How Long Should I Meditate ?


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The question “How long should I meditate?” is a question I urge you only to resolve for a given moment and never finally. The question will serve you much better, better than any single answer, if you consider it and reconsider it, over time.
Most questions that start with the word should limit rather than open options, unnecessarily. In point of fact, this question can be misleading, suggesting that there is an ideal duration for meditation, when if fact developing a sensitivity to what different durations contribute to a continuing practice of meditation is much more useful.
Much has been made of longer forms of meditation while only a little has been made of their shorter counterparts. Longer isn’t better than shorter. They’re just different. Both have a role to play in your life. What that role is, is not something to be prescribed by another, rather it is for you to discover.
The question, “How are longer and shorter forms of meditation different?” is a much more useful starting point.
Shorter forms of meditation are more easily practiced regularly and frequently. Practicing this way consistently can more quickly and deeply establish new patterns of attention and awareness. Many people find the downside of shorter meditation intervals is that it may take more time for the mind to settle down and achieve significant depth in an experience. Keep at it. All you need is practice. When the mind knows that it has only a certain amount of time to accomplish something avoidance, procrastination and distraction are often reduced. You can train your mind to change states much more quickly than you might have expected.
Sometimes necessary for more complex forms of meditation, longer intervals of meditation allow for more repetition of a single practice or comparison between different practices in a single session, enabling more direct comparison and contrast as well as immediate refinement with each new cycle. This may lead to a greater depth of experience. It can also lead to different states of awareness, neither better nor worse, but certainly different. I encourage you to experience many states of awareness so that you can make future choices knowledgeably.
You may find that meditating for certain durations of time comes easier for you than others. This is a useful observation. Follow it with another. Ask yourself, “Why?” If it’s working, go with it. At the same time, I’d encourage you to experiment with other durations that may not come as easily. If you do, you’ll make many other useful observations. And, with practice, you’ll develop a more versatile skill set that will offer you many more opportunities to choose from.
This is key. After you finish meditating, follow up with yourself and make some observations about your experiences. Keeping a journal of your experience often facilitates greater clarity about past experiences and future decisions.
Don’t take my word for it … or anyone else’s – and I mean anyone. Confirm observations made by others with your own.
How does your experience of meditation change with changes in its duration? As you become more fully aware of the differences time brings to meditation, you can choose to meditate for an interval that seems right for the moment. After all, it’s your moment.
Learn more about meditation with these resources.

How Many Thoughts A Day Do You Think ?


On average, we each think 60,000 thoughts a day.
Here’s the math.
One Day                        60,000 Thoughts
One Week                      420,000 Thoughts
One Month                     1,680,000 Thoughts
One Year                       21,840,000 Thoughts
One Decade                   218,400,000 Thoughts
One Life                         1,638,000,000 Thoughts
How many thoughts are significant thoughts or thoughts that led to significant thoughts?
Do you think it would help you to be more aware of your thoughts?
Do you think it would help you to think fewer thoughts?
Do you think it would help you to think in more focused ways?
If so, try meditating.
Learn more about meditation with these resources.

