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Old July 12th, 2011, 21:03   #1 (permalink)
CatB (Offline)
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Question Is using Guided Meditation tapes sort of "cheating"?

Ok, maybe "cheating" is a silly word for it, but I have recently made a personal commitment to myself to live my daily life more mindfully, as well as begin a daily formal meditation practice.

I know that focusing on the breath is a good way to begin formal meditation but then I also read somewhere that "mistaking a focus on the breath for meditation is like fixating on the quality of your hiking boots, and not really being awake of the natural world you are inhabiting"! (Tara Brach).

So, that has left a newbie like me wondering, "then how the heck DO you meditate?????".

I thought using some guided meditation might help, but I don't want to shortchange myself of the experience of learning how to do this in a way that will bring about the most personal growth, even if it is a bit of a struggle in the beginning.

Does this make sense? could someone please share their thoughts on this?

Thanks,
Cat
 
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Old July 12th, 2011, 22:03   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Cat,

I used to have similar ideas to you on the use on CD's for meditation. But since becoming more experienced with it I have learned that there is no ONE way to meditate for best results.

I would think of it this way. Whether you learn to ride with training wheels or not, in the end you will know how to ride. Any 'bad techniques' you may have picked up along the way will become realized and can be remedied with the more experience you gain.

We are all different, and it may be so that we have methods that are better for us individually. Since we can't know what's best until we try it, we just have to try it!(But avoid switching methods without giving your chosen method a good couple months of practice.)

My interpretation of that Tara Brach quote, is that focusing on your breath is the METHOD to meditation but it is not meditation in itself. She isn't saying that focus on breath can't lead to a meditative state. But a common problem with the method is that people will sit there just focusing very intently on their breath, thinking WHY ARENT I BUDDHA YET! lol. The best advice I have seen is to focus 'gently' on the breath, observe the breath, don't focus completely on it. This will make sense the more you practice.

Always relax and enjoy your practice.
Feel free to question anything I've said, I'm sure others will have some good opinions as well.

Welcome to the community. PEACE
 
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Old July 12th, 2011, 22:29   #3 (permalink)
CatB (Offline)
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Originally Posted by brozen View Post
Hi Cat,

I used to have similar ideas to you on the use on CD's for meditation. But since becoming more experienced with it I have learned that there is no ONE way to meditate for best results.

I would think of it this way. Whether you learn to ride with training wheels or not, in the end you will know how to ride. Any 'bad techniques' you may have picked up along the way will become realized and can be remedied with the more experience you gain.

We are all different, and it may be so that we have methods that are better for us individually. Since we can't know what's best until we try it, we just have to try it!(But avoid switching methods without giving your chosen method a good couple months of practice.)

My interpretation of that Tara Brach quote, is that focusing on your breath is the METHOD to meditation but it is not meditation in itself. She isn't saying that focus on breath can't lead to a meditative state. But a common problem with the method is that people will sit there just focusing very intently on their breath, thinking WHY ARENT I BUDDHA YET! lol. The best advice I have seen is to focus 'gently' on the breath, observe the breath, don't focus completely on it. This will make sense the more you practice.

Always relax and enjoy your practice.
Feel free to question anything I've said, I'm sure others will have some good opinions as well.

Welcome to the community. PEACE
Thanks for the great reply, much appreciated.

I would like to ask you this, though, regarding the statement you made about not "switching methods". If I do better when meditating twice per day, but in shorter time frames (like 10-15 minutes each), would there be any reason I should not or could not do 1 unguided and 1 guided?
 
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Old July 13th, 2011, 01:43   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by CatB View Post
Thanks for the great reply, much appreciated.

I would like to ask you this, though, regarding the statement you made about not "switching methods". If I do better when meditating twice per day, but in shorter time frames (like 10-15 minutes each), would there be any reason I should not or could not do 1 unguided and 1 guided?
Hi catB,


As a new meditator, sometimes it is good to get some clear instructions; there are a plethora of methods and reasons out there in cyberspace which can cause conflicting direction.

I would suggest trying the free meditation course available from the owner of this forum.

Project Meditation™ - Free meditation for everyone

This is a very good start and one option that may suit you.

As Brozen correctly points out focusing on the breath is a concentration method to reach a meditative state.
Two smaller mediations of 10-15 minutes would be a perfect start. One guided and one not would also be a good option. That way you are using the guided meditation as a crutch to lean on, although there is nothing wrong with guided meditations.

