5 Greatest Misconceptions about Meditation

We make meditation difficult by turning it an impossible feat and a near-superhuman ability. But in truth meditation can be so easy. Read on to find out about the five greatest misconceptions about meditation that prevent us from benefiting from this greatest method of self-healing!

Meditation is easy.

We make meditation difficult by turning it an impossible feat and a near-superhuman ability. But in truth meditation can be so easy. Here are the five greatest misconceptions about meditation that prevent us from benefiting from this greatest way of self-healing!

Meditation is Intense Concentration – Meditation is the relaxation of the mind, not the exercise of it. Trying to concentrate consciously is like stiffening your muscles for a body massage. It is counterproductive to meditation.

Concentration is actually a side-effect or benefit of good meditation. Most people, even many meditation teachers mistake it for meditation. It is not. Meditation is easy focus; like the way you would spend an evening at the beach with a book. You really don’t concentrate on anything. You just let your mind relax.

Meditation is Total Absence of Thoughts – It is not. Once again this is a by-product of meditation sometimes and it is mistaken to be meditation. Meditation is simple awareness of your thoughts. You know that if you try to stop your mind from thinking about something all the mind can then think of is that which you don’t want to think about. And a lot of beginners give up meditation because of this. They think they are simply unfit for meditation. As if someone can be unfit to relax!

In meditation you are training your mind to take your thoughts less seriously. This is done simply by letting your mind think and at the same time watching those thoughts with an attitude of a dispassionate bystander. As if your thoughts are some vehicles passing on the street below as you watch them from your balcony. Yes in the beginning you tend to get lost with the thinking easily. That is the bystander becomes the driver of the car. And all you do, as soon as you realize this, is to go back to watching your thoughts idly.

Meditation must be done only at a certain Place And Time – It is not a must, it just an option. In fact, as a beginner you are most likely setting up yourself for failure if think you must do it at a certain place and only at an appointed hour. Because, then, even if you miss it once you are likely to get frustrated and give your mind an opportunity to quit it altogether. Sure meditating at a certain place and at a regular hour will help with your practice. But there is another benefit to meditating at various hours and at various places every day.

Even simple sounds such as the patter of water can help you relax your mind and meditate.

That is gaining the ability to relax your mind anyplace and at anytime. Anything can help you do that. The sounds and sights around you, watching your thoughts, being aware of sensations on the body, literally anything! One of the best methods is to combine both techniques of meditation. Meditate at a regular spot and time for a slightly longer time like, say between 10 and 30 minutes, and then meditate just for a minute or two at various times of the day wherever you are. This is one of the best combinations that works for me always! Then even if I skip the longer meditation I am not so disappointed, and I also gain the capacity to relax and heal in midst of work and noise! Try it and see!

Meditation takes a long time to master – What do you want – mastery or benefits of mediation like peace of mind, and mental clarity? Of course, by ‘mastery’ most people assume staying in a particular posture for long hours with intense concentration and without any thoughts whatsoever! Even the most practiced of all meditators cannot claim such an achievement! In a yogic practice such a  state is called Samadhi, whereas meditation is called Dhyana – a state of continued awareness that can lead to Samadhi if the aspirant wishes it. So meditation is different from Samadhi.

The long-term benefits of meditation require sometime to pop up in your life. The immediate benefits of mediation are, however, quite readily apparent. And meditation by itself does not take months or years to master. How many seconds do you need to relax? Relaxing the mind is successful mediation! To be able to relax with such consistency takes regular practice but by no means more than a couple of months if you really go at it.

Meditation is simple awareness of thoughts!

Meditation is Difficult – Do you really think it is that difficult even after reading all of the points above? Meditation is easy! We are all programmed to believe that we cannot gain anything unless we work hard towards it. And then we translate that belief into mental work too. Mind works the opposite. The harder we try to control the mind, the more violent and chaotic it becomes. In fact, our efforts to control it are adding to the mental noise not easing it.

