Meditation produces an inner revolution in every individual
This leads to “right consciousness”, “right breathing”, “right sleep” and “right sexuality”.
The main purpose for meditation is to make your mind peaceful and to recharge your energy; but there are actually more benefits than this to be gained. If you achieve a high level of meditation it is believed that you can develop healing powers. During meditation you will feel the chi flowing inside your body. When all the meridian channels are clear the chi will be very strong. The outside of the body will feel soft with all the muscles and joints relaxed. This means that the inside of the body is strong (when the outside is yin, the inside must be yang).
Meditation is a method for acquainting your mind with virtue. It is the mind that will analyse or concentrate on a virtuous aspect. If you contemplate an object and it causes you to develop an un-peaceful mind, such as anger or attachment, this indicates that the object is non-virtuous. There are also many objects that are neither virtuous nor non-virtuous, these are neutral objects.
When you perform meditation your mind will become peaceful. You will be free from worries and mental discomfort, resulting with the experience of true happiness. But if your mind is not peaceful you will find it very difficult to be happy, even if you are living in the best conditions. Eventually, through continual training, you will be able to stay happy all the time, even in the most difficult circumstances. Most of the stress and tension you normally experience come from your mind. Problems you experience, including ill-health, are caused or aggravated by stress.
Initially you may find it difficult to control your mind. It seems as if your mind is like a balloon in the wind – blown here and there by external circumstances. If things go well your mind is happy, but if things go bad the mind immediately becomes unhappy. Such fluctuations of mood arise because you are too closely involved in the external situation. By performing meditation you create an inner space and clarity that enables you to control your mind regardless of the external circumstances. Gradually you develop mental equilibrium, a balanced mind that is happy all the time, rather than an unbalanced mind that oscillates between the extremes of excitement and despondency. Eventually you will be able to eradicate from your mind the delusions that are the cause of all your problems and suffering. However, you may feel that meditation is making your mind even busier; but in reality all that is happening is that you are just becoming aware of how busy your mind actually is.
There will be a great temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, but you should resist this and remain focused single-pointedly on the sensation of the breath. If you discover that your mind has wandered and is following your thoughts you should immediately return it to the breath. Concentrate on your Tan Tien area to ensure that the chi will be stored there. You should repeat this as many times as necessary until the mind settles on the breath. If you practice patiently in this way, gradually your distracting thoughts will subside and you will experience a sense of inner peace and relaxation. Your mind will feel lucid and spacious and you will feel refreshed. You should stay with this state of mental calm for a while.
You can practice your own style of meditation by using a sitting, standing or lying position. You may even use gestures or mantras. You must remain conscious of yourself – you cannot let go fully in order to forget everything. However, the magical word “meditation” simply translates as “nothing”.
The most common postures for the practice of meditation are:
- Sitting upright in a chair, with both feet flat on the floor.
2. Sitting cross-legged on the floor and the hands relaxed upon your bent knees.
3. Kneeling as if in prayer. Sitting on your heels or between them, resting your hands on your thighs.
To sit in a meditation posture requires that your physical balance is kept in accord with nature. If pushed from any direction you will not topple over. It is like a foundation-stone being firm, fixed and unshakeable. When you sit in a meditation posture it should be as if a lovely cool wind blows in summer and in winter a cosy fire burn on the hearth.
Commencing your meditation
1. To commence meditation it is best to choose a place where you will not be disturbed. Also, if possible, try to choose the same time each day.
2. Choose a comfortable posture. If sitting or kneeling your back should be straight so that the Baihui point or sky-door (on top of the head) and the Huiyin point (between the legs near the anus) are in line and vertical. This ensures that the spine is held in alignment and allows you to gather the “heaven” and “earth” chi, which will then flow naturally. By sitting in an incorrect posture, such as, leaning forward or backward will suppress the lungs, causing a shortness of breath and result in you losing chi. A good posture will prevent your mind from becoming sluggish or sleepy, and you will not become tired.
3. Keep your shoulders down and the arms relaxed.
4. The head and neck should be kept straight and upright. The head should not be allowed to slump onto your chest as this blocks the flow of energy through the neck.
