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What is the purpose of meditation?

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by Ta-tsu-wa, Dec 18, 2007.

  1. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    I'm interested in hearing what the reasons are that different people meditate. Generically speaking, most of us will probably say we either meditate for health/stress relief, or we meditate for some reason related to spirituality. That's a given. What I would like to know are some of the specific ways meditation helps you develop in whatever way you are trying to develop. If you meditate for spirituality, for example, in what way does meditation foster spirituality, etc? Is it different for everyone, or are there some common points we will all reach eventually? What's your story?
     
  2. Maitreya

    Maitreya Member

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    I began meditating more often for a spiritual reason--to achieve complete Enlightenment, or full bodhi--meaning Buddhahood rather than Arahantship

    So I meditate two learn to control my mind, as well as to contemplate the universe and the world--in serparate meditations of course!

    I often have many "A-HA!" moments during the latter, where I realise or learn a thing I was never taught. I think of that as a very good sign.

    But I have read about many abilities that come with extreme concentrative abilities, and am cultivating my mind both for spiritual Awakening and for these abilities. Mostly I want to see if I can learn them, but I will not be discouraged if I cannot.

    So I meditate for betterment in many fields, both of my self and of those around me. I cannot speak for all people on reasons, since people have many different reasons (such as stress control and just plain relaxation.)
     
  3. scf0x

    scf0x Member

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    Hi Ta-tsu-wa

    The reason I started meditation was because I suffer from insomnia some of the time. I have suffered from this for many many years and about 5 months ago I found project-meditation on the net. I read all the info that was on the site and decided to give it a try (nothing ventured nothing gained). After only a couple of days worth of meditation I found that my sleeping was improving. Now I am a lot better in my everyday life, I feel so much calmer and happier.
    All I can say now is thank you Michael:D
     
  4. DreadHead

    DreadHead Member

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    i started out to figure what on earth was going on, strange things happening etc. so to control them
    i did that for a while, training me in abbilities, and mainly experimenting with things other people believed,
    see what was true, and what wasn't..
    (a nice example is increasing the influence we have on reality through meditation)

    when i didn't do that for a while, i started missing the process of taking time off for myself,
    so i went on, but mostly without the experimenting as a purpose,
    and i discovered many benefits that way, and read about some i wouldn'r immediatly have thought of

    i've tried many ways, and kinda made my own method out of it.
    but i still do use brainwave technology stuff, like lifeflow,
    which i think is the most.. complete of all so far
     
  5. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Ah-ha moments

    Maitreya,

    For you, what is an "ah-ha moment"? Is it a feeling, an intellectual realization, a shift in perspective...?

    I often see words like "enlightenment", "nirvana", "satori", "samadhi" and so forth, used in connection with meditation. But to be honest, when one person says they have a glimpse of enlightenment, then another person says they have also had a glimpse, I wonder if these "glimpses" were the same thing, or if enlightenment is a completely subjective experience?
     
  6. Julielz

    Julielz Member

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    Ta-tsu-wa...

    I love your question. That's a fun one to put out there and I have enjoyed reading all the responses. My response is below, but can you tell us your story?

    A quick thought on enlightenment... I perceive enlightenment not as something we attain, but rather something we allow. In other words, it is there, always available for us to uncover, remember, etc.

    I "got into" meditation as a form of healing. Spiritual, yes. What I get out of meditation is an understanding of the True Self. I watch my ego, my thoughts, my mental patterns, and I find myself bringing them into better alignment and harmony with the life I desire to live.

    Deeper still is when I touch the center that is, what I believe, the unifying source that dwells within us all. It transcends the human. It is peaceful, loving, abundant, creative, etc... When I access this space it is timeless and infinite. I call it the God-Self. The Truest of True Self.

    By touching this space I cultivate all the qualities I find therein. Whatever I think I need from the outside world- abundance, love, knowledge, etc... I find within. And, unlike the external world, this space is infinite, limitless, and always available. The source of all my needs, wants, and desires are always within immediate reach, if only I turn my attentions toward it and allow it to reveal itself to me. What a relief!