After a while try and find a more natural method that suits you and stick with it for a month or two, that way you can gauge suitability of that method. Meditation is a wonderful choice, but not a quick-fix, it takes time but the results are bountiful.

The best tip I was ever given was to simply “turn up each day”

Peace

Last edited by Karmoh : July 13th, 2011 at 05:29.
 
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Old July 13th, 2011, 03:09   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Karmoh View Post
The best tip I was ever given was to simply ďturn up each dayĒ

Peace
I like that, thanks! It reminds me of how I approach fitness- everyone wants the "magic pill" but the only magic is in what happens when you are consistent.

May I ask, how long have you been meditating? Did you ever use guided meditation as a way to "break in"?
 
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Old July 13th, 2011, 05:15   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by CatB View Post
I like that, thanks! It reminds me of how I approach fitness- everyone wants the "magic pill" but the only magic is in what happens when you are consistent.

May I ask, how long have you been meditating? Did you ever use guided meditation as a way to "break in"?
Hi CatB,
I have been meditating for just less than 6 years, I have never used guided meditations as such, but I have listened to them while relaxing in the evening, more out of curiosity.

I use the breath, it is a simple technique. In this form of meditation, I simply follow my breath. I use no mantra, no prayer word, just simply and quietly follow my breath.

How it works for me –
By simply sitting there noticing my breath, in, out, in, out. The only thing that matters in the beginning is following my breath. If something distracts me, I simply come back to my breath. When thoughts arise to the surface, I notice them, but I don’t reply to them, I just let them disperse and go back to my breath. As the thoughts diminish my mind will get quiet and still inside. My mind will begin to go to those deeper levels. It is here I can let my breath go and just be aware.

Here I find a deep peace.

Peace

Last edited by Karmoh : July 13th, 2011 at 05:31.
 
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Old July 14th, 2011, 04:37   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Karmoh View Post
Hi CatB,
I have been meditating for just less than 6 years, I have never used guided meditations as such, but I have listened to them while relaxing in the evening, more out of curiosity.

I use the breath, it is a simple technique. In this form of meditation, I simply follow my breath. I use no mantra, no prayer word, just simply and quietly follow my breath.

How it works for me Ė
By simply sitting there noticing my breath, in, out, in, out. The only thing that matters in the beginning is following my breath. If something distracts me, I simply come back to my breath. When thoughts arise to the surface, I notice them, but I donít reply to them, I just let them disperse and go back to my breath. As the thoughts diminish my mind will get quiet and still inside. My mind will begin to go to those deeper levels. It is here I can let my breath go and just be aware.

Here I find a deep peace.

Peace
How do you know or recognize when your mind goes to deeper levels? (Sorry if this seems like a ridiculous question).
 
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Old July 14th, 2011, 06:30   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by CatB View Post
How do you know or recognize when your mind goes to deeper levels? (Sorry if this seems like a ridiculous question).
Hi CatB,

A good question, which I’ll try and answer, but I fear there may be contradictions.

Meditation involves finding a balance, a particular point at which your awareness is watching but you as the ego is not. During our day, we are probably only familiar with two states of mind, the busy stressed work mind and the lethargic rather dull sitting watching TV mind. We normally fluctuate between these two states throughout the day.

Basically while in meditation, we aim to overcome these fluctuations by using techniques to shift our mind away from a state of unrest, but not so far that we fall asleep. In other words, we want to reach a point where we are feeling relaxed and yet fully aware. This is the point I mentioned.
The paradox is that it doesn’t mean we stop thinking, or are in the much talked about bliss and all our worries have dropped away. We still have thoughts, ideas and emotions popping up. But at this point, we are no longer troubled by them. We are aware of their presence, but nothing more.

By point I don’t mean an exact location or an exact state, it’s very difficult to explain. It’s not detachment, it more of an awareness of being. There is no body, no breath, but awareness knows that the body is there and the breath is there, but it does care because they are always there. Sorry if that’s confusing.

The main reason why people give up is they fail to find this mental equilibrium during meditation, not understanding that we don’t have to find it, it already there, but is obscured by the mist of thoughts, worries and emotions.

But if we can’t find it does this mean that we’re not meditating! No!
You see, every meditation session moves you closer and closer to this point and is never done in vain, irrespective of how unrewarding it may seem. Even if you spend most of your meditation time trying to locate this point, pulling yourself back from interruption or dullness again and again to your chosen focus, which could be mantra or breath or anything else, I promise that it is not time wasted, the awareness that you’re off-track and bringing yourself back to your focus is a vital part of meditation. Sometimes, we will find it almost effortless to locate this point. At other times you’ll wonder whether you’re the same person that meditated yesterday. I promise when you do become familiar with this state of relaxed alertness, you will know, although it’s a different state for everyone, and there is no timeframe either.

