10 Facts about Meditation
1. Meditation is NOT Relaxation.
Meditation can actually be quite the opposite of relaxing as it unties the psychological defects in your character. This will be a painful experience. Of course, the goal is to be drawn into a deeper state of peace over time, but the process of getting to that deeper state of peace is not enjoyable.
The idea that meditation is synonymous with relaxation tends to be more prevalent in Western societies. It is these Western societies that woefully put all of there faith in science and technology. The answers to life’s greatest mysteries will not be discovered through science because science is a product of the mind, and the mind is the obstacle that stands between you and truth. What is born out of thought only creates more thought, and this is ultimately the wrong path. Instead of doing more thinking, do no thinking. This is what meditation is in the most literal sense – slowing down the mind.
2. Thought and Time are not Separate from Each Other
Depression and psychological suffering are the result of too much time. Meditation gets rid of the illusion of time. Past and future never exist. They are merely a conception. As you slow down the mind through meditation your state of being merges with the timeless realm. There, you will no longer experience psychological pain. You will see time for the illusion that it is. How can there be suffering when one is no longer subject to the burden of the past? Life doesn’t happen in the past and future, it is found only in the now. As the great sages have said, “live in the now!”.
It may be a bit confusing to learn that thought and time are the same. So, I must make it clear. Sure there is time – Dinosaurs existed millions of years ago, eventually the galaxy is going to collide into another one and be destroyed. But the problem is that you are experiencing time when the only thing that you can possibly experience is truly now. The past no longer exists and the future is just a concept.
“It is people like us, us physicists, who know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion” – Albert Einstein
3. Meditation is Potentially Very Dangerous
When you begin going deeply in meditation you must be careful. It is possible to develop psychic disturbances by meditating improperly and with no or poor guidance. I would say it is even possible to go insane because of improper meditation.
Meditation can become so effective so quickly that you begin to feel as though it is really simple. This is when mistakes and accidents happen. Remember: “Only fools rush in”. There is alot more to the pursuit of inner peace and joy than just meditation. Love meditation, but love God even more. “Strive to enter through the narrow gates”
Try to read several books on meditation by different authors. In the words of Chris Duane, “Listen to all. Follow none.”. However, please understand that books will only get you so far on the spiritual path. Eventually you need to give up the spiritual books because truth is beyond all that is conceptual.
4. You Never do NOT have Time for Meditation
Yes – I said that right. So many people feel as though they don’t have time for meditation and that they’re schedule is too busy. They have no idea what meditation is all about. If you start meditating effectively you will be able to manage your time better. Ultimately, meditation is the answer to time and not a problem to time. Just try it! Start by listening to your thoughts with the goal to bring the subconscious mind into the fully conscious mind.
Once you’ve begun to access the joy that is your true nature then everything else will feel trivial. Unfortunately society has yet to realize this. Kids are not being taught what they should be taught in public schools. Humans collectively are still under the influence of the egoic train of thought and are thus prevented from becoming they’re highest and best self. I hope this changes soon, but I am skeptical.
5. You Must Abstain from Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol and meditation effect the same ares of the brain – the areas that are responsible for keeping your attention in the here and now. A glass of one or a beer every now and then are ok. However, it is VERY important that you avoid getting intoxicated. This will have an “upper and downer” effect on the nervous system. Your mind will become confused as to what reality is. Unfortunately, this was something that I had to learn completely on my mind as I used to enjoy drinking frequently. I was unaware just how damaging alcohol is to the body.
If you are going to drink then do so in moderation. However, I believe it is best to completely cut-out alcohol. Alcohol is the anti-thesis of meditation. Combing the two will make you even sicker (psychologically). And again, this is most definately something that students are not taught in classrooms. Society has a long way to go.
