So … You might not think that meditation is a therapy, but learning how to do it can bring enormous benefits, physically and mentally.
Why should meditation help you get better?
Chinese medicine has been around for certainly three thousand years (and probably more). It is still in very wide use worldwide. It puts ‘man’ between heaven and earth, combining yang and yin. When we die, yang and yin separate, leaving the remains of a body (yin) but no life (yang).
The more yang side of us is the active, questing Mind or Shen-Mind.
Although our bodies do let us down health-wise, it is our minds and the actions we take that more often lead us into ill-health.
Western medicine began to accept that psychological and emotional factors (so-called ‘psychosomatic’ factors) might cause disease only a few hundred years ago, but the Chinese model of disease, by describing how we are made up of yang and yin, has always recognised this.
Consequently, training the Mind to become steady and focused automatically helps us to regulate our health.
We can teach you how to do it, though we don’t run a regular class. There are many schools teaching it, but most of them are connected with some form of religious or philosophical system.
I believe it is possible to teach you how to meditate without it being associated with any philosophy or religion.
However, anyone who reads much about it will soon realise that an ethical dimension goes well with meditating. Ethical positions are developed through philosophical or religious considerations.
So if teaching you to meditate I would probably point you in the directions of a number of different traditions to help you decide for yourself.
Here’s a simple powerful way to meditate. This is the way that many advanced meditators use throughout their lives.
They wouldn’t dream of using any other method.
So just because it’s dead easy to describe, don’t think it’s dead easy to master.
In fact, you’ll probably take years to reach where you want to get to.
But if you stick at it, you’ll discover huge benefits in your ability to
Those abilities bring you better health, mentally and physically.
… when you’ve been practising it for a while.
Until then, I suggest you set aside a special time daily for it.
Then sit down on the stool, chair or cushion.
If on a stool, you kneel, with your calves and knees under the stool. On just a cushion ideally you’ll cross your legs, but no need to break your knees.
If a cushion is uncomfortable, use a chair.
It really doesn’t matter as long as you are comfortable.
However, what is important is this: how ever you sit, your bum must be higher than your knees. This tips your pelvis forward, making it easier to sit upright without sagging.
Also, if sitting on a chair, make sure your legs are NOT crossed and that the soles of your feet are flat on the floor: not on tiptoes nor in stilettos. Either go barefoot or wear flat-heeled comfortable shoes.
Sit so that you have space in front of you.
Set the alarm or your mobile to warn you after 3 minutes have passed. (Yes! Start with just 3 minutes.)
Must you use a fancy meditation stool? No! But make sure your bum is higher than your knees!
About that stool in the picture!
Grieg, the famous Norwegian composer, is thought to have often sat on the stool shown when teaching its owner to play the piano. In which case, perhaps he used it to demonstrate his piano concerto to her!
However, the alarm clock belongs to my wife, who doesn’t play the piano.
When I play, I wriggle my bum on the stool, so that Grieg’s facility will rub off onto me.
So far, it has not. But I’ve only had the stool a few years.
Place one fist in the other and let your hands rest in your lap.
Half close your eyes and let the focus drift to something about 2 yards away in front of you. It could be a mark on the floor, or the corner of a table, or a flower … Something small and in itself commonplace.
You’re going to try this for four days, and then try doing it with your eyes completely closed for four days.
Then decide which suits you best. Neither method is superior.
Now: breathing normally, feel the sensation of the breath as it passes in and out of your nostrils. If you breathe very gently this may be difficult, but concentrate on your nose until you sense it there.
From now on, as you learn to meditate, you’re going to count every time you breathe out. Count a long ONE on the first out-breath, then a long TWO on the next out-breath, THREE on the third out-breath, and so on, up to TEN.
By a ‘long’ ONE, or TWO or THREE, I mean that you keep the sound or thought of ONE in your mind throughout the out-breath, changing it to TWO when you start the second breath, THREE at the third breath, and so on until you reach TEN.
So, whilst keeping your awareness of the sensation of the breath leaving your nostrils, you are counting, up to ten.
Answer: start again at ONE.
Then repeat the process, up to TEN, one number per out-breath.
Then repeat the process, up to TEN. And repeat and …
Eventually the alarm will go off. (Did you put it under a cushion to prevent its noise shocking you? Ah! Well. Next time.)
Yes, that’s about it.
Except it isn’t.
Your mind is like a monkey, always exploring old and new territory:
This ‘counting the breaths’ meditation is ridiculously easy to learn. It’s temptingly easy to disparage.
And it’s staggeringly difficult to do, day after day, consistently, without letting your mind wander.
And that was for only three minutes. Eventually I’d like you to get up to 30 minutes at a sitting.
Increase the time by one minute only, every two weeks. You’re allowed one day off each week. Try to keep it to the same day of the week.
When you are doing 30 minutes without your mind wandering at all from the breaths, send us a message!
In fact, don’t do that. Write to us when you can do just 15 minutes without letting your mind wander!
And when your mind wanders, just start again at ONE. Never go beyond TEN. Always return to ONE.
If you do this form of meditation for even two weeks, (4 minutes daily!) you’ll begin to notice changes in the way you think and behave – even if you don’t succeed in doing it right!
The effort itself has benefits, including being able to concentrate better, to relax and keep calm yet remain alert, whatever life throws at you. It’s what many people crave, and all it takes is a few minutes practice every day.
Write to us with what else you discover about the benefits.
Eventually you may be able to incorporate this form of meditation into your habit as you walk. By ‘walk’ I mean when you are walking up and down, waiting for something to happen, such as a train to arrive, not when you are racing to catch the train!
The walking meditation has to be steady and slow-ish, and ideally not done where you might bump into people or when they might bump into you. Most definitely do not do it when crossing a road, or other occasions where you need your wits about you.
Ideally, you walk up and down – slowly. Steady your breathing and on each breath start counting up to ten one breath at a time, as explained, returning to ‘One’ when you get to 10 or earlier if your mind wanders. Keep your eyes open and focused on the ground about 2 metres ahead of you.
Of course you can also do it when standing waiting. It is good practice when others are getting tense and difficult.
Because mental energy is one form of ‘Qi’.
You yourself have the power to manage it, and it’s best it’s you that does it because you then become the master of your thinking, not so easily pushed about by outside influences.
That makes you independent and objective, alert yet relaxed, able to maintain composure even at the centre of chaos!
Along the way you’ll become calmer, steadier, more dependable, more sensitive, more creative, more open. A better human? Many benefits!
I meditate almost every day. I’m sure it makes me better at my work.
There are acupuncture points for many things, but specifically for better meditation? No. I don’t believe so.
However, the whole point of acupuncture is balance the movement of Qi within your body, thereby balancing yin and yang.
The result is to help make your Mind steadier emotionally and mentally.
So, if your acupuncturist has given you a good treatment, you should be feeling more relaxed and calmer – as well as in less pain. (Of course, acupuncture can be used many ways and is not always intended to calm you down. For instance, calming might not be useful for someone already sedated.)
All this may help you practise meditation.
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