A Few Words about Meditation

The mental exercises in this book utilize a variety of meditation, visualization and active imagination techniques. Many people experience a block about meditation; they think they can't do it. If you are one of these people, please don't be intimidated by this word. I find there are some common misconceptions about meditation that make it more difficult for people.

Misconception Number One - You have to be disciplined to meditate. Meditation should be done for a certain amount of time every day. You should sit in a certain way. You should have one practice and stick to it.

For some people this approach to meditation works. If it does, that's great. But if it doesn't, it doesn't mean that meditation is not for you. People lead hectic lives these days, and the pace is increasing. For people with families, full-time jobs, demanding schedules, it can be almost impossible to fit in even a half hour a day of meditation. And these people could certainly use the extra energy given by meditation!

Meditation can be woven into your day, in moments here and there. At your desk, in between errands, in the line at the bank. Close your eyes, focus on your breath, and practice any one of the methods you will find in this book. Open your eyes, and it's like you've had a bath, a cool drink on a hot day, a little journey to another state of being. Meditative time is not the same as "real time." A few seconds of meditation can give you as much energy as a night's sleep or a cup of coffee. It can be helpful to have periods of retreat, an afternoon, a day or week that you set aside for being quiet and reflective, but it isn't essential. We live in a sound-byte world, where our days are often fragmented and chaotic. Attention spans are short. Rather than fighting this, we gain more energy, become less tense, by accepting it. One can move in and out of a meditative state in a matter of seconds.

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This brings us to -- Misconception Number Two. The state of calm and peace you may experience at times when you meditate is something you should always feel when you meditate, and, not only that, you should feel it all the rest of the time too. If you meditate, you will never yell at your kids or spouse, will never get angry at your boss. If you do, there's something wrong with your meditation, or meditation isn't working for you and isn't worth doing.

This is like thinking that because you're going to get hungry again, there's no point in eating. Day and night, we experience constant, shifting states of consciousness. If we try to hang onto the nice ones and deny the painful or less comfortable ones, we end up tense, worried, self-judging and generally unhappy. As you meditate, you will become familiar with a more grounded, centered, spacious state of consciousness. You won't be able to maintain it always. The old habit forces of the mind are powerful, and so are the external pulls and demands. To begin to experience a state of loving awareness and increased energy, to remember it, to know the possibility of returning to it over and over, this is the beauty of meditation.

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Misconception Number Three - related to Number Two. The purpose of meditation is to calm the mind. Therefore, if you have a lot of thoughts, that's not good. Good meditation means having an empty mind with few thoughts.

There's no such thing as "bad" meditation. You can't fail at doing meditation. Of course it's nice to experience a serene mind, empty of worries. It's wonderful to experience bliss and peace, a state of consciousness beyond the stresses and demands of daily life. These states are emphasized in many spiritual traditions, where people meditate to attain enlightenment. If you meditate for any length of time, especially in the framework of a spiritual tradition, you will experience these states. However, in their desire to attain a certain state of mind, a lot of people end up approaching meditation as a battle, a struggle with their own mind, their lack of discipline, their "ego." It becomes another exercise in will.

It doesn't take much self-discipline and will power to close your eyes for a couple of minutes periodically throughout the day. It takes remembering It is about exercising your power of choice. I can either feel stressed, anxious, worried and fatigued, or I can take a few minutes to enter another state of consciousness. It's up to me. Which do I choose? I choose for a few minutes to become centered, relaxed and calm. I may soon find myself again worried and fatigued. That's OK. I gave myself a break, I experienced a different state. I exercised choice. It's important to highlight the change, the moment of calm that comes, rather than to despair over the return to the usual state of mind.

In any meditation you will experience lots of thoughts, feelings, distractions from the central practice. So be it. If meditation can give you the experience of not fighting yourself, of accepting what is, at any given moment...then you already have more energy.

We waste a lot of energy in battling ourselves. You know yourself. You can find the meditations that are right for you. Some people need to focus and concentrate their minds, some people need to let their minds journey. Some days you may need a meditation that helps you to focus, other days you may need to wander. Trust yourself. The purpose of this book is to give you many options, lots of choices. Become familiar with the meditations, and you won't really even have to think about it. The right one for the right time will arise as necessary.

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Many of the exercises in this book involve visualization. People often dismiss visualization, saying they can't see things in their mind, therefore they can't do it. That's misconception number four. Visualization doesn't mean you have to have a completely clear image in your mind. You can have a general sense, or impression, of what you are trying to see. Or you can simply tell yourself what is happening: "I am surrounding myself with light," and feel that it is happening. To visualize means to sense inwardly, to make real in your consciousness what you want to experience in your day to day life. You can do this with images, words, or feelings.

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Meditation is something you can do, as you choose, to support your life and growth, to bring you joy, and to increase your energy. It can open the door to a new place in yourself, a new way of experiencing this universe, a new connection with all that is, and to a source of energy that is constantly flowing.

A Few Words about Meditation

Following the Breath

Setting Boundaries and Conserving Your Energy

Awareness as Energy

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