I've listened to a lot of people concerning meditation. First, let's recognize that there are all kinds of meditation. The problem that I've encountered is that people have trouble getting into meditation and staying with it because they don't know how to take the benefits with them. This guide is meant to help you meditate for instant self control and focus in any situation.
Your Head Knowledge: Intention
When you exercise, the results you want are to be healthier, shapelier, and stronger. When you eat right, the results you want are to be healthier with the necessary fuel reserves for all your strenuous activities. Altogether, these activities make you resistant to aging while helping you to concentrate, perform, and think better.
The actual purpose of meditation is to focus all of your energy, experience, and learning that you've gathered towards your specific intention. Every kind of meditation should provide you with specific intention – or at least it should.
For example, in martial arts chi kung meditation, we build bioenergy (Chi) in our outer extremities through exercise. In martial arts meditation, we take that bioenergy and channel the circulation through the energy vessels through focused intent.
In turn, our meridians become energized and can be used for even more focused martial arts practice. As you see, "forging our bodies in the fire of our spirits" is not just Chinese Folklore; through this feedback mechanism of exercise and meditation, this is what really happens.
Intention: the key to Meditation
There are all kinds of meditations for raising the consciousness to shape reality like the Kabbalah and remote viewing/influencing. Other esoteric meditations like Transcendental Meditation help the practitioners become "siddhis" or accomplished ones, so they accomplish the focused intent of invisibility, levitation or infinite strength, etc.
There are mainstream kinds that raise the consciousness for remote healing like Emotional Freedom Techniques (which takes advantage of the higher guage symmetry of the energy meridians as in chi kung).
All kinds of fascinating things can be accomplished by raising the consciousness. The most common thread between all of them is focused intention. You can go to all the fancy meditation retreats and take all the classes, but what will you take with you once you return to the real world? How will that experience serve you in real life?
Let's face the facts: Those more advanced accomplishments take time, something you feel you may not have. From what I've experienced, most people just want to take a few meditation or yoga classes here and there when they have time on a vacation, then they hope that experience will somehow provide the control that they need when taking on a chaotic world with so much crisis at hand. Most of the time, that meditation retreat becomes nothing more than a beautiful memory.
I believe you want more than that.
Your Heart Knowledge: How to program yourself to relax
Different schools of meditation all have different methods of keying the relaxation response. Some experts advise that you find a quiet, comfortable place at a certain time of the day as you touch your fingers together in a certain way.
What they're all trying to do is get you into a routine of trained autonomic relaxation, but it's just not practical if they don't tell you how to take that experience with you wherever you go. What if you're in a noisy, uncomfortable place and your hands are full at rush hour, but you need to maintain calm, collected focus to find your way through busy traffic - then suddenly there's a crash in front of you?
Not to worry: There is a common set of autonomic relaxation responses that most people have forgotten. Because part of our culture is based on stress, we've been trained away from our natural abilities since grade school.
Let's face a discouraging fact: There are no academic requirements for relaxation and focused concentration classes to deal with stress in school or life in general, yet academic officials expect kids to "deal with it" (by taking drugs).
The following set of relaxation responses are keyed through natural, deep breaths towards the diaphragm or solar plexus. Here's how to easily slide into relaxation mode:
1. Breathe deeply and naturally.
Remember to take deep, natural, slow breaths only through your nose towards the solar (celiac) plexus as you perform each relaxation response. Your nose is your natural filter to pollutants. Remember to breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Feel your breath being drawn deep into your lungs by your stomach muscles and diaphragm.
Your deep breathing keys all of the responses, so they all fall into place. By training these responses you learn to relax automatically.
The solar plexus is the bundle of nerves that cause people the most trouble when trying to relax because they breathe incorrectly, so they have shallow breathes or hyperventilate. When you breathe deeply and naturally using your stomach muscles, the solar (celiac) plexus becomes your ally in maintaining control.
Even if your stomach muscles tense up in a "fight or flight" situation, you're still using them to breathe correctly and act accordingly.
2. Hold your back in an upright posture.
Standing or sitting in this position helps keep you aware and awake during your relaxation, so you create control over your autonomic responses. If you must lay down, you can use a pillow under your back to hold a naturally straight posture. (Preferably, this exercise should be done in an upright position.) Breathe deeply and naturally.
3. Relax your shoulders.
The first thing I see people do when asking them to hold an upright posture is that they tense their shoulders. Relax your shoulders in order to relax the brachial plexus on both sides of your neck. Tension in the shoulders leads to tension in the neck, then tension in the head which leads to stress ailments like headaches and dizziness. Make the bundle of nerves around your neck relax, and they will help you relax. Breathe deeply and naturally.
4. Hold your head up, loosely.
Feel as if your head is supported by a string from above. Your head is upright, but feels free as if it is floating. This response allows enhanced, circulation of fluids and subtle energies going to and from your head. Breathe deeply and naturally.
5. Relax your vision.
Relax your focus as if gazing blankly along a distant horizon of the ocean. Breathe deeply and naturally.
6. Relax your jaw.
Allow your jaw to relax by letting it drop slightly. Coupled with steps 4 and 5 above, these actions relax cranial nerves 1 to 5 which allow your neural patterns to slow down, thus allowing you to further relax. Breathe deeply and naturally.
7. Place the tip of your tongue gently against the roof of your mouth.
The tongue should be relaxed, but not touching the teeth. The relaxed tip of the tongue should be on or near the center of the palate (between soft and hard palates). This action is easier when the jaw is slightly dropped, another reason for step 6. Breathe deeply and naturally.
According to Chinese chi kung theory: "..when the tongue touches the roof of the mouth cavity, yin and yang vessels (yin in front, yang in back) are connected and the (chi circulation) circuit is complete. This tongue touch is called 'Da Chiao' or building the bridge. The tongue acts like a switch in an electrical circuit..." ("Nei Dan," Ch. 3, p. 48, Chi Kung Health and Martial Arts by Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming.)
You may say that you're not into chi kung meditation, so why do step 7? In fact, this is a natural, albeit, subconscious response by everyone throughout the day; we've all known since birth to "complete the circuit" in this manner, but a stressful culture trains unnecessary stretching and and tensing of the tongue and surrounding oral muscles which causes chi stagnation. This can lead to chronic physical and mental ailments.
In Chinese Medical Chi Kung theory, your tongue is an extension of your heart. When you relax your tongue, you relax your heart. Breathe deeply and naturally.
Your Deep Breathing is Key
Remember, your deep breathing keys all of the relaxation responses at once. All you're doing is putting back all the natural autonomic functions that stressful culture took away from you. Once you have correctly trained steps 1 – 7 above, one deep breathe is all it should take activate all of the above relaxation responses, so "all of the pieces fall into place" immediately.
I imagine that you may have already mastered all of your relaxation responses. Since you were born with them, all you're doing is "remastering" them. Now, you know how to take the benefits of meditation with you to any situation to meet the challenge of a chaotic world with no trouble...
Randolph is a certified oriental sports trainer with a bachelors in functional therapy.
HealingMindN Meditation Guide is available as an ebook with full text, links, and references; Search for "HealingMindN Meditation Guide" at HealingMindN Power Circle for your personal copy.