Why And How To Meditate
Do as much of this as is comfortable for you. Just begin.
Do you believe in diet, exercise, and not smoking? Excluding permanent vacations, are vacations a good idea? What is the purpose of a vacation? It is to get away from it all, to relax, to avoid the millions of small demands of our daily lives where we scurry about mechanically and thoughtlessly like squirrels gathering nuts for the forthcoming harsh winter.
Should people meditate/pray? Is there a difference between meditation and prayer? There can be, but there need not be in terms of the benefits for health and well being. What is the goal of meditation? What is "spiritual" and what is a spiritual person or a spiritual life?
To end all these questions, here are a few answers. There are five main behaviors that result in health when performed properly and are the origins of most diseases when done improperly. These are:
- Breathing correctly (avoiding smoke/crack).
- Drinking correctly (essentially water and weak herb tea with very little in the way of cola's/coffee/alcohol).
- Eating: a very high fiber/low fat Liv-it, of whole grains-vegetables-beans with some fruit and anything once or twice a month, not a chicken/meat/milk/yogurt/fried or Chinese food die-t.
- Exercise equal to walking 3 miles per day, 5 days a week or 30 minutes on a Nordic Track or HealthRider, plus some weight lifting.
- The psychological/spiritual: gratefully accepting reality, maintaining a calm and positive attitude, not grasping for "things" or George Carlin's "stuff" in the material world. Living a life of service rather than being so typically self-centered. Recognizing that there is so much beauty and goodness, as well as that pain and negativity can be opportunities for growth. See, feel, and believe in the millions of calming lights that lovingly fill the cells of your body and all the atoms of the universe creating a loving divinity of healing.
"Why meditate?" On a daily basis we tend to run too much voltage/static through the wires of our brains. We end up cooking our circuits instead of polishing and protecting them from this overload. Circuit breakers begin to fail, re-routing is less efficient and then we short-circuit becoming angry, demanding, anxious, upset, unhappy, depressed, hostile, short tempered, and irritable. We develop headaches, muscle spasms, upset stomach, and generally just do not feel well in addition to developing serious diseases including heart disease and cancer. Meditation helps us successfully through these problems by properly unloading and redirecting our current of life.
Life in the present is no more stressful than it ever was. We are simply doing less of the modern equivalents of what is necessary to clean and protect our mind, such as the rhythmic and cleansing (body/mind/spiritual) endeavors like plowing a field behind a horse, building a stone wall, gathering wood for a fire. All of this allows one the opportunity to both exercise and clear the mind at the same time, joining body, mind, and spirit. And that is first step in meditation - clearing our mind of so many details. But, there are rhythms in our body such as breathing, our heart beat, the stretching of muscles/tendon/bones all of which allow us the opportunity to take our minds which, obviously, controls our body as if to a spring-fed waterfall in a sylvan setting that joins you outside of the zillion details of your daily life with The Greater Meaning and Privilege of life that most of us have been so blessed with.
Meditation is this cleansing/unifying process that is essential, and that most of us do intermittently and frequently on a daily basis naturally. But meditation as meant here is a more indepth somewhat longer period of uplifting mental dedication to a joining and cleansing Greater than ourselves. It includes the understanding of who you are and where you are in time and place by avoiding the potentially dangerous magical thinking of wishing, wanting, or hoping. Meditation focuses on the positive and offers you the opportunity to do more correctly what you should have been doing all along. It is mostly a mental, but it is also a physical, process. It is a thinking or beyond thinking, not a thoughtless process. It is a calming, cleansing, clearing process that can be reached within 30 seconds but like good exercise, should be done 20-30 minutes 4 times a week for sure. And like exercise, meditation need not be 20-30 consecutive minutes.
Meditation can be within religion, but it need not be about religion. Religion, is for most people, an organized and formal discipline that many subscribe to. Spirituality, is an individual experience that need not be related to a Creator and Loving God, but surely is about a positive/loving connection with a Greater Essence beyond oneself and is typified most powerfully in the beauty and organization of universal functions ranging from the atomic to the individual cell or the actual universe and stellar systems themselves. Meditation uses these principles and focuses the mind on these considerations.
Do as much of this as is comfortable for you. Just continue.
H. Robert Silverstein, MD