INTRODUCTION TO MEDITATION
The essence of meditation is to find an anchor of peace and calm within. It is self evident that nothing in our life remains permanent – we need to find a private oasis of peace and calm inside which is untouched by constant change.
Western Science has been focused on understanding our outer world through the medium of the five senses. The Ancient Yogis took a different approach; they wanted to understand their inner world - our mind and consciousness. By sitting still they were able to calm the mind and access a deep inner peace. Like scientists, they were able to develop “scientific laws/techniques” of how this peace could be accessed, thus the ancient science of meditation was created. Thousands of years later, Western scientists are able to quantify and measure many of the physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of the ancient yogis “inner science”.
In the past, Meditation was practiced in the high peaks of the Himalayas, separated from the material world. This is now not the case, meditation techniques can be practiced in combination with your daily life.
The practice of meditation facilitates value of self, to help one find; balance, love, happiness and peace within. Meditation focuses on the potential and richness of our own resources, recognizing that whilst material possessions can be enjoyed, they are not to be valued as the sole source of our happiness.
Meditation is not just about words, theories or concepts; but a practical set of techniques which show one how to access a deep inner peace within. The practice of meditation can take as little as five minutes a day or much longer, it is a matter of personal preference.
Lastly, meditation is beneficial for everyone. Our courses are non-denominational and non-religious; enabling each person to choose a course that resonates with their particular lifestyle, whatever their philosophical orientation.
We offer group or private classes in three Meditation courses:
Meditation for work
Journey to the Atma
This in an invitation for you to take one of the greatest human journeys anyone can possibly take: a journey to the Centre of your Being, your Atma! Atma is the Sanskrit name for your Soul; it is who you really are; it is what you truly represent and it is the source of your highest potential. For thousands of years, ancient yogis have been taking this same journey, in search of their true identity. The Ancient Greeks also understood this when they wrote the inscription at the Greek Temple of Apollo at Delphi, “Know Thyself”. To know one’s self is to know the universe; for you are a microcosm of the macrocosm.
Changes through Spiritual Meditation
The gift is within each one of us, but how do we access it? To reach the true self requires a set of keys (codes). The keys (codes) have been given at different times in the form of practical and systematic yoga techniques. Spiritual Meditation is a yoga system that provides the keys. Its practice includes Mantra, Pranayama, Mudra, Asana, Kriya, Meditation and Om Chanting. These techniques have been adapted to suit our modern lifestyle and can easily be integrated into our daily life.
Spiritual Meditation is one the fastest and most powerful ways of attaining union with our true self - man`s highest potential and the ultimate goal of Yoga.
Spiritual Meditation is a constant uninterrupted source of happiness, peace and love. It brings about an overall transformation at every level of your existence – mentally, physically, emotionally, energetically and spiritually. This deep change is a catalyst to unite the limited human consciousness with its true identity – the Atma – and Cosmic Consciousness. The Atma is your Soul, it is who you truly are and to fully connect with it is to realise your highest potential as a human being. Realizing this potential will also make you discover the deep love inside yourself.
Spiritual Meditation ultimately helps one to live their life with a constant awareness of his/her connection with the Divine. As a result the heart is opened up and the individual is transformed into an expression of Divine Love; which is pure, beyond the senses, selfless and ever expanding. One begins to perform all of his/her actions out of love. By experiencing the world as a manifestation of Divine Will, we start to live a more joyful, harmonious, peaceful and balanced life. By accessing our inner potential; our physical and spiritual powers are regenerated and there is greater wisdom, discrimination and understanding.
There are so many different paths of yoga –jnana, kriya, raja, hatha, karma etc.
Whichever path you take, eventually you will find yourself immersed in Divine Love (Bhakti).
Spiritual Meditation is comprised of several different techniques
A mantra is a repetition of a series of sounds. Repeating a mantra elevates or modifies one’s consciousness, helping to calm and concentrate the mind, which in turn helps make meditation much easier.
These are breathing exercises for concentrating and directing the life force in the body. Pranayama exercises are energizing and cleansing on the physical body, calming and beneficial for the mind, and helps to attain higher levels of consciousness – balancing the mind and emotions, giving physiological and psychological benefits to the practitioner.
Meditation allows clarity of thought by reducing mental fluctuations. It balances the mind and emotions whilst also benefiting the physiological and spiritual aspects of one’s being. Specific meditation exercises make one more heart centered.
Asanas are physical exercises that keep the body physically fit and healthy, and free from disorders and disease. Asanas enable the transmission of greater life force throughout the body and help the body to become stronger and further supple.
Mudras are actions that create a locking mechanism using our physical body. They control and manipulate the energies found in the energetic, mental and physical bodies.
KRIYA - “Kri” means action and “Ya” means awareness
Kriya is a very ancient, powerful yoga technique for cleansing our physical and subtle anatomy – it opens up blocked energy channels in the body so we can experience higher states of consciousness. The practice of Kriya enables us to live our life with a constant awareness of our Spiritual Identity
Om Chanting is an ancient self-healing technique practiced in groups. It supports the healing process of the living organism; physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It transforms the aura of the body into light and assists one’s spiritual growth.
Benefits of Spiritual Meditation
The benefits of practicing Spiritual Meditation can be experienced in many different areas of your life. Modern science is now able to measure and quantify many of the physiological, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits of this ancient knowledge called Mediation.
Strengthens the immune system
Balances the nervous system
Gives you more energy
Encourages cellular regeneration
Improves Brain Function
Creates a deep sense of happiness
Improves your ability to love more
Creates feeling of peace and calmness
Develops intuition and creativity
Pathways to self-realization
Awakens deep inner peace
Strengthens patience and equanimity
The Spiritual Mediation course normally takes place over two days. This gives the student enough time to fully understand the different techniques so that they can integrate them into daily life. All those aged 18 years or over are welcome to attend the course regardless of religious or cultural affiliation.
At the end of the course, an initiation is given, which is direct energy transference, known as Shaktipath. This provides the initiating “spark” for the practice to be successful, and activates the energy centers in our subtle body.
In order to get the benefits from Spiritual Meditation, students must be prepared to practice a minimum of fifteen minutes per day. The more time you can devote to daily practice, the more benefit you will receive. The course is only the beginning.
The meditation techniques taught in this course are very simple to follow; the effects of which are able to engage with every part of your being.
Daily practice of simple meditation techniques will leave you feeling energized and able to participate on an effective, practical level in your daily life.
During the course we will cover a wide range of topics on Meditation including: Health, Creativity, Mental Ability and Stress Reduction; and most importantly, how Meditation can help us change how we feel inside.
Benefits of Simply Meditation
Strengthens the Immune System
Balances the Nervous System
Balances Heart Rate Variability
Supports Hormonal System
Reduces Blood Pressure
Helps Prevent Illness
Supports Recovery of Illness
Improves Brain Function
(Increasing section of the brain associated with positive thinking,
decreasing section of the brain associated with negative thinking).
Reduces Stress (a major factor in ill health)
Creates feelings of peace and calm.
Helps you effectively cope and adapt to change
Improves creativity and intuition
Improves rational thinking
Awakens Inner Peace
Strengthens patience and equanimity
MEDITATION FOR WORK
An athlete needs a strong body and mind to be successful in sport. Likewise, in the workplace we need to train our bodies, brains and minds to function at optimum capacity, so we can rise to challenges without being weighed down by them.
Meditation for the workplace helps us reach our professional potential whilst improving the overall quality of our lives.
Meditation is often perceived as an esoteric, spiritual pursuit practiced in isolation form worldly activity. Western Science has found that it also has many benefits which support our life in the material world. – it can greatly improve our health, physiology, emotional balance and brain function.
Benefits of meditation for work
Strengthens body so it can handle more pressure
Strengthens the Immune System
Balances the Nervous system
Strengthens Brain Function (increases section of brain associated with positive thinking and decreases section associated with negative thinking)
Helps prevent onset of illness
Supports recovery of illness
Improves Rational Thinking
Creates feeling of peace and calm
Increases ability to cope with constant change
Private and group Corporate Meditation Classes can be provided for companies onsite and offsite.
PRIVATE MEDITATION CLASSES
Private meditation classes are one hour sessions, although duration may be longer depending on the individual’s needs. A brief consultation takes place with the client to determine a bespoke meditation course, specific to their particular requirements. These classes can be built around a single theme, i.e. improving health, or a combination of themes.
Benefits of private meditation classes
General health – using meditation as a health tool to prevent illness
Support ongoing health treatment.
Improves Brain/Mind Function – concentration, creativity, rational thinking
Reduces Stress – strengthens areas of the brain associated with positive thinking and reduces areas associated with negative attitudes
Harnessing the relationship between philosophy and meditation – how meditation can help with finding meaning and purpose in life.
Help you with any major transitions in your life.
Help with changing attitudes and perspectives so you can look at life in a different way.
Spirituality – how meditation can be used to develop a deeper awareness of your spiritual identity.
SCIENCE AND RESEARCH
There have been many parallels drawn between yoga and science in recent decades. Pioneering doctors, psychologists and neuroscientists are now discovering many of the truths about the human mind and body that yogis gave us centuries ago. Western scientists have traditionally looked into the physical environment of man to try and cure the disharmony that is often found in the body. Centuries ago, yogis discovered that through the use of meditation and yoga practices, they were able to address physical, mental and spiritual imbalances that were arising in themselves. Many yogis maintained perfect health on all levels. The sacred knowledge of yoga has been passed down from guru to disciple for centuries and is growing rapidly in popularity in western society as people turn to yoga for answers to their medical and mental concerns. Ancient yogic techniques can be used in a fresh approach to living, as they address many of the problems that we all face in our daily lives.
EASTERN AND WESTERN SCIENCE
Western Science has been mainly focused on researching the external material world and they have already been able to record many physiological, mental and spiritual benefits from the practice of meditation. The ancient Yogis in India took a different approach to science; they quietened their minds in order to understand the inner states of consciousness. In their view, in order to understand the external reality, they needed to understand the consciousness of the person "observing" that external reality. These ancient yogis would resonate much more with the New Physics which sees an underlying interconnected energy field underpinning all matter. This energetic field was seen as wave of energy or waves of potential possibilities. It was the consciousness of the "Observer" which bought these energetic waves into a material reality. If it was based in ego consciousness, the external reality reflected that consciousness. The Yogis developed scientific meditation practices to limit our “ego consciousness” so practitioners of meditation became self realized – they realized the “superconsciousness” which resides within us all.
MEDITATION AND THE BRAIN
MEDITATION AND BRAIN NEUROPLASTICITY: This term refers to the brain’s recently discovered ability to change its structure and function, in particular by expanding or strengthening circuits that are used, and by shrinking or weakening those that are rarely engaged. This opened up the possibility that the brain, like the rest of the body can be altered intentionally. Just as aerobics sculpt the muscles, so mental training sculpts the grey matter in ways scientists are only beginning to fathom. A scientific study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison by Professor Davidson showed that experienced Monks were able to stimulate the left prefrontal cortex, the site in the brain responsible for positive emotions. Stimulation of this area completely swamped activity in the right prefrontal cortex, which is the site of negative emotions. The monks were far more effective in achieving these results than novice meditators.
THICKENING OF THE BRAIN: People who meditate grow bigger brains than those who do not. Researchers at Harvard, Yale and MIT found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. Brain scans showed that experienced meditators were able to increase thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensor input. Thickening was more pronounced in older than younger people. The brain naturally becomes thinner as we age. Meditation may help slow some aspects of cognitive ageing.
GOD SPOT: Brain scans of nuns have revealed intricate neural circuits that flicker into life when they feel the presence of God. The images suggest that feelings of profound joy and union with a Higher Being that accompany religious experiences are the culmination of ramped up electrical activity in parts of the brain. They showed a surge in neural activity in regions of the brain that govern feelings of peace, happiness and self-awareness. The scans showed different brain activity from those taken when the nuns were asked to remember intense emotional experiences that involved another person. The findings contradict previous suggestions that human brains may have evolved with a "God Spot" - a single region that lights up in response to deeply religious thoughts. "Rather than there being one spot that relates to mystical experiences, we have found a number of brain regions are involved" said the researcher, Dr. Beauregard from Montreal University.
The Guardian Newspaper recommended reading The Spiritual Brain - A Neuroscientists Case for the existence of God by Dr. Mario Beauregard.
BRAIN AND UNIVERSAL CONSCIOUSNESS
Meditation practices like chanting and breathing decrease activity in the parietal lobe, one part of the brain that helps orient a person in three dimensional space i.e. what gives them a sense of individual identity. If you block this area by these practices, you lose that boundary between the self and the rest of the world. You end up experiencing a universal state of consciousness.
MEDITATION AND BRAIN WAVES
In the living brain, millions of nerve cells communicate with each other by emitting tiny electrical impulses. The brain oscillates at different rates depending on the state of consciousness. There is a direct correlation between a person's activity or level of attention and brain wave activity.
BETA WAVES - normal wakeful state associated with thinking, problem solving and active attention directed towards the outer world.
ALPHA WAVES - this is a brain wave when people are in a more relaxed, inward looking state. It is associated with meditation and creativity.
THETA WAVES - are formed deep in the brain and reflect unconscious activity associated with emotions and dreams. When once comes close to unconscious memories during deep meditation and close to repressed feelings in therapy, the theta activity tends to increase. The presence of theta combined with alpha may signify personal insight and creativity.
DELTA WAVES - seen in adults during sleep - associated with deepest states of consciousness
BRAIN WAVES AND STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS: The meditative state builds a bridge between the conscious and unconscious. It is a drowsy-dreamy state observed by a clear conscious awareness. The EEG pattern is a mixture of alpha and theta waves. Theta signifies subconscious activity, while alpha reflects conscious awareness.
MEDITATION AND KRIYA
Research Study by Eric Hoffman, PhD, published in Bindu Magazine www.yogameditation.com.articles.issues of bindu/bindu 12/mapping the brain
This research showed a considerable increase in alpha and theta activity in most regions of the brain after Kriya Meditation. This indicates that the brain is deeply relaxed and focused following Kriya Yoga. It also shows that through meditation the subjects have obtained a better contact with their subconscious and their emotions. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that theta rhythms in the EEG, mixed with alpha, correlate with the appearance of previously unconscious feelings, images and memories. Brain researchers claim that a person in the high alpha/theta state is able to confront and integrate unconscious processes. This could be linked to present life unconscious memories as well as past life unconscious memories i.e. cleansing of past karma which is one of the main functions of Kriya. The research supports the experience yogis have had of Kriya Yoga, that it can bring about a release of "Cleansing" of unconscious material in a person. Research also shows that Kriya Meditation greatly increases alpha waves in the right temporal lobe, which correlates with optimistic, extrovert people. It helps counteract stress and depression. In comparison Alpha waves in the left temporal lobe would be associated with depressed, introvert people.
CREATING A PHYSIOLOGICAL FOUNDATION FOR SUPERCONSCIOUSNESS
CHANGING THE BRAIN WAVES – meditation students go into Alpha and some Theta Waves - helped by the practice of Meditation Techniques, The Brain Waves help balance the Nervous System.
