In our daily lives, our minds are very active.
We commonly think of our minds, or brains, as being divided into the left brain, and the right brain.
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The left side of the human brain is the linear, rational, logical, language center. It manages numbers, and all the logic that we apply in life. It thinks in terms of past, and future.
The right brain is the emotive, artistic, holistic part of our mind. It is the part that thinks in pictures, feelings, connectedness, and deals with the here and now.
Meditation #1: The Practice
Meditation, as presented here, is the practice of getting the left brain to become quiet. This gives you the opportunity to experience the right brain, and allows you to discover the connectedness of us all. And, turning off the left brain, during meditation, can lead to a deep sense of calm.
When I meditate I lie down, and let my body relax. Some people prefer to sit up because they fear they will fall asleep if they lay down. That is good. The important thing is to find what works best for you. Falling asleep is a risk. It doesn’t do you any real harm. But, falling asleep is not the objective of meditation. Falling asleep takes away the experience of the meditation, because you fall into a sleep state, not into a meditative state.
Once you have gotten into a relaxing position, sitting or lying down, start breath counting.
We all breathe in, we all breathe out. Sometimes, due to exercise we breathe very quickly. During meditation, we are relaxing, so we are breathing slowly. Count every inhale. — Inhale “one” then exhale. Inhale “two” then exhale. Inhale “three” then exhale. Inhale “four” then exhale. — Then repeat. — Don’t go beyond four. Start over again. Inhale “one” then exhale. Inhale “two” then exhale. Etcetera. That is breath counting.
Developing a deep state of relaxation
After I begin breath counting, I imagine a sort of electro-magnetic charge surrounding my feet and toes. This charge is a field, or plain. In my imagination, this plain slowly works up through my body all the way from my feet to the top of my head. I concentrate on that plain of relaxing energy, with my eyes closed, as the relaxing plain moves through me. As it passes through, for example, the muscles of my calves, they become completely relaxed. As it passes through my knees, thighs, hips, torso, neck, and head, my whole body becomes completely relaxed.
By this time, I am entering a meditative state.
You may want to know how long a session of meditation will last. This is personal. It will vary from person to person. Here is what my experience has been.
I started meditation regularly about 30 years ago. I wondered how long to meditate. But, I decided to just try it, and see what happens. I have a good internal clock. I often wake up in the morning a minute before my alarm goes off. When I started meditating I found that I almost always came out of the meditation 20 minutes after I started. I don’t set an alarm. I don’t time my meditations in any way. Yet, I rarely meditate for more, or less than, just about 20 minutes. I let my internal clock manage that, and don’t consciously think about time at all.
You’ll develop your own practice. However, this is a meditation, and it should be limited in duration.
Our left brain is very active and used to getting its own way. It does not become quiet easily. While you are meditating, the left brain will be thinking about lots of things, and it will take you right out of your meditation. The voice in your head might tell you that you’d rather be somewhere else. You’d rather be doing this. You’d rather be doing that. This left brain stuff just drives you nuts.
As those thoughts come up, don’t fight them. Everybody experiences this. Just notice them, and then let them go. You can actually think to yourself, “thank you for that, but I am going back to my breath counting.” Then recall the last number you remember counting, and continue from there.
In addition to breath counting, there is one other practice that I have developed.
I have found that my left brain not only brings up conversations in my head that distract me from breath counting, but my “mind’s eye” fills with images of people, places and things that distract me.
The method I developed to overcome this distraction is to watch the “stuff” I see on the back of my eyelids. Even in the dark, we will “see” bits of something “floating” on the backs of our eyelids. What this visual media is, I have no idea. I just think of it as “stuff” floating on the backs of my eyelids.
What I do to manage this distraction is, I attempt to (just with mental concentration) move all this stuff into the center of the field of vision of my “mind’s eye.” I attempt to “corral” it or “sweep” it into a central point in my mind’s eye field of vision. This goes very slowly and mostly unsuccessfully at first. But, with concentration and persistence, it works.
Doing this, while breath counting, so totally occupies my mind that the left brain activity is left without access to my meditation, and rarely interrupts.
However, the left brain will interrupt now and then. Just return to conscious breath counting, and managing the “stuff” on the backs of the eyelids.
I find that after a few minutes of this, my left brain will go completely quiet.
Now, the purpose of meditation has been achieved. The left brain is quiet. There is just breath counting, and managing the “stuff” on the back of the eyelids. Now, you can have the experience of the right brain, while the left brain is not chattering. (The left brain is doing the breath counting and “stuff” management. That is as quiet as the left brain is likely to get. But, the chatter has stopped.)
This doesn’t happen every time, or often for me.
However, from time to time, when I have reached this most quiet meditative space, I will experience an explosion of white light in my mind’s eye. At that moment I am no longer breath counting. I am no longer watching the stuff on the backs of my eyelids. My whole mind shuts down.
Soon after this happens my meditation ends on its own. I become conscious of where I am and what I have been doing. I get up.
I can’t tell you what happened when the flash of light appears. But, I can tell you that I come back feeling marvelous. I feel happy. I feel relaxed. I feel very alive. I feel very connected to everyone and everything.
A trip worth taking.
Develop your own meditation routine. Do it once a day, or do it twice a week, or do it four times a month. Find the schedule that works for you. But, I recommend you create a schedule, and follow it the best you can. Pick a time of day that generally works for you, and then create opportunities to use that time. Get away from worldly distractions, and go to that quiet place.
So, take these techniques, and apply them in your world, and see what kind of results you get. And, know that this is a “practice.” You don’t do it once, and have spectacular results throughout your life. It is an “exercise.” Meditation requires persistence, and repetitions. The strength of meditation will grow as the practice of meditation continues.
Warning about meditation:
There will be some who read my description of my meditation practices and disagree with them. This is a normal part of human life. Not everybody agrees on everything.
The one warning I have about meditative practices is, don’t let anyone talk you into anything that leads to feeling badly about yourself, or leaves you with feelings of self doubt. Avoid a negative sense of self. Don’t do meditations that make you view yourself as a bad person, or tell you that you are broken and need to be fixed. This is all nonsense, because you are not those things. You are whole, and complete just the way you are. There is a great deal of psychological and philosophical study that suggests we are all whole and complete human beings. And, that everything we need, to do and accomplish anything we wish, is already part of who we are. And, all we need is to find access to our capabilities. Meditation can help with that.
Now that you have read all this, now that you have meditated, and are discovering the benefits in your life from meditation, please go to the following link and watch Jill Bolte Taylor talk about her experience. She had a stroke. That was a sad thing. The experience she had as the stroke started was something interesting in regard to meditation.
IN MY OPINION, (this is just my unprofessional opinion), the experience that Dr. Taylor had, when her left brain shut down, is the experience that meditation can give you.
Meditation can take you to that place of a quiet left brain, and allow you the opportunity to experience the artistic, holistic, energetic possibilities of your right brain.
I wish you the best of good fortune, good health and happiness.