The Basics of Meditation

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

To meditate is “to engage in deep and serious thought.” It suggests focusing the thoughts on a subject from every point of view, to understand all its sides and relations. Thus, the process of meditation involves viewing something thoroughly. 

The end product of meditation is to perceive something for what it truly is.

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LOOKING

Meditation is the process of looking, not thinking. Thinking is often used to avoid looking at things to such a degree that it degenerates into a never-ending “figure-figure.” In meditation one simply looks. If there is any thinking at all, it is to find out where to look.

The only thing that can be said about looking is that to look one must be willing to be there and face things without flinching or avoiding. If you cannot be there, then you cannot look and experience. Thus, in meditation, after closing one’s eyes, one simply decides to be there.

Simply look and do not try to figure things out.

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BEING THERE

You may assume a lotus position but that is not necessary. The necessary part is to keep your back straight and upright. You may sit in a straight-backed chair if that is more comfortable. When sitting in a chair, however, you must keep feet flat on the floor, and hands in the lap. Do not move or do anything. Just be there.

After closing your eyes, simply observe what is there. At first, you may perceive only blackness. But soon you may become aware of light and darkness, various sounds and smells, the temperature in the room, the pull of gravity, the taste in your mouth, and scores of other such perceptions from the body. The mind may present pictures of current or past situations, thoughts, emotions and conclusions.

It is important to understand who is observing. The body’s eyes are closed so you cannot be the body. You are observing the mind so you cannot be the mind. Who are you then? In meditation you simply are an observer. And as you meditate you would discover many things about yourself.

As you sit with your eyes closed all kind of things will come up, some flattering and some not so flattering. Do not get into any justification or “figure-figure.” Just be there and face them. Your sense of perception may heighten as a result.

Simply be there so you can look at what is there.

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CONFRONTING

The essential part of being there is to face without flinching or avoiding. This is called confronting. Pictures may come up that remind you of something embarrassing or painful. The normal reaction would be to flinch and look away. But in meditation you must continue to be there and confront them, no matter how painful and embarrassing that may be. As you persevere, such painful pictures will disappear.

There may be a tendency to squirm, twitch, move or change position. This occurs when you encounter something difficult to confront but you are not yet aware of it. Make sure before you start meditating that you are in a comfortable position. Then just be there without moving or doing anything else. However, if the discomfort becomes too much, it does no good to suppress it. When that happens, it is better to readjust your body in a comfortable position and then restart the session all over again.

During meditation, certain physical reactions may occur, such as, stabs of pain, drowsiness, dullness of senses, twitches in muscles, and so on. Do not do anything. Do not resist or try to suppress them. Just be there and confront. These physical reactions will disappear after some time.

There is a safety factor built into the mind. That is, the mind would never present something so embarrassing, discomforting, or painful that it is overwhelming. Just be there with whatever comes up. It is important that you let the mind present things to you, and not to present things to the mind. If you find yourself getting involved in thoughts or doing something else mentally then simply realize this fact. Put your attention on breathing and do nothing else. This will get you back to just being there.

As you confront the material presented by the mind, new realizations occur. Your ability to confront comes up, and as this happens, the mind finds it safe to present more material that you were not aware of before. And so, it continues.

Try ending each session of meditation at a point when some persisting reaction has just gone away. Do not end a session while you are in the middle of such a reaction. The end result of meditation is not necessarily more information, but it is a heightened awareness of who you are and an increased confidence in your being.

Simply face what is there without flinching or avoiding.

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SUMMARY

Meditation is an adventure. You embark on it to become more aware. It helps you discover the causes of conditions and gain control over them. And the results are beyond any expectations.

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