What is Meditation?

What is Meditation?

When I tell people that I teach meditation, I often get a curious look from them followed by a statement like “I have heard that meditation is really good for you, but I don’t know if I can sit in those yoga positions.” Or “I would really like to find out more about meditation, but it’s discouraged in my religion .”

I fully understand where they are coming from. When I began to practice meditation on a regular basis in 1979, I remember how challenging it was for me to get my practice started. I had read several books on the subject and found myself confused by the many different styles of meditation. I could not achieve the strange yoga positions anymore than I could let go of all of my thoughts! Yet, I was eighteen years old and tenaciously looking for something that might help me feel a sense of peace. Something that could help me focus my thoughts and achieve the things I desired in my life. I found that there actually were several meditation practices that appealed to me and began applying these with nominal success. As I continued my personal study and research, I came upon a lot of information that I share with my students who have the same concerns.

So what is Meditation? Let’s begin by looking at the word itself. The word “meditation” means to direct your attention on something. This “something” has traditionally been something sacred or spiritual. Meditation has been the cornerstone of many spiritual disciplines for thousands of years. In this context, meditation serves to alter the practitioner’s consciousness for the purpose of spiritual growth, but it is really so much more. In the current era, western science has given us a much greater understanding if how the mind works and how meditation can be used as a means of access to the hidden regions of yourself. By analogy, if psychology can be considered a manual for the mind, meditation can be considered your most valuable tool for working with it.

A quick history of meditation.

Many believe that meditation has its roots in the Hindu or Yogic traditions which expanded to include the Buddhist traditions. But it is also known that indigenous cultures in the Americas have practiced meditation in the form of Shamanic vision quests. The more mystical sects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam also have meditation practices designed to elevate or expand the consciousness of the disciple. The common elements in all of these historical references is that through meditation, the practitioner experiences an altered state of consciousness. Perhaps it is because of this phenomena, that meditation has long been eyed with suspicion in the western world.

Meditation arises in western culture.

Although pagan meditation practices have long been an aspect of religious life in Europe, the influence of the church basically did away with all of that for many centuries. The notion of making contact with etheric energies, deities and spirits is of course anathema to Christian sensibilities. All of this activity continued of course, but was not without consequence. Many thousands of pagans were executed for their practices.

The spiritualist movement in Europe of the mid 1800’s prompted an explosion of underground activities using meditation as a means of contacting spirits from the other side. This activity was kept on the down low as the practice was considered heretical for what might be obvious reasons. This movement went underground again until in the late 1960’s, western culture once again became more interested in “alternative spiritual practices.” After the initial psychedelic euphoria settled down, most people stored their bean bag chairs, lava lamps and paraphernalia in the attic and began the business of chasing the American dream. Meditation went underground once again in mainstream Western society. Although a low buzz could still be heard in various circles remaining faithful to the consciousness movement, meditation had not yet become quite as trendy as it is today.

Meditation enters the age of reason.

Fortunately in the current epoch, the concept of incorporating meditation into one’s life is not quite as foreign or scary to the Western mindset as it once was. In the seventies, there were various clinical studies which began to take a serious look at paranormal phenomena. The study of phenomena like psychic awareness and psycho-kinetics became more accepted in the hallowed halls of academia. Psychologists began taking a serious look at meditation as a form of therapeutic practice to help patients access subconscious memories and remove emotional blockages. Even the U.S Army began a protocol for utilizing psychic spies in order to catch up to the Soviets doing the same! There were stories on the news about psychic detectives helping to solve murder cases. This popular science (science fiction for some) began a new wave of interest in meditation because all of the aforementioned would achieve their unique talents through entering a meditative state.

