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Meditation for Beginners

by Glen P. Kewser

I am a scientist. A physicist, to be precise. I have had an abiding respect for the scientific technique and for the elements of logic, precision, and rigor that it entails. At the same time, I have nurtured an interest in matters spiritual, in the quest to understand the realm of consciousness that transcends the domain of physical science. Thus, it might seem that I am caught on the horns of a dilemma, unable to resolve the differences between two seemingly disparate areas of human endeavor, namely science and spirituality.

There is a way out, though. The resolution can be found in the Bhagavad Gita, which I consider one of the finest scientific texts ever written. Chapter XIII, verse 19 states: Prakritim purushem chaiva viddhyanaadi ubhaavapi, meaning that both purush, consciousness, and prakriti, existence, are without beginning. This tells us that the two aspects of reality, consciousness and matter, co-exist and have done so since time immemorial. Prakriti is the realm of science and has been well explored by investigators throughout the ages. Purush, on the other hand, is considered beyond the reach of scientific technique. But if it is to be explored, how can this be done?

The answer lies once again in Chapter XIII of the Gita, in verse 24: Dhyaanaynaatmani pash-yanti kaychidaatmaanama-atmanaa, which means that some refine their intellect through meditation, and, thus expanded, realize the supreme spirit in their hearts. Thus, it is through meditation, which is a scientific technique for knowing one's inner consciousness, that the supreme spirit, purush or the conscious aspect of manifest reality, can be known.

For this reason I began meditating regularly 20 years ago. I have experienced its benefits in my own life and observed them accrue in the lives of many fellow meditators whom I have met. During this period, I have also participated in a laboratory where people come to meditate, participate in discussions about meditation and its philosophy, and share their experiences of applying the knowledge gained in meditation to their daily lives. This laboratory is an ashram run by Swami Shyam in Kulu, India.

I have often been asked: "How can one know that one is adopting the correct meditation technique?" To answer this, I present the technique that I have been using all these years. To me, its efficacy is unquestionable.

To meditate, find a clean, comfortable place and sit in a position which is easy for you. You may sit cross-legged, in a chair or in any way, which makes you feel relaxed. Then close your eyes. This is essential.

I have heard people speak of "open-eyed" meditation, but this is not effective. When we close our eyes our attention goes to the space we perceive at that time. The sense of sight consumes a great deal of energy which must be directed inward when we meditate. When eyes are open, that energy is directed outward and our attention cannot be focused on the internal consciousness that we are seeking to know.

Once your eyes are closed, watch the space behind your eyelids. Then place your attention on the Knower of that space. This is the purush or consciousness which keeps you alive, vibrant, aware and alert.

As you sit, keep watching the thoughts that rise and fall in your mind. To keep your attention focused, it is helpful to repeat a mantra. The one which I have found to be most effective is a Sanskrit sloka: Amaram Hum Madhuram Hum (I am immortal. I am blissful). Immortality and bliss are the characteristics of the Knower which is the essential you. By focusing your attention on these characteristics, you will come to know that your own essential nature is immortal and blissful. Here, bliss does not mean joy or happiness. It is best described as indivisibility, which means that the nature of the Knower is one alone.

People often tell me that they cannot meditate because they are unable to stop the flow of thoughts. This is not a problem, because meditation in no way means the cessation of thoughts. In meditation we are not concerned with the thoughts. Our job is simply to watch the thoughts and keep our attention on the Knower.

When you find that your attention has slipped from the mantra, simply return to it. Keep sitting for as long as you feel you would like to meditate, and then gently open your eyes. To help yourself return to your normal activities, you can rub your hands together to create some warmth in your palms, and then gently rub them on your face. Do this three times. Your meditation sitting is now complete and you are ready to resume your daily life with greater energy, delight and focus.

How long should you meditate each day? At least 10 minutes in the morning and 10 in the evening. Such time is always available, especially immediately after waking up in the morning and before retiring at night.

Another question that I am often asked is: "What do you say to people who have been meditating for quite some time, but find that they are not getting what they expected?" My answer is that they have not meditated properly, and have created their own concepts of how they will benefit. Perhaps they believe that through meditation they will become healthier, and have found, instead, that, despite some healing, they are still visiting doctors.

Such people should start their practice anew with the definite idea that after meditating they will not remain the same kind of people. After one or two years, they will realize the profound changes taking place in their being due to meditation. In fact, they would be able to notice the progress and would wish to meditate more often. Meditation is a continuous process.

Progress is not noticeable on a daily basis. What you should do is ask a friend or relative what changes your meditation practice has brought about. If you keep walking in the sun, you will eventually cease to be aware of its warmth, even though you are still benefiting from it. Likewise, meditation does not yield its fruits immediately and obviously. You cannot get the full results by meditating just three or four times. It is a definite course of action that will lead a person towards the desired result in due course of time once the process is complete.

So when you begin to see in your life that you are not the same person who began to meditate, you can discern what changes have taken place. If you look into the mirror you will see that your nose, ears and eyes are the same, but the one who is looking at these features has changed. This is the transformation that meditation has wrought.

Reprinted with permission from Lifepositive.com

Additional Meditation References

Meditation Information at A World of Good Health
 

 

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The information provided on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Should you have any serious health concerns, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering any natural remedy.

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