Meditation Is Cool

Meditation is cool. It really is.

Fifteen years ago when I first started to meditate, it felt like something beyond reach for us, the mere mortals, that only seriously minded individuals would practice. Meditation also seemed complicated in the sense that you are not supposed to do anything and at the same time something was supposed to be happening. And then there were all the do’s and dont’s — sit straight, keep your mind under control, eat this or do not eat that, not to mention the many approaches to meditation that exist.

As I look back, I am surprised at how simple meditation can actually be. It also amazes me how such a simple thing as meditation can change one’s life – only for the better.

I wake up in the morning. I meditate. I do my physical workout and then prepare for the day. I come back home in the evening. I try to find a few minutes to meditate again. My day has a start I can effortlessly control – my morning meditation. My day has a natural transition and ending point – my evening meditation. I am confidently in control throughout.

Before learning how to meditate, I simply used to be going about doing my daily duties. Now there is more. There is a time in the morning when I am with myself, consciously with myself. It’s neither sleeping nor working. It’s just being with myself. In the evening, the experiences collected during the day are put to rest. All extraneous mental and emotional weight is acknowledged and let go of. I am with myself again.

And then, without first noticing, there is the miracle of seeing over time results without caring for them. Here’s a useful analogy. Try to bring before your mind’s eye the image of a bird’s nest. What is it made of? Essentially, it consists of small pieces of wood, straw, dried offshoots and some sticky material like soil or clay. So what? Well, consider the constraints a small bird like a sparrow has to face: a small beak, no arms, not much strength. Yet, despite her smallness, it manages to build a nest for herself and her family to last a lifetime.

What’s the bird’s secret? Perseverance and focused repetitive behaviour consisting of hundreds and thousands of trips to locate, collect and bring the needed building material to the construction site of the nest. Tedious and boring? Maybe. Successful, useful and practical? You bet!

Meditation can be likened to a sparrow’s effort to build a nest. Meditating once a month would not amount to much, although it is better than not doing it at all. At this rate of progress, it would take many generations of sparrows to complete the nest. If they can survive many winters without a nest, that is.

Meditating every day, on the other hand, can make a world of difference in a relatively short span of time. You may or may not notice it yourself simply because of the habit of being with yourself at all times. Not so for others, who will notice the change or will see something special in you that they normally do not see otherwise. Being complimented on your ability to maintain your calm in the midst of a challenging situation or spontaneously exhibiting unconditional goodwill to people who do not expect it are just insignificant by-products of a major transformative cycle of personal growth you have embarked upon.

I just cannot stop being amazed at how cool and simple meditation is.

 

For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.

Quantum Meditation

Few would have suspected this, but meditation is a great way to experience firsthand quantum physics at work. Especially in group meditations, the individual aspiration and expansion of consciousness grow exponentially compared to what it could have been had the individual meditated alone. Even better, this expansion takes place wirelessly, so to speak, without the meditators in the group having to speak to each other a single word!

In classical marketing, when 1+1 becomes 3 or more, this is referred to as the halo effect. A synergistic effect is created when marketers promote one product, with tangible marketing benefits also extending to other related products. On the internet a similar effect is achieved through social media when a message posted on Twitter or Facebook, for example, and addressed to only a few individuals goes viral and reaches an audience of thousands.

This is not to say that all meditations should be done in a group. Far from it. Most of the time one should meditate individually on a regular basis. This allows to create first a solid foundation from which one can later venture into farther and higher territory. Individual meditations are essential if one is to benefit from group meditations.

Group meditations are like a great feast for one’s inner being. They create variety but also reinforce ones inner strength. Individual meditations are like regular training sessions, while group meditations are like competitive events during which one discovers that he can go faster, farther, higher and deeper. One cannot have a feast every day nor can one afford to compete at maximum capacity daily.

Mantras are sacred, specially designed, sounds and incantations, which allow a meditator to transcend one’s own nature thus opening the way to fruitful meditations. For this reason and thanks to the mystical synergy thus created, chanting mantras or singing devotional songs in a group is a very beneficial thing to do.

In an old parable, a king following a dream asked his subjects to create a pond full of milk rather than water. A big area was thus dug up for the occasion and every subject had to bring milk and pour it into the pond. When the king looked at the pond, the pond was full of water rather than milk. It turned out that each subject of his thought that if he were to pour water instead of milk into the otherwise milky pond, no one would have noticed the difference!

