The Present Moment

The Present Moment

In the most simplistic sense, life is too short to be fighting with and changing every behavior of ours. The choice you have is simple: Either you can make this very moment a celebration by accepting yourself fully, or go on battling internally with what is right and wrong for the rest of your life. The moment you realize that you are perfect just the way you are, then the change you are seeking is instantaneous. You will also notice that the more you accept yourself, the less there is a need for this internal conflict.

Society has one definition of a good man, one definition of a good woman, and one definition of what’s right and wrong. You are too vibrant a phenomenon to walk on this thin fine line drawn by society.  What you need, in order to remain simple, unique, and beautiful, is a universal phenomenon such as watching and observing yourself. Meditation is that universal phenomenon. It’s not an ideology, philosophy, religion or something else – it’s just you and your ability to observe your life.

Initially, it is difficult to trust your meditation, because there is no one to provide you guidance and support. It is just you, your mind, your body, and how you deal with them. In this sense, you have total freedom in meditation; so much freedom that for a while you won’t know if you are doing the right thing. Meditation says, “Leave all of this and just become existential. Don’t become philosophical or intellectual; don’t become this or that. Just become existential.”

Existential means to be in this moment; that is it. If I am angry in this moment, then I am angry. My anger is okay and I will just watch it. If I don’t need this anger, then it will just go away. If I don’t watch the anger, chances are that it will come back again. The beauty of every experience we have, is that the moment we go deep into it, the moment we observe it, it disappears on its own, and whether the experience is good or bad doesn’t matter. Meditation simply says, “Keep watching, and whatever change that needs to happen in your life will happen on its own.”

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Virtue of Silence

Virtue of Silence

Waking up to our true nature is simply to realize that we are dreaming all the time. Dream is not some isolated phenomenon of life; dream is life. Everything we dearly call life is a part of our dream. The reason why it is so difficult to see this is that we are deeply invested in this dream.

Since we have lived for such a long time in this dream state, it has become our reality. We have fully accepted this feeling of being in a dream as our physical and only reality, although we are constantly reminded that we cannot be here forever.

We are afraid to face the real questions of our existence and our easiest escape from facing those all-important questions of life is to get busy. We are a lot more contented in constantly running around, trying to accomplish as many things as possible by being busy, as opposed to taking some time off to reflect in silence and aloneness about the nature of life and our place in it.

This is why one of the most difficult things to do is to simply sit quiet. This is also why meditation is such a difficult proposition for many of us. Not because meditation is inherently difficult, it’s because we have become too accustomed to losing ourselves in various activities of life. This is why watching a movie, meeting friends, going on a vacation, or planning for the future is infinitely easier when compared to sitting quietly in meditation.

The very fact that sitting quietly is difficult tells us that there is a lot of pain within us that we don’t want to see. We prefer to be distracted by some external activity because we are afraid to face the reality of our inner nature. We are always afraid of discovering something about ourselves that we don’t already know. It is almost like we are afraid of ourselves. Why else should sitting quietly in silence be such a big problem?

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The Magic of Meditation

The Magic of Meditation

There are many ways to end up at the doorway to meditation. You might be questioning the religion in which you were brought up, looking to find your own answers. You might be curious about who you are, what you are, and why you are. You could be looking to quiet the disturbance in your mind, or you may be wanting to meet the third part of your entity, your Self.

No matter how you arrived at the doorstep, there are a couple of basic things you need to understand. Meditation is not something outside of yourself; you’ve got the tools required for meditation with you 24/7. You just need to figure out how to use them!

The absolute beginning point of meditation is to recognize that You are made up of three entities: Your body, your mind, and your spirit or Self. We’re all familiar with the body because it’s the physical part of us that we can feel and see. The body is what we use to experience this world. We’re also familiar with the mind since it’s the background noise that’s going constantly. Mind is the seat of emotions, thoughts, feelings, and dreams; all the stuff you can’t see, taste, hear, touch or smell. Then there’s the Self, and that’s what we’re searching for. When you say, “This is my hand, this is my leg, this is my imagination” –  Who is my? Everyone should want to meet their Self, but why is it so difficult to see the real you that’s driving the body and mind?