    And so, the purpose for me becomes to know my human self, and to know my God-Self, recognizing that the divine is within the human : )

    Much love to you all!
    Julie
     
  7. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    My story...

    Julie,

    My primary ethnic heritage is Cherokee, on my father's side, though I was not raised on a reservation like he was. Back when he was younger there was still something of a stigma with being called "an Indian", so when he left the reservation he really dissociated himself with all things Indian.

    But in my generation being "an Indian" has now changed to the more politically correct "Native American" (but I don't mind if any wants to call me an Indian!) and it is almost a badge of honor to be able to lay claim to some Indian blood. So in my teenage years I developed an interest in studying N/A cultures and practices. Some things I found were best left to the past, like, as an example, the idea that all those wild west Indians you read about were really "noble savages" that the European settlers all but destroyed with lies and treachery. Lies and treachery, yes, there was that, but those "noble savages" were doing the same sorts of things to each other long before Columbus was ever a gleam in his parents' eyes.

    So some ideas are just a lot of romantic, but off base fairy tales. But other aspects of the N/A cultures is really worth preserving, and among them is a rich heritage of meditation. Of course, that's not what the native peoples themselves have called it historically, but that's what it is.

    The technique I most often use is to listen for silence. All sound comes out of silence. All motion arises out of stillness. Somewhere I read (don't recall the source,) something like, "The language of God is silence and stillness...everything else is just a poor translation."

    So in my technique I pick a word or even just a sound and I imagine I hear it once, loudly, followed by a slight pause, then I hear that word again as an echo, more distant and softer than the original, then a pause, then a softer echo, and so on. Usually I get to about 4 or 5 iterations of the sound or word until it fades out into silence. That's when I keep listening for it. I'm listening into the silence to find the faintest echo I possibly can.

    Sometimes the listening goes on for several minutes before a real distraction comes along and then I just do the same thing all over again. Sometimes it takes only a few seconds before I'm distracted.

    And my question above, about enlightenment, stems from my own experiences. Much of the time I'm listening into that silence, but there is still noise and chatter in competition with it. Not to the point that I focus on it or am distracted by it, but I still "feel" it there, hanging at the edge of awareness.

    And then there are moments when it is as though all my physical senses just turned themselves completely off. There is true silence inside, but still a sense of clarity and awareness. Those are my personal "ah-ha" moments, but I don't know if what I experience is the same as what others experience or not. Maybe we're using the same jargon words but experiencing completely different things? Or maybe God really does speak the language of silence and stillness, and that's what everyone experiences who penetrates the outer layer of noise and motion?
     
  8. Julielz

    Julielz Member

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    same language?

    So interesting!

    I teach yoga, amongst other things... but one of my favorite things to discuss is Shiva/Shakti. In case you don't know, Shiva and Shakti are two of the primordial Hindu dieties. According to what I ahve been taught, they represent The One/The Many. Shiva is the male, Shakti the female. Shiva is the one, the container, the focused, foundational energy. Shakti is the many, the dance, the infinite expressions of Shiva.

    I think of the human experience as closely relating to this. As humans, we are all Shakti, the dance, the individualized expressions. But our truth is that we are all Shiva, too. Shiva is the great One, Source Energy.

    When people offer up their different experiences and definitions I see that as the beautiful Shakti. Different dancers dancing differently. But also, I recognize the Shiva which is the constant, the thread that unites us all. Make sense?

    So, yes, I believe the Source Energy is the same within all of us, but it is felt differently, experienced differently and expressed differently. We are here to have unique experiences, and yet there is always, always the common thread.

    I do a similar technique to your listening. I imagine a door at the back of my heart that opens up into a greater, deeper heart. I keep going through these doors until I am in some infinite space. The essence of the meditation, is to really feel it... most times I sit and wait until I can truly feel the space I am entering into.

    Lovely!