While group meditations are true occasions for strength-building and self-transcendence, it is very important that each individual meditating in a group maintains a regular individual meditation practice at home. Otherwise, instead of drinking nourishing milk, one would trade water for water!

 

For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.

Is thinking meditation?

Perhaps, for many of us, but otherwise definitely not.

“I think, therefore I am”, said Descartes. “I meditate, therefore I truly am”, say we.

The main benefit of meditation is that it takes us outside the realm of the mind and therefore outside the realm of thoughts. It encourages us to seek a pristine place inside ourselves untouched by daily worries and anxieties, desires and ambitions. Meditation is therefore the opposite of thinking.

Thinking can be of two kinds. One is willed and conscious thinking that helps us deal with a particular task or idea before us. This kind of thinking is needed and helpful. The second kind is erratic, disorganized, uncontrolled and, frankly, a gibberish type of thinking that has no conscious purpose. It goes without saying that this kind of thinking is unhelpful in the very least. We often tend to experience the latter more often than the former.

Thinking is a thief. It steals from us three things. One is time. The other is energy. The third is spontaneous joy.

Thinking is often a burden. This is because rational thinking, not to mention irrational thinking, may miss the point. One buys a car to gain greater freedom of movement (a rational goal), but increasingly gets stuck in traffic and gets to suffer from pollution that his and other cars generate (an irrational outcome). Or one accumulates wealth in order to feel at ease in life without realizing that constant worry about the value and security of his riches undermine the very comfort he seeks.

Because of that, thinking is perhaps our own most formidable enemy. Equally, because of that, thinking, controlled and enlightened thinking, is perhaps our own most precious friend.

Thinking, especially concentrated and collective thinking, creates what we call reality. A national identity, a company culture or an individual character are forms of concentrated thinking that have set into certain patterns and grooves over a long enough period of time, have become easily recognizable and thus have given a nation, a company or an individual its defining traits. A prosperous nation, a successful company or a remarkable individual is one that has done better and more concentrated thinking than another.

How to become a better thinker? The way to become a better thinker is to become a better meditator. When the room is spacious, well lit and tidy, and the items inside it are organized, one can easily find the right item and move it around as needed. Because great thinking is about finding the right ideas and making the right connections between them, developing a mind that is orderly is key to becoming a great thinker. Meditation creates the spacious, illumined and pure environment inside ourselves for the mind to unclutter and organize itself – naturally.

The difference between a mentally ill patient and a healthy individual is very subtle and precarious. One is controlled by aberrant thinking, while the other happens to have somewhat more mastery over his own thoughts and mind. Also, as modern medicine demonstrates, psychological blocks that originate in deeply ingrained thinking patterns are the cause of psychosomatic illnesses manifesting themselves in the physical body.

Bad thoughts are contagious and so are good thoughts. Replace bad thoughts with good thoughts and the world around will also change to reflect your enlightened way of thinking.

Thoughts are like clouds in the sky. Worries and negative thoughts resemble dark and heavy clouds, while inspiring and positive thoughts resemble white and light clouds. Genuine meditation is like the vast blue sky without any trace of a cloud, dark or white, in its firmament.

Be careful what you wish for. Be careful what you think of.

 

For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.

Happiness and Meditation: No Limits

Is there a limit to your happiness, an upper limit, that is?

You may already be quite a happy and fulfilled individual or so you think. You may have just completed your hard-earned university degree or you may have a good job and a relationship with someone that seems to go well, and your health is ok. What else would one need?

But are you truly happy? If you look deep inside yourself, do you possess the kind of happiness that truly counts? The happiness that you have, is it lasting and is it immune to the vagaries of life? Few of us would readily answer in the affirmative. For it is no secret that health may deteriorate, relationships may sour, a good job may not last or may become a drag depending who one works with, while a university degree is simply a piece of paper that may not count for much depending on whom you show it to.

If one were to define true – and let it be at this stage purely hypothetical – happiness, where would one start?

For one, such happiness should not depend on outer circumstances. It would be unfortunate if real happiness had to depend on a statistically very improbable confluence of a myriad of events, which one has little say over and which would need to fit perfectly each person’s situation. How cruel would it be of nature to have created a human being without endowing him or her with a self-contained source of happiness?