We have become so attached to our bodies and minds that we think that’s all there is. The Self has become hidden behind all our thoughts and desires so much that we can’t even recognize that there is actually another part of us that’s keeping us alive–it’s that spark of life that we want to meet! Meditation is the means for introducing us to that spark, and when you do finally realize what the spark is, it’s actually a real experience and a life-changing one at that!

Now that we know what we’re searching for, how does one get there? You can’t just walk up to your Self, tap it on the shoulder and say, “Hi.” It takes a lot of undoing to be able to experience that. The good news is that the body is the perfect vehicle for getting there, and the mind can be trained to keep quiet. I’ll explain:

The Self has no form, no emotions, no thoughts, and no desires. The Self is simply aliveness; it’s what makes your body move, and is the same aliveness found in plants and animals. Since it has no form, the closest you can get to it in your body is to be as still as possible–to the point where you don’t notice your body anymore. At the same time you’re sitting still, you need to corral the barrage of thoughts going on in your mind. If you’ll notice, most of the thoughts that pass through your mind are just sheer nonsense. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to quiet the mind and just be absolutely still in both body and mind? That’s the purpose of meditation: To get to that quiet space so you can truly relax and live!

You don’t need to put it off any longer. You don’t need to dress up, you don’t need any special tools, or a special place to go to. Just sit comfortably, close your eyes, and observe what’s going on in your mind. Don’t get involved with any of the thoughts, and never lose touch with your body. Observing the breath is a great way to keep your mind from carrying you away. It will be difficult at first since you’ve not watched your thoughts before. Keep after it though, you’ve got to be tough; it’s taken you a lifetime to get that many thoughts packed into your mind, so it’s not going to clear out overnight–or even in a week. 

The good news is that after meditating for a month or so, for at least 30 minutes twice a day, you will feel the results! Thoughts will not be as strong, and you will be able to get to a quieter and quieter space in your mind. The longer you meditate the better it gets, and if you keep at it long enough, you will get to experience that magical moment when you meet that part of you that’s making this life on earth a possibility.

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Is there a wrong way to meditate?

Is there a wrong way to meditate?

If someone was meditating incorrectly could it be harmful to them?

There is no incorrect meditation; either you are meditating or you are not. It’s black and white. There’s no gray area because if you’re incorrectly meditating – it’s wonderful! You’re still meditating. There’s no problem. In fact, this whole idea of “Am I meditating correctly or incorrectly?” itself is incorrect.

This confusion happens when we become a little too obsessed with the technique, finding the perfect method, or the exact right way of doing something. Have you noticed that the more sure you are about your meditation, the more certain you are about your meditation, that you can turn anything into meditation? Anything and everything can become today’s meditation. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about bringing yourself to the act of meditation and to understand very clearly what is meditation and what is not.

This idea of “meditating incorrectly” happens because if you do certain things incorrectly, you could get hurt. For example, if you don’t know how to drive properly, you may not only hurt yourself, you could hurt someone else as well. The very nature of meditation is such that you know you’re sitting quietly, and you’re closing your eyes. What could you be doing incorrectly, because there is so little to do? Only when there is something to do is there the idea of correct and incorrect.

Meditation is not doing. Meditation is being. If you’re not being, if you’re doing something, then you’re not meditating at all – you’re just doing something. So the questions should be, “What do I do about this doing – the doing of the mind, the doing of the body, the doing of my thoughts? How do I simply get into a meditative state?” Those are more relevant questions. When you’re not able to be in that meditative state, what exactly is happening? Where are you drifting, and how do you bring yourself back? If you come to the right understanding of meditation, then there’s no harm, but if you don’t – if you confuse meditation to be something else, then, of course, there could be harm.

When you’re able to come to meditation, when you’re able to sit quietly, and when you’re able to come to the understanding – that basic understanding that meditation is about being it’s about conscious watchfulness, conscious wakefulness, conscious rest – the moment you come to this clear understanding, then you should not keep on trying to find the right method.

If you just become too obsessed with finding the right method, you will miss the beauty of meditation. You are the method. There is no external method. The most important thing in meditation is you – your state of mind. Meditation is extremely simple. There’s not much difference between watching in between your eyebrows and watching your breath or watching the tip of your toes, so don’t keep shifting. 

