Meditation is a natural process of withdrawing attention from external conditions and directing it inward to a chosen focus of concentration.
The beneficial side-benefits of regular meditation practice have been widely reported in a variety of secular news magazines and newspapers. These can include stress reduction, strengthening of the body's immune system, better organized thought processes, improved powers of concentration, enhanced powers of memory, refinement and enlivening of the nervous system, awakening of regenerative energies, slowing of biologic aging processes, development of the capacities of the brain to process perceptions and states of consciousness, and orderly functioning of the body's organs, glands, and systems. For these reasons, regular meditation practice is now increasingly recommended by many physicians and other health practitioners.
While the side-benefits can be welcomed and enjoyed, the primary purpose of meditation practice is to elicit clear states of consciousness and to facilitate progressive, authentic spiritual growth. The following basic procedure is easy to learn and practice:
Meditate once or twice every day.
Sit upright in a comfortable chair. It is all right to sit cross-legged if this is convenient. Hold the head up and direct your attention to the front and higher regions of the brain.
Inhale and exhale once or twice to relax. Remain still for a few moments until you feel centered. Be aware of your natural breathing rhythm.
When inhalation occurs naturally, mentally speak a chosen word, such as "God," "peace," "joy," or any pleasant word. When exhalation occurs, again mentally speak the word. Feel that the sound of the chosen word is blossoming in your mind or your field of awareness. Do this without effort and without anxiety about results.
When a state of conscious, calm awareness is experienced, discontinue listening to the word. Be still, letting that meditative calm persist for several minutes until you feel inclined to conclude the practice session.
This procedure is suitable for anyone. For relaxation purposes, it can be completed in approximately 20 minutes. This is the simple mantra meditation routine. A mantra (from Sanskrit manas, mind, thinking principal; tra, to protect and take beyond) serves as a focusing device to keep attention removed from involvement with random thoughts and emotional states. When breathing is slow and refined, and when thoughts and emotions are calmed, clear states of awareness are naturally experienced. The influence of meditative calmness on the mind and body produces positive effects.
For best results, meditate daily for 20 minutes once or twice a day. Mornings and evenings are recommended. Do this for at least 30 days before evaluating the results. If meditation is included in your daily religious practice, when you first sit, pray in your customary way until you are peaceful and somewhat aware of being immersed in the presence of God. It may be that meditation will naturally occur. If not, use your chosen word to keep your attention flowing inward.
When you acquire proficiency in meditation practice, you may wish to extend the session by calmly contemplating your relationship with the Infinite, or just sit longer in the conscious, calm state until you feel peaceful and fulfilled.
When involved in daily activities and relationships, maintain your calm state. Cultivate cheerfulness and optimism. Be emotionally stable. Maintain a balance of activity and rest. Exercise regularly and choose a nutritious food plan. For health purposes and to be kind to nature, a vegetarian diet is best. Let all of your thoughts, moods, relationships, and actions be entirely wholesome and constructive. Regular meditation practice and a harmonious relationship with nature and other people enables us to live effectively, enjoyably, and successfully.