Well, it certainly would be nice to sit like Buddha and smile through all the challenges and tribulations that are coming our way. Meditation and prayer are viable and important tools with which to shape our lives and the very nature of our personal consciousness. In a pinch, they offer us comfort and even sanity when we confront things beyond our control.
Meditation today is more critical than ever because outside the silence and peace of our deepest inner worlds is an ever-spreading field of insanity. The only way off this insane world of ours is a rocket trip into our inner world, for deep at the center of our inner world is the entire universe, which, believe me, is big.
Sooner or later, we all die into the peace of death. However, the odds are greater that if we achieve inner peace in this life, then the transition and what waits, if anything, in the beyond will also be more peaceful. Many who believe in heaven and hell assume that if our life is hell, our death and descent into hell are assured. Life is ever what we make of it.
True meditation is the deliberate attempt to find heaven, inner heaven, in this life, and I assure you, at least for me, it has been a long and winding road that has paid of richly. I have been meditating every day for forty years, and maybe I miss a day once or at most twice a year. It started with a promise. Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and everything will be given to you. My meditation has been my way of seeking the kingdom. Finally, I have found it, and the promise for me has been fulfilled.
The world has only gotten more insane, so if you want to find sanity, meditation is the way. So what is it that we experience when we get past all the pains in the body and all our thoughts, emotions, and feelings? Well, it’s simple, all we connect to is our own pure consciousness. And that consciousness is connected to the same consciousness that is all over the universe. Many call that God but God tends to be an obscure concept, whereas pure consciousness is not a concept at all. It is pure awareness.
Through meditation and prayer, we can shape our own self-worth; we can
deliberately shape our consciousness into something that not only we can
enjoy but also those around us find beautiful, attractive, and interesting.
Finding the kingdom is not easy. Meditation is not easy. It is not a fast answer, though some have unique experiences right away. Focusing on perfect breathing is an excellent first step. Another first stop is practicing meditation to get one out of their head and into their heart, which is the center of feelings. In this regard, it is good to study the heart’s vulnerability and the healing power of the tears of the melting heart.
Basic Centering Meditation
One can sit or lie down to do this meditation and it is best to start by taking some deep abdominal breaths. One standard way of doing this is to use the mind—give it something to do. One can count in for the count of 4, hold the breath to the count of 7 and breathe out slowly to the count of 8. The mind, in general, can only think about one thing at a time so here we replace the mind’s tendency to run around in rapid circles (chase its own tail) with counting.
After a minute or two of this one begins to imagine the breath coming into the brain like a cooling wind to wash away the thought flow further. It’s helpful to imagine the breath like water flowing into a washing machine, washing our brains, clearing away all the dirt we normally have running around in our minds. One can do this for a few moments or move quickly to the next part.
We then drop our focus down to our heart center, to the point in our chests between our breasts, and feel our feelings. Here we breathe in, get a feeling of ourselves, and then breathe out, expanding our awareness and consciousness to the entire world, sending out a wave of compassion and empathy to all fellow beings who share this planet with us.
More Advanced Mediation Induction Techniques
There are many ways to induce a meditative space. This video shows how I personally do it at the end of my inductive process. There are variations and shortcuts I use but the full routine is using my imagination to jump off the planet (like superman might) fly through the atmosphere to look at the sun and earth below then out into the solar system and then to our nearest start which is four light years away.
From there I pick up speed and quickly travel 20,000 light-years to the center of our galaxy then 150,000 light-years seeing the length of our home galaxy. Then comes the above video in reverse order traveling quickly 2.5 million light-years to the nearest galaxy and then out and out to the far ends of the universe seeing the billions of galaxies like the grains of sand on the beach.
This will stretch your imagination and the highest use of the imagination is to get rid of it by going beyond what one can imagine. Then one is with one’s pure awareness, one’s pure consciousness and thus ready to meditate. Powerful prayer is the practice of embedding our prayers in this space.
Gut Health and Meditation
I found it interesting that meditation is being heralded to boost your gut health in the mainstream press. A study, which was published in BMJ General Psychiatry, analyzed the fecal (i.e. poop) samples of 56 Tibetan Buddhist monks and local residents, and conducted gene sequencing on their poop to examine their intestinal flora. The researchers discovered that two good forms of gut bacteria— Megamonas and Faecalibacterium—were “significantly enriched” in the group that practiced regular meditation.
The bacteria are linked with a lower risk of anxiety, depression, and heart disease, and have also been associated with an “enhanced immune function,” the researchers noted. Blood samples taken from the study participants also found that the monks had lower cholesterol levels than the control group.
“Long-term traditional Tibetan Buddhist meditation may positively impact physical and mental health,” the researchers wrote in the study’s conclusion. “Overall, these results suggest that meditation plays a positive role in psychosomatic conditions and well-being.”
But what does meditation have to do with your gut? Meditation and mindfulness practices may affect the functioning or structure of your brain, the NCCIH says, and your gut is directly linked with your brain through a pathway known as the gut-brain axis, says clinical psychologist Thea Gallagher, Psy.D., a clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Health and co-host of the Mind in View podcast. “There is a clear connection there,” she says. “You get butterflies in your stomach when you’re going to give a speech, or you feel like you can’t eat when you’re grieving. When you feel really strong emotions, you can experience symptoms in your gut.”
It can also impact your gut at a cellular level. “At a very basic level, meditation helps reduce stress which helps promote a much better microbiome,” says Rudolph Bedford, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif.
More specifically, Dr. Bedford says, meditation can positively impact your parasympathetic nervous system (which controls your bodily functions—including digestion—when you’re at rest) and sympathetic nervous system (which helps activate your body’s “fight or flight” response). These systems “control various functions in the gut, including whether we’re digesting food properly and the speed at which digestion occurs,” Dr. Bedford says.