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Here you will find a few descriptions of some basic meditation exercises you can try at home.
My personal background:
I guess it is safe to say my oldest sister was a big influence on the direction I took. I remember her having the book Integral Hatha Yoga from Swami Satchdananda back in High school (1988-1989). I tried some of the yogas and read about how they were good for health and a precursor to assist in sitting meditation. I had remembered seeing images of the buddha sitting in meditation and was always curious. The almanac in our bathroom growing up has a section on world religions and some of the ideas of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Taoism were appealing.
Hatha Yoga: 1990. In college I worked at a Vegetarian restaurant in Richmond called Grace Place. The baker, Ed Clapp was a certified instructor under Swami Satchidananda. I learned the basic level 1 set from Ed, in which he taught at the restaurant on closed days. The positive of the experience was increased flexibility and the good feeling that comes from exercise. The downside was that there was not enough sitting meditation, however the pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) was effective. more info on Swami Satchidananda at Link to Swami's Yogaville in Charlottesville Va.
Zen meditation: 1991. I came across Zen meditation through reading Buddhist philosophy books. The Aquarian Books store (local New Age) store had a Sunday evening meditation group. I went probably only about 10 times in a 4 year period, but the results of practice were very powerful. It involved taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and then 20 minutes of quiet sitting, 10 minutes of Zen walking, another 20 minutes of sitting, followed by a Sutra reading. Ekoji Zen group in Richmond Va.
Taoist Qigong: 1990. My sister told me there was a guy teaching martial arts in the park. It happened to be Tai Chi. This was my first real formal martial art other than trying a Judo and a Karate class at the local recreation center once. Wilson Pitts (also a Neijia teacher) taught Taoist Qigong. He taught me a sitting meditation called 6 healing sounds. Taoist 6 healing sounds was very good for bringing awareness into the internal organs and assist in dispelling toxins and stagnant qi. Wilson Pitts in Richmond Va.
Transcendental Meditation (TM): In 1992 I took a philosophy class on Eastern and Western meditation traditions. Dr. Jonathan Shear was also a registered teacher of TM (Transcendental meditation of Maharishi Mehesh) . I was fascinated with the idea of a meditation technique using a simple mantra that gave you experience of deep rest. Basically the technique is like self-hypnosis where you go into a dreamless sleep state in 15-20 minutes and come out feeling well rested and mind clear. This is a good and simple also practical technique, however it is quite expensive to learn. Good side it is non-religous other than the respect you pay for the teacher at time you are given personal mantra. TM with Philosophy professor Dr. John Shear (Also Guang Ping (under Kou Yin Lien) and Wu style Taiji teacher(Dr. Li Li) TM article VCU philosophy dept.in Richmond Va.
Tibetan Meditation: 1992-1994. A friend of mine named Anthony Curtis introduced me into Tibetan Buddhism. this was to improve on my knowledge and understanding that Zen did not encompass. The introduced me to several books on Mahayana and tantric yogas (non-sexual tantra), mantrayana, and Vajrayana schools of Tibetan Buddhism. I met Geshe Jampel Thardo was assigned by the Dalai Lama to teach the Gelugpa (New) school of Buddhism at University of Virginia. This is a very long method of practice which involves a lot of prostrations, chants, and mantra. There is a lot of prayers and ritual methods involved, but after a long time of reciting them you feel different. I would not recommend this type of meditation for the average person. It takes time and dedication and better to be a monk as you have to take vows with this type of meditations. Jefferson Tibetan Society in Charlottesville Va.
Dzogchen: 1993-1997. Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche was brought to the U.S. by Anthony Curtis. He was a former Bon monk. Bon (Old school) is the original school of Tibetan Buddhism before Buddhism came to Tibet. It is often called Shamanistic Buddhism since they belief in Tonpa Shenrab, a Buddha before the famous Buddha Shakyamuni. These practices are called Dzogchen and are a combination of hinyana, mahayana, and vajrayana buddhism. They involve some intensive meditative practices. they are very powerful breathing exercises that require close attention with the teacher (Guru) and usually involve a considerable amount of retreat time. This is often not the best for westerners, but only very serious practitioners. The retreats can be very expensive, but life altering in a positive way. Ligmincha Institute in Charlottesville Va.
