When I was in college back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, there were opportunities to study meditation. I was interested in mediation, and curious about the benefits that it provided.
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In those days, there were announcements made about traveling meditation teachers coming to town. And with the announcements were a list of requirements, or prerequisites to enrolling in one of those classes. Included amongst those was, that you could not drink any alcohol for at least 30 days prior to attending a meditation class. We college students thought that beer was quite a bit of fun. However, a group of my friends and I decided that we were going to abstain from alcohol for the required time and attend the upcoming meditation class. We struggled and struggled. Then, finally, we gave up, drank the beer, and skipped the class.
As I recall, these classes cost about $40 to attend. That was a lot of money to us then. The fee would allow us to attend the class and to receive a “personal” mantra at the end of the class.
Sure enough, a couple months later, there would be another announcement that another meditation teacher was coming through our town, and we could sign up and take the class. The usual restrictions applied.
This became a standing joke with us. Nobody was willing to go 30 days without beer before attending such a class. We would try again. We would fail again. We would laugh again. Our beer goggles could not see through this thing.
So, during my college days, I did not study meditation.
After leaving college, I was still curious about meditation and its benefits that I had heard about. The more I read and listened, the more I began to realize what those benefits might be. That is, benefits like tranquility and presence of mind.
I went to libraries, and book stores and read about meditation. And, once, while in a bookstore, I found a book about the same meditative practices from my college days. The book was only $12. I thought, “Ah ha. I have found the $12 answer to the $40 question.” I bought the book and began to read through it. As I read, it all sounded very interesting, but it seemed it was leading somewhere, building up to something familiar. It was dancing around the subject of meditation without really delving into mediation, how it worked and how to do it. When I reached the end of the book, and got to the last page, and turned it over, it said, “…and for $40 we will send a personal mantra to you.” Once again I laughed and laughed.
Back in the school days we seemed unable to control ourselves and manage our crazy habits so that we could qualify to take the class, and spend the $40. Now, years later, when I didn’t drink alcohol at all, I was reading that all I had to do was send the $40, and they’d send a mantra to me. I discovered later, as I visited with those who had taken the class and spent the money, that they all got “personal” mantras from the class teacher. These mantras were secret and not to be shared with anyone. They were personal. And, those mantras turned out to be simple words that anyone could come up with for themselves. These words (mantras) were words to repeat while meditating. They became part of the meditation process. Those people who took the class came away realizing that they could make up their own mantras, and had. The mantra was simply about focusing the mind. The word itself had no particular relevance.
After reading a variety of different books on meditation, I came up with a meditation technique that I have used for several decades. It has served me well. It is very simple. And, I will share it with you now. And, it won’t cost you $40. In fact, it’s free. You can have it. You can use it. You can alter it. Remember, I created this technique from reading and experience. So, it is not a canned prescription for meditation. You can use what I present here to create your own technique. The important thing is to understand what meditation is, how it works.
Meditation can give you great benefits of calmness, presence of mind, connectedness to what is going on around you, and be a little bit less stuck in “automatic” in your life.
I recommend that you go to the following link and listen to the interview with Robert Wright, a Buddhist. I am not a Buddhist. But, I find a great deal of interesting information in Robert Wright’s discussion as it applies to meditation. There is a great deal discussed in this interview. You can use those things you find useful, and ignore the rest.