This clinical interest continues today but from several different avenues of study. The clinical data from studying the physiological and psychological makeup of people who practice meditation has raised some eyebrows. It seems that in addition to its spiritual applications, Western scientists have come to realize that meditation provides many health benefits as well. In the current era, barely a month goes by without some media journal reporting that meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, improve mental health, decrease insomnia and strengthen the immune system. These physical benefits are augmented by various psychological effects including lowered anxiety, increased attention spans and improved self-esteem. It seems that what the mystics throughout time have known, people in 21st century western civilization are now discovering. A continued meditation practice is helpful in many ways. It has beneficial effects on the body, mind and spirit of the practitioner. Perhaps it is for these reasons that so many people in western culture are asking about it. Yet, it is because of the fears of associating themselves with an alternative belief structure, that many are cautious about exploring the benefits. This is where I come in.

Let’s break it down.

There are so many varieties of meditation that it is a good idea to categorize them. Here are what I consider to be the seven main categories. Rather than staying true to the names given them by the tradition from which they spring, I have chosen to quantify and name them according to their purpose and benefit.

Transcendental Meditation: The ability to move beyond the normal sense of self.

This variety is the most sought after by those wishing to have a mystical experience. The word transcendent applies to the ego mind structure; the sense of self as you have always experienced it. The reason for practicing this form of meditation is to achieve a mystical union with the divine mind. It is believed by those who practice this form that the ego mind is a barrier, which some how veils the connection to the divine mind. It is the goal of these practitioners to move beyond the confines of the ego mind so that the connection can be realized. If your goal is to explore Transcendental meditation, The Triad Mind Program can help.

Observer Meditation: The ability to observe ones thinking and emotional reaction.

In the spiritual traditions this form of meditation is designed to help the practitioner become known to themselves. Face it, we think and feel all of the time. Rarely do we notice or question what we are thinking about, let alone the feelings which accompany the thoughts. This implies that most of our thoughts and feelings emerge from and descend to the realm of our subconscious mind.

This is a practice often recommended and utilized by therapists who believe meditation is helpful to their clients. Most therapists help their clients deal with long standing life issues and beliefs that inhibit the patient’s ability to live fully. These issues stem from the patient’s past memories which are often painful and cause a host of psychological disorders and dysfunctions. In addition to cognitive therapy, patients are often asked to participate in the observer meditation techniques, usually led by the therapist. This style of meditation allows a means of non-involved participation with the painful past. This is to say that it is possible to look at the source of the pain without re-experiencing the pain emotionally. It can be very effective.

In addition, The Observer self can be trained to realize how we react to various outside stimuli which invokes a reactive response. It is through the Observer Self that you can begin to notice what triggers your stress response and how that stress is manifested emotionally. Anger, crying or losing your ability to remain present, are just some of the host of possible reactive responses people have to stress. The observer meditation is a very powerful form of changing reactive responses, but it requires a good deal of practice and a willingness to remain vigilant as an observer in your daily life. If you feel that you would like to learn to become less reactive to stress and more joyful in your life, The Triad Mind Program can help.

Affirmation Meditation. People attempt this style as a means of shifting negative belief patterns about themselves. This particular style applies the premise that the subconscious mind can be influenced to adopt new belief patterns through introducing them subconsciously. Many people today leave little yellow “Post It Notes” around the house to serve as a reminder that they are working on a particular change or self improvement. The Post It’s contain messages of a positive nature. It is believed by many that these messages will somehow sink into their subconscious mind and magically shift their negative self image to a positive one. In some cases, this is true, but more often it is not. In order to shift belief systems from a destructive view to a constructive one, many things must occur. Practice is definitely the key, but simply repeating positive affirmations will probably not help the ego mind adapt a new belief.

There is an aspect of the ego mind which is designed to affirm and maintain your reality, moralities and sense of self. The Super Ego is a part of the subconscious mind which has a harsh and judgmental aspect to it that maintains that its reality is reality. This judge is a conservative one and slow to make changes. It is in charge of your self images and will defend these self images to the end. In a sense, your ego or more aptly Super ego, can be your greatest obstacle to change even if the status quo is painful.

The only way to shift belief structures is to work with them and make conscious choices therefore allowing yourself to have new experiences. In order to do so, you must be able to feel safe within your own boundaries and safe enough to extend beyond them.

