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roger
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« on: February 16, 2011, 01:26:37 PM »

Meditation is a complex subject with many aspects, and to attempt to write anything other than a brief introduction is beyond the scope of this thread. Therefore, Iíll resist the temptation to do more than that.

In her excellent post on this thread, in which she provides some great links, Lucinda says that the best way to learn meditation is to be taught it. Agreed. However, for those who canít get to a good teacher for whatever reason, she highly recommends a book Ė ĎLiving Well With Pain and Illnessí by Vidyamala Burch. Iíve read it and couldnít agree more Ė it is an excellent book. On the same thread, mothernurture also recommends a book Ė ĎTeach Yourself To Meditateí by Eric Harrison. Again, Iíve read this book and, again, I agree entirely that itís an excellent introduction to meditation.

So, for those deeply interested in the subject who feel able to Ďbe taughtí, thatís the route to go, the next best option being to buy one or both of the above mentioned books Ė from Amazon via the link at the bottom of the forum main page will help support the forum.

As said at the start of this post, a full explanation of meditation is beyond the scope of a thread like this, especially by a real novice like me. But, because I know that many people confuse the two, I would like to stress that although relaxation is a component of meditation, they're not the same at all. Meditation has its origins in the Far East, though you donít have to have Eastern religious or philosophical beliefs to benefit from it Ė for anyone who has such beliefs, thatís fine.

The best simple definition I can come up with for the approach I use is Ė a method of calming and emptying the mind, usually via deep concentration on a particular object or process Ė breathing for example, the objective being to achieve self-awareness and mindfulness Ė living in the moment and experiencing passing thoughts without judgement or attempts to alter them. For purists, that definition will be totally inadequate, but in a simple post like this, Iím afraid itís all I can offer.

To achieve the purpose of meditation is a wonderful experience, but itís not easy and requires much practice. I would urge anyone whoís seriously interested and is prepared to learn and persist, to seek a good teacher or read one or both of the above mentioned books. I believe that even at the level Iím at, which is far from high, the benefits in terms of both health and peace of mind are immense.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2011, 01:32:24 PM by roger » Logged

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sleepyhead
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2011, 05:19:35 PM »

Agreed.

I learned meditation at secondary school....we had a wee group who would meet in the school church at 3.40 every Monday.....

A great thing which benefits every single day  thumbsup
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Slainte Mhath
roger
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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2011, 06:07:28 PM »

It's great that you find meditation useful, Sleeps - I'm pretty sure everyone would if they learn to do it properly.
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Lucinda
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« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2011, 11:15:34 PM »

Hehe, we actually agree on stuff, Rog. Who knew we could play nice?  Wink

And it is hard to define what meditation is, but personally I would say it is the practice of focusing your mind on one thing, rather than emptying it.

So for example, if the 'one thing' is your breathing, then you keep your focus on your breathing and only your breathing. Everytime your attention drifts and you start thinking about something else, you gently guide it back to the breathing. You may need to do this again and again and again, but that is ok.

Some people think that they cannot meditate as everytime they try their mind won't 'empty'. But meditation is simply a period of continually bringing your focus back onto your one thing, no matter how many times it wonders. I have talked to Buddhist Order Members who have meditated for decades, and they still have to do the exact same thing. They sit down, focus, and bring their mind back again and again whenever it wonders.

And if it's emotions rather than stray thinking that's the main issue - understand that meditation isn't about changing your feelings. It isn't about suddenly experiencing some divine peace. Meditation is simply about getting in touch with you - the real you (whatever the heck that is!). So if you are sad, be sad. If you are anxious, be anxious. Etc etc. It isn't easy, and you will no doubt feel a resistance to doing this, but just try it. Sometimes mentally saying certain words can help if you are really struggling, like: I accept that I am anxious. Then observe the anxiety, and accept that it is currently a part of your experience (whilst bearing in mind emotions are like the weather; they change constantly, and just cause it's raining at the moment, doesn't mean it'll always rain).

Just my two pennies worth.  wink

xxxx

P.S. And one more penny - try and not read too much about the 'benefits of meditation'. Going into meditation with ideas as to what you will get out of it (a sense of peace, better health, etc etc) will not help you. As you read more about meditation, you will begin to understand why this is. But suffice to say, the best way to meditate is to try it with no expectations at all. To just be open minded, and accept whatever happens without labelling it 'good' or 'bad'.

Then, if you succeed in this, teach me!  hee20hee20hee
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roger
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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2011, 07:42:05 AM »

ĎHehe, we actually agree on stuff, Rog. Who knew we could play niceí Ė Amazing, isnít it  Smiley

Great and helpful post, Luc, and I thank you for posting it.

