Saturday, 31 March 2007

Mindfulness Meditation -

 Living A Life Of Purpose

and Harmony

I was just about to give up on my life when I was introduced to Eastern spiritual practices. I had studied everything that our Western world had to say about suffering and what to do about it. And the more I learned, the worse I felt. Out of desperation for a better way of life, I began a daily meditation practice. I studied and practiced a mindfulness practice called shamatha in which the attention is placed on the breath in a restful yet alert manner. This practice showed me very clearly what the problem was: ME! There was so much chaos and distraction taking place in my mind on a momentary basis that it made sense as to why I never felt right. The 'me' that I had come to know was indeed full of conflict, speed, and ambivalence. My thoughts constantly raced and pulled me in a million different directions. It was frankly appalling to see how frenzied my mind was. All of this mental chaos created a state of emotional inertia that kept me confined to a very narrow range of the the human emotional spectrum. Basically, I was so stuck in my head that I had lost contact with reality.

From a meditative perspective, everything in the universe is inherently empty. Our concepts and opinions are devoid of any inherent reality. We are convinced that we are real only because of the deluded nature of our own minds. We simply don't see things as they are. We see through the filters of our concepts and thoughts, which seem to be very convincing. If we buy into our mental projections of reality, we will suffer. Meditation is the practice of developing space around these constant projections. With regular practice, we become less and less convinced that we or anything else is inherently real and solid.

The irony here is that recognizing our own non-existence is the very basis of freedom, joy, and love. Our clunky, solid sense of self is what gets us in trouble. So, when I say that everything is empty, it may be tempting to see this as a negative statement. But even that is empty. When we flash on non-existence or emptiness, we see the ultimate potential in all things. Instead of being pinned down by our dualistic perceptions of good/bad, happy/sad, like/dislike, etc., we see that the universe is free from any kind of limitation whatsoever. This is the nature of genius and mysticism.

Have you ever lost yourself for a moment? Perhaps in your work, or playing with your kids, or watching an intense movie? That is like flashing on emptiness. You are free of your normal sense of who you are. There is no boundary between you and everything outside of you. In Buddhism, this is seen as the experience of Big Mind. It is a momentary flash on the infinite nature of reality from which we are inseparable. In mindfulness practice, this flash of awakening is deliberately maintained; everything that arises in the mind is simply a manifestation of universal energy. There is no 'I' in any thought or feeling. It is impersonal energy that arises and passes. When we taste this freedom from personalizing the constant arising of thought, it is like we can finally breathe and surrender to the beauty of life.

Regular meditation practice enables us to rest our awareness in this state of undistracted, empty stillness. Interestingly, this does not necessarily mean that the mind is quiet and obedient. We can still be thinking and have a recognition of this peace and openness. Over time, the mind does stop for periods of time. There is just absolute stillness. But as a beginner, the main point is to keep your awareness one-pointed on the present moment whether you are thinking or not. Don't try to stop your thoughts. Just stay focused on the moment and be still.

As your mind begins to become more expansive and present, your life will begin to open up in unforeseen ways. Old habits, fears, and harmful relationships will fade away. You will become genuinely invested in the ways that you can be of service to others. Why? Because the inside and the outside are no longer seen as separate. Instead of being preoccupied with this contracted version of 'I', the enormous energies of the universe call you out to offer your best to alleviate the suffering of others. This is the beginning of freedom. It is the beginning of living in spirit. Mindfulness practice is one the the vehicles that can take you there.

Kevin Doherty, L.Ac., MS is a licensed acupuncturist who has been studying, practicing, and teaching meditation since 1992. To learn more about Kevin and his approach to meditation, go to

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Saturday, 24 March 2007

Inspiration for


1. Music for Meditation.

If music is soulful and peaceful it brings our soul to the fore. When we hear soulful meditative music our inner being begins to aspire for a deeper and more meaningful reality. This aspiration to reach a more fulfilling, expansive consciousness is the real secret of meditation. When we have a burning inner flame then our meditation technique becomes of little importance. When we are inwardly aspiring for peace, light and joy our soul meditates spontaneously on our behalf. Music can definitely awaken our slumbering inner spirit.

"Each time we hear soulful music, we get inspiration and delight. In the twinkling of an eye, music can elevate our consciousness." (1)

Music for meditation can give us real inspiration but we should make sure the music is composed and played in a meditative consciousness. If the music creates restlessness and excitement then this will not help in any way our meditation.

2. Meditate on Nature.

Nature embodies a dynamic peace. The beauty, expanse and scale of nature are very conducive to meditation. The Spiritual Master Sri Ramakrishna told his disciples to always meditate when they came across an expanse of water. Water signifies consciousness and purity; this consciousness and purity are the essence of meditation. If we can meditate at the ocean's edge we will also feel a sense of infinity and expanse. It is hard for the human mind to conceive of concepts like infinity and immortality, but when we see the ocean stretching into the distance we can definitely be inspired by this concept of infinity.