    Hey, have you ever done Shamanic breathing? I was introduced to one technique and found it to completely surpass any prananyama I have done in the past.

    J
     
  9. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Shamanic breathing

    Julie,

    I have heard of Shamanic breathing, and I understand that there are a number of techniques under that heading, but I haven't ever been taught any of the techniques. Care to "enlighten" me?
     
  10. Maitreya

    Maitreya Member

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    Sorry if took me a while to get back to you.

    For me, personally, Enlightenment is an understanding the nature of the world, as well as the nature of humankind and the nature of suffering.

    For me, that "A-HA" moment is, less than an excited exclamation...well I think it would work better to explain it.

    It feels like a conscious "A-HA" moment--like when you are doing trivia, and the answer is on the tip of your tongue--it's the feeling you get when the answer is revealed and you think, "Of course that's the answer!"

    When I get into a deep meditation on enlightenment, a dialogue runs through my head, as if two people are having a conversation. It always has a point, and the two people continue to argue, and eventually one person ends the argument by a particular statement, as if I had been the one arguing and another person had, through this, proven me wrong.

    It is an intellectual moment, as well as a shift in perspective. I am literally taught this lesson. Sometimes I begin my thinking about a particular topic, and thus the argument begins :)

    One cannot "glimpse" enlightenment. One can attain it, but one cannot see or feel it unless that person is enlightened. I do not think enlightenment is subjective, since it is about completely understanding the world around you. As I once described it:

    "Enlightenment is returning to that which made you human. It is returning to your natural diet and excluding that which your body does not want to consume. It is returning to a position of occasional discomfort, to learn from it humility and tolerance, and to remove the illusion of having tamed nature. True enlightenment is understanding your roots, who you are, and who you should be."

    As Julielz said, I also believe it is always there to be uncovered--but the particular human psychology effects the soul, rather than the other way around. So to develop the soul, one must develop the mind--which is why meditation is so important to enlightenment, even if you just go by the dictionary definition: "To think." :)

    I hope that helps you understand my perception of enlightenment.
     
  11. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Enlightenment

    When you have one of these "ah-ha" moments, and your meditation period comes to a close, are you qualitatively a different person as you re-enter the everyday world? Do you note substantive changes in how you see things, how you relate to other people, how you relate to yourself, your job, your family, your material possessions? Or do you simply return to "the world" more or less as it was before the ah-ha moment?

    I guess I look at recorded examples, like Gautama. Before his "enlightenment", he's an average Joe, albeit an average royal Joe. But afterwards, he's "The Buddha", and if even a fraction of the stories about him contain a grain of truth, he was an extraordinary person.

    There's a story told about him, apocryphal perhaps, but it went something like this.

    The Buddha was walking along a road and approaching a village. From a distance the villagers saw him coming and they could tell that there was something truly different and wonderful about him. So they sent out a delegation to meet him before he arrived to see if they could determine just who/what it was that was about to visit their village.

    The delegation went out and as they approached him their leader called out to him, saying, "Sir, we perceive that you are not like other men; that there is something very special about you. Tell us, please, are you a god?"

    "No," replies the Buddha, "I am no god."

    "Well then, are you a Brahmin or a sage?"

    "No, I am not a Brahmin or a sage."

    "Then please, Sir, tells us what you are."

    And the Buddha paused a moment and then replied,

    "I am awake."

    He clearly understood that qualitatively he was different than he had been before his enlightenment.

    In my personal experiences, when I enter those moments of silence, I see things in a way that is very different than I see them when I am not in meditation. And when I'm back in the ordinary world I retain pretty good recollection of how those moments felt, and intellectually I even have a few ideas about what it was I experienced. But I don't "feel" any different as a person than I did before the meditation.

    This makes me wonder; Did I really have a spiritual "ah-ha" experience, or was it just some kind of mental hiccup? If it was a moment of enlightenment, why didn't it "stick"? Why did I just come back to being the same old me?
     