When you think, “I’m enjoying this meditation, I’m connecting with it, I’m progressing, that’s enough” – perfection in meditation is an illusion. Don’t seek perfection, don’t seek a perfect method, and don’t seek right and wrong in meditation. Put yourself in a meditative state and experience whatever that is happening there. If you can observe the breath, observe the breath. If your observation moves to your legs, move there. If that observation moves to listening, then move – that’s okay. Be a little more flexible; you need not be stone-like in meditation.

You have to be flowing like a river. Your awareness should be so accommodating that it should not be struggling with a method. Your meditation should be so accommodating that you have the ability to change even a disturbing thought into your object of meditation.

Conflict is a part of your mind: “Is this the right method? Is this the right approach? Is this the right number of hours? Should I be doing more? Should I be doing less? Should I be listening to somebody else as well just to ensure that I’m not being misled?” All these are thoughts. You are your teacher. You are your method. You are your path. You are your destination. You are everything. Every time you are available to the process know that “Yes, I’m in meditation.”

Your meditation will always be wrong and you will always be making mistakes. Embrace these mistakes and don’t criticize yourself. Just say, “Okay, I’m making mistakes. It’s perfectly fine. I’m drifting away a little bit, but it’s perfectly fine.” Everybody who has meditated has gone through the same process, and everybody has fallen multiple times. It takes falling and getting up – that’s the process of meditation.

Meditation is not taking you on the same established pathways of another meditator; it is creating new channels in your mind, new channels in your heart, new ways of looking at life, and new ways of looking at yourself. It is not a repetition. It is a bit of a challenge, because we are more used to doing things in the same way, following others, copying others. Meditation is probably the only thing that you cannot copy from someone. You can pick up a technique, but you have to do it one hundred percent in your own way. You have to bring your own attitude, your own behavior, your own courage, your own intelligence, and your own understanding.

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Finding a Meditation Teacher

Finding a Meditation Teacher

There is a lot of difference between finding a meditation teacher and finding any other teacher. For all of the other teachers there is a qualification, there is a way to identify a teacher. If you want a math, physics, or a music teacher, there are very clear qualifications; there are degrees. There are documents that say that he or she is a teacher, so you can find teachers just based on credentials.

How do I identify a good meditation teacher?

Even if there aren’t any credentials, there is a way to identify the skill. You can look at the dancer and say, “I love the way he dances. I love the way she dances, and I want to learn from her.” There’s no way you’re going to learn music from a person who does not know how to play the musical instrument, right? When you interact with the teacher you would immediately get that sense that, “Okay, this person knows music; they know what they are talking about.”

None of this exists for meditation–absolutely none of this. Anyone can claim, anyone can say, “I have practiced meditation. I know what meditation is. I know the method, I know how to practice, and I’m willing to teach.” Especially in today’s day and age, there are a lot more people willing to teach, than there are people willing to learn.

With the available social media platforms–YouTube and Facebook, it’s so easy to become a teacher–your own teacher. Just gather a group of online students and start teaching. The problem with all this, is how do you know if you have found the right teacher? Or should you even be looking for the right teacher? Is there a right teacher?

Two Types of Teachers

The first type of meditation teacher is one who can teach you meditation. They can show you how to practice meditation, teach you how to get into the habit of meditation, tell you how to deal with the daily challenges of meditation, and help you to become better with the practice.

The second type of meditation teacher is the teacher who can take you all the way to self-realization. These teachers can guide you with a single-pointed focus of helping you to reach self-realization. These teachers have the experience of self-realization,  and also know that if you are able to do certain things in a certain way you will get there, or you will not.

These two are completely different types of teachers. The second type, the teachers who can teach you self-realization, are the rarest, because there are very few people who have gone all the way through the journey themselves.

Unless an individual has fully dedicated himself to that process and has made meditation his or her life, they would not be able to go all the way. It doesn’t matter whether they’ve gone all the way or not, they would want to teach because they’ve learned something through the process. Meditation is such a phenomenon that even if you meditate for three months or six months, you would know so much more than somebody who has never meditated.

As far as getting the basic guidance of meditation is concerned, you could get that from a lot of people. All you have to make sure is that the person you are learning from has spent more time in meditation than you–plain and simple. At the basic level, that is all that you should be looking for.                                             

The reputation of a meditation teacher does not come from numbers; it comes from the guidance. You’ve got to take a chance with a teacher; you have to approach, you have to start learning, and within a matter of a few days you will know if you’re headed in the right direction. If you are with a teacher who’s really willing to guide you, it is not that difficult to see, “Okay, the wisdom that he or she is sharing is really helping.” Another big pitfall in trying to find a teacher is trying to find too perfect a teacher. You know, trying to find a teacher who, according to you, is perfect. If you go on searching for the perfect teacher, it is a futile search, because there are no perfect teachers.

