A.L. asks from Clarksville, TN on February 20, 2008
Does Anyone Know the Basics of Meditation And/or Yoga?
My husband and I would like to learn to meditate. Can anyone give me the basics without making me read a book or spend money on a class?? I've been to a couple yoga classes, but that was more for exercise. We're looking to de-stress with meditation. Exercise can be a bonus.
K.C. answers from Nashville on February 21, 2008
First of all, to say that meditation is against God's word is just a fear based view. Meditation is about quieting the mind, suspending judgement and opening your heart to your true self. Ultimately, it's about letting go and just being present. Try this-
Go to a quiet place, an uncluttered place, somewhere that you won't be inundated with outside distractions. Outdoors works well, or in an open space in your home. Find a position that you are comfortable. If you are familiar with yoga, child's pose works well for a starting point. Basically you sit with your legs folded under your butt and lean forward, putting your forehead on the floor and stretching your arms out in front of you. You can move from this pose if you want, to any way you feel comfortable. Once you are in a comfortable position begin emptying your mind by lengthening your breath. One full breath in, one full breath out. Concentrate on your breath and nothing else. When thoughts and distractions make their way in, don't judge them or yourself, just let them go and think about your breath. Breathe from your diaphram, not your chest, so that your whole body can benefit from the breathing. Clean air in, bad air out. Do this for at least 10 minutes, and remember, it is normal to have distractions. What is important is not to judge them, just try to let go of them. The breath gives you a focus, something that can stay the same and let you concentrate on the present. You will find that over time the distractions will get quieter and quieter and your meditation will get deeper with more practice.
For stress relief in every day situations where it isn't feasable to go lay down and meditate, you can take short breaks by just stopping for a moment in your mind and concentrating on your breathing. It is amazing how far this will go in improving your health by helping control anger and frustration.
Yoga is great, but the benefits are only fully achieved when the breath is taught with it. If you don't have money to spend on books, try your public library. I have found many useful resources there for free.
If you have any questions, feel free to message me.
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M.H. answers from Raleigh on February 21, 2008
What a wonderful decision for the two of you to make together! I've been meditating for a while, and it has made a huge difference in my life, making me more patient, calm, and mindful in many ways. I learned my technique with the Won-Buddhist meditation temple of North Carolina (www.wonbuddhismnc.org), and what I like about it is that it's easy, relaxing, and peaceful.
The way to start is to find a peaceful place in your house where you can sit quietly for a period of time. Find some comfortable plump cushions on which you can sit. Some people like quiet meditation music, or a lighted candle help them focus. the idea is simply to sit comfortably in as upright a position as you can (less tiring on the back). Cross-legged is he usual way, but you can change positions if you're uncomfortable sitting that way for long. Your hands should be in a relaxed, comfortable position (it doesn't really matter how you hold them, though I usually have them on my knees, facing up or down, or in my lap). Focus on being where you are, in the present moment and give your busy workaday mind a rest. Start by observing your breath, as it comes in and out--count the number of breaths, and if you lose count, start over again. Thoughts will stray into your mind and you may follow them quite a way before you realize that you have stopped concentrating on the present and are now planning or remembering, etc. Not to worry, that's normal. Just bring your mind back to your breath, or the candle flame, or the quiet music. Start by doing it for a short time, say 5 minites, then build up. try to do it regularly. This is mind exercise, and like all exercise, the more you do it, the better it gets (though each session will differ in surprising and interesting ways!)
The Won-Buddhists point out that any activity in which the mind is absorbed in what it is doing here and now is a form of meditation, and we meditate with movement (free-form dance to music, yoga, tai chi), lying down, raking, walking, cleaning, preparing food--as long as you savor the movement, the task, the moment, it's meditation.
Some people like to give their meditation some structure and will give themselves a little mental assignment, like doing a scan of your whole body, from top to toe, appreciating and holding in your mind and imagine everything there. Or focusing the breath to different parts of the body in turn. or imagine being a tree in a forest, or a statue, hearing but not responding to the sounds around you, people going about their business. You could chant, if you like, or read and contemplate a poem or verse from a scripture. Sometimes I do a big "radar" sweep, north, south, east, west, calling to mind and holding there for a bit one by one all the people I love all over the world, or the places. Thich Nhat Hanh has written a lot on meditation (coming from a Vietnamese Buddhist tradition), and is very helpful.
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J.D. answers from Raleigh on February 20, 2008
I'd be happy to help with the easiest topic..meditation.
Simply put,meditation is quieting the mind so the body can relax.
There are several ways to quiet the mind.
1. Sit comfortably (nothing crossed to cut off circulation), eyes closed. Try to empty your mind. When a thought pops up (and it will!) just notice it and let it go.
2. Use a focus point, either a visual one (like a candle flame) or an auditory one (like repeating a sound, ommmm is traditional but you can use amen or simply humm).
I assume you want instrucions for sitting meditation. Once you know you can achieve a quiet mind, you can try moving meditation. That will be another subject if you like.
Peace to you.
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J.M. answers from Louisville on February 21, 2008
meditation is simply clearing your mind of its daily clutter, and automatic thoughts. While the traditional idea if meditation is to sit and repeat a mantra- I have found that I can enter a meditative state at other times. One of those times is painting! (and I'm talking painting the house, not a picture) Maybe you have a hobby that you can fully devote your attention to for a certain period of time, or maybe you like to go for walks; not just to exercise and get the heart rate up but to look around and notice what is around you. Your connection to the natural world.
Not everyone responds to the same technique so it is important to find what is right for you- and don't worry about trying to make it fit into a box.
The point is to be fully present in wherever you are, whatever you are doing. It is a skill that takes a lot of practice...and is worth it.
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A.M. answers from Raleigh on February 21, 2008
3 things you need-
calming music OR silence-whatever you prefer
Like yoga-concentrate on your breathing. Try cyclical breathing that is slow and steady. You can have eyes closed or open-you can lay down and sit up. The concentrating on your breath helps you clear your mind. Visualize a beautiful place. Start with 5 minutes and increase. DONE
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