Meditation..am I doing this right?

My 2 cents for those on the fence about giving meditation a shot:

Meditation should have a kick to it.


To tell the truth I really had no concept of what meditation was before my experience with it ...and I really didn't want to. I think that's mainly because I didn't understand it. I thought the basic gist of it was just sitting there breathing and being tranquil in a quiet space... and it is... but it's more. I think for some people (and I know this because they told me) that "meditation" seems like something you "should" do. They know it's supposed to be "good" for you....like eating lima beans. It seems that there's a growing general awareness that meditation is a good thing for health and stress. After all there's a lot of research showing how it can improve brain function and decrease stress ...but still, if it seems boring and lame are you really going to keep doing it for long?


So, what do I mean when I say "there's more"? 


Relaxing? check..yes, that seems reasonable. 

Stress relieving?.. another check..also sounds plausible. I mean, of course sitting still with your eyes closed would be relaxing right?  ...but there's more.. a LOT more.

Just to cut to the chase, Meditation (when done well) is more than just relaxing, it gets you high, in all the best ways possible. It makes you feel good. Stoned. Blissful. Euphoric. Rejuvenated. Relaxed and ReStored (and all in way that leads to more clarity.)


People want to FEEL GOOD and we all want to connect. Isn't this is why people drink beer.. and have sex .. and do drugs? 


While most meditation takes the approach of sitting still, breathing and maybe focusing on a word or phrase.. I think for a lot of people this falls flat. Why? Because there is no immediate result. We live in a results oriented society and people want results fast.  The fact is, if you smoke a joint you are going to feel the results fast and they won't be so subtle that you have to wonder if you "did it right", or if "anything happened"..


When people drink beer on the weekend and watch football.. they pop open the bottle and in a few seconds they have altered their consciousness in a very noticeable way. Their body relaxes, they forget about their "to do" list, and quiet their mind enough to enjoy the game.


Most of the same people don't have the same feelings about meditation. It seems elusive, confusing or even pretentious.. Many times it is taught or talked about by guys in robes, who at first glance seem to be about as far removed as anyone could be from the realities of daily life. There are so many articles about meditation that speak about "advanced meditators" and how Buddhist Monks reached some "deep brainwave state" or even altered their heartbeat or body temperature. While these things are cool and catch our attention, reading these things makes it seems as though meditation requires some great skill or talent that must be honed in the confines of monastery. Sounds fun, huh? Nothing could be further from the truth. I think in general this type of hype can discourage people before they even get started and also brings ego into the mix. 


The greatest skill you could possibly have when meditating (I think) is the ability and desire to LET GO. Isn't this what people willfully do when drinking, doing drugs ..or even having sex? They are saying for the next few hours I am going to LET GO of my problems and indulge in the beauty of NOW. I am going to let go of my thoughts and memories and the things that burden my mind and give myself a temporary vacation. I am going to use this external substance to find peace within myself and I'm going to enjoy the people I'm with.


The other reality of drinking alcohol, or doing drugs is that it put's the brainwaves into a different state immediately. The brainwaves are altered, and suddenly perception changes. You can go from being stressed in one minute and five minutes later hardly give a shit, and be laughing and joyful. Isn't this what we are after?. We want to change our perception. We want to see things in a different way.


The physical reality of drugs or alcohol is that it changes the our brainwaves and also then our brain chemicals. Alcohol, releases GABA a powerful neurotransmitter and also puts the brain into alpha state. Alpha state is a more relaxed state of brainwaves, that helps us to breathe deeper, relax our muscles and basically chill out.


So with meditation too, I think it's important to get into a different brainwave state. After all if you drank a beer and it didn't give you a buzz, you'd be like "WTF? that was useless!!" So too, with meditation if you don't feel much from it, you're probably unlikely to continue.


In fact I think "meditation" as word, is loaded with presupposed meanings by so many people in today's world. So, let's consider scrapping that word altogether... Instead of meditation, perhaps we could call it "Personal Brainwave Alteration" or "Perceptual Engineering", "Bliss Cultivation" or "Finding your Internal Buzz".  Essentially, it is possible for you to find the internal switches in your own mind that can give all of the pleasures that any external source (drugs, alcohol) can give you. It's just a matter of practice.


A major part of why I started doing sound therapy was that I thought it could be a great tool, for helping people facilitate and find these states in a much quicker and more efficient way. By using sound to regulate the physiology of breathing, brainwaves and muscle relaxation, I believe it's possible to be able to find those spaces of relaxation and feeling good just like drinking alcohol or smoking weed....only it's much better.


You may be thinking,"well, why don't I just smoke weed or drink?". The main reason, IMO, is that these things are just a temporary reprieve from the stress and confusion of the mind. They can also serve to create more confusion and suffering IF they become crutches. Meditation or "Perceptual Engineering" on the other hand, can not only give you the same states of euphoria, but can also work to change perceptions and the essence of who you see yourself to be and your circumstances to represent. In turn this can be a positive step on the path to truly creating change in your life and liberating you from the mind (beliefs and behaviors) you want to "escape" from.

There are two caveats I see to all of this: 


A. Although there can be an immediate feeling of "high-ness" if you are guided well. It may take some daily practice to get there. The more I practice daily though, the easier it is to get into the right headspace and stay there through out the day.  


B. Unlike other things that can get you high, meditation is not to escape or mask problems and issues, rather the "high" partly comes through working through and coming to an understanding of those issues, which can release an enormous amount of stress. Unlike drugs that can suppress the subconscious mind, meditation can help bring the contents of the subconscious to the surface. This is not necessarily a joyride and can be unnerving in some cases, but working through these issues and developing understanding (choosing love instead of fear) can help in working through these suppressed thought patterns. In the same way that physical exercise can help you feel good, it may not always be pleasant during the process. This is especially true when you are just getting into shape..  


So, what are some tools to help you get to a deeper meditation? 


Here are a couple of possibilities --


Herbs:


Some herbs can jump start the process of relaxing the nervous system and getting the brain into an alpha state. The ones I have listed here are fairly mild and you can find them at a health food store or Whole Foods.


Herbs I have used --


Passion Flower - Passion Flower helps to release GABA, the brain's calming neurotransmitter..


Bacopa - Bacopa has compounds that are neuro-protective and can help with memory. It also boosts tryptophan levels which give a feeling of calm and focus.


Kava Kava - Kava is sedating without affecting mental clarity. Research shows that Kava may also boost GABA levels. There have been some rare cases where people have had liver issues when taking this though.  I don't use this one very much, personally.


CBD Oil - CBD is the non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant. It can also promote neurogenesis, and can be relaxing for some people too.  There are more studies coming out every day on the role of cannabinoids in the body and mind.


...with any of these of course, experiment to see what works for you.


Sound Therapy -- Isochronic Tones


Isochronic Tones are tones that are repeated to a specific rhythm. While they may not be as alluring as binaural beats, I find them to be much more effective in helping guide me into an different brainwave state. 


Here are some other tools:


Pick an Object of Focus  - An object of focus will help to keep your mind from wandering.


Objects of Focus:------

Focus on your breath or a mantra...or a visualization. 

A mental mantra could be.. Inhale Love .. Exhale fear ...Inhale Joy... Exhale Stress  etc... , or "inhale" and "exhale" ...or  ...."I"...."AM"...


A visualization could be a flower or a candle flame... anything really just pick something that you can focus on keep coming back to.

The idea is to keep your mind in the present moment and let go of mental chatter.


Yoga - doing some gentle yoga or even just hip stretches prior to meditating can release GABA in the brain, and facilitate a deeper state of relaxation.


Toning - humming or singing a vowel sound like "ahhh" on the outbreath can help to focus the mind and introduce good vibrations.


---------So, just recap some key ideas I wanted to point out are:


Be open to the idea of letting go. Completely. 


Changing consciousness (brainwave patterns - and brain chemicals) is part of the goal. As you notice physiological sensations and changes in your body and consciousness take time to notice, and be grateful.  Remember, when you feel good, it's good for everybody in your life. 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw71zanwMnY&t=161










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Just a personal note: There is nothing new under the sun. I am just attempting to present info. here that has helped me. I hope to present it in a clear way based on my experience with anxiety which was a spiritual, psychological and emotional awakening for me. In retrospect of this experience I have been reading as much as I could to come to a deeper and more grounded understanding of this seemingly mystical thing that happened to me (so that I could share it with you). I'm not a doctor or a scientist. Please know this is only my experience. Yours will obviously be different, but since my experience was so similar to others I've talked to, I am hoping this may be helpful or useful to you in some way. It's also a way that I hope to share the love with you. That is my purpose here.



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