6. Meditation is the Cure to Boredom
I have been asked by a couple of people, “How do I keep meditation from being so boring?”. What they don’t realize is that they are definately not meditating if it is making them bored. Meditation is the answer to boredom! My response to that question is always, “Congratulations. You are experiencing Dukkha – precisely what The Buddha was talking about when he explains that all life is suffering or “unsatisfactoriness’. And being aware of this suffering is the beginning of the quest for truth. Some spiritual teachers even advise their students to go out in to the World and suffer more. Suffering will eventually draw you deeper into the spiritual realm. Of course, most people do not like this suggestion. But the spiritual path is not about fun and games. It’s about suffering and the relieving of suffering, essentially. I even don’t like calling the quest (spirituality) as it makes it sound like its all fun and games. Maybe call it “truth-seeking” or maybe just anything besides “spirituality”.
7. Meditation is not a School of Thought or a Philosophy
Philosophy consists of logic and logic is created by thought. And as I have already noted, meditation is about simply being and making the mind quiet. Truth presents itself only to the seeker whose mind is completely quiet. I believe it is accurate to say that philosophy is actually just more suffering.
Philosophy can be interesting, but it is highly impractical. I once had a psychologist tell me that “[Philosophy is] …eating buttered popcorn and thinking you’re getting nourishment”. I must agree. While a degree in Philosophy may sound impressive, the only practical thing you can do is to teach it in a classroom. And even this sounds like a bit of non-sense. Why would you desire to learn it so that you can teach it so your students can only teach it to their students, and so on and so forth?
Several years ago I purchased “Philosophy for Dummies” by Tom Morris. I also purchased a couple of books by Friedrich Nietzsche. The ladder author was just too complex in his writing style and too difficult to understand. The two books were called “Human, All too Human”, and I believe that the second one was “Beyond Good and Evil”. “Philosophy for Dummies” was actually interesting and a little enjoyable. The most practical idea I remember from that book is when he talks about Socrates’ famous statement, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. The author tells us that although this may be true, the opposite is even more true – “The unlived life is not worth examining”. Brilliant! Contemplation can be nice, but never let it get in the way of your life and get in the way of enjoying yourself.
8. You cannot Force Meditation
In most cases, there has to be a need for meditation. Someone who has lead a life of peace and tranquility is unlikely to go deeply into the spiritual realm. And this suffering has to be deep. To know the peace and bliss of God you must first have had to experience the torments of Hell. You cannot know peace without first knowing the disturbance of peace (everything the mind is).
Don’t try to make meditation happen on its on. You have to be ready for it. There is a Buddhist Proverb, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear”. From my experience, this is completely true. So, do not force meditation. If you do force it, you will be damaging the nervous system instead of healing it.
Another point to make here is from the Hindu saying “Bhoga is Yoga”. “Bhoga” refers to a person who lives the lay life (e.g. going to school, having a career, wife and kids, etc.”. If meditation is not the right path for you, then go out into the World. This too will exhaust your karma and can allow meditation to present itself later on.
9. “Self-Realization” is the First Realization You Will Have
“Self-Realization” is the realization that the body has no existence whatsoever. This will most likely be the most shocking experience you will ever have. A cosmic “shockwave” will run through your whole body. That being said, it is still only a very basic realization yet takes most people many years to acheive. It can even eventually feel as though you just keep going deeper and deeper into meditation but spiritual enlightenment keeps evading you.
Experiencing the so-called “self-realization” was probably the most fascinating moment of my life. I, being the fool that I was, rushed in! Meditation practically seemed like an addiction to me (definately not a good thing). A holistic approach to overall wellness is definately a must. And The Holy Bible says to do everything in moderation.
10. “Self-Enquiry” – The Other Tool for Union with God
Self-Enquiry (Sanskrit – “Atma Vichar”) is technically not a type of meditation. It is in its own category. It is the other path for realizing God. The idea is to find what sensation is causing the “I”- thought. Find where the “I” is coming from. The “I”-thought or “I am”-thought is the first thought/realization you can have. So, finding your sense of being and asking, “where is this sense of seperateness coming from” will bring the mind back to its source. Sri Ramana Maharshi, in his book “Be As You Are” tells us “Find the Source of “I” and abide there”.
A common misconception in this practice is that you need to ask “who am I?” in your head over and over. But Self-Enquiry is not an intellectual exercise nor is it a mantra.
If you want to further study “Self-Enquiry” then I highly recommend buying a copy of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi’s “Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi”. It is avaiable for purchase at Amazon.com.