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Thinking About Taking Up Meditation


dagnarus
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Hello.

 

I've recently started to consider taking up some sort of Zen meditation. The reason is that I ask a friend about the meditation which he had taken up roughly 3 years ago (he was doing some form called Satay involving relaxing all the muscles in his body). Anyway he talked about being able to drop all the mental baggage or what have you which most people are carrying around or what have you. This seemed quite attractive to me seeing as how even now I seem to realize that all these things related to ego and what not are unimportant in the grand scheme of things but getting to that point where I actually subjectively believe it and understand it is another thing. Anyway what do people know about such practices and what advice could you give me in investigating such things?

 

Thanks in advance.

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I'm no expert or authority or Zen. I don't think I even qualify as an enthusiast.

 

I tried it a couple of months after my deconversion as a way to obtain a sense of peace and relaxation and found that it worked quite well.

 

There does not have to be a lot of mythology or religion wrapped up in Zen. It's just a way to practice being in the only place you can be: this present moment.

 

I recommend it.

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The first thing I would suggest is not to get too caught up in the promises of the benefits of meditation. Just like anything else, it takes time for any improvement to become noticeable.

 

Secondly, if you are looking for a group to practice with, shop around. If you aren’t interested in the “religious” side of meditation, it might be better just to establish a regular practice at home since there might not be a non-sectarian meditation group in your area.

 

The last thing that I think is important to remember is even if you do start sitting with a group you are basically sitting alone with your thoughts. That can be a very difficult thing to do.

 

I am in the process of working up a basic guide to sitting. If you decide to start meditating I’ll pass a copy along to you.

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I have only been doing meditation regularly for a little over a year but I would advise short periods of time, maybe 5 minutes in the beginning. It is not easy. I bought a series of CDs on meditation by Pema Chodron and also Jack Korngold. I read some books. In addition, I had a couple of sessions with a Zen monk to get me started. Then I went elsewhere since I could not sit for 55 minutes straight in a half lotus position without the option of sitting on a chair. Not as young as I used to be.

 

I do samatha or "calm abiding" meditation. It is a practice to keep focused on a single object. What RevR says is right though, it can be very difficult. I think any form of meditation will stir up things in your mind that you did not expect.

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The first thing I would suggest is not to get too caught up in the promises of the benefits of meditation. Just like anything else, it takes time for any improvement to become noticeable.

 

That was one of the things which I got from the person I asked. He said that only roughly one in ten who started sticked it out.

 

Secondly, if you are looking for a group to practice with, shop around. If you aren’t interested in the “religious” side of meditation, it might be better just to establish a regular practice at home since there might not be a non-sectarian meditation group in your area.

 

Thanks I'll keep that in mind.

 

The last thing that I think is important to remember is even if you do start sitting with a group you are basically sitting alone with your thoughts. That can be a very difficult thing to do.

 

Actually I generally find being alone with my thoughts reasonably easy, although maybe it's different to meditation to sit silently with your thoughts.

 

I am in the process of working up a basic guide to sitting. If you decide to start meditating I’ll pass a copy along to you.

 

Sure I'd be interested. Would you need my contact information? or could you just PM me.

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I can't claim to be particularly organized or diligent in meditation, but when I do practice it generally turns out well. My chosen path is mindfulness, paying close attention to one aspect of self or environment.

 

There are a few pre-meditation preliminaries that will help. First things first: You need to establish a stable but comfortable and easy-to-maintain posture. Rev R's sitting guide will probably cover that; there's also a good guide at the back of Turning the Mind Into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham.

 

I've also tried short concentration exercises to help strengthen the attention span. The simplest of these is from a book called Concentration by Mouni Sadhu: Get yourself a watch with a sweep second hand, put it on the table in front of you, and just observe the second hand without mentally chatting to yourself in between the clicks. (If you make it to 15 seconds, you're doing very well.) You can also try counting upwards, once with each breath, trying to think only of the breath that you're taking.

 

One book that I really like is Insight Meditation by Joseph Goldstein. I found it to be particularly useful at explaining the various concepts in a straightforward way.

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Years ago I practiced Transcendental Meditation TM as taught by an accredited student of the Maharishi. It was pretty trippy after a while, but I quite doing it because it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. I've always been good at tripping out on my own thoughts and inner space, and I've often believed that enlightenment is partly an intellectual and philosophical experience, anyway.

 

Any kind of meditation is usually healthful, though. A friend of mine can cat-nap at will if he has a quiet place for about fifteen or twenty minutes, and then wakes up fully regenerated like a Borg Drone or something. Lucky guy. I can't do that, I have trouble falling asleep period.

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Hi there.

There are a number of different techniques. If you are looking for a good, non-religious explanation and instructions, you might be interested in books by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

BTW, I do "sit" regularly and find that it does help.

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  • 1 month later...

I started meditating (recently and formally; taught myself to do a long time ago before I knew the term) recently as a way to deal with anxiety without taking medication (I'm going to try some hormone meds for other issues, and the dr recommended I not mix them, at least not at first, so any weird side effects will be easier to deal with). Being a fairly materialistic atheist, I went to the library to find the least religious meditation book I could find.

 

I ended up checking out "How to Meditate: A Practical Guide" by Kathleen McDonald. There's a few things in there I disagree with (like reincarnation and karma), but in general it's fairly non-dogmatic. There's suggested prayers to go with some of the meditations, but when a central part of the meditation involves interaction with a spiritual entity, the book also gives an atheistic alternative, like affirming your ethical system. So that's been really nice. Even the meditations I disagree with, like the one on reincarnation, was good for getting me to think about death and how to deal with it.