THE BRAIN WAVES HELP BALANCE THE NERVOUS SYSTEM - The nervous system comprises of a) Sympathetic nervous system - this system speeds up heart rate, contracts blood vessels and stimulates the release of stress hormones in preparation for action. It resonates more with the Pingala energy in the subtle body. b) Parasympathetic nervous system - this slows the heart rate and relaxes the body`s inner system, thereby increasing its effectiveness. It resonates more with the Ida energy in the subtle body. The long exhalation in Nadi Suddhi Pranayama and Sukkha Purvaka Pranayama activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the body down. A balanced nervous system also supports and reinforces Alpha brain waves.
HEART RATE VARAIBILITY - The above helps the heart to go into a regular rhythm. The practice also brings out love and compassion in the practitioner, which also helps the heart go into a regular rhythm. Negative thoughts make the heart go into an irregular heart rhythm.
When the heart achieves the above, it opens up the higher centers in the brain, which deal with rational thought. Regular heart rhythms influence all the other bodily systems to work in harmony, especially the immune and hormonal systems.
Scientific Research has shown that when the body creates this harmonious physiology, it is more receptive to spiritual and subtle energies.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1) What do I wear? Ideally comfortable loose clothing
2) Do I have to sit in a specific position when I meditate? You can sit on a chair or on a cushion. What’s important is that you are comfortable.
3) Should I eat before meditating? Only a very light meal should be eaten before meditation
4) Should I avoid alcohol before meditating? Always
5) Is Meditation suitable for all ages? The Spiritual Meditation course requires that all students be 18 years or over. Simple Meditation is suitable for all ages.
6) Are there any medical contraindications to meditating? People with heart conditions or a history of mental illness should not partake in the Spiritual meditation course. People suffering with, or who have a history of mental illness should discuss with the teacher of Simply Meditation before enrolling on the course.
7) Am I required to be vegetarian if I meditate? No, you may find you want to eat less meat and lighter food once you have been meditating for some time.
8) Can Meditation compliment a busy lifestyle/high workload? Yes
9) Is Meditation effective in combating stress? Meditation is scientifically proven to be effective in combating stress.
10) Does Meditation have any medical benefits? Yes, please refer to benefits section under Simply Meditation, Meditation for Work and Spiritual Meditation courses. Please also refer to Science & Research section.
11) Will Meditation help me recover from an illness? It can act as a support
system for your ongoing orthodox, or complementary medical treatment.
12) Do I have to be physically fit to practice meditation? It is helpful to be physically fit but not essential.
13) Is regular practice essential to get real benefit from Meditation? Yes, but you can start with only five minutes per day and build up your practice slowly over time.
14) Is Meditation compatible with a demanding workload? Yes, it will help you cope better with a high workload by reducing stress levels, strengthening your body, and enabling your brain to function more effectively.
15) What is the difference between Prayer and Meditation? In Prayer you care usually focused on an external aspect on Divinity. In Meditation, there is more emphasis on controlling the mind so you can experience the Divinity within you. In order to practice or benefit from Meditation you do not have to believe in God or have a concept of Divinity. You could see the practice of Meditation as simply putting you in contact with a higher consciousness or super consciousness within yourself. Equally you could practice Meditation solely for the benefits it would give your physical body, i.e. improved health and brain function.
16) Do you have to belong to a specific religion or belief system to practice Meditation? No, this is not necessary.
17) Will Meditation compliment my Religious practices? Yes, it will support and deepen your existing Religious Practices.
18) Where is the best place to practice Meditation? Try and find a quiet place in your home where you can practice undisturbed and ideally keep this place solely for the practice of meditation.
19) Will my personality change when I practice Meditation? As you become more peaceful and calm within you may experience a positive change in your behaviour.
20) How will practicing Meditation affect my relations with my family and friends?
Scientific Research has shown meditation improves communication, which will improve relations with your family and friends. Some of the meditation techniques also open up your Heart which has a positive effect on human relationships.
21) Does Meditation make you more intuitive? In general, you become more intuitive and develop more inspiration.
22) Does Meditation improve rational thinking and concentration? Scientific research shows it definitely improves mental function.
23) Does Meditation make you more effective in your work? Yes, as you become more peaceful and calm with improved brain function, this will have a positive effect on your work.
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