Monday, 2 March 2009


I wrote this article for my mates a few days ago, thought I'd post it here to share. I'm no expert, just writing what I've learnt from my own experiences. Take what you want from it and enjoy.

Why should I bother with meditation?

Meditation has a number of benefits on a number of levels. First there’s health. It helps with things like lowering blood pressure, reducing muscle tension, reducing stress hormones and increasing positive endorphins and the immune response. It generally relaxes the body.

Then there’s mental. It helps with clarity of thought and peace of mind. It helps with concentration. It reduces mental stress and increases contentment and confidence. It helps distance yourself from negative emotional responses, and allows you to choose how you react in given situations.

Empirically, studies have shown that meditation reduces the frequency of the electromagnetic activity in the brain. Our brain continuously gives off electromagnetic pulses. In day to day life this is usually at about 10-100 Hertz. As we meditate, this reduces to below 10 Hz, and in long term meditators it can reduce as low as 2-4 Hz. There are ways to also reduce it even further, down to 0.5Hz and lower, which I may talk about at some point (do a search for binaural beats on google)…

And finally there’s spiritual, although I don’t like the word “spiritual” – for me, it’s what I call “wider perception.” You become aware of existence at a higher level, that of the universal infinite and your part in it, and you distance yourself from your own consciousness. Some people call this god, “the spark of the divine within every human being.” It’s been described in many ways. It is what it is.

With regards to pick up, it’s the clarity of thought and the ability to choose your response in a given situation that is the most important. For those with AA specifically, if you’re in a mental rut and your state has crashed, being able to distance yourself (or already be distanced from) that state, and then to choose how to act, would be of some benefit.

How do I meditate?

First of all, you need to be in a quiet, relaxing place with no chance of being disturbed. Turn off your phone.

Then prepare yourself by being physically relaxed. This may take a minute or two, don’t worry if it takes time, and don’t worry if you can’t fully relax. Just do what you can and you’ll notice that it will get easier over time.

Sit on a flat surface is a cross legged position. That’s the idea at least. If that’s not easy for you, sit where you can with a straight back. If you become uncomfortable while you meditate, shift slightly as required to improve the situation, trying to make only as much movement as necessary.

When I start meditating and sitting in the position I often find that it takes a few minutes for my posture to settle, usually straightening and relaxing my back a few times, shifting my legs a bit. You may not need to, but don’t worry if you do.

Then start to concentrate on your breathing. You should breathe through the nose, not the mouth. You want to aim to slowly lengthen and deepen your breaths. Use your entire abdomen. Don’t pressure yourself, just relax into it. If you find yourself suddenly taking short breaths at first, despite having just taken long, deep breaths, don’t worry. Just settle back into it. Let the breath settle into a regular rhythm.

Once your breath is under control, become aware of your thoughts. At first they will be jumping around all over the place. That’s OK. Just be aware of them and watch them as they start to calm down. Let them be like clouds that pass in the sky. You can watch them with peace and let them pass, disappearing into space. Become detached from them. You can help reduce your thoughts by focussing on a single thing, sometimes a mantra (“om”) or on the mechanics of your breath. I favour the latter.

After a while you will notice that there are spaces within the thoughts, and that these spaces start to increase. It is these gaps – the absence of thought – that you are aiming for. That is meditation. Pure consciousness without the distraction of thought. Thought comes from the ego and pure consciousness is separate from thought and ego. It is also called presence. Maintain that state.

As you meditate your ego may react against it and try to demand attention. That's OK, that means you are doing it right. If you find yourself running away with your thoughts, just bring yourself back gently to your breath, and start to relax again. You may find this happens many times at first, and that is OK. It takes practice and perseverence, much like pick up, and it will become easier over time.

Good luck, and enjoy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved it. Very useful.