One tiny disagreement though Ė there are things we have to do and things we donít have to do. Meditation comes into the latter. If you donít HAVE to do something, then thereís no point in doing it unless you anticipate some sort of benefit. I certainly embraced meditation on the basis that it would benefit me, and I donít think Iíve lost anything in doing so. Mind you, if I can keep focussed for five or six minutes, Iím impressed, so I know Iím not there yet  Huh?
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Lucinda
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2011, 02:26:41 PM »

Yes I do agree Rog that most people do tend to have some benefit in mind when they start meditation. Something they want to achieve.

I wasn't saying this will mean you won't be able to meditate, or that you'll lose something from approaching it with this attitude, it's just that it is beneficial to not encourage this kind of thinking.

In Buddhism it is encouraged to always approach meditation with a 'Beginner's Mind'. This mind is open, curious and lacking in preconceptions.

I won't talk too much about why this is.

I'll just say this:

If you decide you want to meditate in order to feel more peaceful, the first time you sit down to meditate, you will want to feel this peace. You may even struggle in your practice to find peace. And if you don't find peace - instead you find a mind that races, and emotions that jump from anxiety, to anger, to resentment, etc, you will be disappointed and think that you 'failed', or that you 'can't meditate', or 'meditation doesn't work'. There is a big risk that this person may give up meditating, either after their first experience, or fairly early on.

However, if a person decides they want to meditate for whatever reason, but then approaches it with an open curiosity, not attaching themselves to expectations too much, they are more likely to accept whatever their experience is in meditation. If their mind races and their emotions go mad, they will not necessarily think they failed.

I do think meditation has it's benefits, and I'm not saying otherwise. But meditation is about accepting whatever is in the present moment. Entering into it with loads of expectations and hopes as to how it will change your life does not help you accept the present moment, with all of it's potential faults and imperfections.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the reasoning behind this, just research 'Beginner's Mind'. This is esp useful if someone feels like they are struggling with their meditation practice at the moment. It may just help you get back into it.
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bossy
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2011, 04:14:04 PM »

 s_hi

I have found a  local meditation group and am going to start next week!  so will let you know how it goes.!!!

Bossy x
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roger
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2011, 04:25:38 PM »

As you know, Luc, Iím un-schooled in Buddhist philosophy, but I see what youíre saying and Ė wait for it Ė I agree, though, I guess, from a different non-philosophical angle.

If you approach ANYTHING with an air of desperation and/or urgency, youíre going to struggle Ė an open mind, and expectations that are realistic, which if youíre totally new to something sometimes means pretty much none at all, and the common sense to understand that quick fixes almost always fall apart is, in my view, the way forward. CFS/ME is complex, so expecting the solution to be simple, like a newfound cure requiring a daily pill, for example, is a bit silly.

I do think meditation is, amongst other things, incredibly valuable in terms of self-awareness, which I think is a crucial element of getting well, but itís certainly no quick fix, and as you said earlier, being taught rather than trying to learn is, Iím sure, the best way forward if that option is available to you.

Hey, that's brilliant, bossy - I'm SURE you'll find it beneficial.
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bossy
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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2011, 04:27:09 PM »

 s_hi  Roger,

Yes I am sure it will be - being able to switch off and chill - sounds like heaven to me at the mo!!!!!!!! Smiley Smiley Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2011, 04:32:15 PM »

s_hi

I have found a  local meditation group and am going to start next week!  so will let you know how it goes.!!!

Bossy x

Fantastic Bossy - hope you enjoy it!
I also have started going to a group in the church I go to. We sit in silent meditation for 20 mins which is about all I can deal with just now. Last time I got a lot of pain from the wooden seat so I will need to take a cushion in future.
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bossy
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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2011, 06:42:12 PM »

Hi Aggie -

It will be a miracle if I can actually keep quiet for that amount of time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Smiley Smiley Smiley  either that or I will fall asleep!!!!!!
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roger
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« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2011, 07:29:06 PM »

 Smiley - Noisy people are expelled, Bossy, and you'll be too busy concentrating your mind on your breathing or a candle or something to fall asleep - in fact, falling asleep is considered abject failure and yet another reason for derision followed by expulsion!!

Just kidding - you'll love it!!
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bossy
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« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2011, 07:34:30 PM »

 s_hi

OMG!!!!  I am going to be kicked out on my first visit!!!! Smiley  didn't realise talking or snoring was against the rules!!!!!


I will stay firmly focused on an imaginary candle !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


 Smiley Smiley Smiley
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roger
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« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2011, 07:41:27 PM »

I think you need to have a serious pre-first meeting with Luc, bossy - we don't want you putting us all to shame  Smiley
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Lucinda
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« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2011, 07:43:10 PM »

Awesome stuff Bossy.