  12. Maitreya

    Maitreya Member

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    I know what you mean, but for me, it does "stick."

    The thing about enlightenment, or awakening, is that it doesn't come with a single "ah-ha" moment. It took Gautama 49 days of meditating on enlightenment before he had received complete awakening to everything.

    In fact, in all stories of ancient spiritual teachers, they all have a period before they go alone into the wilderness and return with the teachings and understanding--and no one of them achieved awakening in less than 35 days. Take Moses, going up to Mount Sinai, and Jesus, in the desert for forty days, and Mohammed, who I think meditated in a cave for about a month.

    When I feel the most difference is when I do the "metta bhavana," or Loving Kindness Meditation. During this meditation, when I focus on how much I love all things, and all people, from my best friend, to my family, to my pets, to my suffering and enemies. I come out of a metta meditation in a state where nothing and no one can anger, or even annoy me, because I realise that I love that person so much. I feel that strong brotherhood that we are all meant to feel for our brothers and sisters of the species.

    But when I am informed to a particular thing, I do feel, in my woken life, awakened even more. So I am not completely a different person, but I am different in one aspect until I understand the others. The world seems to be a different place...The lesson remains, but the feeling will wear off after a day if I do not meditate again--so I always do :)

    For this, I meditate on, perhaps, a teaching of Gautama Buddha, and by the time the meditation is over I have a complete understanding of why that teaching is important.

    I cannot gain an understanding of what an enlightened person thought, let a lone think as he did, just by reading his teachings. Everyone, even the Buddha, has to take his enlightenment one lesson at a time. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2007
  13. Phun20

    Phun20 Member

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    Enlightenment is a very complicated issue, because the more you learn, the more "enlightened" you become. 5,000 years ago we knew the world to be flat, because when we looked out we saw a horizon, and that meant the edge of the world. Later on we were "enlightened", and learned the world was round, though it took years before it was widely accepted.

    When it comes to spirituality and religion, the only enlightenment possible is through death, because only then can we experience first hand what happens when you die, anything beforehand is guess work based off of feelings we don't completely understand, and messiahs claiming to be messengers from God. Discovering philosophies through meditation doesn't prove God's existence, only it shows that when your mind is more active, you are able to think more clearly and see positive ideals on how life should be lived.

    One side effect said to meditating is an increase in creativity, these "ah-ha" moments is your brain creating ideas in your head to ponder, and putting them together into something that is both true when applied to civilization, and ideal for all life to live in harmony with one another, which is what many people want, and therefore discover when they meditate. Not to mention all the natural happiness that is created through the activity.

    I got a little side tracked from the point of this thread, but after reading the other posts on enlightenment, I couldn't help but add my own thoughts to the torrent of ideas. The main reason I meditate is to increase my flow of thought, and to improve upon myself as a person, hoping to make wiser decisions that benefit both myself and those I interact with, hopefully I will be successful in this endeavor, and make everyone I meet happier than they were before hand.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2007
  14. Julielz

    Julielz Member

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    shamanic breathing

    The breath I was taught is best lying down.

    It's a two part inhale, first belly, then chest. The breathing is through the mouth. It begins to sound a bit like backwards panting. It works well at a lively, but not overly fast, pace. You will feel into the perfect pace for you.

    The effect I experience is super expansive in a very short period of time. I like to do this breath work when I am calling in spirit guides, as it tends to open the veil for me. Whatever happens, it rocks and is worth a try.

    I'm really digging reading everyone's posts. Love this dialogue. Thanks again, Ta-tsu-wa for being a beautiful facilitator.

    A tad more on enlightenment... My only "concern," or hesitancy with this word is that it tends to be separatist, or elitist. I don't mean to say that for any of you beautiful, and heart-felt souls who have so lovingly articulated your views on enlightenment. I'm speaking of elsewhere. Anyone else feel this way?