Increase Your Awareness Of Your Body Through Meditation


Our bodies, the vessels that carry us through life, are miracles of engineering to be marveled at and provide us gateways to both our minds and our emotions. For much of our daily lives we are unconscious of our bodies. When we do become aware of our bodies, our awareness is usually highly selective, often focused only in the presence of heightened pleasure or pain, either physical or psychological. Body images, both self-imposed and inherited, often lead us to judge, either inflating or repressing our direct experiences of our bodies. Developing greater body awareness helps reduce these tendencies and increase our understanding of and appreciation for our bodies as a single harmonious system. Tune in to the miracle that is your body.
1               Observe the way you sit. What is your experience of your general posture? How are your spine, torso, neck, head, arms and legs positioned? How long can you sustain this before you feel the urge to change positions? What positions are you most comfortable holding for long periods of time? What positions are you uncomfortable holding?
2               Observe the way you stand. What is your experience of your general posture? What is the position of your spine, neck, head, torso, arms and legs? How is your body balanced? Do you find yourself continually making small adjustments to maintain balance? How long do you feel comfortable maintaining this posture before wanting to change it? How often do you want to change it?
3               Observe the way you walk. What is your experience of your general posture? What is the position of your spine, neck, head, torso, arms and legs? What is the sequence of motions your body routinely makes? How do you maintain balance through this range of motions? What rhythms do you naturally tend towards? How do these things change with increased speed or extended time? Apply this type of observation to any repetitive type of motion you tend to make, such as exercise, dance, or yoga.
4               Observe the way you respond with your body to external stimuli. What do you respond to with increased calm? What do you respond to with increased alertness? What do you respond to with increased tension? How many of these responses are you typically consciously aware of? Are any of your responses surprising to you?
Spend a little time in isolation observing your body with minimal outside distractions. Later, extend your practice to increasing body awareness with increased external stimuli. Try to make this kind of observation a habit. With practice, you’ll find that your awareness of your body will increase, with little or no need for mental direction, growing more frequent, durable, and more deeply felt.
Learn more about meditation with these resources.

The Physical Benefits Of Meditating


There are many clinically proven physical benefits of practicing meditation.
Meditation …
1            Decreases respiratory rates.
2            Slows heart rates while increasing blood flow.
3            Decreases blood pressure.
4            Decreases muscle tension and headaches.
5            Decreases lactate concentrations, which are linked to anxiety.
6            Increases seratonin
a counteragent to obesity, insomnia, and depression.
7            Boosts the immune system.
8            Reduces the effects of chronic diseases …
… allergies, arthritis, asthma etc.
9            Speeds the healing of wounds.
10          Increases the activity of cancer killing cells.
It’s mind over matter. What’s on your mind matters.
Read more on meditation here.

The Benefits Of Meditating


You will create many benefits for yourself by meditating.
Meditation creates physical benefits. Medical patients meditate to reduce stress, boost immune systems, and speed and improve healing. Athletes meditate to increase benefits from practice and performance during competition.
Meditation creates mental benefits. Artists meditate to explore new qualities of thought and forms of expression. Inventors meditate to develop new products, stimulating mental versatility and clarity.
Meditation creates emotional benefits. Psychologists meditate, and teach meditation to their patients, to reduce negative emotional responses including stress, anxiety, and depression. Self-help gurus meditate, and teach meditation to their clients, to increase positive emotional responses, promoting feelings of greater energy, motivation, and fulfillment.
Meditation creates spiritual benefits. Spiritual practitioners meditate to fulfill goals of increasing self-awareness; self-discovery, self-realization, and self-fulfillment. Religious practitioners meditate to deepen and intensify the experiences provided by religious practices.
Meditating helps everyone ­– and everything.
Read more on meditation here.

All Religions Practice Forms Of Meditation

All religions practice forms of meditation.

While many religions offer the same essential practices, each religion has its unique orientation; drawing on its own special symbols, stories, and teachings; favoring certain practices, subjects, and goals.

The five major religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all practice forms of meditation.

Meditation in Hinduism

Meditation plays a part in all aspects of Indian spiritual life, to greater and lesser degrees depending on the individual practitioner, his or her chosen path and stage of life.

The term Hindu means India, a highly diverse country with a long history that has many interwoven traditions, including Buddhism. Hinduism does not have one founder or a single text. It’s central texts include The Upanishads (a treatise on the nature of God-head), The Bhagadva-Gita (a treatise on man’s worldly duty), and the sagas of The Ramayana and The Mahabharata (spiritual principles described through action).