Therefore, one characteristic of true happiness is that it should be originating inside oneself. Perhaps, such happiness should also be always available and accessible at one’s sweet will. What is the point of owning a well, but not being able to drink freely from it?

Which brings us to the next criteria – happiness should be such that it can be shared with others. Owning a well and being able to drink from it is good. Being able to share the well with others and thus give them the joy of drinking from it is the best. Sharing is a joyous moment not only for the receiver, but also for the giver, thus further adding to the happiness that one already has.

Importantly, happiness should be available in abundant, if not unlimited, supply. Not only such boundless supply should provide for personal needs which at times may be quite demanding, but it should also allow for unconstrained sharing with others. True, happiness is positively contagious in its own right, but it is more appreciated when shared deliberately and enthusiastically.

Perhaps linked to the abundance aspect, true happiness should be enduring. In earthly terms, that would be as lasting as the ocean, the mountains or the stars, but the real definition of true happiness would extend well beyond that.

It would also not be too much to ask if happiness were totally pure, unadulterated by anything else of this world or of the other worlds. Genuine diamonds would come close to describe purity, but may still not live up fully to the definition of ‘pure’ in its purest and strictest form.

Is then search for true happiness an exercise in futility?

In an old spiritual tale, a wealthy farmer once heard from a wondering monk about a mythical river whose river bed was covered in diamonds. The story about the river carrying diamonds so captivated the farmer that he decided to set on a journey to find it. Before leaving, he sold all of his vast lands, cattle and other valuable possessions. He spent all the remaining years of his life criss-crossing the world in search for the fabled diamond river, but in vain – the river was nowhere to be found. In his desperate and excruciating search, he spent his entire fortune. Having reached a very old age and in a state of absolute desperation, he decided to return to his old lands. His intention to return to his roots and the previous source of his now-squandered wealth was marked with just one thought – to die in peace. Tired and mentally worn out, he entered his native countryside and bent over a river to drink from its waters. Lo and behold, the river was full of precious and shining diamonds lying on its bottom.

This tale epitomizes the spiritual search of man, who looks for answers to his existential plight somewhere else but within himself. Meditation reminds us that the source of our happiness, the story’s true diamonds, lies within us. Even if at times we may be distracted to look for them elsewhere, the fabled diamonds continue to be, as they have always been, within our reach. All we need to do is to have faith and turn our gaze within.

Unsurprisingly, the happiness one derives from meditation meets all of the criteria listed earlier. It may not be something one would experience at the very start, but eventually, with time and practice, such true happiness comes within reach, becoming part and parcel of our existence.

In conclusion, let me share a well-guarded secret. True inner happiness can be created and it can be multiplied to such a degree that life’s circumstances soften, change course and align to reflect your own happiness that springs from within. Thanks to meditation, as you become happier within, so you’ll become happier without.

And, of course, to answer the opening question to this article, as you may have already sensed, only the sky is the limit.

 

For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.

 

Meditation: The Power To Win

“If you dare to fail,

You are bound

To succeed.”

– Sri Chinmoy

Life is hard. Feeling depressed about it makes things infinitely harder. Life is then precisely about this tug of war, where circumstances try to pull us down, while we struggle to remain upright. The worst that can happen to us is to give up, first mentally, then physically.

A weight-lifter, who must lift a heavy weight above his head, never thinks of the weight before him as a problem. At best, during a competitive event, the weight-lifter thinks of the weight as a challenge, a welcome challenge that may eventually pave the way to success. Before the competition, the weights are his best friend for he knows that without them he cannot win. He also knows that to prevail over his competitors he must lift, first in training, then in competition, more weights, and heavier weights. So why do the rest of us think of problems as problems?

This change in perspective is welcome. Can problems be our stepping stones to success? Can problems be regarded as beneficial and even be sought after? Can problems beget success and the more of them the better? Rather than avoid them, can problems be allowed to shape us into stronger weight-lifters in the matters of life, so to speak? Problems are then life’s training blocks, universally available and freely accessible.

Just as in any physical training routine, a gradual approach to increasing one’s exposure to problems as well as their intensity, coupled with the right attitude, are the key ingredients to winning in the battlefield of life. It may not be always possible to influence the former, i.e., their amount and strength, but that can be often compensated by the latter, i.e., our mindset.