3. Meditate with an adept of Meditation.

If we can have the opportunity to meditate with a real expert in meditation we will definitely feel something in their meditation. When we meditate in the presence of a real Spiritual Master we can benefit from the peace and light that they bring down. If we do not have the opportunity to meditate in the presence of a living spiritual master we can meditate on the photo of some Teacher, whom we have the utmost faith. If the photo was taken during meditation the picture will embody a meditative consciousness. If we can enter into this meditative consciousness it will bring our own inner meditative power to the fore. This consciousness is the secret of meditation.

4. Meditate with others.

If we meditate in a group with other like minded people who enjoy meditation we will gain increased inspiration and confidence in the power of meditation. If we only meditate on our own it can feel like we are battling against the world. However when we meditate in a group our own meditation will be heightened because we benefit from the meditative consciousness that occurs in a group meditation.

5. Regularity.

If we meditate on a regular basis then we will gain an increased meditative capacity. We should not be in a hurry to judge our own meditation. If we feel we have meditated badly and start feeling we are hopeless then we will definitely lose inspiration. Instead we should feel that each time we meditate there is a golden opportunity to feed our inner being. Even if we don't feel as if we are making much progress, we should remember that each time we meditate, we are taking an important and necessary step to improving our own meditation.

By Richard Pettinger


(1) From: Music: God's Universal Language by Sri Chinmoy

Richard became interested in meditation and eastern mysticism whilst studying at University in Oxford. After studying various spiritual traditions he became a meditation student of Sri Chinmoy. Richard now offers meditation classes on behalf of the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Oxford.

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Friday, 23 March 2007

No Time to


Are you one of those people who says, “I used to meditate” or “I meditate sometimes” but “I can’t keep it up because I don’t have time”? Meditation comes in many forms — and it may be something you do without noticing.

Last week I had lunch with a friend, Tim, who, with only a little prompting, began to rhapsodize about fly fishing. You know, standing hip-deep in a stream, casting and waiting and reeling them in, only to let them go, because after all, this is about the experience, not about eating the fish. It had always seemed kind of silly to me, but not when Tim got done telling me about it. He told me about the wonders of being still, connected to all of nature, hearing the rush of water over rapids and the breeze ruffling the trees, feeling the sun on his face, seeing the glint of sunlight on tree leaves, the beauty of myriad colors in a freshly caught rainbow trout, the smell of the stream and the fish. He described the sensitivity he felt in his hands because of the lightweight equipment, and the connection to, no, the dance with the fish as he reeled it in. He’s been doing it for over 20 years, and it’s always a thrill.

That reminded me of figure skating in my childhood. It was different back then, because people actually skated figures — the famed figure eights, as well as three lobed figures, called serpentines, and circles within circles, in many variations — forwards, backwards, turning once or twice in the middle of each circle, and on and on. This required intense concentration on very slow, fluid movements, because if you lost your concentration, even for a moment, a part of your body would bobble; you could see the result of that on the ice as an imperfection from the ideal. (Today, the emphasis is on freeskating, the jumps and spins skated to music, because that is what sells on TV, and sadly, most of the “figure” skating is lost). You skated the same figures over and over and over again, for years sometimes, till you got them right in front of a mostly impartial audience.

And then, today, I found this article in the NY Times, “Your Brain on Baseball” ( David Brooks talks about training the unconscious mind to do things well through repetition and about how some things are done better without thinking about them.

Does this all sound like meditation to you? It sure does to me. In all these cases, your focus solely on what you’re doing chases out random, or even pointed, conscious thoughts, and allows for a wider, occasionally mystical, experience. Maybe you can get that fly fishing, or doing baseball drills, or shooting basketball freethrows. or golfing, or cycling, or running. I do it when I walk, either focusing completely on my surroundings, or on an affirmation (a kind of mantra) as I walk. I have a friend who goes there just by vacuuming — she gets so absorbed in the motion and the look of the carpet!

So if you “don’t have time to meditate”, maybe you can meditate just by focusing on your senses and performance in sports or even mundane tasks. How can you incorporate meditation into every day life?

Hollis Polk is a personal coach, who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years. To do this, she blends neurolinguistic and hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance, and the common sense learned in over 20 years of business experience. Hollis is a Master Practitioner of neurolinguistics, a certified hypnotherapist, and has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Princeton and a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker and investor, and has owned and run several successful businesses.