India is best know for is unique contributions to spiritual practice, Yoga and its accompanying teaching the Sutras of Patanjali. There are Eight Limbs Of Yoga; Abstention – Yama; Observance ¬– Niyama; Posture – Asana; Breath Control – Pranayama; Sense Withdrawal – Pratyahara; Concentration – Dharana; Meditation – Dhyanan; Contemplation – Samadhi. Each limb of yoga is emphasized in different forms; Jhana – intellectual study; Bhakti –devotion and love; Karma – religious performance; Hatha – physical mastery; Raja control of the mind; Laya – activating subtle energies. Equally valid, each approach is considered better suited for different types of people, yet all people may practice all forms of yoga, to varying degrees and at different stages of life.

Hinduism’s belief in reincarnation is essential for their philosophy. It would take many lifetimes to fully experience all of the Hindu spiritual practices; cloistered monks, devotees of specific deities, practitioners of yoga, wandering ascetics, and psychic showmen.

Meditation in Buddhism

Meditation is so central to Buddhism (a long-standing and varied tradition which offers the most highly developed systems of meditation) that many people think of meditation as a Buddhist practice.

Buddhist meditation practices include …

Buddhism evolved from the meditations of Siddhartha Gautama, a prince who renounced his status opting for a life of ascetic practice that led to his becoming the Buddha or fully enlightened one. Buddha identified eight principles (The Noble Eightfold Path) that develop the fully realized state of a person; right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right awareness, right meditation.

There are three major schools of Buddhism – and many minor ones. The Hinayana School (considered the “lesser vehicle”)(Found predominantly in Asia, its texts are mainly written in Pali.) aims at bringing enlightenment to individual practitioners. The Mahayana School (considered the “greater vehicle”)(Found predominantly in Tibet and Japan, its texts are mainly written in Sanskrit.) aims to bring enlightenment to all sentient beings. The Vajrayana School (considered the “indestructible vehicle”) presents the most esoteric practices.

Another notable school, Zen Buddhism (a branch of The Mahayana School) began in the 6th century with the teachings of Bodhidharma. Zen attempts to reveal truth by disrupting the illusions, strengthened by conventional concepts and philosophies, which influence our perceptions, expectations, and responses. Zen offers a unique form of meditation call the koan, a puzzle without an apparent answer.

Meditation in Judaism

The Hebrew word Qabalah means both to receive and to reveal. Both a metaphysical doctrine and philosophy, the tradition within a tradition of Qabalah is a symbolic code designed to further practioner’s spiritual development. Students of the Qabalah transform their essential inner natures with the essential external Nature, by internalizing symbols and gradually absorbing their characteristics through meditation.

The central symbol of Qabalah is a cosmogram The Tree Of Life (Otz Chim) composed of eleven spheres (sephiroth), one of which is hidden, interconnected by twenty two pathways. Each sephira bears a different God-name, representing different aspects of the divine; The Crown, Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Severity, Mercy, Beauty, Victory, Glory, Foundation, Kingdom. Symbols are assigned to each sephira including title, name, image, color, and number.

Meditation awakens the higher faculties of the individual, transcending reason, and bringing the symbols to life.

Meditation in Christianity

Christian forms of meditation have a long history, though not all practices are accepted universally in all churches (including but not limited to Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Protestant, Episcopalian, Quaker, Shaker, and Gnostic). The Desert Fathers, early hermits who established the basis for the Christian withdrawn life either individually or in groups, used repeated prayer, either spoken or sung, with synchronized breathing to internalize the spiritual truths contained within them. The Eastern Orthodox traditions practice creating and using icons as a focus for meditation. The Jesuit traditions use visualization and imagination to respond in a deeply felt personal way to scenes from the life of Christ (including Nativity, Passion, Crucifixion, and Ressurection) and internalized the lessons that can be found within them. The simplest and most universal form of Christian meditation can be found in the practice of repeating prayers, either individually, together, or in a cycle.

Whether expressed through song, prayer, study or contemplation, focus is generally directed first towards the heart, producing a deeply felt understanding that suffuses the whole being.

