What is Meditation?

What Is Meditation?

The essence of meditation is awake non-striving.

As such, in its most basic form, it constitutes one of the four natural states of the mind, the other three of which are waking, dreaming and deep sleeping.

Briefly explained, waking is our “everyday” awake state of mind, what you are in right now. Dreaming occurs during a light stage of sleep, which is different from the dreamless state of deep sleeping. And meditating begins in the relaxed state of mind we experience between full waking and dreaming.

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Benefits of Meditation

Benefits of Meditation

Much has been said and written about the benefits of meditation – and over the past few decades numerous studies have been done which indicate that the meditative state of mind is not only beneficial but is indeed an ingrained and entirely natural function of the healthy human nervous system.

This acceptance of what was once considered at best a hobby of anti-social eccentrics has become so general that even mainstream institutions like Massachusetts General Hospital has an entire department dedicated to Mind-Body Medicine. Not surprisingly, the cornerstone of their methodology is teaching people how to meditate in order to avoid and assist in the cure of stress-related diseases.

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Hazards of Meditation

We’ve dealt with the benefits of meditation, but what about its dangers, if any? Many people have a sense there is something sinister and hazardous about the process of self-inquiry in general, and about meditation specifically as a mode of self-inquiry. I don’t want to exaggerate these suspicions, but I will admit they have some basis, even if it’s largely misplaced.

There are four main categories of hazard associated with meditation 

– the hazards of self-inquiry
– the hazards of faulty methodology
– the hazards of the tradition
– what could be called organizational hazards

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How To Sit For Meditation

Ho to sit for meditation

There are many possible body positions for meditation, most of them variations on different ways of sitting. But there is no one best position, only the best position for you.

There are two important aspects about whatever position you decide to use:

  • that you are comfortable in it so that you can maintain it for your entire meditation session without having to move, experience pain or think about discomfort in your body
  • that you can stay alert during the duration of your practice without risk of falling asleep

The choice of position is, ultimately, up to you. However, here are a couple of considerations you might wish to take into account.

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