Sit Down, Be Quiet, Be Still – This is How I Was First Taught How to Meditate
Meditations for the Inner Outer You can be very diverse as there are many different styles. Over the years of practicing different types of meditation I have heard many things:
“Sitting meditation keeps the body still which helps keep the mind still and it’s the original and best meditation.”
“Chanting (mantra) meditation helps the mind with ‘single point of attention’ and has been practiced as far back as prehistoric times, therefore it’s the best meditation.”
“Mindfulness meditation is the art of becoming deeply aware of what is here right now, without judging yourself. It is a practice Buddhists call vipassana or insight meditation and it’s the best meditation.”
“Tai Chi meditation is a moving meditation which is equally as good for the body as it is for the mind. Therefore Tai Chi is the best meditation one could practice.”
“Visualization Meditation helps you to put the mind in peaceful surroundings and prepares you for any circumstance you might be having difficulty with. This happens by training your subconscious mind to react in a more resourceful way. Therefore visualization meditation is the best meditation for our demanding modern times.”
“Walking the Labyrinth Meditation can not only ferry you to your deepest centre, but also help you heal yourself. It’s the best meditation for inner reflection and self-healing.”
“Tantra meditation’s key principle is that the universe we experience is the concrete manifestation of the divine energy that creates and maintains it. Tantric practice seeks to contact and channel that energy within the human microcosm by means of ritual in order to achieve creativity and freedom. Therefore it’s the best meditation for learning to work with divine energy.”
Osho’s Dynamic meditation is designed for people of this day and age. It addresses modern, faster paced life-style and works with energy differently than the older designed sitting meditations. Therefore it is the best meditation for contemporary times.
“Taoist meditation helps you to live a simple and natural life, one of non-interference with the course of natural events which will help you have a happy existence in harmony with Tao and all things. There is no struggle as you realize that everything is perfect as it is, therefore this is the most natural of all meditations.”
“Zazen meditation is where logical, analytic thinking is suspended, as are all desires, attachments, and judgments, leaving the mind in a state of relaxed attention. It is meditation practice moving one toward enlightenment and if properly experienced, to constitute enlightenment itself. Thus is it serves the ultimate purpose for meditation.”
I could go on. Over the years I’ve heard exactly these kinds of statements while participating in different kinds of meditations. Many teachers would claim that their meditation method was the best and had no qualms saying it to the class.
When I hold a meditation course I usually start with the statement “this mediation you are about to practice is one of many. It is my opinion that most methods of meditation have value and there are a few points that should be taken into consideration; one is there might be particular methods of meditation that resonate better with you for where you are at and what you might be currently experiencing in life. And any meditation is only as effective as the level of commitment and practice you bring to it!
I have often thought that when I give my meditation seminars and retreats I should start out by saying something like…”All the meditations you will practice here suck! There is nothing special about them and you shouldn’t expect anything great, as these meditations are no better than the dirt you walked on to get here… HOWEVER you should practice them anyways and now that you haven’t any false pretences or expectations you are by far more ready to receive their benefits!”
Yes there is too much hype around meditating these days. I don’t know how many emails I get with articles proclaiming that a particular meditation is the best because of this or that reason. Now in a matter of speaking of course they are all RIGHT, yet in the same breath they are just as equally WRONG. There simply is no perfect type of meditation for everybody and yet everybody would benefit from meditating.
I think it’s great when a person finds meditation. It’s been instrumental in my journey inward and also outward through life. I’m thankful I found it. When I first started, I knew nothing in regards to what it was about or how many different types of meditation there were; I thought there was only one where you were sat cross legged, closed your eyes, held your back straight and breathed deeply. In my case I came to meditation through martial arts and I was told to sit down, be quiet, be still and clear my mind. Yes, that’s it, that’s all the instruction I was given. I had no idea what it was all about, but being a teenager I thought “heck I must look pretty cool.” So with that thought and with the fact it was part of my martial arts classes, I continued to do it again and again.
Much later in my journey I came to realize unexpectedly that meditation was helping me in ways I never thought it could. After doing it for some years I now found that the benefits came quite naturally. I was able to apply these benefits from meditation to different aspects of my martial arts training and even more importantly to my everyday life!
Nowadays there is plenty of information on some benefits of meditation. Let’s look at some of the health benefits. There is a wealth of research – more than 2,000 papers published in peer reviewed journals which have shown meditation has a positive effect on a range of stress-related illnesses, including:
– Heart disease, cholesterol and high blood pressure – these are eased as meditation evokes the ‘relaxation response’, (the opposite to the ’stress response’), lowering heart rate and boosting the immune system.