How does one get out of this sort of double bind? The best way is to get the Super ego out of the way long enough to insert new possibilities. If you are able to temporarily render the the ego judge ineffective, you can increase the possibility of inserting new ideas and inducing change. In using this method, you have a powerful means of usurping the ego’s negative constructs and defenses. The Triad Mind Program can help you establish and utilize a method for such change.

Visualization / Imaginative Meditation. Imagination is perhaps the single most important aspect of human evolution. (Our opposing thumbs and ability to walk upright run a close second.) It is only because of our ability to imagine, that we humans have evolved into what we are. I often inwardly chuckle when people in my classes have a fantastic epiphany experience during a meditation only to nullify it with a phrase like, “Well, that’s probably just my imagination!”

In my view, imagination is very powerful and is responsible for everything we humans have created in our reality. Nothing can be invented until the inventor utilizes his/her imaginative powers. Imagination is responsible for art, science, technology, religion, philosophy, government and just about everything else in the daily course of human affairs. The external results of correctly applied human imagination are numerous. Just as interesting are the internal manifestations, like our imagined self images. Imagination it seems can be one of our greatest assets or liabilities. It can lead to inspiration or folly.

An interesting philosophical question arises as to the source of human imagination. Some believe that the subconscious mind is perhaps the source of imagination. Some believe it was an adaptive method in our evolutionary pattern. Still others feel it is the divine spark inherent in all of us. Let us consider for a moment, that the source is not quite as important as how we use this power. Assuming you believe that ones internal imaginations can have an impact on external reality, as I do, I have to ask; What if we could all use our imaginative powers to create exactly what it is that we want on both a personal and global level? The Triad Mind Program makes use of Imaginative meditation techniques to first acknowledge your creative potential, then to help you to become a wise creator.

Focused Awareness Meditation. This is a form of meditation that most every one can related to and a form of meditation we all practice. Consider it as a concentrated thinking process. We humans think all of the time. Most of the time thoughts pass through our minds in a microsecond without our consideration of what it is that we are thinking about. Many people look to meditation as a means of helping them focus their awareness in a more laser like fashion. The Triad Mind Program can help you achieve this goal through our sensory awareness exercises and our recorded exercises designed to enhance concentration.

Expanded Awareness Meditation. Our evolved brains actually allow us to focus on and analyze our environment quickly. Right now, the words you are reading, the thoughts you are having about the expressed opinions, the room temperature, the sounds you are hearing, all of these can be recognized by you almost instantaneously. All manners of stimuli seize your attention for a moment and then disappear from your awareness just as quickly. Much of this information simply bypasses our conscious minds and is processed (or stored) at the subconscious level. It is possible through training, to consciously process more of the sensory information coming to you, thus expanding your awareness. In addition, one can train themselves to become more aware of what is termed extra sensory information. Consider this form of information to be of a more subtle nature. The Triad Mind Program will help you learn to focus your concentration with a laser like intensity or allow it to become more effuse and open to subtleties in your current experience. Both of these styles of meditation are of exquisite value.

Meditation of Pure Being. Many people tell me that they wish to use meditation to help them clear their minds. I understand them to mean that they are looking for a relief from their racing minds which incessantly chatters. They may also wish to relax from the chaos of adult responsibilties and return to a state of pure being.

The state of pure being has the implication that there is no thought inherent in the experience. This is because if you actually achieve it, there is no one to do any thinking. There is no sense of I, just a pure state of being. This style of meditation is very difficult to master and frankly, not for everyone. Although this can be considered an advanced meditation practice which often times leads to a transcendent experience, elements of this style of meditation are made available within The Triad Mind program. The Triad Mind meditations are designed to help you achieve this (and all transcendent states) responsibly.

Integrated meditation for the Western mind.

As you can see there are many facets to this thing we generically call meditation. So what is meditation? The simple answer is that meditation is a vehicle which can be used to explore what we call consciousness. The Triad Mind Program postulates that human beings experience consciousness on three distinct levels of mind. These are:

1- The Conscious Mind. Defined as what you are aware of naturally and what you focus on intentionally.