Mindset, as the term goes, is a collection of habits and assumptions that happen to be firmly rooted in one’s mind. Uprooting them and replacing them with a winning, can-do attitude may actually do the trick, turning us from a weakling into a power lifter. Are we aware of all the habits and assumptions that form our mindset? Hardly at all and not to any great depth.

A mind set is a mind fixated. A set mind is like concrete that has set and become hard and durable. Indeed, sometimes we catch ourselves feeling as though we are carrying around a heavy stone, not realising that we could do away with it.

Meditation is like a torch light that illumines the depths of our being. It makes us more conscious about our own set mind and the limiting influence it exercises upon us. Becoming aware of our limitations allows us to deal with them and become stronger as a result. Awareness powered by firm intent has the power of the fire; it can burn obstacles and clear the way.

Now roll in the heavy weights please!

 

For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.

Love and Meditation: Meditate to Love More

Love is a mighty energy that wants to be expressed. Meditation is the means to express it, beautifully and powerfully.

Love is sacrifice. Sacrifice of what? It is sacrifice of what one is, not to mention of what one has.

Meditation is also sacrifice. Sacrifice of what? It is sacrifice of the most precious thing that one has for the achievement of something even more precious.

The most precious thing that one has is love, true and unconditional love that transcends human love and that emanates from one’s soul.

What is even more precious than the soul’s unconditional love that one has? It is the universal, divine love into which our soul wants to grow.

Why does one want to express the soul’s unconditional love, not to mention to enter into the universal love? Wouldn’t human love be enough? One wants to remain inside unconditional love emanating from one’s soul precisely because human love has not given us what it promised. Human love promised us happiness and fulfillment. Instead, we found ourselves dealing with fleeting pleasure, dependence, frustration, fear of separation and sorrow of loss.

If this is the case, wouldn’t the love of the soul be enough? It is a great achievement to feel the love of the soul and to be guided by it. But why be satisfied with a small, even if very delicious, meal when one can have a supreme feast? If one appreciates a cute, joyful and well-mannered child dressed in beautiful clothes, one would surely want to meet his benevolent and well-off parents.

Is soul’s unconditional love real? Definitely so, say those who by virtue of their life of discipline and purity have experienced it firsthand. Meditation, they say, is the way.

Is universal love real? Definitely so, say those who are true, selfless teachers and who can guide others to this lofty goal. Meditation and something more, they say, is the way.

What else is needed? Expert guidance and grace, they say, are essential.

Where does one get expert guidance? One gets expert guidance from a real meditation teacher as well as inspiration from the teacher’s inspired and aspiring students.

How does one get grace? One gets grace by being assiduous in his meditation practice and by being grateful for what one has and does not have as well as for what one is and what one is not.  So regular meditation is grace, delicately veiled.

Love and meditation. Love meditation more. Meditate more to love more, soulfully and universally.

 

For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.

Meditation: Your Free Wi-Fi Connection to Bliss

Jokes aside, meditation is unmistakably a definitive tool that we possess as human beings to tune in to higher realities. Long before the advent of computers and electronics, meditation had been practiced in many human traditions and civilisations, across all the corners of the globe and throughout millennia. Meditation has endured natural cataclysms, wars and social and cultural upheavals to remain what it has always been: a natural and intimate way to commune with the inner and higher worlds. In that sense, meditation is as old as humankind and precedes any religion or any other human invention however ancient its roots may appear to be.

It is claimed that many scientific and health advances that India could boast at some point in its rich history were thanks to rishis, advanced human beings with developed intellectual and spiritual abilities. Rishis could access vast reservoirs of advanced knowledge stored deep inside the universal consciousness. Their prolonged, deep and self-enraptured meditations were the source of that knowledge.

Ironically, today knowledge is sought elsewhere than inside that universal consciousness that also resides inside ourselves. Rather than depend on our own intuitive faculties, we seek knowledge in schools and museums, in books and magazines, and on the internet. Internet has become a one-stop shop for school papers and for rumours, for entertainment, and for business and political agendas. It is almost unthinkable and, frankly, potentially quite injurious to the psyche of a modern day citizen, to go without access to internet for more than a day. It has happened to you and me many times over: without a smartphone in our pocket or an internet café nearby, the world suddenly turns dark and inhospitable, and life is devoid of joy, so we feel.