The trick with the mind is to relax it by letting it wander. And then simply watching it without much reaction. It is easy to do. With enough practice you learn to do it even when you are disturbed. What you need here is not hard work, but short and easy repetitions. Remember, meditation is easy!


Anger Management – Part 2 – Thought Retracement Technique

Thoughts Retracement Technique is a powerful technique keep you from carrying your anger from issue to issue. It helps you also find trigger events where you feel provoked. But for this technique to work you need to prioritize your anger issues.

Please read the Part 1 – Understanding Anger before you start using these techniques.

In the following series, I will share two powerful techniques that can help you manage your anger and find out the root causes for your anger as well. If you really want to benefit out of these techniques then the first task you need to do is to prioritize your anger issue. It needs to be given the first priority.

What that means is that, resolving your anger issues take the highest priority over anything else in your life. Any other problem, no matter how big, come second. If you cannot prioritize your anger issue, then these techniques will not work for you.

Technique 1: Thoughts Retracement Technique (TRT)

There are two ways anger bursts out in any of us. Sometimes we face a provoking situation and before we know it we burst out at the person we hold responsible for our anger. In a second situation, we get angry at one person and then we carry it in our heads through the day getting a little angrier at every small problem we face subsequently. Then finally when we can’t take it anymore we just burst out. TRT is for the second scenario.

So you face a provoking situation but you control your anger. Then you continue to carry that anger in your mind. Now you will reach a point when you find that you are not at ease and are in an irritable mood. The moment you detect this mood stop all that you are doing and start tracing your thoughts backwards. Go backwards in your memory over the events of your day. Soon you will reach the trigger event i.e., the situation where you first became angry.

Once you reach that situation, just make a strong decision in your mind that if at all you are going to get angry you will do that in a similar situation or with the person who you got angry with in the trigger event. By making this decision, you will find that your irritable mood changes immediately and you can carry on the day’s events efficiently.

As I said this is a very powerful technique to stop your anger from spreading. But it works only when you prioritize your anger as the most important issue to resolve. When you give your anger problem the top priority two things happen. One, you become very aware of your thoughts and moods – especially all the angry ones. So the moment anger comes into your head, you are instantly aware of it and you can apply the technique faster. Two, when you make the decision to keep your anger confined to the root event, it actually works. Your angry mood comes down and you will not show this anger on others unnecessarily.

TRT can surprise you many times in that when you go to the trigger event, you will be surprised that you actually got angry in that situation while your conscious mind knew nothing about it.

At times, TRT can even release anger from the root event. There will be times when you hit the trigger event you will find it so silly, on retrospect, that your anger simply vanishes. You will not even get angry with the person you hold responsible.

Sometimes when you start retracing your thoughts back to the origin you will hit an event where your anger wasn’t there at all. Still, keep following your memories and thoughts backwards. You will eventually hit a past event, perhaps a day earlier too, which is the original trigger event. Your stream of angry thoughts can go subconscious sometimes only to surface up later.

All you have to do on hitting the root event is to make a strong decision that you will confine your anger to the root cause only. Try it and see. It works like magic!

I will share the second technique in the next part. If you want to learn more about how thought streams can continue just below your level of consciousness read this post on Semi-conscious Thoughts.

Photo Courtesy: farconville freedigitalphotos

Exercises To Be Aware Of Semi Conscious Thoughts

Exercises to become aware of your semi conscious thoughts are simple yet extremely effective. All you need to practice them is application and consistency.

Image Courtesy: graur razvan ionut @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.netIn the last post I spoke of the necessity of training oneself to become aware of their semi-conscious thoughts. This post will look at some simple techniques that can be practised to bring the stream of semi conscious thought to conscious cognizance.

There is a reason why I prescribe the following techniques. The stream of semi conscious thoughts can at times be so subtle that training yourself to directly observe these thoughts can become a trying and frustrating endeavor. These techniques are relatively easy to follow and they teach you to review your thoughts just after you have had these thoughts. With enough practice you can become aware of your semi conscious thoughts as they occur. Reviewing our thoughts just after they occur is easier than being in a state of awareness as they thoughts flow through your mind.

