Time to Read (using avg wpm): 9 mins
So I was on my ouija board and ol’ great great grandpa and I were arguing again about meditation.
I was telling him that he was always so stressed out because he had no way to cope or release his stress. I suggested meditation.
He said he didn’t need couselling.
I said, “No great great grandpa, not mediation- meditation.”
So I did some research and tried to structure and simplify meditation for great great grandpa but you can look on too if you’d like.
Benefits of Meditation
- Centers you
- Makes you more present
- Relaxes you
- Cleans out your thoughts and give you fresh start
After you meditate for 5 hours a day for 40 years
- Read Minds
- Grow back severed limbs
There are hundreds of techniques and variations, especially because of how mainstream meditation has become. The 3 main techniques from thousands of years ago are:
- Self Inquiry
Mantra meditation, also called transcendental meditation, is a form of meditation where you are given a meaningless sanskrit word to chant in your mind. The word has no meaning so it wont connect you to any material feeling or state. The word is chosen for you by a professional using your horoscope and could be a sound than ranges from Ram to Shiama.
Some have used this method but created their own mantras to repeat. If I practiced transcendental meditation I would do it this way. This is sort of like combining meditation with, what is taught in Napoleon Hill’s book: Think and Grow Rich, autosuggestion.
This way of meditation is taught as a way to discover the self or to achieve self-realization. This is achieved by, who would have guessed, asking questions about yourself. Only those questions that relate directly to the state of “I” or “me”, nothing that has influence on you like your job or your family.
Traditionally kept a secret and only used by monks and priests this technique was revealed and taught to the public by Sri Ramana Maharshi. I know very little about this technique and, for those interested, found that this explanation was the best I could find.
Also called pranayama, the breath meditation is the easiest and highest ROI (return on investment) meditation for me. There is nothing to learn and the benefits are phenomenal. You start by sitting comfortably in the best posture you can, you close your eyes and you breathe. Set a timer for 3 or 4 minutes when you first start because sitting still in silence doing nothing is actually a really tough thing to do. You clear your mind as best as you can, give your thoughts no attention and focus on your breath.
After some practice your brain gets used to it, “Oh were meditating again eh? I know what to do!” and you get into this flow of silence and confidence and breath and awareness and peace and when it’s over you have completely reset into calmness and presence and focus.
At first it’s tough and your brain doesn’t get it and it’s like, “What are you sitting on the ground for dude/dudette? Get up we gotta go do something!”
For a few days your brain resists and you can only handle 3-5 minutes of meditation. Once you break that barrier and you feel the presence and calm and confidence your brain eases back and thinks, “hmmm, maybe this sitting thing aint so bad…”
I’ve only been meditating consistently for about a month and when I started I couldn’t dream of meditating for 10 or 15 minutes, now I hit my 15 minute mark and alarm dings but I just keep sitting there.
Currently I couldn’t see myself meditating for an hour everyday like some of these whack jobs though.
Here I broke it down into the elements:
- Asana (posture)
- Hand Mudra (uh, what do I do with my hands?)
Posture. This is very high up on the list in importance. If you get in the habit of meditating with bad posture, you may be hurting yourself more than helping.
You must have a straight spine, no leaning. Chest out. Bottom sat back. Shoulders relaxed, not tense. Stomach relaxed, not sucked in or pushed out. There are ways of tilting your head based on what meditative practice you are performing but I like to lift my chin a bit for that added confidence. In through the nose and out through the mouth for good oxygen cycling (though this is not the universal way to breathe either).
There are different postures to meditate in but the most well known, and my favorite, is the Lotus Posture. In this position you set your feet up onto your thighs (or as close as you can get (which isn’t very far for me)) with the soles pointing upward. You keep all the posture from the previous paragraph, the only thing that would be added is the feet position. I find that when I attempt the lotus position my body puts itself in a good posture.
When I used to meditate indian-style (criss-cross applesauce), I put a lot of pressure on my lower back. When I sit in (my best attempt at) lotus, my lower back doesn’t have to pull my torso toward my legs because my legs are anchored. Like when you are doing situps and you have someone hold your feet for you; you have an anchor for your feet and your back doesn’t struggle to sit your torso up while still holding your feet down.
