Meditation Basics

Meditation Basics and Benefits

We are often so busy we feel there is no time to stop and meditate but meditation actually gives you more time by making your mind calmer and more focused. A simple ten or fifteen minute breathing meditation can help you to overcome your stress and find some inner peace and balance.

Meditation can also help us to understand our own mind. We can train our minds to learn how to transform our mind from negative to positive, from disturbed to peaceful, from unhappy to happy. Overcoming negative minds and cultivating constructive thoughts is the main purpose of transforming Buddhist meditations. This is a profound spiritual practice you can enjoy throughout the day.

Why Meditate

The purpose of meditation is to let our mind become calm and peaceful. If our mind is peaceful then we will be free from worries and mental discomfort and so we will experience true happiness. However, if our mind is not peaceful, we will find it very difficult to be happy. This is so even if we are living in the very best conditions. If we train in meditation, our mind will gradually become more and more peaceful and we will experience a purer and purer form of happiness. Eventually, we will be able to stay happy all the time even in the most difficult and trying circumstances.

Usually we find it difficult to control our mind blown by the wind of our external circumstances. If things go well, our mind is happy, but if they go badly it immediately becomes unhappy. We cannot have everything we want and since we will inevitably be separated from our friends and possessions, our mental stickiness, or attachment, causes us more pain. If we do not get what we want, or if we lose something that we like, we become despondent or irritated and are more likely to become angry and make poor decisions.

These mood fluctuations arise because we are too closely involved in the external situation at hand. We are like a child making a sandcastle who is excited when it is first made but becomes upset when it is destroyed by the incoming tide. By training in meditation we create an inner space and clarity that enables us to control our mind regardless of our external circumstances. Gradually we develop a balanced mind that is happy all the time rather than an unbalanced mind that oscillates between excitement and despondency.

If we train in meditation regularly and daily, eventually we will be able to eradicate from our mind the delusions that are the causes of all our problems and suffering. In this way, we will come to experience a permanent inner peace, known as liberation or nirvana. Then we will experience only peace and happiness day and night in life after life.

Meditation Posture

When we practise meditation we need to decide if we are sitting on a cushion on the floor or on a chair. It is important to have a comfortable seat and a good posture with a straight back. If we are sitting on a cushion we make sure that the back of the cushion is slightly higher than the front inclining our pelvis slightly forward. It is not necessary at first to sit cross-legged. We should sit in one which is as close to the posture of Buddha Vairochana as possible while remaining comfortable.

Have the legs are crossed in the ‘Vajra posture’ (Lotus position) to reduce thoughts and feelings of desirous attachment. Place the right hand is placed in the left hand, palms upwards, with the tips of the thumbs slightly raised and gently touching (to develop good concentration). The back is straight but not tense. This helps us to develop and maintain a clear mind and it allows the subtle energy winds to flow freely. Keep the shoulders are level and the elbows are held slightly away from the sides to let air circulate. The eyes are neither wide open nor completely closed, but remain half open and gaze down along the line of the nose. Tip your head a little forward with the chin slightly tucked in so that the eyes are cast down. This helps prevent mental excitement. Also, have the lips and teeth are held as usual, but the tongue touches against the back of the upper teeth.

Breathing Meditation

The first stage of meditation is to stop distractions and make our mind clearer and more lucid. This can be accomplished by practising a simple breathing meditation. We choose a quiet place to meditate and sit in a comfortable position. We can sit in the traditional cross-legged posture or in any other position that is comfortable. If we wish, we can sit in a chair. The most important thing is to keep our back straight to prevent our mind from becoming sluggish or sleepy.

We sit with our eyes partially closed and turn our attention to our breathing. We breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control our breath, and we try to become aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. This sensation is our object of meditation. We should try to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else.

At first, our mind will be very busy, and we might even feel that the meditation is making our mind busier but in reality we are just becoming more aware of how busy our mind actually is. There will be a great temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, but we should resist this and remain focused single-pointedly on the sensation of the breath. We should immediately return focus to the breath if we discover that our mind has wandered away surfing distracting thoughts. Repeat this as many times as necessary until the mind settles on the breath.

Benefits of Meditation

If we practise patiently in this way, gradually our distracting thoughts will subside and we will experience a sense of inner peace and relaxation. Our mind will feel lucid and spacious and we will feel refreshed. When the sea is rough, sediment is churned up and the water becomes murky, but when the wind dies down the mud gradually settles and the water becomes clear. In a similar way, when the otherwise incessant flow of our distracting thoughts is calmed through concentrating on the breath, our mind becomes unusually lucid and clear. We should stay with this state of mental calm for a while.

Even though breathing meditation is only a preliminary stage of meditation, it can be quite powerful. We can see from this practice that it is possible to experience inner peace and contentment just by controlling the mind, without having to depend at all upon external conditions.

When the turbulence of distracting thoughts subsides and our mind becomes still, a deep happiness and contentment naturally arises within. This feeling of well-being helps us to cope with the business and difficulties of daily life. So much of the stress and tension we normally experience comes from our mind, and many of the problems we experience, including ill health, are caused or aggravated by stress.

Just by doing breathing meditation for ten or fifteen minutes each day, we will be able to reduce this stress. We will experience a calm spacious feeling in the mind and many of our normal problems will disappear. With a dedicated meditation routine, difficult situations will be easier to deal with, we will naturally feel warm and well disposed towards other people, and our relationships with others will gradually improve.

Star Magic is with us all

Energy is within and around us all the time, but our consciousness enables us to activate it and make it vital. I usually need to reiterate to people that just because we can’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. We can’t see air, but we know we breathe it to keep us alive. We also can’t see electricity, atoms, electromagnetic fields, sound, radio waves or the weather, yet we can see or hear the indirect results of these in physical form. Everyone’s perception differs and an increasing number of people are able to perceive things using “extra-sensory perception” that others may not. Today, more and more people are able to perceive energy in some way and know it as a very “tangible” phenomenon. Following your intuition is a simple way to start.

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With Healing Energy & Light,

Tim Stokes Facilitator Portrait
Tim Stokes Facilitator Portrait

Tim