Why is there suffering? To thicken the plot - Sri Ramakrishna
is very simply the deepest experience we have as human beings. Often we are
in a superficial consciousness where we have lots of thoughts most of which
are uninvited and out of control. As our awareness deepens we come to
concentration where we are focussed on one thought with power and focus.
In meditation, our consciousness deepens further until our thoughts become
intuitive or more heartfelt experiences.
This can happen whenever we deepen our
thinking or are very focussed. Many people have meditation
moments when facing death. Most of us have them in sport or
the arts or other creative endeavours.
To learn consciously to meditate,
however, allows us to deepen every thing we do right now. So
that we act more from the heart, and every moment becomes more
meaningful. After meditating even for a short time, we will
find ourselves more calm, less stressed and physically
meditation exercises (click on the links to the left) are intended to help keep your meditation
and fresh. It is usual to find that sometimes your daily meditations aren't
as rewarding as perhaps previously, nevertheless, it is crucial to keep
practicing, at least 5 minutes a day. Most people find that after some
time, the benefits of meditation are revealed in their life, even before
they fully understand what meditation is. This is normal. Remember that
meditation is an experience of the heart and not of the mind, for us to
learn how to meditate, we need to trust the messages of our heart.
“Meditation is the tongue of the soul and the language of our spirit”
- Jeremy Taylor
It is best to create a
permanent meditation place. Your meditation place may be anything from a
quiet room in the house, a table or a corner of your study desk, to even the
shade of your favourite tree in the backyard. It doesn't matter where it is,
just as long as you are able to find peace of mind there and access it
Ideally on a little table, place a cloth and other inspirational objects
- such as a leaf from an amazing forest, a beautiful crystal, a crucifix or
other sacred object, or a picture of a spiritual figure. If you cannot have
a permanent meditation place, it is just as effective to create this space
anew with every meditation. Just have the components (e.g. cloth,
inspirational object, candle, incense) in a bundle, ready to go. Put
simply, this place is an entrance to your heart - think of it as a shrine to
your soul. Whatever inspires you spiritually is perfect.
Preparing for your meditation
Proper preparation for your meditation is extremely important. Mentally, you
are unloading your mind of all extraneous thoughts and beginning to focus
more on your spirituality.
Physically, you can express this by taking a shower (to "wash away your
troubles"), brushing your teeth, and generally "purifying" yourself. If this
is impossible, try at least to wash your hands and face.
Never under any circumstances say that meditation and wisdom are different; they are one unity, not two things.
Meditation itself is the substance of wisdom; wisdom itself is the function of meditation. -Hui-neng-
Ideally, you already have a permanent meditation
place, in which case you might like to make sure it is clean, and if
possible, light a candle and some incense, place some fresh flowers on the
table. It is helpful to use this time to begin to focus on your
spirituality. Prepare the meditation place with reverence - pay attention to
your movements and feel the grace that comes with the joy of spirituality.
Light the candle and incense, place the flowers, with no other thought but
the now. If your meditation space
is temporary then as you are setting it up the same applies.
You might like to take 5-15minutes to read some spiritual writings, reflecting on and absorbing
their meanings, perhaps taking notes in a special diary reserved only for
spiritual reflection. Then - this is very important - sit with straight back, relaxed but extremely alert
and take at least seven, deep, slow breaths. With each inward breath you
are opening yourself to the true, peaceful and loving nature of the
universe. Your outward breath releases the frustrations and tensions you
unconsciously hold on to. Let them go. Now begin your chosen meditation
exercise (you will find a meditation exercise at the end of each
class - links are on the left). During all the exercises your
focus should be from your heart.
Sometimes, simply by sitting, the soul collects wisdom.-Zen proverb
After your meditation, you might
like to sit quietly for a while longer, to gather the feelings from this
session, to bring your experiences in to the "real world" and not just
forget about them. This is a time of assimilation, of reflection and
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown,
for going out, I found, was really going in. -John Muir
It is also a
time where we can make ourselves very determined to live the revelations of
our meditation in our day to day life. You may wish to write some notes or a poem in your diary,
compose a song, paint a picture... Be conscious of the revelations or
intuitions that you may be feeling - it is crucial that you listen to your
"inner voice" so that your real self can begin to guide your journey.
A piece of fruit, placed on
the table and consumed with reverence afterward, makes a tasty ending to a