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    Meditation: Getting Started

    Meditation: Getting Started
    By Katherine Ellison, Psychology Today

    How to relax the Buddhist way. A few basic exercises on focusing your attention.

    Buddhism offers a rich variety of meditation practices. The following basic exercise in focusing attention comes from B. Alan Wallace's The Attention Revolution.

    Begin by sitting on a cushion with your legs crossed or, if that's uncomfortable, in a chair or even lying on your back, but always with your back straight and body relaxed. Your eyes may be closed, half-closed or open.

    Be at ease. Be still. Be vigilant.

    Take three slow, gentle, deep breaths, breathing in and out through the nostrils. Let your awareness permeate your entire body as you breathe, noting any sensations that arise. Now settle your respiration in its natural flow. Observe the entire course of each in- and out-breath, noting whether it is long or short, deep or shallow, slow or fast. Don't impose any rhythm on your breathing. Let the body breathe as if you were fast asleep, but with your mind vigilant.

    Thoughts are bound to arise involuntarily, and your attention may also be pulled away by noises and other stimuli from your environment. When you note that you have become distracted, instead of tightening up and forcing your attention back to the breath, simply let go of these thoughts and distractions. Don't get upset. Just be happy that you've noticed the distraction, and gently return to the breath.

    Continue the practice initially for 24 minutes a day. If necessary, beginners can use the mental training wheels of counting each inhale, up to 21. Each time the mind wanders, return to one again.

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    Re: Meditation: Getting Started

    I'm often confused by this way of meditating as often I hear that if you are an anxious individual, your breathing is too fast, and too shallow so wouldn't it be better to be slowing and lengthening it not just observing?

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    Re: Meditation: Getting Started

    I use a more focused intentional regulation and slowing of breathing, personally. But I think the idea behind meditation is to let go and not attempt to control things, with the assumption that this will instill greater peace and relazxation so your respiration will slow on its own.

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    Re: Meditation: Getting Started

    A few basic exercises on focusing your attention
    The technique that's described reminds me of the way I went about the process of bio feedback several years ago.

    I was taught to find a thought that would result in a state of relaxation that was identified to me by a specific sound I heard in headphones connected to electroencephalography sensors.

    There was a study taking place at a local hospital in which I participated and at the time I found the technique I learned to be really helpful.

    Unfortunately I got away from it, but would like have a similar technique today.

    Perhaps I should look into meditation. Would you consider the basic techniques similar?

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    Re: Meditation: Getting Started

    It sounds like the same thing, really, TSOW. Many who meditate use a specific sound to assist them in reaching a meditative state - like Ohm. It can be any sound.

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    Re: Meditation: Getting Started

    Hi all

    From what I understand about meditation....

    It does not matter what you focus on (I personally use the breath because it is always there).

    By focusing on an object it alllows your mind to settle and when you do it enough there will be moments where you are completely still and there are no thoughts or anything at all. It is these moments and they may only occur a couple of times for a second or two in a session that are the gold of meditation.

    Having said that there are 4 types of meditation.

    Concentration (as above)

    Guided imagery

    And I think the other is basic relaxation.

    but the most effective of all is meant to be the "insight" meditation practises. These are said to remove things from your mind from the root and have permanent effects. The other types I have mentioned above have only temporary effects though very worthwhile.

    One of the best books I have read on meditation is a book by Ian Gawler. He explains all of this in great detail.

    Cindy

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    Re: Meditation: Getting Started

    Do you have the name of that book, Cindy?

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    Re: Meditation: Getting Started

    She may mean Ian Gawler's "Meditation Pure & Simple".

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    Re: Meditation: Getting Started

    Hi David

    I think the book is called "Peace of mind". Ian Gawler is a veterinarian that had cancer and his story is very interesting. He was diagnosed with an aggressive bone cancer and had a hind quarter amputation of one of his legs. They thought they got the cancer but it returned. He and his wife travelled the world looking for alternative treatments. He "cured" his cancer with meditation and diet. He has written a lot of books and is a great speaker.

    Cindy

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    Re: Meditation: Getting Started

    He's written several books, and they're all good! If you haven't read "Meditation Pure & Simple", Cindy, I think you'd enjoy it, as well as his "The Creative Power of Imagery".

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