5. Your eyes should be partially closed and your sight focused on a spot on a distant wall.
6. Concentrate and think about your breathing pattern. Breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils. Without attempting to control your breath, try to become aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. This sensation is your object of meditation. You should try to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else. You may feel warm, tingling or itchy – such sensations are very natural.
Finishing your meditation
When you want to finish your meditation, you should complete with Shou Gong, which means Ending Exercise or Collecting (Balancing) Exercise. Always do this as it brings your chi back to the Tan Tien, to store it so it is not lost. If you have been meditating in a sitting or lying position you should do the Shou Gong sitting. If you have been meditating standing up, you should do the Shou Gong in a standing position.
Meditation is the master of breath. It will give meaning to the development of mind and body. Proper breathing is taught as an essential and fundamental factor of concentration. You will probably find, as you relax, that your breathing will deepen and the body’s healing and balancing powers will begin to work. With each breath you should gather your whole strength on one point only in the Tan Tien. This is known as keeping your strength in the lower belly. The pattern of breathing should be slow, deep, cairn and natural – using your diaphragm. There must be deep inhalation and full exhalation. The action of making the expiration longer than the inspiration exerts a downward pressure on the intestines. Normal breathing rate is fifteen to eighteen cycles per minute. Through the exercise of meditation the breathing rate may become less than ten cycles per minute. Really good “meditative” breathing could be as low as three cycles per minute.
When you breathe naturally the breathing cycle should follow your body’s movements or feelings, and you should not be aware of your breathing actions. When you inhale using this method your abdomen expands, and when you exhale it contracts. This method is connected with the Tan Tien, which is located in the area below the navel. Thus the expanding and contracting of the abdomen stimulate the Tan Tien.
This is the opposite of natural breathing. When you inhale the abdomen contracts, when you exhale the abdomen expands. This method of breathing requires a higher level of expertise. It makes the Tan Tien very strong and stimulates the Ren (front) and Du (back) channels. Reverse breathing creates fire in your body.
Whichever kinds of breathing you use, do not go too far too quickly. Start by using natural breathing and then gradually introduce the use of reverse breathing for certain purposes. In fact, if you can relax enough and forget the way you breathe, unconsciously your breathing will incorporate both normal and reverse breathing.
Everyone will experience meditation in a different and unique way. You may see colours. These colours represent the energy (chi) emanating from various internal organs (each has its own colour).
All of the following methods will help you to achieve a quiet state of relaxation. In the beginning you will have problems trying to concentrate the mind, so, “use one thought to get rid of a thousand thoughts until everything is peaceful”.
1. Imagine the moon at the centre of your body, in your Tan Tien. Clouds drift slowly overhead and the moon disappears behind them, then it appears again. Combine this visualization with your breathing.
2. Imagine an object you like, such as a flower, a tree, the sun, the moon or a person, and put this visualization in your Tan Tien.
3. Look at one object and forget everything else.
4. Imagine a sound like a stream train slowly pulling away in the distance, water dropping or a clock ticking.
5. You can listen to some beautiful music during meditation to bring yourself to a relaxed state.
6. Breathe in and breathe out while counting the length of each breath.
7. Think of a poem or phrase (similar to Mantra repetition)
8.Let the distractions come and slowly achieve balance through concentrating on them.
9. Go to a peaceful place, let the atmosphere influence you, and then practice meditation.
10. Count from one to hundred during meditation.
Even though breathing meditation is only a preliminary stage of meditation, it can be quite powerful.
When the turbulence of distracting thoughts subside and your mind becomes still, a deep happiness and contentment arise naturally from within. This feeling of contentment and well-being help you to cope with the busyness and difficulties of daily life. Just by performing breathing meditation for ten to fifteen minutes each day you will be able to reduce stress. You will experience a calm, spacious feeling in the mind, and many of your usual problems will fall away. Difficult situations will become easier to deal with. You will naturally feel warm and well disposed toward other people, and your relationships with others will gradually improve