Wouldn’t it be something to study for an exam, prepare for an interview, and recover from a difficult relationship or from an illness by entering into a profound and refreshing meditation? Just think of it. One would not need to spend endless time in reading and research, training and recovery, or waste time waiting for a doctor’s appointment. The solution would be closer and more readily accessible than what a smartphone in our pocket seems to provide us with: the solution would be in our very soul. Such a nifty solution would also be entirely customizable to our own needs. In contrast, a mass produced electronic gadget, even if progressively thinner than the preceding model, with its occasionally intermittent and costly access to the network and limited battery life, could not even compare to the universality, adaptability and accessibility that our own internal Wi-Fi system provides. If only we dared to heed its continuous calls …

However, giving up the modern lifestyle would not be the right thing to do. As no radical and abrupt change is a beneficial or sustainable change in the long-run, a more thoughtful approach is required. There is nothing wrong in using a latest generation smartphone for the right purpose or in reading books or magazines of the right kind. In fact, not doing so will make us into useless and ineffective human beings of modern times. Rather, the solution is to embrace in full awareness the many benefits that the technological progress can offer, while following the basic norms of the modern society in which we live. The key is to remain unattached to these things, in the widest sense of the term, while gradually developing the powers of inner awareness through meditation. And the next time your smartphone displays the error message “no Wi-Fi connection is within reach”, you’ll know for sure that it is time to meditate (but not before you tap “forget this network” button).

 

For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.

 

Meditation’s Unifying Power

How many times in life have we come across this very familiar situation: the opinion of others is not the same as our own even as everyone seems to have the same information at their disposal. Even more, our own understanding of something shifts over time, despite us remaining the same person and without us necessarily having much more knowledge than before. In both cases, both ourselves and the object we are dealing with seem to remain the same, yet a difference in perception results. How is such a thing possible?

Often, for most of us who are lucky, the answer crystallizes itself through repetitive and sometimes uncomfortable life experiences until we reach the ripe old age. To the select few who meditate, the answer unfolds of its own accord, effortlessly, at times serendipitously, and eventually fully and regardless of one’s age.

The answer resides in understanding the phenomenon of the point of view as an integral part of the physical reality that surrounds us. Moreover, one learns that multiple points of view for the same thing can co-exist harmoniously and at the same time no matter how simple that thing is. Yet, even more, the answer has to do with the general – and very normal at that — inability of our minds to hold multiple points of view at the same time.

Take the example of two people. One is perched on top of a tall tree, while another is at the foot of the tree. As they look at the same reality in front of them, it is no surprise that the one at the top of the tree will see farther and wider than the person at the foot of the tree. At the same time, the person at the foot of the tree, will see things close nearby in more detail and may even approach (more easily than the one who is perched atop the tree) the object he beholds to touch and to gain a better understanding about it. Both onlookers may be looking at the same thing, but, due to their different points of view, they experience the same object differently. Yet the object remains unaffected by the fact that the two experience it differently. Imagine then how much more difficult it becomes when the thing that several people experience differently is not an object, but a thought or idea!

A koan is a riddle that stimulates wider awareness in the meditation practice of Zen Buddhism in an attempt to find the answer. One such koan asks: If a tree falls in the middle of a forest and no one is there to hear it fall, has it really fallen? An obvious answer is “it depends”, but the challenge is to go beyond “it depends” and come up with an answer that is complete and all-encompassing. For some meditators, it may take a lifetime or more to find the answer to a koan.

To some degree, life experience allows us to acquire over time knowledge about the same situation or object under different circumstances and from different points of view. This eventually teaches us to appreciate the different points of view. But what an arduous and long process this is!

As an example, an ordinary negotiator is someone who is very skilled at understanding different points of view and at finding a way to reconcile them not just for herself, but also for the differing parties involved. An exceptional negotiator is someone who can expand the field of vision of both parties to such an extent that a holistic view emerges, which not only encompasses the original points of view but also introduces many new ones in a way that none of the possible points of view are at odds with each other.

Once a teacher was explaining to his students the law of gravity and how it makes the planets in our solar system hold together. Otherwise, the teacher concluded, in the absence of gravity the earth would not hold and fall down. A little girl then raised her hand and asked: “But it will fall down to where?”