Lol and believe me you wouldn't be the first one to fall asleep during meditation! I've hear people snore before at the Buddhist Centre.  hee20hee20hee

Meditation groups are usually super friendly so you have nothing to worry about. x
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« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2011, 07:44:09 PM »

I think you need to have a serious pre-first meeting with Luc, bossy - we don't want you putting us all to shame  Smiley

Lol don't listen to him, Bossy. Rog is just a trouble maker!
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roger
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« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2011, 08:21:23 PM »

Oy, Luc, you've spoiled my wind-up  Huh?

Seriously, Bossy, Luc is right (and I'm sick of saying that  Smiley) - you'll be fine, and I bet you'll get far more it than you think you will. It may take a bit of getting into, but any effort will be very well rewarded.
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bossy
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« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2011, 09:51:27 PM »

 s_hi  Luc -don't worry I know all about Roger and his troublesome streak!!!  Smiley

Yes the email from the group leader sounded very friendly and welcoming so I am looking forward to it, but I seriously am afraid I might fall asleep!!  We did a couple of meditation exercises at Tai Chi last Monday and I could feel myself drifting off!!!!!

I have this vision of some one having to wake me up at the end to tell me its time to go home!!!! hee20hee20hee


Roger - thanks, yes I do think I will get alot out of it. With all going on at the mo I can feel that I have stress and need a channel to release that!!!  Smiley
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roger
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« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2011, 07:15:17 AM »

Troublesome streak? Moi? I'm hurt  Huh?  ( Smiley)

Don't forget to let us know how it goes, Bossy.
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bossy
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« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2011, 06:24:05 PM »

 s_hi

Well I had my first meditation session yesterday eve and it was brilliant - really really enjoyed it - and I didn't fall asleep!!!  but did fall of the cushions I was sitting on at one point!!!!! Smiley

It is a buddist class and they are teaching us the two specific types of meditation - very interesting.

We did several short sessions and then a 25 min one - that was excellent.  I really did feel myself relaxing right down.


I a going to another session on Saturday morning!!!! Smiley
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roger
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« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2011, 06:40:25 PM »

That's fantastic, bossy - I'm SO pleased that you got some benefit early on. That being so, I'm sure you'll benefit even further with more sessions. Brilliant!!
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« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2011, 07:31:19 PM »

That's great Bossy! Glad to hear it! I can only manage about 5 mins in the normal way but I think of my acupuncture time as meditation really. I often lie there for around 45 mins I think or so, and I do feel calm but I tend to get cold or pins and needles which isn't so good.
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bossy
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« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2011, 09:33:50 PM »

Hi Roger and Aggie!!!


I started off sitting n a chair (as a few others were) to meditate - but actually found it easier to kneel back on cushions on the floor- definately gave me the "grouned to the earth" feeling that others discribed as important.

I am thinking of trying t find a quiet place at home  (hard with two kids and a dog!!) where I can go to meditate - as the instructor says its best to try and practice a little each day. Smiley
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roger
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« Reply #23 on: March 24, 2011, 07:15:23 AM »

Hi Bossy,

If you can find the time and a quiet place, thatís a good idea Ė the more you practice the better you get.

When I finally understood what meditation and mindfulness was, I found I had difficulty keeping my concentration for more than a minute or so. To get around that, I found that good quality led MP3s/CDs were very helpful. If you have the same problem, let me know and Iíll be happy to point you to some Ďgood stuffí.
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« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2011, 10:12:15 AM »

Glad to hear you are enjoying it Bossy!

May I ask - do you go to a Buddhist Centre, or is it just a meditation group you go to?

And yes, do try and practice at home if you can. A little tip is to aim to only do a little each day. Maybe 5, 10 or 15 mins. If you aim to do more, you may find you never get round to doing it! What's important is that you do practice, the length of time you do it is not so important. And besides, over time you'll probably find you're doing longer sessions anyhow, without even planning too. That happened with me anyhow!

And aggie - I was just thinking when I was in the garden this morning - have you tried meditating/practicing mindfulness in the garden? I know you like being in the garden, so I thought it might be an option that would appeal to you.

All I do is get a garden chair (or steal one from your house if you don't have one), put my feet on the ground and my hands on my lap, and close my eyes. I then either focus on my breathing (thinking 'in' on the in breath, and 'out' on the out breath), and continually bring my attention back everytime it wonders, or just focus on listening. I just listen to all the sounds around me, and everytime my attention goes, I return to just listening.

This is just a mindfulness exercise you can do for as long as you want to (whether it is 10 seconds or 10 hours!). You don't have to do meditation in the form of setting so many minutes aside to sit and do formal practice. You can just do simple mindfulness techniques whenever and wherever it suits you.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2011, 10:14:15 AM by Lucinda » Logged
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