Basic Meditation

Meditation is key to building health.  Sleep is not sufficient.  When you sleep, you lose contact with your body and mind.  Sitting quietly with the mind relaxed, you can release tension and cultivate greater awareness of your physical and mental condition and needs.  This allows your body-mind to accumulate energy in a way not possible when you are asleep, and the time spent in self-awareness and reflection will enable you to discover your needs and heart’s desires.  

Reclaiming Your Power

As the Stoic sage Epictetus wrote in I:9 of the Golden Sayings a man can align himself with the body (senses and passions) which we share with the animals, or he can align himself with the higher powers of Reason and Thought which we share with the gods and God.  Epictetus wrote: 

"But God hath introduced Man to be a spectator of Himself and of His works; and not a spectator only, but also an interpreter of them. Wherefore it is a shame for man to begin and to leave off where the brutes do. Rather he should begin there, and leave off where Nature leaves off in us: and that is at contemplation, and understanding, and a manner of life that is in harmony with herself. See then that ye die not without being spectators of these things."

Proper meditation is practicing being a spectator or Witness of God, His creation, including your life, and especially your thoughts.  You can't change what you are doing until you really know what you are doing, and what drives you, and you can't know until you watch yourself carefully.  

So meditation, or better, Witnessing, gives you an opportunity to know thyself in depth.  In particular, it will help you to discover your anger, and who you are angry at.  Anger (or hatred) is a womanly weakness that robs you of vital energy.  In fact, whatever anger you hold hurts you more than anyone else.  Moreover, when angry you can't see or think clearly because your mind is enraged.  

You become like the person for whom you hold the most anger.  Generally speaking, most weak people are angry at one or both of their parents.  To get free of this anger you must forgive the object of your anger – your mother, your father, or anyone else against whom you hold a grudge. 

The purpose of meditation or Witnessing is yoga.

Yoga

The word "yoga" is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj which means to bind, join, attach, to direct or concentrate upon, to use, to apply.  Our English words "yoke" and "union" are derived from the same root. 

Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems of ancient Indo-European philosophy.

The Katha Upanishad describes yoga thus:

"When the senses are stilled, when the mind is at rest, when the intellect wavers not–then, say the wise, is reached the highest stage. This steady control of the senses and mind has been defined as yoga. He who attains it is free from delusion."

Patanjali systematized yoga in his work, The Yoga Sutras. In the second aphorism of the first chapter of this classic, Patanjali describes yoga as "chitta vrtti nirodha" which translates as subsidence of the modifications of the mind.

In other words, the goal of yoga is stopping thought, which liberates you from bondage and self-destruction by ignorance, greed and anger, and enables you to know that you (your ego or thoughts) are not GOD. 

"Be still and know that I am God..."

Psalm 46:10

Meditation For Liberty

You are on the battlefield of life.  Your life and liberty are on the line.  Wrong moves can lead you into suffering and slavery.  Dwelling in the past or fantasizing about the future can cause you to lose the plot.

The price of your liberty is eternal vigilance.  Vigilance is nothing but being Present and Aware to what is really going on both inside and outside of you. To navigate life successfully you need to be Present Now.  

Meditation is a practice of being Present in the Now, practicing refusing to be seduced away from vigilance by random thoughts coming from nowhere. 

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

2 Corinthians 3:17

Are these the only works of Providence within us? What words suffice to praise or set them forth? Had we but understanding, should we ever cease hymning and blessing the Divine Power, both openly and in secret, and telling of His gracious gifts? Whether digging or ploughing or eating, should we not sing the hymn to God:-- Great is God, for that He hath given us such instruments to till the ground withal: Great is God, for that He hath given us hands and the power of swallowing and digesting; of unconsciously growing and breathing while we sleep! Thus should we ever have sung; yea and this, the grandest and divinest hymn of all:-- Great is God, for that He hath given us a mind to apprehend these things, and duly to use them! What then! seeing that most of you are blinded, should there not be some one to fill this place, and sing the hymn to God on behalf of all men? What else can I that am old and lame do but sing to God? Were I a nightingale, I should do after the manner of a nightingale. Were I a swan, I should do after the manner of a swan. But now, since I am a reasonable being, I must sing to God: that is my work: I do it, nor will I desert this my post, as long as it is granted me to hold it; and upon you too I call to join in this self-same hymn.

– Epictetus, The Golden Sayings 1:1 –

Basic Meditation Practice

Basic meditation consists of regulating your breath, posture, and attention to produce a state of deep relaxation and clear wakefulness. Basic meditation practice involves sitting quietly and managing your attention to allow your breath to become smooth and quiet. 

Take a seat on a chair that enables you to sit with feet flat on the floor, back erect, and ears aligned with your shoulders; or if you can, you can sit cross-legged on the ground. Key points of posture are:

  • Head lifted
  • Midriff lifted
  • Tailbone points downward or forward so that the pelvis forms a bowl containing the abdominal contents
  • Elbows are slightly bent
  • Palms on knees or hands lightly clasped in lap
  • Feet flat on floor (if in a chair)

Let your eyes close about three quarters, and maintain a soft gaze on a point on the floor about 3 feet in front of you. 

Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth.

Bring your attention to your breath. Let the inhalation fill your lower abdomen, and with the exhalation let the abdomen empty.  

Mentally start counting your exhalations.  Start with 1, 2, 3, etc.  So you will inhale, then exhale and count 1; inhale, then exhale while counting 2, etc.. Once you reach 9, return to 1 and start over. 

As you continue counting the exhalations, let all unnecessary tension drop from your head, face, arms, body, legs, etc. into the earth.  If it helps you, think “1.....relaxing” (inhale) “2....relaxing” and so on.

If your attention wanders, and you find yourself caught up in thoughts, as soon as you notice, just bring your attention back to your breath.  

Don't pay attention to the thoughts that tell you that you aren't doing it right, that you can't do it, or whatever.  Just relax and treat the thoughts like clouds in your sky – let them pass, don't pay them attention.  

Settle into the Witness

You are practicing declaring your independence from thoughts.  You are practicing connecting to Infinite Awareness. 

Continue your focus on the exhalations, letting the mind do what it will without giving it attention, for about 5 minutes.

When you are ready to resume normal awareness, swish your tongue and saliva around your mouth and swallow, open your eyes, and gradually move your head, arms, and legs. 

Just a short period of quietude like this can provide deep rest to your mind and body.  Try it whenever you need a break.

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