Kundalini: 1992. This particular yoga was introduced to me by a former art student. We went on a few weekend retreats to see Rama Singh, a student of Yogi Bhajan (I believe). This is another very intensive physical movements with breathing which forcefully makes prana or Chi rush into the channels. I believe in the right environment this could be good for you. For me it is to forceful and made me have way to much energy. I am not sure I recommend this, it is more of a way of life for those types of yogis. I understand that this might cause issues if not practiced correctly. These types of retreats can be quite expensive. Yogi Bhajan Link
Pakua mediation: 1995. Another master who was in the Richmond area was Sifu Park Bok Nam. His Pa-Kua fighting system had very deep non-religious system of sitting meditation that using simple counting for concentration, and lung clearing exercises as a preparation to longer qigong sitting practice. His system consisted of dan tien attention to naturally allow qi to circulate the "microcosmic orbit". This circulation of Qi energy was to help further and later martial qigongs and martial arts. This is one I highly recommend for my martial arts friends. Park Bok Nam Park Bok Nam's Pakua Chang school
Sahaja Kundalini meditation: 2007. I saw a poster about Sahaja yoga and found it to be a gentle and more mental form of kundalini yoga. I do have an issue with the organization as the method kept changing. I settled with the earlier form I learned and I do like the massage practice that is part of it. I do share this practice on my website and it is taught for free. I think that is great because I do share the philosophy that you cant charge money for what is already inside you. It is just many of the followers are very dogmatic towards other practices. : Sahaja Yoga Organization link
Vipassana meditation. 2009. Vipassana is the common meditation practice I have done with my wife. She is Thai and they practice simple Theravadan sitting meditation that is reminiscent of Zen sitting.- Wat Thai temple in Silver Spring Maryland
Bikram Yoga. 2008. Bikram is something I will do on occasion. It is hatha yoga in a hot room that is very extreme and challenging. What I do like is the sweating and yoga as repairing and helping old injuries and removing toxins from body and skin. However if you get really hot, the instructors often want you to stay in the room. It is cost effective and very good, however you can over sweat and over do it if you are not careful: Bikram Yoga organization
So now-a-days my meditation practice might look like this. In morning before work I'll some qigong based recovery training. I normally use TM meditation on break time in my 9-5 day job. I can get Sahaja yoga in while waiting for Bikram yoga to start when I go once or twice a week. Some of the Taoist healing breaths are effective in cooling the body during Bikram yoga as well. When my wife and I meditate I can get my Zen/Vipassana meditation in. On my own I might practice Dzogchen once in a while. 6 healing sounds qigong is good to practice to help immunity system when stressed or sick.
Nationally Certified Massage Therapist.
"Energy is the substance behind matter and form" Dr. Randolph Stone- Polarity Therapy
Preliminary- find a quiet spot where you will not be distracted for 20 minutes or so. Turn off the cell phones, radios, TV, computer as those things can wait until after meditation practice.Pranayama Buddhist or Yoga style
Buddhist Nine breathings of purification- is also known as pranayama in yoga circles, many of its uses are to balance the humors (phlems, biles,and winds) of the body in India's Aryvedic medicine. Brings benefits of balancing both hemispheres of the brain, yin (lunar) and yang(solar) energies of the body, helps to develop a sense of centering and grounding.
To balance the channels- the method of alternate nostril breathing is applied. In yoga this is called Pranayama. You inhale through left nostril, close left nostril and exhale out the right nostril. Then reverse: inhale through the right nostril, close the right nostril and then exhale out the left. This should be done 3 times for each nostril. It will clear out negative energies in the channels, stale air and toxins from the lungs. The central channel is cleanse by breathing through both nostril and bending forward in a bowing motion and forcefully exhaling at the last 3rd section of the breath. Do this 3 times. You can add the visualization of dark colored smoke leaving the Brahma's aperture at the top of the skull making the central channel a pure blue color.Basic Meditation #1 from Taoist/martial arts: Pakua Chang
Counting is one of the best ways to help develop concentration.
Concentration- close eyes and sit comfortably and begin with counting backwards from 100 or 200 to 0. When your mind wonders off go back to the last number you remembered and continue back towards 0.
Now Begin the Lung Exercises
Breathing- working with 3 techniques of cleaning breath, filling breath and holding breath.
Cleansing breath- First is to use cleaning breath by inhaling through nose and exhale out mouth in a long stream- exhaling 2 to 3 times longer than your inhale. Do this at least 3 times.
Filling breath- now equally inhale and exhale through the nose concentrating on the expansion and contraction of the breath and lungs.Do this at least 3 times.
Holding breath- Now inhale through nose and hold the breath with lungs expanding in a relaxed and calm way as long as possible, then exhale out nose. Do this at least 3 times. A goal to achieve is to be able to hold the breath relaxed for 1 minute and exhale.
Dan tien breathing- now use the Dan tien or "lower abdomen" to breath and not lungs. Try 6-9 breaths here using Dan Tien area.