Technique #1: Observe Your Breath

Breath is intimately connected with our thoughts and emotions. Fluctuations in breath indicate variations in our moods and emotions. Even the subtlest changes in our moods is reflected in our breath. This is no new technique. There are hundreds meditation courses that emphasize on this connection between the mind and breath. You would have already observed the fact that when you become angry your breath becomes short, shallow, and rapid. So by making use of this well known fact will help you achieve deeper awareness of self.

This technique is simple to practice. Start by observing your breath as you go about your daily routine. Observe what is your regular rate of breathing – are you a shallow breather or deep breather. Initially it takes a little conscious effort on your part to remember to be aware of your breath. But with a little consistent effort it will become second nature. After a few days of practice, whenever you observe a change in breath from normal, immediately stop whatever you are doing and cast your mind back over what your immediate thoughts had been. If you become aware of your breath sometime after the fluctuation occurred, then just cast your mind back to your thoughts just about the time the breath varied. It would be very easy to do, you just need to devote the time and effort.

Here are a few breath variations that you need to pay special attention to:

  • Shallow and Rapid breathing – this kind of breathing occurs when the body is undergoing some kind of anxiety or tension.
  • Sudden sharp intake and Holding of breath – indicative of fear or shock
  • Tightness in Breathing – this is indicative of fear as well as anxiety

Follow these symptoms backwards to when they started and what you were thinking at that time or just before it and you will easily go to the root thought.

Technique #2: Observe Subtle Body Movements
This technique is relatively easier to follow than the previous one. It also increases your awareness of your body language. Whenever we have negative, anxious, problematic thoughts these affect not only our breathing rate but also our body language. It manifests itself easily in the body extremities like hands and fingers, feet and toes. Practice being aware of these extremities and you will be able to detect variations in mood and emotions easily.

Watch for these movements:

  • Repetitive movements – like rubbing fingers/palms together, rubbing any object like chair handle, etc
  • Pressing actions – wringing hands, one foot pressing another foot, clutching objects like chair handle, etc
  • Nervous actions – watchout for subtle nervous actions in limb extremities

Also of use is the action of biting lips.

All of the above actions are indicative of stress or anxiety. Pressing actions are indicative of stress and continous actions like rubbing are indicative of anxious thoughts in the semi conscious thought stream. As soon as you become aware of them, just stop what you are doing and follow the action back to the time they started. You will easily know what upset you.

As you grow adept in observing your thoughts, you will notice that not only are you able to become aware of your semi conscious thoughts but also you find repetitive patterns in your thoughts. Most anxieties and stressful situations all boil down to two or three major root issues.

Being aware of your subtler thoughts will give you a deeper understanding of your personality, uncovering hidden dimensions of self that you either thought were not there or that you had already worked on the issue. It also gives you immense control over your self and the ability to manifest situations suited to your needs and evolution. Learning to be conscious of innermost thoughts of your being is the foremost step to self healing. Because, you cannot resolve a problem that you are not aware exists.

(Image Courtesy: graur razvan ionut @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.net)

Hypnosis Myth #1: A Hypnotist can control your mind!

Hypnosis is no black magic or a zombie like state! I said earlier that the critical mind (the guardian part of the mind) has to bypassed but the bypass happens temporarily – hardly longer than a couple of seconds. Then it once more bounces back to its role of a guardian albeit less active as compared to conscious state of mind. And as long as the critical mind is active, the Client has full control over her faculties and can come out of hypnosis if she wishes. The only reason the critical mind allows the suggestions of the hypnotherapist pass through to the subconscious is because the client has willingly and voluntarily given consent to be treated for that particular issue. This also means that if any unscrupulous Hypnotherapist deceitfully tries to pass suggestions that could harm the Client, the client would simply snap out of Hypnosis and walk out of the clinic. The Hypnotist can have no power over a client’s mind and cannot do anything against the client’s wishes.