"Meditation For Dummies" (see Books) covers the subject of meditation just about as well as john has ever seen it covered. This is a case of not judging a book by it's title. There is nothing dumb about this book! There are many other excellent sources on this subject as well.

This page is meant to be an overview of meditation only. john does NOT claim to be anything other than a rank beginner at meditation and even more of an amateur at explaining it.

Generally, most books on meditation start with the importance of maintaining the right posture. For most Americans, the full lotus position, where both legs are crossed over each other, is very difficult to achieve. Even the half lotus position can be difficult. john has used pillows, a stack of telephone books or a short bench to raise himself higher so that his legs can be crossed comfortably below him. Tricycle magazine even has advertisements for commercially made pillows and benches for this purpose.

Also, it is important to maintain a straight back and to not let you head fall too far forward. The point is to be able to maintain a posture that will not interfere with your concentration for about 20 - 30 minutes. If you allow yourself to be too comfortable you may easily just fall asleep.

Meditation is not being asleep, nor is it being awake. It is another state where the "every-minute, chatterbox, monkey-mind conscious brain" is quieted and cooled down so that the subconscious mind, which may constitute about 90 percent of the brain, can be itself. This can wash away the road grime of everyday stress and the feeling of not being able to find oneself.

john began his search for meditation when he couldn't get away from himself. He would take his work worries everywhere. He tried vacations,movies, alcohol and buying new things, but none of these worked to release him from his heavy stress for more than an hour or two. After practicing meditation, john has been able to relax and help other people find more peace in life. He has also found that he is able to control severe pain using meditation.

Interestingly enough, john cannot control minor pain very well. Minor pain isn't enough pain for john to focus on. He, like most, just puts up with it. john will let his mind run and play at will (out of control). It is often easier for a beginner to practice mediation than someone who has practiced for years. It is a novel experience for the beginner. It is very hard work for the seasoned practicioner.

Most books also cover the importance and methods of breathing to help focus the mind. One technique is simply to count "1" as you breathe in and "2" as you breathe out, etc. all the way to "10" and then just start over. Pay very close attention to every part of this flow. Note that it is not a case of "1", "2", "3", "4", etc., but rather "1", pause, "2", pause, "3", pause, "4", pause, etc.

Let go of your conscious thinking, just concentrate on your breathing. If a thought comes into your mind, don't be too concerned, just let it pass and refocus on your breathing. Pretty soon, you will find yourself going down to a more quiet place, an extremely restful state.

It is in going into this state where you find the correct posture to be important. You may find that your legs hurt or you back aches. You can either ignore the pain or shift your position and continue your concentration.

There are meditation centers available if you feel you are having trouble meditating or if you just wish to be with others sharing this common experience. Normally, you will have to find those. Buddhists do not recruit. You must be ready and seek out this experience yourself. john lists at least one Zen center in the books section.

[What Is Buddhism]


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