    It seems to present a factor of good, better, best. Thoughts?

    xo, J
     
  15. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Shamanic Breathing

    Is there any visualization involved in the process, or is it strictly breath awareness? How about the extremities? Is the breath ever (as a visualization) led down into the legs or out into the arms?
     
  16. Maitreya

    Maitreya Member

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    Julie, the word does present a factor of separation of persons, but to the unenlightened mind, or the mind of someone not nigh of enlightenment, (which I actually prefer to call Awakening.)

    There is one teaching for those on the quest to awakening, and that is to remember that all beings are equal in stature. Regardless of how "important" a person may perceive a being to be. Whether a king or a peasant, both are equal. Whether a man or a flea, both are equal. Whether a Buddha or a murderer, both are equal, and you must learn to love all the same.

    That is not to say deeds are equal, certainly not. But deeds do not reflect beings, they reflect behavior and thought. So just as a murder does not make the killer any lesser a being, being Awakened does not make a man any better a being. He will flow down a better path for his choice and deeds, but the Awakened man knows that he is no better than anyone else; he merely sees the world in a better way, and thinks in a better way, and thus is Awakened.

    So it is bad to put such a title upon someone, because those who do not see the world as clearly as an Awakened individual will perceive the Awakened person as superior to them, where only his thoughts are superior.

    I hope you did not find that contradictory :)
     
  17. Jonimarie

    Jonimarie Member

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    my reason for meditation

    I am trying to learn meditation to control my asthma attacks so that i dont panic since I suffer from post tramatic stress disorder.
     
  18. JennieSayers

    JennieSayers Member

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    Jonimarie,

    I work with recovering addicts and they often suffer from PTSD. It's truly alarming that nearly 70% of addicted women have this disorder. My particular therapy is art. I've found that if I start the group with a brief meditation - ususally breathing; breath in slowly through the nose to the count of five, hold the breath for a count of five, and release through the mouth. We do this three times...I say once for the body, once for the mind, and once for the spirit. This exercise seems to really open up the flow of creativity. This particular breathing exercise was taught to me by a psychologist to help with anxiety.

    I realize that this isn't meditation in the strictest sense but it works well to calm the mind. Perhaps it would work to prepare for a more lengthy exercise. It's also easy enough that it can be used on short notice.

    Hope this helps a little and good luck on your path.

    Jennie
     
  19. Julielz

    Julielz Member

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    shamanic breathing

    Ta-tsu-wa

    Delayed response to your question!

    No breathing into extremities. The breath is without visualization or filling into body. Breath awareness, yes : )

    Let me know if you try it out!

    love, JZ
     
  20. taylordayton

    taylordayton Member

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    I have often pondered the true meaning of 'enlightenment' and 'awakening'.

    Years ago, I was confined in my old mind, in an old set of 'beliefs' and limitations on what the world was. My dreams unlocked something for me, and I followed them. A year ago I found myself discovering something brand new, and meditation began, not for any real purpose, but because I felt drawn to it, compelled by something far greater than myself.

    I was drawn, in turn, to Zen and then to Hindu, where I did light studying on Kundalini. I didn't lose interest in either of these, but the religions themselves are so confusing I chose to take my time learning about them, rather than delving in.

    I learned about the chakras and how to 'ground' the Kundalini energy, and experienced what is called sometimes a 'rising'. I have experienced many things the last year via meditation.

    Most of all, I discovered that I do not know who I am, and I don't want to, because to imply that would be a form of limitation on what I could still become.

    I have learned to live in the moment, to see the moment and not the future or the past. It is not a constant thing, because sometimes I get backtracked, but I recover and move on.

    I see no clear path in front of me right now, but I meditate because I am still drawn to it, to let it show me things I would not realize otherwise, and this I enjoy. I don't call them shifts, I call them evolutions. I am in wonder and awe when I see things differently. I remember the time I first realized we are all living separate lives but we are all 'one life'. hehe.

    Meditation has most definitely permanently changed me, and it will continue to change me as I continue to grow. There are things you don't forget once they are unlocked within the psyche. It's wonderful!
     

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