The basic mistake beginners make is pushing too HARD or TRYING to reach this state. The harder you force yourself to meditate, or the more you try to hold on to your relaxed awareness, the further you are pushing yourself away from it. To meditate is to stop trying and let go into a state of nothingness (as it is known). Remember it’s always there and always will be and requires you to stop looking to find it.

I hope that hasn’t confused you too much, I have probably created more questions than I have answered; also please understand these are only my points of view.


Peace

Last edited by Karmoh : July 14th, 2011 at 06:52.
 
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Old July 14th, 2011, 14:38   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Karmoh View Post
Hi CatB,

A good question, which Iíll try and answer, but I fear there may be contradictions.

Meditation involves finding a balance, a particular point at which your awareness is watching but you as the ego is not. During our day, we are probably only familiar with two states of mind, the busy stressed work mind and the lethargic rather dull sitting watching TV mind. We normally fluctuate between these two states throughout the day.

Basically while in meditation, we aim to overcome these fluctuations by using techniques to shift our mind away from a state of unrest, but not so far that we fall asleep. In other words, we want to reach a point where we are feeling relaxed and yet fully aware. This is the point I mentioned.
The paradox is that it doesnít mean we stop thinking, or are in the much talked about bliss and all our worries have dropped away. We still have thoughts, ideas and emotions popping up. But at this point, we are no longer troubled by them. We are aware of their presence, but nothing more.

By point I donít mean an exact location or an exact state, itís very difficult to explain. Itís not detachment, it more of an awareness of being. There is no body, no breath, but awareness knows that the body is there and the breath is there, but it does care because they are always there. Sorry if thatís confusing.

The main reason why people give up is they fail to find this mental equilibrium during meditation, not understanding that we donít have to find it, it already there, but is obscured by the mist of thoughts, worries and emotions.

But if we canít find it does this mean that weíre not meditating! No!
You see, every meditation session moves you closer and closer to this point and is never done in vain, irrespective of how unrewarding it may seem. Even if you spend most of your meditation time trying to locate this point, pulling yourself back from interruption or dullness again and again to your chosen focus, which could be mantra or breath or anything else, I promise that it is not time wasted, the awareness that youíre off-track and bringing yourself back to your focus is a vital part of meditation. Sometimes, we will find it almost effortless to locate this point. At other times youíll wonder whether youíre the same person that meditated yesterday. I promise when you do become familiar with this state of relaxed alertness, you will know, although itís a different state for everyone, and there is no timeframe either.

The basic mistake beginners make is pushing too HARD or TRYING to reach this state. The harder you force yourself to meditate, or the more you try to hold on to your relaxed awareness, the further you are pushing yourself away from it. To meditate is to stop trying and let go into a state of nothingness (as it is known). Remember itís always there and always will be and requires you to stop looking to find it.

I hope that hasnít confused you too much, I have probably created more questions than I have answered; also please understand these are only my points of view.


Peace
Karmoh-

I cannot tell you what a beautiful, insightful reply this was...and very timely, given that my meditation session last night resembled something like what you described above. I chose to not use a guided meditation, instead just following my breath. At some point, when I thought I was focused enough, I "let the breath go", aware of it, but no longer letting it be the prime focal point.

a few thoughts did occasionally peek in, but I saw them, acknowledged them, and then let them drift by, like clouds drifting over the sky. I went into the meditation with a horrible earache and while my ear hurts right now, the morning after, it is amazing to me how I was almost not even aware I had ears during that sitting time!

I have meditated enough times to know that today's session may not be the same and may prove less "light and warm", but I also know that no sitting time is wasted time.

Truly, I will be printing out the reply you wrote, as that really spoke to me. It is difficult for a Type A, high achiever like myself to not get the "desired or immediate" results from every sitting, but I know to expect that will only leave me more frustrated and further away from my goals of becoming a calm, peaceful, more aware being.

Thank you again for all your kindness

Cat
 
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Old July 18th, 2011, 03:53   #10 (permalink)
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Meditation CDs and tapes are very useful and if they help you relax and meditate and work for you, then they are a good thing. Its all down to individual choice and what works best for you.
 
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