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I'm not someone who meditates every single day and certainly am no kind of expert, but it's something I do enjoy and find especially helpful if I'm getting too stressed out or just wound up, or need a chance to organize my thoughts. I started meditating through my martial art, and learned a number of different meditation positions meant to help open up different ki paths, or work on different body areas.

 

I also read a few books, one of the ones I found the most useful, and the easiest read, was "Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life" by Alan Watts. It didn't deal so much directly with meditation, but more the thought processes that will make it more beneficial.

 

For me, I've found that learning different styles, methods, and poses has been very useful. I've narrowed it down to my two favorites - one is in a typical half or even full lotus (I can pull it off if my knees aren't protesting too much) using a cushion, with a lit candle in front of me and insence. Soft meditation/new age music is optional in the background if I'm in the mood. This one is very effective for me, and really helps me to relax, reconnect, and center myself once again. I usually set a timer for the amount of time I intend to sit - that way, I won't cut my time short, and I stop worrying about time - an every present worry for me with my crazy schedule! That makes it more doable, but also allows me to focus better.

 

My second favorite is the one I actually use the most often, but don't find as effective - it's a simply lying on your back position, arms relaxed and slightly away from your sides, focusing on breathing and just "letting go." I end up using this one more frequently because it's super simple to make use of just before bed when I've already laid down and realize that my brain is too wound up for me to get any rest. A few minutes of this type of meditation and I can find myself much more relaxed and ready to sleep, and often my thoughts will manage to organize themselves a bit once I stop trying to do it!

 

 

 

 

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This is a type of simple guided meditation you might like. Progressive muscle relaxation. I sometimes use it to help get myself to sleep. No spiritual trappings involved, though some spiritualist use the technique as well.

 

There are a couple different kinds, passive and active. It's also free using the links provided below. So you can just check it out and see if you're into it or not.

 

It's a good way to get a feel for what meditation is about.

 

Quote

What is progressive muscle relaxation?

 

Progressive muscle relaxation is an effective method for treating stress and anxiety. Concentrating on relaxing your muscles makes it harder to think about stressful problems and events. Progressive muscle relaxation is also a way to relax muscles that have become tense from chronic stress.

 

When you do these exercises you focus on specific muscle groups, one at a time, tensing and relaxing each group while breathing slowly and deeply.

 

 

Additional information:

 

http://www.wikieduca...scle_relaxation

 

http://en.wikipedia....scle_Relaxation

Here are a few free MP3 downloads. Right click and 'Save as' the links on these pages to download.

 

http://www.hws.edu/s...ling_relax.aspx

 

http://www.umw.edu/c...ises_downl1.php [AVI file]

 

http://vcc.asu.edu/relax/index.shtml

 

http://www.archive.o...axationExercise

 

http://blip.tv/file/1174077

 

http://blip.tv/file/1223148/

 

A few free videos with guided meditations of other types. Chakra meditations, Zen, Yoga, etx...

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#docid=8884144778557857009

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#docid=4492370948704617731

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#docid=4492370948704617731

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#docid=-474163338811052790

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#docid=7485208558033453618

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#docid=7760565812754078388

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#docid=5687952213348408823

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#docid=-907054752395213705

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#docid=-2141301628483249088

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#docid=3144537258547197594

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#docid=-1640347490830209678

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8845129782533837583#docid=7607683558262429781

 

For more, just google 'Guided Meditation' or 'Chakra Meditation' or any particular kind of meditation you're interested in. You'll usually get a list of videos or sites with at least a few free examples or sometimes even longer programs or videos to give you an idea of what it's about.

 

I don't believe in the spirituality involved, but find meditation relaxing. I often use it to put myself to sleep or just to chill if I'm in the right mindset. I don't believe in spiritual energies or chakras, but the way it's presented usually is pretty relaxing to me.

 

If nothing else a simple search should give you enough to find something you like and give you enough to decide if you might want to explore further. There's almost always google videos or youtube videos that offer a guide to just about any type of meditation out there with instructions and guided meditations to follow and put you on the right track for whatever you might be interested in.

 

Good luck with your search. I like PMR myself because it's not very spiritually flavored, but as I said, sometimes I'll go with another type just to keep things interesting. Even though I don't believe in Chakra, mine must be pretty clean and aligned well considering how many times and how many different ways I've 'aligned' it. Even if I don't believe in something, I usually try my best to follow the instructions given. Trying to keep an open mind and all that.

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Guest ephymeris

Thanks for these links! It gave me the idea to look for some free meditation podcasts for my iPod! It's opened a whole new world for me as far as guided meditation ony own schedule. :)

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest xandrani

The best course I've ever done (it cured my anxiety of about 4 years in 6 weeks). It's an 8 week course created my Jon Kabat Zinn.

 

It's an 8 weeks course called MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy). He first used it to control pain relief that couldn't be controlled by medication... he did this in a hospital setting. He then realised the benefits for mental health patients and those who are stressed.

 

I believe meditation should be 'pure', that is without any religion or spiritual mythologies. I did Buddhist meditation for quite a while but the religious side polluted the usefulness of 'pure' meditation. The 8 week course gives you a direct and powerful approach to meditation.

 

Details of the course here:

http://www.umassmed.edu/Content.aspx?id=41254

(It's affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School).

 

It transformed my life in less than 8 weeks like nothing else I've ever done. My parents couldn't believe the change in me either... I was far more emotionally sorted and grounded.

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