Jokes, the modern and entertaining version of Zen Buddhist koans, are good examples of how changing a point of view makes us experience and accept a new reality (check out the selection of jokes in the Humour section on this website for extra proof :-). Sadly enough, wars and conflicts, which are nothing but the inability of the warring parties to reconcile and mutually accept their diverging points of view, continue to accompany humans in their evolution to this very day.

Such difficulties in processing diverging points of view arise because this is how our minds are wired, naturally. Our mind can hold in its field of vision only one thing at a time, generally not for too long and not to too much depth. (Human multitasking, just like the sequential rather than parallel processing of data that takes place in a computer chip, is an illusion. Do not try this while talking on the phone, driving and drinking coffee at the same time!).

A meditation practice can exploit this human trait to a great advantage. Exercises in concentration, which is one of the first rungs of the meditation ladder, teach the mind to remain disciplined and hold for a prolonged time only one thought or one idea to the exclusion of all others. Once the power of concentration is sufficiently developed, one acquires the almost magical, yet very real, ability to go beyond the realm of the mind into a place where there are no thoughts. Thoughts, which are akin to multitudes of slippery fish, divide the reality into small chunks of mini-realities or – you guessed it! – points of view. A thoughtless mind (not to confuse with a stupid mind) is like an infinite ocean that encompasses everything, fish and all, and remains undisturbed at its core regardless of the marine life.

So, then, the choice before us is simple: we can continue experiencing life, one twist at a time, or we can engage in meditation as we experience life to expand our horizons beyond what can be seen, heard, touched, smelled or thought. Rather than just sit on a tree, let’s break into outer space for a better look. After all, there is nowhere to fall down to.

 

For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.

Why go vegetarian?

Really, why? In this modern age of material sufficiency (at least in the West), when any basic food item is affordable for most of us, why deprive oneself from eating meat? If not from meat, where else one can get proteins from? What about traditional cuisines that call for meat as the main ingredient around which the rest of the meal is fashioned? What about strength and stamina that meat is thought to provide?

If history is any indication, answers to the above questions could be gleaned from human experience. Vegetarianism is known since the times of ancient India and ancient Greece. The famous Greek mathematician Pythagoras practiced vegetarianism and had a large following. Spartacus and his slave warriors, who led a successful rebellion against the well-trained and disciplined army of the Roman Empire, were strict vegetarians and were feared by the Romans for their strength, stamina and physical agility.

Research on human remnants from the ancient Egypt revealed many modern diseases which existed already then, but which were limited to mummified bodies of the higher cast. High priests and distinguished rulers, whose bodies were mummified, could afford meat and refined products, which the lower but much healthier casts faring on a simple vegetarian diet of grains and beans did not have access to.

In modern times, increasingly more people choose a vegetarian lifestyle. Many well-known figures and celebrities, such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Brad Pitt, Brigitte Bardot, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Leonardo diCaprio, Madonna, Prince, Montserrat Caballe, Sinead O’Connor, Sir Isaac Newton, Anoushka Shankar, Steven Jobs, Victoria Beckham, Voltaire and many others are known to be vegetarians.

Meat is often nowadays a source of lethal bacteria. The most recent outbreak of Ebola, a deadly disease originating on the African continent, is thought to have spread to humans from fruit bats and monkeys who are butchered for their meat.

Meat, aside from artificial growth hormones and the preservatives it includes, is very acidifying to the human body. It is thought to cause cancer, arthritis and other debilitating diseases.

The economics of meat production is inefficient and socially unfair. The grain that is produced to then feed cattle would be more than sufficient to eradicate for good malnourishment and famine globally.

This brings us perhaps to the most important reason for becoming a vegetarian if one is serious about meditation. A vegetarian diet, which excludes meat, poultry, fish and seafood, but which may include dairy and eggs, is a great aid to meditation. Meat-eating individuals tend to have a more aggressive and restless nature which cannot be explained by genetics, upbringing and life circumstances alone. In contrast, vegetarians tend to have a more agreeable and calmer nature (but by no means all vegetarians!). By virtue of their calmer nature, vegetarians may have a better shot at entering into and sustaining a good meditation. For non-vegetarian meditators, eating meat is akin to carrying a heavy load, while vegetarians, who travel lighter, are better prepared to reach their meditation goals.