The difficulty in judging people, in judging teachers, or in finding the right thing in life, is really not about choosing the right and the wrong. The difficulty is choosing between the wrong and the more wrong, because everyone is flawed. Everything is flawed.


A Teacher with Experience

Teaching is a mechanism of transferring knowledge through the symbolism of language. Language is a symbol; it’s not an absolute truth. When you’re trying to teach using symbols, you can never be perfect. It’s like when I say, “Awakening is like swimming in the open ocean for the first time.” It is nothing like it; it’s an absolute lie! But, that is my way of saying it. When I say, “Meditation is difficult, meditation is painful, meditation is a torturous process initially,” that is just my way of saying it because it was like that for me, because of the way I approached it.

It might be easy for you. A teacher can, at the most, express what he has experienced, using the language of the world, using the expressions of life. There is no perfection in this process. Again, how are you measuring the perfection of a teacher if you’re not comparing him with another teacher?

If you’re looking for the perfect teacher, then you have an idea of perfection in your mind, which has to come from some other teacher. That is where the problem is. When you try to compare one teacher with another, you will obviously make a mistake. It doesn’t matter if your comparison is very critical or very analytical; it just doesn’t matter, because two teachers are completely different.

That is why meditation is such a tricky affair; you have to judge based on your intuition, based on your comfort level with the teacher, based on certain inner signs, which are not readily accessible. You “just know” this is the right teacher. You “just know” that you want to learn from this person.

Sometimes, you just want to play it safe; you just want to make sure that there are a lot of students around this teacher. You think if so many people are being misled then it’s perfectly fine; “I’m going to be one of them.” Sometimes it’s just safety; you think if a teacher has a lot of students, he has to be good. In meditation, it doesn’t work that way.

A teacher who has a lot of students could be a good marketer–or he has a group of students who market for him. It doesn’t mean that he’s not a good teacher, so there’s really no way to judge the teacher based on external qualities that we normally measure success by—The number of people, amount of money they’ve made, or the number of years they’ve lived, their experience. He could be a young man, or he could be fifty he could be sixty, and you could be forty or fifty—age doesn’t matter.

When you meet such a person, if he has spent time in meditation, you will know—this is something different. Irrespective of the external flaws, there is some wisdom that I want to have, wisdom that I don’t possess. That is all that you should be looking for in a meditation teacher. You don’t have to complicate things, and you should also understand that a teacher is human.

Nobody’s Perfect

When you meet a teacher, you’ll have to assess both his ability to guide you inward, and his worldly affairs. As long as you’re able to manage the worldly affairs and you see that there is some light, some source, something he possesses that you want to learn, then you have a teacher. Another of the easiest ways to judge a teacher, is that a good teacher is all about you—a bad teacher is all about himself, plain and simple.

In the spiritual world, a teacher cannot be too obsessed about himself; yes, a teacher can share his personal experiences. The value of this is that those personal experiences are relatable, and they can be learned from. But, there is a difference between personal experience sharing and personal aggrandizement; these are two completely different things. If a teacher is “too full of himself,” and he’s not really interested in the student as much as he is interested in the student loving him and respecting him and considering him like a teacher, that is where the student needs to make a call.

If the teacher is all about you, if the teacher is talking about you, helping you, and guiding you in any way possible–it’s very rare you would find such a teacher–if you’re able to find them you’ve got to latch onto them. No matter how difficult it gets from the external environment, you have to try to hold on to them. You have to keep holding on to the idea that, “I want to learn from this teacher.”

How to Begin the Search for a Teacher

As far as beginning a meditation journey is concerned, you don’t have to worry too much; just begin. Listen to videos, start practicing it. Just try it out on your own. In the journey, in the process, you will connect with some teachers. You will connect with people. Keep in touch with the community; keep in touch with the idea of meditation. Keep exploring and keep reading.

The teacher will not find you. You will have to find the teacher. The teachers are simply there. Nowadays they are doing a lot of marketing. Trust me when I say this, “We’re doing a lot of marketing.” Still, it’s all about the student. The student has to find the teacher and has to have the willingness.

