eyes open. It is essential to be able to experience the benefits of meditation throughout our day, reducing the effects of stress as we go about our lives. You know for your experience that the mind wanders as much with the eyes open as it does with the eyes closed. When you notice the mind wandering, a good practice of meditation will allow you to simply return to the present moment.
5) The technique should be able to fit with any life.
If there are certain times of the day when one must practice meditation, it is not always going to fit with the practicalities of many schedules. It should be possible for anyone to sit and have a meditation session at the times that are available to them. The benefit and results of daily meditation are limitless. The less rules there are about how to do everything make meditation easier, more enjoyable and remove a lot of the frustration experienced by both beginners and long term meditators alike.
6) While there is a fee to learn many meditations, this should not be unreachable to people.
The fee is a way for you to commit to what you are learning. It is also a way for the teachers to continue to share the teaching.
So, armed with this information, the search begins. Many websites offer information about meditation techniques. Talk to friends you know who meditate. Attend free introductory talks, or read available information about different methods. Most of all, when you find something that you feel will work for you, something that fits most, if not all, of the above points, then learn the technique and enjoy exploring the possibilities. With time and practice, a good meditation technique cannot fail to increase the quality and enjoyment of life.
It may come as no surprise that the Ishayas' Ascension ticks all these boxes and more. It is so far beyond a meditation exercise. Ascension makes it so easy to learn to meditate and for someone to get started doing the one thing that has such a great impact on our health and well being...and that is just the beginning!