– Insomnia – meditation can halve the length of time it takes someone with insomnia to get to sleep, according to research by Stanford Medical Centre.
– Anxiety and depression – the University of Massachusetts Medical School found a reduction in depression and anxiety in 90% of patients with generalised anxiety disorder after eight weeks of meditating. Meditation is now being used to help treat the recovery from depression.
– Psoriasis – the same medical school found meditators’ skin cleared of the stress-related condition at four times the rate of those who didn’t meditate.
– Low fertility – an Oxford University study found stress can reduce the chances of women conceiving and suggested meditation could be instrumental in combating the decline in fertility.
I myself know through personal experience that it will also help you deal with emotions, cope under pressure, give up addictions and keep bright and alert.
You see when I was a teenager (only a few years ago, ha-ha) it fundamentally changed my perspective on life, giving me the much needed space between myself, my thoughts and my emotions that occurred in relation to major stresses. I found as I meditated regularly the turbulent emotions I was experiencing were acknowledged, processed and let go, rather than suppressed; I was able to witness the highs and lows without being at their mercy.
Much later, after committing myself to one form of meditation – Sit Down, Be Quiet Be Still – I would travel far and wide to explore many different schools of meditation. My base in meditation was strong from the years I had been practicing. Before leaving on many sabbaticals travelling half way around the world, I would explore first a variety of meditations with groups in my local city of Toronto. There was meditation with the Hare Krishna’s; the Mahayana Buddhist temple; a group of TMers or Transcendental Meditation, the one the rock band The Beatles made famous; Christian meditation; Ojibwa Sweat lodge and healing circle ceremonies; Holotropic Breathwork; Eckankar; Rosicrucian order; Enlightenment Intensive and a bunch of others that either I don’t recall the names now or they were eclectic groups that really had no name but practiced meditation.
Then I went to Asia where I spent a lot of time in different ashrams, temples and schools exploring various meditations in India, Nepal, Tibet, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Mainland China. While in India I explored Whirling Meditation with my teacher Sufi Sam at the Osho Meditation Resort in Pune. If you would like to read my experience with “Whirling” and “Sufi Sam” just click on his name and you can read the published article. You can also watch a video interview I did with Sam at the bottom of this article. In Nepal the meditative calm state of mind helped me to evade a charging rhino AFTER I raced backwards to help a lady frozen by fear in her tracks and about to be trampled. In Northern Thailand I was able to spend rare time with the Yellow Leaf People who lived exclusively in and off the jungle, refusing any help from governments and supposedly more civilized communities. When I looked into their eyes, I could see that having the lifestyle they did brought them into a highly meditative and aware state of mind. It was that same meditative aware state that helped me to avoid a major motorcycle accident in Vietnam; not once but twice. The first time I was able see and know that a dog that was running along in a ditch was going to create trouble. He jumped up and out to everybody’s surprise and the motorcycle in front collided with it sending a few motorcycle riders tumbling. Remaining calm I was just able to maneuver my motorcycle clear of the falling one in front of me, avoiding the same fate. The second time was when the brakes failed on my motorcycle and I had to stop it by other means. It was that meditative state that allowed me to have a life changing experience in an outdoor restaurant in Cambodia. Where for a few short seconds that seemed an eternity I would meld with the soul of a young beggar street kid and know that he was far more advanced in meditation than I was. I could go on and on. However the point to my blog post this week is to emphasis one thing for sure. If you are not meditating, then you are missing out on a huge range of benefits and experiences.
It doesn’t matter what kind you start with; it really only matters that you do something that you will stick with and give it a fair chance. For some it might be difficult to start but the results far outweigh any discomfort in getting going. For those of you who need support or direction to get going I have created guided auditory meditations for you to follow along with. You can read the descriptions of them on my website if you like. Or maybe enrol yourself in a meditation course or retreat. Do something to get started, even if it’s like how I started out: “Sit Down, Be Quiet, Be Still”
By Terry Hodgkinson
Join in with Terry as he does a short Guided Nature Meditation
Watch a Video Interview I Did with Sufi Sam in India
Here is your quote for the week:
“Meditation is not concerned with meditation but with the meditator – you see the difference? Most of you are concerned about meditation, what to do about meditation, how to meditate, step by step and all the rest of it – that’s not the question at all. Meditator is the meditation. To understand the meditator is meditation.”
– Jiddu Krishnamurti