Meditation Is Cool

Why did I give Meditation a whole featured page?

In all the exercises I’ve done, in all of the books I’ve read, this is the single thing that has had more positive impact on my attitude and life than anything else.

I was just being exposed to the writings of James Allen and he kept mentioning Meditation as a necessary step in being able to advance your life. It sounded interesting to me although I’d never really thought about it before.  I was just getting started on my self-improvement kick so I thought it was worth a try. I had no idea what I was actually trying to accomplish or how to do it, but I got up every morning when the house was quiet and gave it a shot for an hour. In the beginning I would close my eyes and although my method did not meet the standards of a zen master I always came away having realized some cool thoughts or ideas during a session. In the least it gave me time to organize and think about what I wanted to accomplish that day. Usually when I stood up I was filled with enthusiasm ready to tackle the day.

That was three years ago. I wasn’t always consistent and also found sitting for an entire hour was impractical on many days. What I can share with you now is that you can get 90% of the benefits of meditation by consistently practicing every day as little as 10 minutes but if you can do 20 minutes, that’s a nice solid start. It’s better to do it a shorter amount of time each and every day, rather than a longer amount of time skipping days in between. The main benefits that I have experienced are:

1) A calmer disposition throughout the day, especially in the face of stressful events

2) More joy from ordinary everyday living, my children, wife, and friendships

3) Present awareness for the first time in my life, I realized that prior to meditation I don’t think I ever or rarely experienced the present moment. I was always living for the future or thinking about the past. In a sense we miss the bulk of our lives while being carried away in the river of our thoughts, unaware we are missing the present moment continuously.

4) Being able to hear my inner voice, and much more in touch and trusting of my intuition. I’ve come to trust this voice as a steadfast guide and usually act swiftly and confidently knowing that the next steps on my authentic path are revealing themselves to me.

If you want to know more about meditation I have included more material below from James Allen and also from a book my brother Andy, a buddhist teacher, sent me called “Search Inside Yourself.” It is a course that an employee at Google developed to teach these concepts to co-workers. The course produced amazing results and people realized profound transformations so the book was written to share these ideas with the world. Andy now teaches this course at the Coca-Cola Corporate Offices in Atlanta and is experiencing similar results. It’s a good introduction to mindfulness meditation and also includes combining it with the concept of developing your emotional intelligence.

Another resource Andy turned me on to was the Insight Timer App for my phone (Free). It allows me to set a timer for the duration of my mediation session and it tracks my progress, keeps a log of your history, shows your statistics, and has a built in journal. It has the added benefit of showing who else is meditating at the moment so you won’t feel like you’re the only one and you can send them messages too. It’s cool. Check out their website here:

Insight Timer Website

You might also like this video by Brian Johnson,
“5 Reasons you Should Meditate and 10 tips on How to Do It”

Why You Should Meditate

Here are a few paragraphs from James Allen that grabbed me and made me want to give it a try. Read a longer portion from “The Way of Peace” and “The Mastery of Destiny” below after a few things I pulled from “Search Inside Yourself” which has a more modern view of the benefits and a different approach to meditation in general.

James Allen – “The Way of Peace”

He who would secure any worldly advantage must be willing to work vigorously for it, and he would be foolish indeed who, waiting with folded hands, expected it to come to him for the mere asking. Do not then vainly imagine that you can obtain the heavenly possessions without making an effort. Only when you commence to work earnestly in the Kingdom of Truth will you be allowed to partake of the Bread of Life, and when you have, by patient and uncomplaining effort, earned the spiritual wages for which you ask, they will not be withheld from you.

If you really seek Truth, and not merely your own gratification; if you love it above all worldly pleasures and gains; more, even, than happiness itself, you will be willing to make the effort necessary for its achievement.

If you would be freed from sin and sorrow; if you would taste of that spotless purity for which you sigh and pray; if you would realize wisdom and knowledge, and would enter into the possession of profound and abiding peace, come now and enter the path of meditation, and let the supreme object of your meditation be Truth.