Visualization-imagine your sitting on a beach and that you see a boat far off in the distance that is slowly moving towards you. You begin to recognize someone on that boat. It begins to reach the shore and you notice it is your favorite person in the whole wide world. that person walks up to you and give you a big fat hug. Prolong that feeling as long as you can and slowly come out of your meditation.Sahaja Yoga
Sahaja Yoga v.1.4 (now with video at end)
Continual summation of notes:
Sahaja Yoga is a sitting practice much different than Hatha, Pilates, or Bikrim yoga where the body is stretched and held in postures to circulate energy. Yoga means harnessing the mind. This practice involves quiet sitting and some basic concentration exercises to allow the mind to begin to understand a thoughtless state of pure awareness. Sahaja yoga uses the subtle system of channels and chakras associated with the endocrine and nerve plexuses in the body. These include- pituitary gland, pineal gland in head, thyroid and para-thyroid in the throat, cervical nerve plexus, thalamus in the chest cavity, adrenal glands, spleen, and pancreases in the abdominal cavity, and lastly the ovaries and testes along with the sacral plexus.
3 channels- Left – Ida, right- Pingala and Central sushumna.
Ida- Left represents emotion, subconscious, the past, wind (internal energy), carbohydrates, moon, yin, feminine.
The left rises from the mooladhara (earth chakra) up descending colon, through stomach/spleen- left lung and heart, crosses 3rd eye to right brain.
Pingala- Right- represents aggression, supra conscious/ego, future, bile production, protein, sun, yang, masculine. Rises from Swadisthan (sex chakra) up the ascending colon through the gall bladder and liver, through the right lung, up to 3rd eye and crosses to the left brain.
Sushumna- Central channel- it represents the present moment, phlegm production. It arises from the sacrum the kundalini passes through up the spine and center of body to top of head (Brahma's aperture- baby's soft spot) awakening the spirit and conscious awareness.
To balance the channels- the method of alternate nostril breathing is applied. In yoga this is called Pranayama. You inhale through left nostril, close left nostril and exhale out the right nostril. Then reverse: inhale through the right nostril, close the right nostril and then exhale out the left. This should be done 3 times for each nostril. It will clear out negative energies in the channels, stale air and toxins from the lungs. The central channel is cleanes by breathing through both nostril and bending forward in a bowing motion and forcefully exhaling at the last 3rd section of the breath. Do this 3 times. You can add the visualization of dark colored smoke leaving the Brahma's aperture at the top of the skull making the central channel a pure blue color.
Raise the Kundalini exercise by rolling the hand up the front of body to over your head 3 x. see video.
Do Bhanda- that is 7 times making a half circle arch with your right hand from the left side palm, over your head and to right side. Say the name of each chakra for each arch you make over your head. This will seal and protect your energy. See video.
Sit cross legged on ground, in a chair with feet touching floor, or standing.
Lower both hands to face the earth and take a few breaths to allow your mind to clear.
Mooladhara- (Innocence)cleans the earth chakra by having left palm up rested on your knee, and right palm towards the earth. Say with sincerity 4 times- "Earth- please take away all my negative emotions and balance my energy". Visualize negative energy such as emotions, anxiety, bad moods, and past karmas leaving the left side of body out of the right hand into the earth where it is neutralized by earth elements.
This is the charka of returning to innocence, simplicity, joy and purity. Its color is red and had 4 petals. Sexual excessiveness, black tantra, and greed damage this chakra.
Note: Kundalini- is the spiraling sexual energy between the Mooladhara and Swadisthan chakras at the Sacral Plexus. The purpose is to move the energy up into the body.
Swadisthan- root or sex chakra (Creativity). change the right hand to palm up and raise the left hand towards the sky. Say with sincerity 6 times, "Sky, please take away all these aggressive thoughts." Visualize excessive aggression and angry energy from the right side of the body leaving the left hand and out into the sky where it is neutralized by the sun, sky and stars. All the future karma, stress, and anger leaves you. This is associated with the Fire element and creativity. It controls reproduction and our ability to concentrate. Alcohol, drugs, bad eating, and an ego centric life damages this chakra. This chakra is orange and has 6 petals.
Nabhi- Solar plexus (Peace). Place the left palm facing up on your left knee and right hand on your navel. Say 10 times to yourself with sincerity- "Please help me find pure self knowledge". This is the chakra of water element, it has 10 petals and the color is yellow. It is associated with peace, morality, generosity and contentment. Dominating others, impatience, worry, alcohol and drugs damage this chakra.
Nabhi- Bhavsagra or Void- Void is the energy center that Surrounds the Nabhi and touches the Swadisthan. Place the right hand to the left of the navel and say to yourself with sincerity 10 times- "I am my own master, I am my own guru". This is the energy center of stability, balance lifestyle and principle of mastery.
Belief in false masters, day dreaming, and laziness will damage this chakra.
Anand- Heart Chakra (Compassion and Love). Place the right hand over your heart and say with sincerity 12 times- " Iam not this body, I am not this mind, I am the pure spirit." The heart chakra is associated with the Air element, the color green, and has 12 petals. This is the chakra of love, confidence, and compassion. Insecurity, fear, and inconsiderate behavior damage this chakra. It controls the lungs and breathing and hearts ability to circulate blood.