Meditation in Islam

Rooted in the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad, Islam’s mystical path Sufism includes commentaries by masters and teachings from a wide range of esoteric traditions including the Zoroastrian, the Hermetics, and the Pythagoreans. It is further supplemented by a rich literary tradition that emphasizes poetry, allegory, and symbolic story. The arts reveal universal principles and everyday activities become vehicles for meditation – writing, calligraphy, geometry, architecture, dance, weaving, etc. Everything is considered sacred and unity is expressed everywhere.

The pupil teacher relationship is central to Sufi spiritual practice; only those who have been recognized by previous masters as masters (a chain that goes back to the prophet) have the authority to initiate pupils. Masters dictate meditation practices, which can vary substantially in the final form they take. The aim of meditiation (fikr) is to prevent the mind from going astray while the heart is focuses on God. The spoken word (prayer, chant, song) is heavily emphasized as an active invocation of God through repetition of the Holy Names (zikr).

Meditation in Other Religions

Many other spiritual traditions have practices that are identical in form and function to these practices. And they offer many more. How similar these divergent practices are to meditation is often a matter of degree. The discussion of how similar some of these practices are is useful. While not unrelated, trance states, often involving a loss of self-awareness, can be distinctly different. Similarly, altered states of mind induced by chemical agents can be similar in many ways but are also distinctly different in others. Meditation rarely, if ever, involves a loss of self-awareness or control; quite the opposite, it almost always heightens both.

Despite the fact that meditation can take many forms, universal principles can be found in all systems. The whole being (body, mind, emotion) is actively applied, through a variety of focus points, to develop awareness, insight, and transformation.

Find more posts on meditation here.

Meditation Can Be / Doesn’t Have To Be A Religious Experience


Meditation isn’t a religious practice. The origin of some meditation practices cannot be traced to a religious practice. While many meditation practices do originate from religious traditions, they can be repurposed for secular life. You don’t need to have a religious practice to benefit from meditating. Regardless of whether you do or don’t incorporate a religious component into your meditations, you will experience physical, mental, and emotional benefits by meditating.
Meditation can enhance your religious practices. All religions practice some form(s) of meditation. Forms of meditation not included in your religious tradition can be used to enhance your experiences both in your daily life and within your religious – simply change the iconography before you practice the meditation. Whether you meditate to increase your compassion for others by visualizing Christ or Buddha or something non-denominational, compassionate action is the end result.
Meditating benefits everyone. Whether your meditation practice is or is not religious is up to you. It’s your practice.
Find more posts on meditation here.

What Is Meditation ?

What Is Meditation ? Any activity that develops awareness is a form of meditation. Repeated practices of meditation help people gain more control of their awareness, including its duration, quantity, and quality. If you want to become more aware of more things, if you want to sustain that awareness longer, if you want to be able to influence the quality of your experiences and your responses to them – meditate.

Much more can be said about meditation (and I will say more later), but it’s important to make one’s understanding of meditation as simple (not simplistic) as possible. A simple perspective makes meditation more active, personal, and even creative, opening up many more possibilities.

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7 Great Great Resources For Developing Your Creative Mindfulness Practice


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Want to become more perceptive?
Want to improve your concentration?
Want to optimize your performance?
Want to reduce stress?
Mindfulness can help you do all of these things and more.
Some people think meditation is Buddhist; it’s pan-cultural.
Some people think meditation is religious but many forms are non-denominational.
Some people think meditation is doing nothing; there are many active forms.
Some people think meditation requires a lot of time but a few minutes a day offer many benefits.
It’s likely that there’s a lot more to mindfulness than you think.

Apps

These apps are an easy way to start and sustain your practice.

Check out these apps …

Headspace (breath awareness-based)

Chopra (mantra-based)

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Books

I recommend these books for their approachability and practicality.

David Fontana
Learn to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Self-Discovery and Fulfillment

David Fontana
The Meditation Handbook: The Practical Guide to Eastern and Western Meditation Techniques

Mark Thornton
Meditation in a New York Minute: Super Calm for the Super Busy

Thich Nhat Hanh
The Long Road Turns to Joy: A Guide to Walking Meditation

Shakti Gawain
Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life

 

Find more on Mindfulness here.