2- The Subconscious Mind. Defined as the part of you which you are unaware of. This facet of of mind interacts with and motivates your intentions, actions, thoughts and world view.

3- The Super Conscious Mind. Defined as the level of mind which ponders and feels connected with the mysteries of life. This level of mind also contains our creative and imaginative abilities. It can also be considered as a personal link to ones sense of divinity.

The Triad Mind (TTM) Program offers you a means of accessing and integrating all three levels of mind. In joining our membership website, you will learn techniques designed to help you react differently to life’s challenges. You will learn to relax and focus your body and mind completely. You will learn to explore the deepest parts of yourself and transform your inner world. You will learn to creatively effect your inner world and your experience of being in the world. You will learn to connect with and activate your inherent life force power, to achieve your highest good.

At this point you might ask yourself, if you can benefit from a meditation practice? If so, can you do this in a way that is easy to practice and integrate into your life without having to submit to dogma or philosophy?

Meditation can be integrated into your life without any discomfort or radical change in religious or philosophical beliefs. Gone are the days when you had to become a disciple of any particular faith in order to benefit from a successful meditation practice. Because of in depth clinical inquiry and scientific research done throughout the past few decades, the many benefits of meditation are available to anyone who has a smart phone, tablet, or computer and set of headphones!

TTM welcomes and encourages people from all walks of life and philosophical views. It’s meditation techniques are presented in non dogmatic and philosophically neutral language. TTM is an organization dedicated to helping people achieve a successful meditation practice that is suited for their unique needs. The classes are streamed through the Triad Mind membership site which hosts a generous library of recorded exercises for you to experience. Membership levels are reasonably priced and easily accessed for your convenience. This is truly Meditation Made Easy!

We’d love to help you make the change you desire.

A continued meditation practice will produce a change in you. Actually, it is your willingness to move into a continued practice that produces the changes. Your intention for beginning and continuing a practice will be fulfilled if you approach meditation with a light heart and a willingness to explore. What are you exploring? From our perspective, only parts of yourself. TTM classes will teach you to completely relax your body and explore the essence of your mind and spirit. This complete relaxation is the basic stepping stone from which all other meditation practices can be applied. So let’s imagine what changes might occur.

Physically, there are many changes that occur. The most common effects are lowered blood pressure and reduced muscle tension. In addition, studies have shown that there is a reduction in stress related hormones which have a damaging effect on the body chemistry. People who meditate often report that they sleep more soundly and generally walk through their day with a sense of relaxed purpose. Physically, there seem to be no adverse effects.

Clinical studies also suggest that meditation can have a profound effect on our thinking process. Some people believe that new neural pathways are developed through practicing meditation. By implication, the more neural pathways, the more efficiently our brain works. I am not absolutely sure that this is true of meditation, but it does give pause for thought! (Pun intended).

There are studies indicating that people who practice transcendental meditation experience a profound sense of peace and well being. Meditation can help you have a deeper connection with your own spiritual practice. Meditation has its origins and maintains a connection to the spiritual part of the human experience. Will meditation change the way in which you view the world from a spiritual perspective? It might. It’s hard to tell. For most people, when carefully guided through the process by someone who has a deep respect and knowledge for all spiritual practices, the experiences gained in meditation can enrich their current philosophy. The end result is change on some level but the change is under your control.

A final word.

In order to have a successful meditation practice, one must take into consideration why they would adopt such a practice to begin with. The practice should have a purpose. Once this purpose is established, a good teacher will help you discern a practice that is right for you.

While we would love to have you as a student or client, we realize that The Triad Mind Program is only one method among many. We humbly suggest that if you are drawn to meditation, for whatever reason, that you follow that impulse. We believe that the impulse indicates that you are ready for the change. Change is an integral part of life and can be experienced with a sense of grace and purpose, through the art of meditation.

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