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My experiences as a beginner.

Discussion in 'START HERE: Registration & Introductions' started by knowledge, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. knowledge

    knowledge New Member

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    Hello,
    I am new to this forum, and to meditation. I am a young Canadian male who just recently finished college and started my career. I also recently began meditating. I was hoping I could get some feedback on my experiences as a beginner so far.

    Over the past couple months I have tried meditating on several occasions. I spent a lot of time reading about all the techniques and different styles. This was a little overwhelming, I never realized how many variations there are. I have been using a basic posture, sitting cross legged with my hands gently folded in my lap. I started by concentrating on my breathing and with a couple attempts I began to reach a relaxed state, that left me feeling positive.
    Now when I meditate I close my eyes and instead of focusing all my attention on my breathing I picture a scene in front of me. Sometimes if I'm listening to music than the music will have an influence on the scene, but all the events that take place seem to be random. The scene is almost always in the wilderness, where I am alone meditating or just wondering through a trail. I have always had a creative and artistic mind, so I focus on details of plants, or the feeling of the breeze. Sometimes I am overcome with a lot of emotion, even when nothing significant has happened in my scene. I generally feel rested and positive about everything after.

    My concern is that I am kind of "cheating." Does anyone else use a similar method or experience similar feelings when they mediate. I really just want to know if I am doing it right, or if I'm at least on the right path?

    I look forward to hearing what others have to say and I hope that my experiences can help others.

    Thanks,
     
  2. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Hi Knowledge and welcome to the Project Meditation community,

    No, you're not cheating, you're using a meditation technique and experiencing a form of meditation by doing so. You're not doing anything wrong.

    Like you say, there are many different techniques out there, but I would categorise these into 2 main areas... "focused" and "unfocused".

    "Focused" itself can be split into 2 subcategories, "objective" and "contemplative".

    Focused - Objective is the type of meditation where you put your focus onto a single object i.e. focusing on the breath and attempting to keep it there.
    Focused - Contemplative is the type of meditation where you start with a thought or image etc. and then allow it to flow and just keep your focus on what is happening. This is the sort of meditation you are describing above.
    Unfocused is the type of meditation taught by the Transcendental Meditation organisation, which is also taught under different names and also happens to be the same meditation technique Michael offers for free with his "Discover Meditation" downloads from this very site. It is commonly known as "mantra based meditation" and involves using a mantra (word/sound) that repeats itself over and over. The trick with this type of meditation is to initially bring the focus to the mantra, but then to just let it repeat itself as it wants to, loudly, quietly, fast, slow etc. whilst just observing it and not trying to force it into any particular pattern using focus (hence why it is un-focused ;) ).

    Almost all meditation techniques you've come across should fit into one of those three categories above.

    How you sit doesn't really matter, as long as your body is going to be comfortable for the duration of the meditation practice, and as long as you're not likely to fall asleep (i.e. lying down or having the head supported in a comfy armchair is conducive to making the body relax into sleep). A lot of people find sitting cross legged or in the lotus position uncomfortable and so, sitting on a reasonably comfy chair is a good alternative, and there are also meditation stools which allow a sort of kneeling position whilst preventing the weight from sitting on the actual lower legs. Each person will find what's best for them.

    What is experienced during the meditation is not really of concern. It is said that if you use a focused meditation practice then you are using your mind and keeping your focus in your mind, thus preventing yourself from going into deeper states of meditation. Using the unfocused (mantra) meditation technique allows for deeper states as you let go of that thing that's keeping you in your mind. Of course, whichever method is practiced there can be images, thoughts and suchlike arise. Simply choose to recognise that this will happen, accept them for the thoughts they are and let them go.

    Emotions arising can be common and will vary from person to person. Almost everybody will have some issues or emotional things they've held back during 'normal' life, and it's the mind that suppresses or represses these things. By practicing meditation you start to let that self-mind control go and the emotions can come to the surface. Again, recognise this will happen, and allow the emotions to come up and be released. Whatever they are, they are from the past and do not relate to the present moment, so really serve no purpose now and will only cause issues if you hold onto them.

    The main benefits of meditation is how it effects your life when you're not practicing meditation. The release of emotions, the relaxed state of mind, the clarity of seeing, the awareness of being in the present moment etc. these are all things that show up over time in your real life after you've been practicing. A lot of people believe that the benefits are within the meditation practice itself and get frustrated seeking for them there and come out of meditation saying things like "it was interesting and relaxing, but it's not really done anything". There is no magic bullet of enlightenment to be found within meditation. Enlightenment is found within You as a whole, as part of the whole universe and your life within it. Meditation is a tool to help us recognise and become aware for this purpose.

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  3. ChilliPeppa

    ChilliPeppa Guest

    Hi knowledge,
    Although Giles calls mantra meditation 'unfocused' I would not call it that at all. The purpose of mantra meditation is to acutely focus the mind on one thought vs allowing the mind to jump around all over the place which is for most people very common -"the monkey mind". Mantra meditation is concentration on a SOUND vibration which then leads to true meditation where one is freed from the traps of an uncontrolled mind. This is a pure state of awareness with no thought.
    The meditation you are using now is sort of a type of visualization or guided meditation. You are using your active thoughts/imagination in a way to guide yourself into a calm state and perhaps working on things mentally that will bring rewards in your 'waking' life. I have used that type of meditation at times of great stress in my life and it is a very valuable method and brings very good results. It is not 'true meditation' in that it is involving the brain/mind in a thought process. You are still thinking, involving the brain/mind. This type of meditation does not lead to the pure state of no thought-pure awareness. But like I said it can be very beneficial.
    Sometimes mantra meditation will bring up a "sideshow" where you see pictures or visions and it's easy to get involved in these defeating the purpose of the mantra. So what I'm saying is don't confuse the two and imo it's a good idea to only use one method at a time and not jumble methods together. Doing that will not bring as much reward as using the individual techniques alone.
    Hope this helps.
     
  4. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    I hope I explained in my post why I refer to it as un-focused rather than focused. There's a clear difference.

    I would say that the practice of mantra meditation is to start by acutely focusing on the mantra, but then to let it go.

    Concentration is different from being aware of the mantra. Concentration requires active use of the mind; the very thing we are wanting to let go of. ;) As you say, it leads to true meditation, but this is because the inital focus (concentration) on the mantra needs to be let go of to become awareness. The initial focus helps to clear away any immediate thoughts that are there, but the step of letting go of that focus itself is important.

    I think we're talking about the same thing, just that my terminology is different from yours. :D

    Agreed. Though we all know how easy it is to get distracted from the mantra by the mind and then caught up in the thoughts, whether they are manifesting visually or otherwise. ;)

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  5. MeditationMan

    MeditationMan Member

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    There is nothing wrong with what you're doing. I've actually heard that type of meditation labelled, however I can't recall it right now. It's where you visualize your own ideal environment. It's a way of creating your own spiritual and mental retreat, if you will, that you can visit anytime you like. I think you're doing awesome.

    Don't put so much pressure on yourself to get it right. Just continue to enjoy the benefits of what you're doing. When it's time to get more "advanced" or change, you will know.
     

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