WELL - ACTUALLY IT CAN’T
SO WHY MEDITATE?
Often Zen priest, trying to impress their followers with their own intellect, will answer a novice’s question of ’What should I try to get from meditation;’ with the answer: ‘Meditation.’
Do Zen priest have egos? Are Zen priest human (that’s the Zen trick of answering a question with a question)?
Actually, they are wrong again. There is a great deal to be gained from meditation.
Physically, you can drop your blood pressure in a very short time when you master the ability to place yourself in a meditative state. In a doctor’s office (or at home) I can bring my blood pressure down at least ten points with sixty seconds of meditation technique.
Mentally, you can force your mind into some down time giving you a chance to let go of emotionally charged concerns – somewhat like a reboot on a computer.
Remembering that the goal of Zen is to let you view reality in order to live productively in the moment: Meditation practice along with Zen precepts can help free you of ego, preconceptions, prejudice and all the baggage you carry that dictates how you respond to the world.
There is no one way to meditate. This is how I do it.
1. Find a quite place if possible
2. I like to sit on a pillow on the floor with my legs crossed – but you can be just as effective sitting in a chair.
3. I place my right hand into my left hand touching my thumbs – because it feels right to me.
4. I close my eyes – some people like to focus on an object. The goal is to reduce as many distractions as possible. Sometimes I play new age music like Windham Hill in the background to cover up outside noises.
5. Many meditations instructors tell you to count your breaths – this doesn't work for me…I find it a distraction. I inhale and visualize the air as it goes through my nose down my trachea and inflates my lungs. Then I visualize the air as it exits my lungs and goes out through my nose (if you have sinus problems mouth breathing is fine.) Very quickly you will be aware of your breathing slowing.
6. After perhaps the first minute I visualize my legs relaxing; my hands; my arms; my shoulders – then I go back to visualizing my breath.
7. That’s it: now I am in a relaxed state controlling my breath.
8. When I am finished I open my eyes and sit still and quiet for short time before moving – I want to carry with me that relaxed state.
No big secrets – no metaphysical mystery. You might want to start at three minutes and build up – I rarely go beyond five. I don’t use a timer but you might find it useful in the beginning.
But, Beware the Monkeys:
We all have a monkey mind. The monkeys can’t stand quiet relaxed environment and they try to drag distractions through to break into your thoughts. This is normal and occurs often, especially when you are a beginner. When this happens you simply acknowledge that you have been distracted, and go back to visualizing your breathing.
If you attend a Zen Buddhist sangha (meditation group) you will probably find they tend to make meditation an endurance sport. To me, sitting until I have no feeling in my legs and my back aches and I am physically and mentally uncomfortable has no purpose – then again the priest will tell you that there is no purpose to meditation.
Then why do it?
Meditation has benefits; as does living a Buddhist life style. I value Zen Buddhism; but the Buddha reminded us to accept nothing on faith.
It took the Buddha years to become enlightened - but alas he discovered: ‘you put your right foot out; you put your right foot in; you put your right foot out and you shake it all about; you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around: that what it’s all about.’