One of the things, one of the most wonderful things that is simply going away, is this deep desire to find a teacher and emotionally and psychologically surrender to the process of spiritual awakening. That strong desire is missing; the desire is there, but since it’s not strong–anything and everything–even a small negative criticism from people around, put them off. They might be going to a teacher and they might be learning, but if there’s even one streak of negativity, they drop off.

It’s not going to make much difference to the teacher, but it’s going to make a lot of difference to you. It is not easy to find a meditation teacher whom you can trust, and begin this wonderful inner journey, but you’ll have to keep searching. In a spiritual way, you have to keep searching for those signs, and you have to go and meet the teacher. It cannot just be online searching; it cannot just be reading books. The best way to know if you have found the teacher is to be with the teacher.

When you Finally find a Teacher

There is something that you will experience in the presence of a teacher that you cannot experience through the bookstore or online. The presence cannot be communicated online; we have not yet reached that advancement. As of now, we can communicate ideas, we can communicate the symbolism of what it is that we are trying to communicate. But the presence, the emotion, the feeling, the love, the connection in finding a meditation teacher is a combination of all these things.

A meditation teacher is more of a guide, and he’s also your emotional support. The teacher should be smart, and he should be intelligent enough to understand how the world works, and what it takes for you to walk this path. He cannot just be only about meditation. He has to help you to see how you can balance your desires of worldly affairs and your spiritual quest.

Isn’t that what we’re all struggling with? If we had a single-minded desire to become spiritually awakened then we wouldn’t even need a teacher. We would just go sit, begin our practice, find the books, and find the resources. We would get there. Because we have all the distractions–What do we do with sex? What do we do with the desire to make more money? What do we do with the desire for material comfort? What do we do with the desire for name and recognition? What do we do with the desire for building organizations? This is where a teacher comes in.

The biggest advantage of having a teacher in your life is that he always puts things in perspective. He says, “In the midst of all the things that are happening, life is still about being here, about being relaxed, about meditating, and about practicing.” If you can find such a teacher, a guide, a friend, that’ll be the best thing.

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Origin of Meditation – Why Meditate?

Origin of Meditation – Why Meditate?

Meditation is an ancient science that holds the key to finding the real you and figuring out this mystery called “Life”. Really, there is way more to life than what we’re experiencing.

In this article, Avi explains, in great detail, the mystery of meditation and how it is imperative that we learn how to build our lives around a meditative and mindful lifestyle. It’s not complicated; we’ve just got to be willing to listen and learn.

The Science of Meditation

Meditation marks the beginning of a new quest in man to know himself. Meditation is the science of knowing oneself. It is a systematic way of using our own consciousness, our own awareness, to understand the phenomenon of life that is happening right here and right now. The science is so pure that it does not use any external instruments; it does not use any external objects, and it is not about going somewhere. It is not about the external reality at all.

As far as meditation is concerned, the universe is the individual. If there is space somewhere in the universe, that space is within the individual. If there is air in the universe, it is within the individual. If there is matter, it’s within the individual. If there is gravity, it’s felt by the individual. There is absolutely nothing that exists in the universe that is not experienced by the individual. Light, darkness, solid, liquid, good, bad; everything is experienced and perceived by the individual.

Meditation is the science of knowing what is this perception, and why are we perceiving the world the way we are perceiving it?  Naturally, just like experiencing the benefits of knowledge, when we know more about something, we can use it better. It’s the same with meditation. Meditation gives us the keys to unlock the doors of our minds and bodies.

We have a body and we have a mind, but the mystery of how they function is hidden behind these closed doors. We have to explore our inner space to know how we function; the connection between the simplest of things. What is the connection between my desire and my thoughts? What is the connection between a thought and my body? Who leads who? Who is the master? Who is the servant? What is control? Where do I get control from?

Is Society Sucking the Life out of You

Now, anything you want to accomplish, even in the worldly sense, if you want to attain to any kind of success, any kind of life that you are desiring, you need to direct this mechanism, the mind and the body, in a particular direction. How would you be able to do it when you’re not sure about how it actually functions? Unlike all other systems of knowledge that are simply external, meditation is knowledge one acquires by experience. We know the difference between information, knowledge, and wisdom.