At the outset, meditation must be distinguished from idle reverie. There is nothing dreamy and unpractical about it. It is a process of searching and uncompromising thought which allows nothing to remain but the simple and naked truth. Thus meditating you will no longer strive to build yourself up in your prejudices, but, forgetting self, you will remember only that you are seeking the Truth. And so you will remove, one by one, the errors which you have built around yourself in the past, and will patiently wait for the revelation of Truth which will come when your errors have been sufficiently removed.

Select some portion of the day in which to meditate, and keep that period sacred to your purpose. The best time is the very early morning when the spirit of repose is upon everything. All natural conditions will then be in your favor; the passions, after the long bodily fast of the night, will be subdued, the excitements and worries of the previous day will have died away, and the mind, strong and yet restful, will be receptive to spiritual instruction. Indeed, one of the first efforts you will be called upon to make will be to shake off lethargy and indulgence, and if you refuse you will be unable to advance, for the demands of the spirit are imperative.

To be spiritually awakened is also to be mentally and physically awakened. The sluggard and the self-indulgent can have no knowledge of Truth. He who, possessed of health and strength, wastes the calm, precious hours of the silent morning in drowsy indulgence is totally unfit to climb the heavenly heights.

He whose awakening consciousness has become alive to its lofty possibilities, who is beginning to shake off the darkness of ignorance in which the world is enveloped, rises before the stars have ceased their vigil, and, grappling with the darkness within his soul, strives, by holy aspiration, to perceive the light of Truth while the unawakened world dreams on.

from “The Mastery of Destiny”

At first, the time spent in actual meditation is short – perhaps only half an hour in the early morning – the knowledge gained in that half hour of vivid aspiration and concentrated thought is embodied in practice during the whole day.

In meditation, therefore, the entire life of a man is involved; and as he advances in its practice he becomes more and more fitted to perform the duties of life in the circumstances in which he may be placed, for he becomes stronger, holier, calmer, and wiser.

From “Search Inside Yourself” by Chade-Meng Tan

A study on meditation showed that after just eight weeks of mindfulness training, the anxiety level of the subjects was measurably lower. Those in the meditation group showed significantly increased activity in the parts of their brains associated with positive emotions and a marked increase in developing their immune system.

There is nothing mysterious about meditation. It’s really just mental training. The big secret of meditation, at least at the beginning stage, is it gets you to a state where your mind is relaxed and alert at the same time. When the mind becomes highly relaxed and alert at the same time, three wonderful qualities of mind naturally emerge: calmness, clarity, and happiness. Happiness as it turns out is the default state of the mind. So when the mind is calm and clear, it returns to its default, and that default is happiness.

Meditation is exercise for the mind. When you go to the gym, you are training your body so that is can gain more physical abilities. In the same way, meditation is like training your mind so that you can gain more mental abilities. Your mind becomes calmer and more perceptive, you can focus your attention more strongly and for longer periods.

A second similarity between exercise and meditation is they can both change the quality of your life. If you never exercise, then put yourself on a regular exercise regime, a few weeks or months later, you may find many significant changes in yourself. You will have more energy, you can get more stuff done, you get sick less often, you look better in the mirror, and you just feel great about yourself. The same is true for meditation. After a few weeks or months of starting a regular meditation regime, you have more energy; your mind becomes calmer, clearer, and more joyful; you get sick less; you smile more; your social life improves (because you smile more); and you feel great about yourself. And you don’t even need to sweat.

(Here’s a short excerpt that I include as a word of caution if you do decide to start a practice.)

I found it fairly easy to get people started on mindfulness practice. The bad news is after the first few days, many people find it hard to sustain the practice. Many of us start the first few days with great enthusiasm , committing ourselves to ten to twenty minutes a day, but after that initial enthusiasm, it starts to feel like a chore. You sit there bored and restless, wondering why time goes by so slowly, and then after a while, you decide you have more important and/or interesting things to do, such as getting stuff done. Before you know it, you have lost your daily practice. Happily, the difficulty of sustaining a practice often lasts only a few months, then you find your quality of life changing dramatically. Once you reach that point, it is so compelling, you just cannot not practice anymore.

 

Okay that was the Quick-Wisdom Part. If you have time and want to dig a little deeper, you might appreciate these additional Resources on Meditation: