Meditation to End Violence and Create Peace
Put an End to Violence —
Create an Uplifting, Vibrant Peace for Yourself, Your Family, and Your Community
Most people have heard about meditation and how good it is for relieving stress. Often people wonder, “Where does meditation come from?” “What kinds of meditation are there?” “Can I learn it from a book?”
In this article, I’m going to answer these questions and suggest simple meditation techniques that could have a profound benefit for your well-being and the well-being of your community. You don’t even have to read a book, you can learn it right here, right now! Meditation is transformative, amazing. It creates peace in you, your household, and your community.
Meditation comes from yoga and allied sciences. Most people have heard of yoga. Yoga is not just physical postures, but also includes the deeper science and art of meditation. Yoga was developed many thousands of years ago by investigators who wanted to understand the human condition and how to improve our quality of life. Just like we use science today to improve our physical environment and quality of life, these researchers explored the inner realm — our thoughts, our emotions, our state of consciousness. They made amazing discoveries and left a record of their findings that could help future generations. Virtually every meditation technique in use today derives from these ancient researches into the human condition. Most of this research took place in the high mountain regions of India as civilization was just beginning. But meditation is not Indian, or Chinese, or the property of any civilization. It’s for everybody.
There 112 basic techniques of meditation. There are meditations for all types of people. Today, we’ll explore a few of these universal techniques. This may be all you need for years to come. I also want to include how to prepare for meditation and how to conclude meditation, so that you get the most out of it.
Many people know that meditation is wonderful and that it can dramatically reduce stress. There are now thousands of scientific studies showing the benefits of meditation, so it’s not uncommon that people try to learn meditation on their own. They want something simple, and they don’t want to spend thousands of dollars. Yet, when many people experiment with meditation, they have trouble and are not able to stick with it. They often say, “I just have too many thoughts. I can’t get those thoughts out of my head.” Or, “I don’t have time to meditate. I’m too busy.” Right now, we’re going to solve these problems (and more), for you. Meditation is really simple, but you need some basic knowledge to make the most of it.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the art and science of becoming still, becoming silent, getting connected to your innermost space. This stillness is physical, mental, emotional, and sensory. In meditation, your metabolic rate drops deeper than deep sleep and you get a profound rest and rejuvenation — often better than a great night’s sleep. Meditation is not contemplation. In most types of meditation, we’re not even concerned with the meaning of thoughts. The basic idea behind meditation is just to melt, to let go of all the ways that we hold on. We simply allow ourselves to sink into a deep state of inner silence and stillness. Thoughts, emotions, all sensory activity will at times, completely disappear. Once you understand it, you don’t even really need techniques. It’s possible to simply drop away into a deep, blissful stillness. But techniques can often accomplish what cannot be done directly.
Preparation for Meditation
A little preparation for meditation can help a lot. The best way to prepare is to breathe more. Deep breathing charges your body with oxygen and with life force energy, known as prana. This extra oxygen and energy seems to just blow off the superficial stresses that you feel. This makes it quicker to achieve a deep state of meditation. There are two breathing techniques in yoga (known as pranayama) that really help. The first is Bhastrika. Bhastrika is simply deep breathing, giving equal weight to the in-breath and out-breath. In this case, the breathing is somewhat rapid and intense. Most of us breathe very shallow breaths from the upper chest. Bhastrika is deep breathing that involves the diaphragm. It’s a deep, rapid, belly breathing. If you put your hand on your belly and breathe, your belly should expand and contract. You can feel your hand moving out as your diaphragm pushes out and then relaxes in.
If you lie down and put a book on your belly, it should move up and down. Then you know you are belly breathing. We need to practice a little bit, because most of us breathe very poorly — mainly because of all the tension that we hold in. Practice now, just breathing. Breathe really deep. Then increase the depth and speed. Breathing this way is not silent, it makes a noise as it goes in and out of your nostrils. You want to breathe deeply enough, and long enough, to feel a little bit lightheaded. Then you know you’ve really got a great dose of oxygen and prana. You will feel your whole body adjust as you throw off stress.
The second breathing technique is Kapala Bhati, another pranayama or breath practice. Kapala means “skull” and Bhati means “shining or illuminating.” It’s another intense technique that consists of forceful exhalation, but letting the in-breath take care of itself. Forceful exhalation sends a shockwave throughout the digestive system causing a cleansing action. It also activates the brain. This technique is said to reverse aging by keeping the bowels and digestive tract in great working order. It also charges the body with oxygen and prana. You can do either or both of these techniques for a few minutes in preparation for meditation. If you practice yoga, first do your asanas, or postures, then follow with the preparation breathing techniques.
Where and How to Sit for Meditation
Sit in a comfortable position. You want to be comfortable so you can just forget about your body. You don’t need to sit cross-legged on the floor. You could even sit in an easy chair, though it’s good to have your back straight and not get so cozy that you easily fall asleep. It’s often nicer to meditate in a quiet environment, but that’s not necessary. There are even meditations for meditating in intense, chaotic, noisy environments. As we’ll see, it’s resistance that causes the problem, not the noise.
When to Meditate
It’s a great idea to pick a consistent place and times during the day for your meditation. 20-30 minutes twice a day is a good choice. In the morning before work and in the afternoon when you return home. Do it before getting involved in activities. Some people enjoy even longer meditations. Schedule meditation just as you would schedule any activity. Reserve time for yourself. It’s really the most important thing in your schedule because it prepares you for an easier more fulfilling life. It opens up your perception, increases your brain power, heals your heart, resolves internal conflicts, brings you peace. Develop a regular habit of meditating every day and your life will be better.
Breath Meditation #1 — Sigh Breathing
This first meditation is ultra simple. All you do is take a deep breath and give a big sigh. Deep breath, big sigh. This is what we do anyway when we’re exasperated. We just heave a big sigh and it helps. In this case, we’re going to do it consciously. With every deep breath, simply give a long deep sigh. Let yourself enjoy some extra time at the end of the out-breath. With every breath, give a deep long sigh. That’s all. The extended exhalation, a long out-breath allows you to let go of all the tension you hold on to. Drop everything. Allow yourself to stop holding on. Let go of all the ways that you hold on to tension, physically, mentally, and emotionally. No control, no trying to achieve anything. Just a letting go and emptying out of all the ways that you hold on. Repeated big, long sighs. Melt as you exhale. Within a few minutes you will feel refreshed.
Breath Meditation #2 — Ultra Slow Deep Breathing
Imperceptible breathing, ultra-slow breathing. The chaos of your mind stops when you slow down your breath. Mind and breath are intimately connected. Slowing your breath brings tremendous peace and calm to the mind. At times, when your breath stops completely, your mind also rests in silence. In this meditation, all we do is breathe exceedingly slowly, but deeply. This means very long deep breaths of 8-10 seconds breathing in and 8-10 seconds breathing out. Ultra-slow deep breathing. You can count the first few breaths if you want to, but then stop counting once you get the feel of it. Counting is tedious and boring. All you do is watch your breath as you breathe in and out. You will soon arrive at a deeply serene state. You can do this meditation for 10 minutes or more.
Breath Meditation #3 — Awareness of Breathing, and Gaps Between Breaths
This next meditation is the heart of the breathing meditation techniques. This is an extremely powerful meditation that you can practice for 20 to 30 minutes twice a day. It’s also very simple. All you do is simple belly breathing, but with more awareness of the process in detail. There are four parts to breathing: 1) the in-breath, 2) the turnaround at the top of a full breath 3) the out-breath, and 4) the turnaround at the end of the out-breath. In this case, we watch the breath as it enters the nostrils and fills the body. We notice the gap of stillness when our breath is full, just as it begins to turn to go out. This place of stillness is a powerful place to have our attention. Likewise when we breathe out, there is a gap at the end of the out-breath, just as we begin to inhale a new breath. These two gaps at the top of the in-breath and at the end of the out-breath are two very special places of stillness. At the top of the in-breath, when our breath is completely full, we are nourished by an intense, joyful connection to the energy of life. Likewise, when we are completely empty at the end of the out-breath, we are connected to the pure conscious source of our existence.
In this meditation, all we do is observe the breathing process, paying particular attention to these endpoints, these gaps of stillness. You may find that these endpoints get extended as you enjoy the connection in these two zones. As before, allow all the tensions, and all the ways that you hold on, to simply melt away. Meditation is not doing, it is allowing. It is effortless. At times during any of these meditations, you may find that you cross a threshold in which you are simply drawn in to a beautiful, blissful, inner space. Don’t resist being drawn into this deep beautiful silence. It is perfectly safe and nourishing.
What Happens When We Meditate?
When we meditate, we go into a space of deep stillness, but high alertness. This is a fourth state of consciousness. Ordinarily, we experience three states of consciousness: 1) waking, 2) dreaming, and 3) deep sleep. The waking state is characterized by thoughts and self-awareness. You are thinking and you know that you are awake, that you exist. Dreaming is characterized by thoughts, but without self-awareness. Only the thoughts are evident. You are not aware of who is doing the thinking. If self-awareness happens, you wake up. Deep sleep is characterized by no thoughts and no self-awareness. Complete unconsciousness. Meditation is the fourth state of consciousness and is characterized by no thoughts, but complete self-awareness. Awake, but without activity. This fourth state of consciousness provides the deepest experience of self-awareness, extremely deep physiological rest, plus the purification and release of long-held tension.
When we meditate, when we get such deep rest, our whole system wants to throw off all the embedded stress, anger, and tension we have accumulated. All the traumas from the past will leave your system. When that happens, activity is generated in your system. With increased activity, comes increased thoughts and sensations. People often wonder, “I was feeling so quiet and deep, then all of a sudden it was as if I was kicked out of the deep meditation, what happened?” At this point, people usually begin to fight with their meditation. They want to get back to where it was quiet and they think they can do that by an effort to stop the thoughts, sensations, or other manifestations of release.
Please realize, all effort just increases activity and will take you out of meditation even more. No amount of mental effort or manipulation will help. The only thing you can do, is to return to the methods that you used before meditation, to breathe deeply and saturate your body with energy. This will accelerate the release of the tension which generally takes just a few minutes. When that release is complete, it’s easy to return to deep silent meditation again.
So the normal process of meditation is that you often go very deep, but then you trigger the release of long-held tension, anger, traumas, frustration, thoughts, pains, sensations, even jerky movements as muscle tension is released. Don’t worry about this, it’s all good. Release of accumulated stress is good. Just breathe more for a few minutes to facilitate the release, then get back to your practice of observing, with awareness, the breath entering, exiting, and the gaps between the in-breaths and out-breaths. There are two VERY firm rules to follow when a strong release is happening. 1) Never act on thoughts that arise during meditation, and 2) Don’t get up. Stay seated where you are until the release is complete and you feel settled and wonderful again.
One amazing thing about meditation is that you can release huge blocks of stress that you could never tolerate releasing from the waking state. When you are in meditation, you are in an expanded state and any release is small compared to the expansion that you are experiencing at that time. Huge blocks of stress are released without any effort. So don’t fight with anything during meditation, don’t resist anything. It doesn’t work. If you have a strong release, just breathe through it. Don’t ignore it. Allow your attention to rest on it as you breathe using bhastrika pranayama. You could have strong sensations arise. Pains, heat, cold, any kind of sensory sensation which is not actually there. These are all indications of a release. They come and go. Don’t analyze them. Don’t analyze thoughts. Don’t act on thoughts. All thoughts and sensations are just useless garbage getting released, getting purged out or your system. Breathe through it if necessary, then go back to your practice of watching the breath and the gaps between breaths.
When time is up, you simply stop following the breath, but breathe more, increasing the rate and depth of breath to normal levels, to your waking state breath. As you increase your breath, you will begin to surface out of meditation. If needed, you can do bhastrika to release any residual stress. You can also stretch, massage your hands, and move a little bit. When you’re back to the surface and feel cool, calm, and collected, then slowly open your eyes downcast to check and see that you really are back to the normal waking state. If it’s a bit of a shock to open your eyes, take a little longer. It can take two or three minutes to get back to waking state.
So there you have it. These simple meditation methods can take you into an incredibly deep connection and cause a deep positive transformation in your awareness and your quality of life. This meditation will vastly improve not only your own life, but your family environment, and peace within your community. Enjoy!
This short course in meditation is from the web site http://RebuildHealth.com
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