I was at work sharing my private life with my co-workers. Never do that crap if your religio-spiritual views do not coincide with the United States-ian point of view. Anyway, I was saying that I would be doing some meditation during my days off. So, my co-worker immediately quipped that I (me) might as well go to sleep if I was going to do some meditating. I said a couple of things but I did not want to get into a rebuttal session, especially at work. I like to conserve my energy for more pertinent matters. Nonetheless, I pondered his statements and it drove home the fact that (many) people (westerners) are socialized to view meditation with a HIGH Degree of circumspection. Meditation and meditating is mentioned 23 times in the (KJV) bible. Yet many still (choose to) remain ignorant as to what meditation really entails. Let us explore what is implied by the word ‘meditate’.
First, let us take a drive. A long drive. We get the gas. We get our snacks, our coffee, our music. We get on the road. We deal with the local traffic. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. We get to the freeway. We begin to settle into driving on the open road. Preparing for the trip really helps as it allows one to forgo those ‘emergency’ stops for this or that. Many ‘distractions’ crop up during the drive: i. e. sigs, fenceposts, trees, bridges, etcetera. Although necessary, most signs are not important. All else comes with the territory and should not be given much thought. Just let them ‘pass by’. If too much attention is given to anything other than the road, one might become distracted. The road must be focused on, but not overly much, so as to not drive into a ditch. Similar to this is meditation. Just going along. Focusing on staying within the space the ‘between the thoughts’. Not attaching, overly much, to any distracting thoughts. None of this can be accomplished with the eyes closed.
What is meditation?? According to Webster’s Dictionary it is engaging in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. Personally, I think that this definition is a bit limiting. It places emphasis on doing instead of being. Concentration is the basis for, and not the totality of, meditation. Once a state of concentration is achieved, one steps into the field, that arena, that space of consciousness. Yet the thoughts do come up during the act of meditating. With practice, they decrease in constancy to allow space to increase and consciousness to expand.
——————————————————-> Thought stream (thought, thought, thought)
This is the incessantly active mind, the reason that most people find meditation uncomfortable.
Through practice, one comes to the place of jumping from thought to thought. One begins to perceive the ‘void’ or the spaces between the thoughts
—————- > Thought (space) —————- > Thought (space) —————- > Thought
In deep Meditation, the center of awareness is more upon the spaces (which means the feeling) than it is upon the thoughts.
——————- > Thought (space = feeling ——> ꚙ ) ——————- > Thought
As one increases the space between the thoughts, states of awareness, intuition, perception, clairvoyance, cognitive abilities (per se) can evolve and expand.
Taken from the Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga (Goswami Kriyananda)
Some people want to associate meditation with sleeping and misconstrue it with other misconceptions. Firstly, sleep is sleep. Most people are dead to the world when they are asleep. Sleep is defined as a condition of body and mind that typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is relatively inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness (is) practically suspended. It is apparent from this preceding definition that sleep cannot possibly be equivalent to meditation (Lucid Dreaming and OOB Experience aside). In addition to the definition of sleep, there are six common misconceptions about meditation. They are 1) there is only one type of meditation, 2) It is all about being ‘still and quiet’, 3) you have to empty the mind, 4) Meditation will put you at ease from day one, 5) We know all (that) there is to know about the benefits, 6) it is only for reducing pain, stress and anxiety. Not one of these suppositions or states comes anywhere close to describing what comprises meditation.
We have here a comparison between meditation and sleep. They are each their own entity. Sleep is necessary for the body: it is not meditation. Meditation can bestow many benefits to the body: it is not sleep. To compare the two, more accurately, to say that meditation is sleeping, is an admitting that one does not, or chooses not to, realize the differences between the two. It is not critical to impose one point of view over the other. Whatever point one elects to gravitate toward will seldom be altered. Those who follow the typical United States-ian train of thought will hardly ever view the full breath of meditative practices as valid. The individual that does adhere to and utilize meditative practices will be hard pressed to entertain any suggestion of similarity between meditation and sleep. Meditation can only be experienced. It must be approached in a stepwise fashion. It does not have to be sitting . . . tai chi, qigong, pranayama / asana / pratyahara, contemplative walking, . . . whatever brings the individual to single-pointed awareness can be a meditative practice
Personnel at Ab-Sutra Wellness and Fitness have been authorized to teach beginning meditation under the auspices of Austin Zen Center.