Meditation - The Natural Way To Happiness
How much more proof and experience do we need to wake up and realise that temporary 'happiness' from smoking excessive amounts of tobacco, taking drugs, alcohol abuse or overeating is the road to ruin and misery?
A first time visitor to Planet Earth would conclude that we are truly a backward race as we would have no answer to the question: "If humans know that cigarettes and alcohol cause cancer, heart disease and a myriad of other illnesses and misery; sugar causes obesity and diabetes, while drugs poison the body and mind, why are they readily available?"
The good news is there is a natural way to remind us how to be happy - through meditation - the superfood for the mind. It's been around for thousands of years, has no negative side effects and our brain power is enhanced and not ruined.
There are countless scientific studies showing the huge benefits of meditation for the mind, the body and our general wellbeing. Meditation helps relieve depression, stress and many illnesses, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Another bonus is greater concentration which can help us be more successful in our careers.
By meditating for just 15 minutes which is just 1% of your day, the other 99% will become more fulfilling.
Authentic meditation techniques oxygenate the brain and body. The more oxygen, the better our health. In addition, with more oxygen and activation of the pineal and pituitary glands, the meditator can feel a natural high within minutes. BUT like anything it takes practice and getting high to escape the world is not the goal. The goal of meditation is to feel our true nature as a loving human being and to develop calmness, contentment and success in whatever path we choose.
What is meditation?
In a nutshell, meditation is a simple way to help us unwind in the still space between two thoughts. Meditation is easy to practise every day, takes up hardly any time and regardless of your beliefs, it relaxes the mind by calming the breath.
Maybe you think it's not necessary to meditate because you keep fit. Meditation is different because it creates a moment for inner peace without external distractions and without body movement. Other healthy activities are beneficial, but meditation takes you to your natural state of being.
Understandably, there is a lot of misinformation about meditation. Meditation is not about spending two minutes flat on your back after a yoga class and falling asleep! It is not contemplation, which is of course beneficial if positive results are forthcoming.
Meditation in its purest form leads to balance in every action - the middle path.
You're too busy to meditate
We manage to find plenty of time to worry each day, so we can find the time to do something good for our wellbeing also! Nobody is that busy or that important to take a few minutes each day to meditate. Meditation will also have a positive effect on those around you especially if it makes you less angry and less stressed.
The good news is that according to the ancient text, Yoga Vasishta, the great sage Vasishta states that just 13 seconds of meditation has the same auspiciousness as giving away a valuable possession to charity; 101 seconds of meditation gives the same merit as performing a sacred rite and 12 minutes of meditation multiplies the merit 1,000 fold.
Meditation brings gain with daily practice. You don't have to go on a 10 day silent retreat to try meditation. I am against this approach for beginners - too many quit and the ones that don't soon slip back into their old routine. Retreats are of benefit but not if the student goes away and doesn't meditate even for a few minutes each day.
How to meditate?
Luckily, meditation works even if the mind is busy or if change is not apparent immediately. There are of course many ways up the mountain, but the simplest and most powerful way to meditate is to watch your breath and ignore your thoughts. The breath is the most powerful mantra of all to focus on during meditation and throughout the day.
Yogis breathe in and out of the nostrils. Why? Firstly the hairs in the nose act as an important filter when we breathe. Secondly it makes the mind calmer. Thirdly if the mouth is closed you cannot express negatives to others!
Tangible progress comes to meditators who:
1) Observe the natural flow of the breath through the nostrils without controlling it. Calmness comes as the breath naturally slows down.
2) Ignore their negative thoughts and action the positive ones.
3) Practice daily even for a few minutes.
How to begin and when to practise?
Choose the same time of day and stick to it. I meditate every morning after a shower when the body is warm and before I eat breakfast, but there's never a bad time. A bus or a train journey to work is also a good place to practise.
Find a quiet place (without background music) and sit on a chair or cross legged on the floor with your spine straight and your chin slightly down. Turn off your phone. The world will still be spinning when you finish! By keeping the chin down, the thyroid is slightly activated to keep you awake.
Close your eyes and your mouth and slowly breathe in and out of your nose. Do not hold your breath or breathe with discomfort. Just be aware of the breath.
You are now going to focus on your breath in six of the main chakras. At each chakra observe a couple of inches inside at the front of the spine for anywhere between two to five minutes depending on how much time you have.
Start to focus at the centre of the forehead. Observe inside. Just watch your inhalation and exhalation. Be relaxed. Calmness will come. Focus there. Don't be concerned about your thoughts. After a few minutes, move your attention down to the throat area again a couple of inches inside, watch the breath again, then follow this process by observing inside the centre of the chest, the belly button area, genital area and at the bottom of the spine.
After some time, slowly open your eyes still watching the breath. Repeat as often as you can. Twice per day is great or when stress comes take a few moments to meditate.
Can something so simple really bring benefit? See for yourself and make it part of your daily routine. When you want to learn more, then find an experienced teacher. Enjoy your meditation!
I will leave you to contemplate on the words of the great yogi Paramahamsa Hariharananda:
"Breath mastery is self mastery - As is the breath so is the mind; as is the mind so are you."
David Green has been meditating for 18 years which helped him find more balance in his stressful career in finance. David is helping companies to bring meditation into the workplace. www.the-invisiblehand.com