Lotus posture is one I recommend trying.
Uh, what do I do with my hands?
There are this many different hand mudras (RIP Carl Sagan) so we will only focus on a couple.
These are the ones I would recommend:
- Buddhist centered mudra
- Touch my thumb to my finger mudra (not actual name)
Buddhist centered mudra
This consists of laying your hands in your lap and locking your fingers. In the lotus position as well, this connects the body and makes one centered.
Touch my thumb to my finger mudra
This is the one I use. You touch a finger to your thumb and rest your hands on your knees or shins, whichever is more comfortable.
Whichever finger you touch to your thumb changes the aura around the mudra. I couldn’t really find any consistency in my research for what mudra meant what. There are so many different branches that assign a different element to each mudra. Here are just a couple if you are interested:
I use the middle finger because it feels more natural to me. I also feel like I can open myself up more when I put my hand out on my knees. I don’t like to bring my hands in to my center and sacrifice my open chest and deepest breathing.
This may be hard for you if you are a fish, otherwise you are probably pretty adept.
As it relates to meditation, your breathing should be deep and slow. In through the nose and out through the mouth (usually). Some say you shouldn’t consciously breathe but just let it happen and observe and others say to intentionally breathe and focus on it to keep thoughts from taking over. Just do what feels natural to you and remember that the goal is to practice focus and physical awareness through breathing.
Don’t think them. Don’t let yourself be distracted.
If you lose your awareness for a second and start daydreaming and the complacency conductor keeps feeding coal to your train of thought and you start thinking about work or school or your lunch with your friends that day, you haven’t failed. Just focus on your breath again and wipe your mind clean.
The point of meditation, as it relates to thoughts, is to practice the ability to control your thoughts in an environment devoid of pressure and expectations. So you become better and better at keeping yourself on track and focused when you are pressured.
Once you have gotten down the concepts above and have been practicing enough for your brain to recognize what meditation is, you can start to experiment or chose a path into the advanced meditation techniques.
Audio Brainwave Entrainment
This one I am experimenting with right now and I will be able to elaborate later when I have used it enough and understand it more. Pretty much though, apparently your brain can be influenced by different sound waves to affect your state or mood. When you play these waves into your ears while you meditate you accelerate the effects.
These are the waves I’m aware of:
- Beta (alert)
- Alpha (relaxed)
- Theta (sleeping, dreaming)
- Delta (sleeping, not dreaming)
Apparently, our ears aren’t able hear these frequencies though.
But humanity is never defeated, so we they came up with binaural beats. This is pretty cool, they have one side of your headphones play a tone at 140Hz and the other play a tone at 130Hz. Your brain, when it combines the tones, comes up with the difference of 10Hz, which is on the scale of an alpha wave, and suddenly you are interpreting the sound as an alpha wave, which you would be unable to hear otherwise. Pretty cool.
If you are interested in this stuff here are some resources: (or just look up brainwave entrainment or binaural beats in Google/Youtube)
This is where you get into the ancient Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Martial arts stuff. You hire a yogi, pay money (probably) for training and devote a big part of yourself to being a meditation master.
If meditation speaks to you enough that you go for this route then awesome. Meditation is a powerful tool and if you read books like Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, a book recommended by Steve Jobs, you realize just how powerful it can be (if you believe what he says in it).
There are disciplines you can try like Kriya Yoga (The discipline practiced in Autobiography of a Yogi) or many more. Here are some I saw on a website.
Right now I’m just sticking to my 10-20 minutes of breath meditation.
Meditation isn’t for everybody.
Well, actually it is.
Meditation can be a powerful and effective way to improve yourself in almost any area. All meditation really is at it’s foundation is taking time for yourself. Turning off your body and your brain and just relaxing and focusing.
It has been used by the likes of…
- Tony Robbins
- T. Harv Eker
- Steve Jobs
- Rupert Murdoch
- Ellen Degeneres
- Oprah Winfrey
- Katy Perry
…all powerful and/or successful people who decided that meditation would be a part of their day.
Try it for a while, you might like it, and hopefully it will even bring improvements to your life!
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