MEDITATION: The Value, Getting Started, & Assessing Progress

The Value, Getting Started, & Assessing Progress

Ken & Elizabeth Mellor

In recent years a wonderful transformation has occurred in the West. We have discovered the value of meditation for the everyday person, discovered it by practising it and finding that it works.

The sources of the discovery vary. Input came from the East, from people visiting there and having exposure to meditation teachers, Gurus and Masters. Also, Eastern teachers, Gurus and Masters visited the West and taught us in our own back yards. From within the West itself there were many developments too, both re-discoveries of Western meditation traditions and new discoveries arising out of developments this century in understanding human beings from a distinctively Western orientation.

Previously, we tended to concentrate on the person as a physical entity, an approach that has yielded wonderful advances in the healing technologies available to us. However, we tended to over do this orientation. The shift in recent years to holistic medicine is a wonderful re-balancing of our orientation.

From being over-occupied with technology to the exclusion of a person's Being, we now are beginning to understand that people are more than a "bodily machine". We realise that they have feelings, thoughts, life-styles, and spirituality, all of which and each of which need attention if life is to be lived to the full, or, when necessary, if health and well-being are to be recovered.

The years ahead bode well for all the healing arts and the many life enhancement orientations now available in the West. It seems likely that we will see a wonderful growth in research and practice that involve drawing together the best that many different fields can offer so that people can live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives.

Already there are results that only a few years ago would have been thought astounding. For example, the degree to which the our thoughts and feelings contribute to our physical well-being is now emerging very strongly in the results of many different research projects.

Amongst many results, the helpful effect on the immune system of optimism, the contribution to healing of feeling love towards ourselves and others, the value of relaxation to healing and pain management, and the contribution that regular meditation makes to our sense of well-being and our capacity to recover and maintain health, have all appeared in recent research outcomes.

It is worth noting in passing that all of this and more has been known for many thousands of years by Spiritual and other Masters. Their teachings are an abundant source of such connections. For those of us of less exalted accomplishment, who have been involved in meditation for many years,such results simply present in a structured Western way what we have been taught, have known and have experienced previously.

Research is a Western means of proving valid connections between phenomena (e.g., treatment and results). An advantage of these recent efforts is that they point to the value of meditation and other practices in a way that frees responsible health practitioners to recommend to patients and clients that they investigate the value for themselves.

It also opens the way for those health professionals to investigate the value in their own lives of the same practices.

Large numbers have already made the move and the results are obviously encouraging many to persist and to experiment. An increasing number of health professionals is testing meditation as away of supporting their own health and well-being. There is also an increasing rate of referral of patients and clients to those who teach meditation.

For those who are interested in meditating there are many options now available. There are so many opportunities that some people do not know where to begin. We suggest that people approach this area with the same common sense as they would any other area of their lives. We offer the following guidelines for those who want to get started.

First, look around at what is available. If you do not know of anyone meditating who can suggest someone to you, look in the yellow pages under Meditation or Yoga. (By the way, it is a mistake to think that all forms of meditation listed under Yoga are "Eastern", as many are not.)

Second, regardless of your source, telephone them or visit. Ask what they teach and how they go about it. In the process, find out if they are the sort of people from whom you think you can learn.

When doing this, we think that you can expect most people you contact will be friendly and freely provide the information you want.

Third, having found someone from whom you think you would like to learn, practise what he or she teaches for sufficient time to discover for yourself if it is of value to you. While there are some meditations that produce rapid (perhaps even immediate) results, many forms of meditation take weeks or months for the results to show. It is a pity to miss the great value of a procedure because we have not had the patience both to keep practising and to wait for the time necessary for the results to become obvious.

Fourth, the range of choice is great, so when making enquiries you might benefit from giving a little thought to what it is that you want out of meditation before you make contact.

A short list of what is available for helping in day-to-day life includes meditations: for relaxation,for bodily, emotional and mental balance, for dealing with unresolved feelings, incidents from the past, and current trauma, for pain management, for promoting health and well-being, for goal-setting and making the most of your personal assets, for making commitments and keeping them,for conflict resolution, for promoting intimacy, and for encouraging bonding between mother,fathers and infants.

Then there is a further range of meditations and approaches available for those who have spiritual interests and aspirations. These can be undertaken in live-in environments (short- or long-term),through regular contact as a visitor, and through home practice of what is taught by the practitioners from whom you learn.

Those interested in spiritual dimensions can find that their endeavours are richly rewarded to an extent and in a manner previously undreamt of by them and that those rewards will expand for the whole of life. Those who meditate for these purposes tend increasingly to experience as secondary the specific benefits of the particular meditations used. Their realisation of those"higher purposes" remains primary.

This can be confusing and discouraging to people who do not understand the orientation. They want quick results and are enjoined to keep on with what they are learning, that persistence will bring the results that they want eventually. These practitioners are interested in the realisation of Being and in the evolution of expanded consciousness.

Eventually, most people come to understand that the results of the spiritual and more specific orientations are much the same where the processes overlap, although they may not initially seem as if they are. It is the time-frame and procedures that are different.

We suggest that people wanting specific results for particular purposes as quickly as possible,might be best to find meditation approaches that respond to their specific needs and desires. As already indicated, there is a lot available. If their interest develops in a spiritual direction as a result of the experience in these more specific processes, then they can pursue the interest at that point.

Another method for discovering meditation is through the increasing range of audio and video material that is available. Much of this is of very helpful.

A value of this type of method is that you can practise in private; a disadvantage is that it is normal to have questions and occasionally to need help as you progress. Having someone available at those times is helpful. So in the absence of a live teacher, we recommend that you make contact with the producers of the system that you are using, should you have questions

The final guide-line we offer is very important. We recommend that you test everything that you are told for yourself. Do not simply take things on trust. If what you are taught is true, you will find that it works, provided that you test it properly.

With meditation, as with any area of our lives, the results we get are what matters. Someone might be nice, convincing, charismatic, caring, persuasive, or fun; someone might even say or imply that he or she knows what is good for us, while we feel uncertain or do not seem to see as clearly; but we need to keep testing for ourselves.

It is up to each of us to find out if our experiences do actually confirm the claims others make or if they do not. If the claims are confirmed, this may be enough reason to continue; if not, then we would be best to stop and look elsewhere for what we want.

We value meditation as a means of enhancing self-mastery and personal capacity, and we recommend that you avoid "giving away" to anyone else your power or your responsibility for yourself.

We are very excited about the wonderful developments that are being promoted by The Enhanced living Foundation. We are glad to have an opportunity to be associated with the evolution and achievement of its goals. Our hope is that you all discover the benefits of meditation in your own lives and that you recommend to others that they test the benefits for themselves.

Produced by The Awakening Network Inc.
P.O. Box 271, Seymour, Victoria 3661, Australia
Telephone: +61 3 5799 1198
Facsimile: +61 3 5799 1132
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