As always, the proof is in the pudding. Regardless of the reason that may attract you to become vegetarian, the best way to approach a vegetarian practice is to start one. You should make the transition to a vegetarian diet step by step, by reducing gradually and over several months your meat intake. You should also be reasonable and pay attention to ingesting sufficient and varied food from natural sources that include quality vegetarian proteins, minerals and vitamins. Only then, and after giving it sufficient time, will you be able to see for yourself how it affects your body and mind. As you combine vegetarianism and meditation, you stand only to benefit – guaranteed!

For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.

Running and Meditation

Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy running

Running is the expression of our childhood’s spontaneity, the lightness of the body, our mind’s freedom from worries and the dynamism of our intent. Running reminds us about our free nature and ability to reach on our own places that are farther than our usual surroundings.

Running is a form of discovery, a discovery not only of the physical world around us, but of our own physical capacities and of deeper reservoirs of our character. No wonder then that running has so many similarities to meditation. Meditation itself is the exploration of the deeper aspects of our being. Both running and meditation come naturally. The more we practice them, the more of their hidden fruits reveal themselves to us. And the more we practice them both at the same time, the more synergistically their combined benefits shower upon our being.

The goal of running is to reach farther and to go faster. The goal of meditation is to reach higher and to reach deeper. Both complement each other like the leaves and the branches of a tree, for without one the other is incomplete.

Running can be done with intent or with spontaneity. Meditation too can arise from deliberate practice or from the fountain of aspiration within us that comes to the surface of its own accord and at its chosen hour. The benefits of both running and meditation can be enhanced through regular practice. Also, the more one practices, the farther one can go and the deeper one can dive.

Long before we have become adults, running to and fro had been a great source of joy to us as children. Some of us may have forgotten how it feels to run. Many of us can start, want to start and eventually do start to run again. At first, we should go slowly and carefully, as we come to remind ourselves of what this marvel of nature’s ingenuity called the human body is capable of. Later on, we can move more vigorously and with more confidence, daring to expand the possibilities of the human body to our own advantage and joy.

In reality, there is no need to learn how to run. We just need to remind ourselves about something we have known for a long time. Our busy lives full of duties and desires, social norms and comfortable cars may have inhibited our inclination to rely on our bodies to run and experience life the natural way.

And so it is with meditation. Meditation does not need to be learned. Rather, it needs to be simply experienced, anew. Like the discovery (rather than invention) of fire by man who can no longer imagine living without it, meditation is what has always been with us. Like it is the case with fire, we need to learn how to light up our meditation and expertly handle its burning aspiration-flames to our advantage.

Meditation creates a state of being high, without drugs. Running, especially long-distance or endurance running, also creates a similar exalted feeling as hormones and endorphins rush into our bloodstream. It is under such circumstances that an endurance runner becomes intimately familiar with a state of being also brought about by meditation and longs for it long after his race is over. All that he needs to do to relive again this state of being high is to start a regular meditation practice in the comfort of his own home.

Running and meditation are great when done in a group. Every runner knows that he can run longer and faster if he runs together with his running mates. Every meditator knows that his meditations can be more fulfilling and of consistently higher quality when he meditates in a group.

Both meditation and running fulfil an ancient and deep-seated human dream. This dream is to fly freely in the vast expanse of the blue sky. While no words can truly describe meditation, it is sometimes said that a great meditation is one in which one identifies with and becomes as large as the vast sky in which one can fly like a bird. With each step we take during running, an instance arises when, even if for a fleeting second, neither of our two legs touches the ground. So running itself, just like meditation, is flying.

From times immemorial, techniques for controlling and stilling one’s breath have been a treasured and well-guarded secret of many meditating yogis. Even today, simple preparatory exercises that lead to becoming more aware of one’s breathing and that help with calming one’s inhalation and exhalation patterns are relied upon as doorways to the inner chambers of the heart and soul. And here again, running, with its joyous simplicity and rhythmic breathing, stands on an equal footing with meditation. By focusing on one’s breathing cycle, be it during running or meditation, an inner state of awareness develops. Our life-supporting breath thus opens the secret door, normally tightly shut, and shows us the beautiful vista of the universal bliss.

For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.

 

To learn more about how to integrate running into your daily lifestyle, please visit www.AllAboutRunning.net .

 

The following link is to a news video story from CBS News about the longest certified foot race in the world, the 3,100 mile Self-Transcendence Race, founded by Sri Chinmoy. This race is the embodiment of the unlimited capacity that all human beings have and that can be developed through meditation.