Information is available everywhere.  A 20-year old can read a few books and he can feel that he knows the entire world. When it comes to understanding life, dealing with failures and negative emotions, unless that individual has gone through experiences where he has fallen down and got up, where life has knocked him down several times and he has learned how to pick himself up, he has not developed his emotional strength at all. He simply has intellectual strength which is useful only in times of absolute peace and calm.

Now, when we talk about education, society, politics, religion; none of this is created for the individual. Everything is created to create a straw to suck the juice out of the individual. Everything is a straw. You go to school, you go to college, you go to work, you get into anything that is created by the social system. More than you getting something out of it, your energies are drained from it. Only a few individuals can push through all these experiences and realize very quickly that this whole system is there for selfish purposes.

The moment an individual figures this out, then he would learn how to draw from other individuals. Ninety-nine percent of the population of the world is living in darkness; absolute darkness. We don’t know why we are here, we don’t know what is the purpose of education, we don’t know what is the purpose of our government, we don’t know who is there to help, or who is there to hurt. We are living in total darkness. Meditation is the light that one can use to illuminate, firstly, his life. To understand how somebody else is taking advantage of his mind and body and how somebody else is taking advantage of his ignorance.

Questioning the Education System

If you are being used, the worst thing is to not know it. Just simply live and die in that system where you are used thoroughly and discarded. The second-worst thing is to know it and not do anything about it. What you need to know is that this is the purpose of the system.

What subjects did I study in my school? What were the benefits of these subjects? How much am I using these subjects for my personal happiness? Now, was there even a consideration about my personal happiness and my personal wellbeing, or was it just about trying to fit me into a system? Does this system even look at me like a human being or does it look at me like a resource?

See, the world is still a jungle. It is still a place where the strong feed upon the weak. It is still the same. We have moved from the rawness of physicality to a more intellectual jungle, but even here it’s the same. It’s a strong mind that preys upon the weaker mind. The weaker mind is always an ignorant mind.

Every individual who comes into this world has to first face the demons of these strong minds. They’ve created the system; they’ve already set the path. To question and understand, if that is the path, if that is the way that can lead to my happiness, if that is the path to my personal salvation and liberation, then meditation is not required. We all know; we have taken those paths. All of us have been a part of the system.

How did we lose Meditation?

Most of us have been educated through the formal system and we have worked our entire lives in it. What have we gained at the end of it? In fact, we have become slaves to the system. Society is our making. The systems are our making. Everything exists because this individual is searching for some happiness; this individual is searching for some peace. If this individual is forgotten, then what system are we talking about? What society are we talking about? There’s no meaning in any of this.

In all this, in the entire intellectual endeavor of man, there is no mention of meditation. In the formal education system there is no mention of meditation. It just baffles me. When you think about it, meditation is the only tool that you can give an individual guidance and say, “Here is the key to know yourself.” It’s not one person’s ideology that can transform you. The key that you’re looking for is the ability to explore and experiment with your life.

To say that one book–whether it’s the Bible, or the Gita, or the Koran, is the answer for all your life’s questions is absolutely ridiculous. If you actually analyze those books, they actually talked about something within us and finding a way to it. In fact, those books actually talk about how you should not attach yourself to those teachings. You should learn from it but use your own light. I mean, which religious teacher has not spoken about finding your own light, finding your own source of wisdom?

Buddha himself says, “Don’t follow me, don’t accept everything that I’m saying, unless it falls into your consciousness and unless you can reason it and understand it fully. Don’t believe anything people say, including me.” This was his message, but the Buddhist message is totally different. “Follow everything Buddha says, don’t use your brain, just follow everything.” I’m not condemning religion but I’m just saying that the true purpose of religion has become way too diluted.

This was the same message of Jesus, “You are the light. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” But the message of Christians is “The Kingdom of Heaven is with Jesus. He’s the Savior.” He lived and died teaching,“You are your Savior.” We are clinging to one idea, that he’s the Savior.

Breaking the Shackles of our Minds

Amidst all of these things, we are completely trapped in our ignorance. We don’t know who we are. To know who we are requires observation, clarity, and clarity of perception. It requires the ability to push away all the unwanted things that are there in our mind, and to see life for what it is. At the end of the day, life is what you make of it. Life is your definition. If you want to spend the rest of your life struggling and suffering, it is your own choosing.