Vishuddhi- Voice/Throat chakra (communication). Place the right hand on the left side of the neck and say 16 times with sincerity- "I am not guilty." This chakra is associated with the ether element, it is blue, and has 16 petals. Self esteem, pure relationships, communication, and diplomacy are positive aspects of this chakra. Feelings of guilt, sarcasm, criticism damage the balance of this chakra. Our movement, speech, and facial expressions are are governed by this chakra.
Agnya or 3rd Eye (Forgiveness)- Place the right hand over your forehead and say with total sincerity 2 times- "I forgive everyone". After you have done that place your right hand on the back of your head and say with total incerity 2 times- "Please forgive me for whatever mistakes I have done consciously and unconsciously." The Agnya is associated with the Light element, it is 2 petals and color is Indigo. Forgiveness, humility, and egolessness is the positive aspect of this chakra. Self centeredness, hatred, harm to self and others will damage this chakra.
Special note: Please say "Hum shum" during meditation for sometime, it helps us to be thoughtless. "He, Christ, is placed in our Agnya in the centre where the optic nerve and optic thalamus cross; it's a very subtle point. It creates two sounds, Hum and Shum. Hum on the right-hand side superego and Shum on the left-hand side ego. Hum and Shum create two kinds of vibrations. The Hum sound creates the vibration, I am, I am. Hum, this comes from our existence power, that we know we have to live in this world and we are not going to die. Any human being who tries to kill himself is considered not normal. Normally, every human being or animal tries to retain its life, that is through the power of Hum, I am, the superego on the right-hand side and ego on the left-hand side is Shum."
Sahasrara or Crown chakra (Integration)- it is also called the 1000 petal lotus. Place the right hand on the top of the skull and massage in a circle 7 times. With full sincerity say to your self, "Please help me attain self realization". Raise the right hand over the skull a few inches and try to feel energy between the palm and crown of head. The energy may feel warm or cool. A cool feeling is what you are going for. This chakra is violet in color and is associated with integration. It integrates all other chakras, dimensions, our central nervous system, and thoughtless awareness. Doubts about self, reality, and our higher power will imbalance this chakra. This chakra is our link between consciousness and divinity.
Continue sitting with both palms face up on your knees and feel the result of practice. Remain in a state of thoughtless awareness. You can move your hand slowly over a chakras and feel the energy there. You can slowly move your hand in a circle 7 times to balance the energy there. Here you can listen to soft music and lectures of Shri Mataji. If you are sitting in a chair you can also do the practice with foot soaking in salt water. If you have excessive thoughts during practice you can put ice over your liver.
Close the meditation by doing the 'Raising the kundalini' exercise and 'Bandha' as mentioned in the beginning of the practice. Palms together in prayer- Dedicate your practice that all beings suffering in the universe may attain enlightenment.
"Meditation is the only way you can grow, because when you meditate, you are in Silence, you are in Thoughtless
Awareness. Then the growth of awareness takes place."- HH Shri Mataji
Breath counting is vital to maintaining mental health.
Buddha taught that breathing while in an negative emotional state can relieve suffering.
Buddha's prescription is to count 100 breaths.
Example- Your Angry at someone
10 breaths- you’re still angry
20 breaths- you’re still angry
30 breaths- your a little better
40 breaths- you’re starting to get better
50 breaths- you’re 50% angry 50% getting better
60 breaths- you’re improving a little more
70 breaths- you’re almost Ok
80-90 breaths- you’re almost there
100 breaths- you'll be just fine.
When you count while chewing food for example it allows you to lose weight
and is a benefit to digestion. Counting while you chew allows you to take the time
to chew and mix the food well with the saliva and becomes a eating meditation. If you swallow and chew fast without properly breaking down the food, most of the food will get undigested.
Undigested food will create more gases in the digestive tract which can lead to headaches and stress.
Hard sweating workouts can help burn up the undigested foods and clear
out the gases built up by releasing the pressure through the skin's pores.
a Universal mantra for transcendentalism- The use of "Om-Ma-Ni-Pad-Ma-Hum" 6 syllable mantra. Visualize a light of your favorite color the size of a mustard seed deep inside your heart. As you recite the mantra the light fills your body, it then creates an aura around your body. Filling the skin, bones, organs, muscles, tissues, cells, molecules and atoms within yourself with your favorite color. Expand the light color out to the entire universe. Bring the light of the universe back into yourself into the center of your heart. Dedicate your practice that all beings suffering on the wheel of life to quickly attain complete enlightenment of body, speech, and mind.
Music meditation and the 3 chakras- Be peaceful and meditate often. 20 minutes, twice a day. Sit cross legged comfortably on a pillow in a darkened room. Try meditating to 3 new age songs. Play first song, close eyes, and meditate on solar plexus chakra. On second song concentrate on your heart chakra, and on the last song, concentrate on your third eye.