If you want to know more about Hollis, see her website,

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Saturday, 17 March 2007

Real Meditation

7 Reasons to

Start Meditation

1. Happiness. Meditation can help us to cultivate a real abiding happiness. Meditation allows us to be in tune with our inner self. When we live in the heart we can experience a sense of oneness with others, this brings a happiness that does not depend upon outer events.

2. Inner Peace. Most people would like to experience more inner peace in their lives; at times peace feels an elusive quality because our lives are so hectic. Meditation teaches us how to switch off from the noise of the mind, we no longer give importance to the teeming thoughts which fly through our mind. Through meditation we can gain a clear state of mind; this is the secret of feeling a real inner peace.

3. Health Benefits. There have been numerous studies showing a link between meditation and improved physical health. Meditation is a practical solution to relieve stress. When we relieve stress we help to reduce our blood pressure and heart related diseases.

4. Simplicity. Meditation helps to simplify our lives. When we live in the mind we can feel life is nothing but teeming problems and worries. Through learning to meditate we find we can get joy from appreciating the simplicity of life.

“Meditation simplifies our outer life and energizes our inner life. Meditation gives us a natural and spontaneous life, a life that becomes so natural and spontaneous that we cannot breathe without being conscious of our own divinity.”

5. Living in the Present. When we analyse the thoughts that go through our mind we find that many of them are dealing with the past or present. We are either fearful of the future or ruminating on the past. However by dwelling on the past or future, it means we are unable to live in the present moment. When we meditate we are completely in the here and now. Meditation teaches us to appreciate life as it is; we learn to value our present circumstances.

6. Better Relations with Others. Often we can have minor conflicts with other people because we dwell on minor faults of the other person. Whether it is justified or not, it is a common source of unhappiness and division. Meditation teaches us to give no importance to minor thoughts. When we meditate powerfully we develop a sense of oneness with other people; we naturally look to their good qualities. Their minor faults seem unimportant.

7. To discover a real sense of who we are. Our intellectual mind can seek to discover the answer to many questions, but the one question of who am I? always remains unanswered. To discover our real self; to be aware of our own soul we have to go beyond the mind. It is in meditation that we can become aware of a living spiritual presence. When we find this we feel a new purpose in life.

Richard became interested in meditation and eastern mysticism whilst studying at University in Oxford. After studying various spiritual traditions he became a meditation student of Sri Chinmoy. Richard now offers meditation classes on behalf of the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Oxford.

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Friday, 2 March 2007

Daily Meditation -

Spiritual Support For

Today's World

In days of old, spiritual life was separate from "regular life". People went to church or temple once a week, and then got on with the rest of their lives. Daily meditation was something that only nuns, priests, rabbis or monks did.

In today's world, our understanding of spiritual life is changing. More and more we are understanding that all of life is sacred, and at the same time, there seems to be less and less time available for us to slow down and connect with our innermost spiritual center.

With the advent of global communication, there are now many options available to us for spiritual and religious expression. At the same time, modern life has become more challenging, more demanding and faster paced. Staying positive and focused on God's love can be difficult, especially when we are faced negative energy that we see manifesting in world events. Many people face depression or even despair because they find it difficult to connect with their inner experience of God's love during these difficult times.

A regular spiritual practice of daily meditation can be of great help in today's world, to help bring an awareness of spiritual values into all aspects of your daily life. Daily meditation can allow you to create peace within yourself, which then radiates outwards to others. Daily meditation can be a simple as taking five or ten minutes daily with your favorite spiritual support, or can involve a more rigorous program of study, practice and meditation.

The importance of daily meditation is in the consistency with which it is done. It is helpful to schedule a specific time of day, or to do your meditation several times a day. Some people find it helpful to create an altar or other sacred space in the home, which provides an outer reminder of the sacred, and also creates a vibration of peace and harmony. If you can keep this sacred space clean, free from clutter, and away from other activities, and you will find that your altar becomes a spiritual haven that you can go to find peace, light and comfort in the midst of a busy day.

You do not need to only have one altar in your home. You can make an altar in each room, at your desk, and even in your car. A daily reminder of sacred reality goes a long way to supporting your daily meditation practice.

Daily meditation can provide comfort, upliftment, and spiritual support, even during difficult times. You will find yourself attracted to meditation practices that are most resonant with your own soul's unique divine blueprint. A daily meditation practice can be tailored to your own unique needs and spiritual longing. Daily inspiration and meditation be found through sacred religious texts as well as newer spiritual writings.

We are all of God, and created by God, and we each have a unique purpose and aspect of God that we embody in the world. The abundance of sacred teachings at this time on the Earth is a reminder that God speaks in many ways so that each heart and each soul can feel and be reminded of God's love in their own unique way. Daily meditation can help you to connect with your own divine essence, and to bring your gifts into the world for the betterment of all of humanity.