We have given permission for someone to put on the shackles that bind us. Those shackles can have nice beautiful names: Education, society, religion, whatever they might be. When we connect to individuals, it’s a totally different experience. With individuals, we can feel love and compassion. Overall, as a society, everything simply remains an idea.

Look at the way we talk about eradication of poverty. What are you talking about? I mean how do you eradicate poverty? You have to talk about how you are going to transform that one individual’s life. Politicians talk about eradicating poverty, and getting people out of poverty all the time. How would you be able to do it when you don’t give that individual the key? You don’t need to bring anybody out of poverty. You don’t need to bring anybody out of darkness. Just tell them the Truth. That’s all. Meditation is the Truth.

For me personally, it is the Truth. It has been the Truth that has made all the difference. Here is the key: Sitting quiet and watching your breath. Meditation really cannot begin with a very casual purpose. You will never have the intensity or the courage or the willpower to pursue meditation if you don’t really see how much you need it.

If knowledge is power, without meditation we are totally powerless; we have zero power–zero! We are simply living somebody else’s dreams, desires, and ideologies. We are living in the past. If we are to live in the present, then we need to acquire the knowledge: Knowledge of the self, knowledge of the body, and knowledge of the mind. That’s what meditation is. Beyond this, how it works is all a deep process.

Walking the path of Meditation

As you begin to walk the path, as you begin to inquire, start questioning, start learning, start reading, start exploring, and start finding people who can teach you meditation. Don’t worry too much about what meditation is, because when you ask the questions, “What are the benefits of meditation? What is meditation?” your mind is actually waiting for an answer that it doesn’t like so that it can say, “Okay, it will not work for me, I don’t need any benefits.”

People have been talking about meditation since the beginning of time. Somewhere I see a common connection. Every culture has spoken about meditation: “What is this thing, let me give it a try.” Who cares about benefits? May be that word itself comes from some external purpose. For me there is really no benefit. It is about a deeper experience of life. Maybe the purpose of meditation is not to reach somewhere, but to be in meditation; to simply sit quiet, take a break, rest, relax, and experience life. Maybe meditation is just a way of saying, “I am going to stop running and I’m going to experience life at least for that one hour or at least for those couple of hours.”

Again, we should not bring in the mind in terms of, “What is the purpose of meditation? Will it help me to get a job? Will it help me to pay my bills?” You’re asking the wrong questions. Meditation will give you a lot more than just helping you to survive. It will teach you what life is.

As of now, we are crawling on the floor like snails carrying the shells that we call our education, our knowledge. That shell is useful though, it protects us when there is danger. You can just go inside it. Meditation is a process that will help you develop wings. That snail that is crawling on the floor will someday be able to fly. That’s what meditation is. Once you decide to fly, you don’t need that burden. You can let go of all that and move into a totally different way of experiencing.

We are living in a place where we need a lot of protection, so that’s why we have created the mechanism of the mind.  Our mind does not even allow us to rest for five minutes. Our mind is the shell. It says, “You cannot sit naked.” When you sit quiet, the mind makes you feel like you’re naked. You have to constantly be fighting with the mind, and that’s the protection, that’s the shell.

Once you realize that you’re not that snail, you can fly. You have wings. Somehow you have tucked those wings in. To know that you have wings, you need meditation. So, trying to explain to a snail what it is to fly, is stupidity. It’s ridiculous. If I were to tell you that these are the benefits of meditation, the snail would say, “I don’t even need it. I’m already perfectly fine.” If I were to tell that snail, “See, you can jump from that tree to this tree,” the snail will say, “Why? I don’t have to jump. I’ll slowly climb up this tree and then I’ll move to that tree somehow.”

What’s going on in my Mind?

It’s the same way. Unless you meditate you will not know the uses of meditation. Unless you explore your inner life and see the kind of treasures that are hidden within you, will not know the use of them. When you dig deeper and you find a diamond, that is when you will think, “Oh, what can I do with this?” As of now, you’re not missing the diamond. You don’t need it because you’ve created a way of life in which everything is just going about. To know, to even know how deep we are in darkness, we need meditation.

I have tried to explain meditation in as many ways as possible, but really, it’s impossible to explain the benefits of meditation unless you have tasted it. Unless you have gone through it, it is impossible to know. At the most basic level, meditation helps you to understand your thought process. It helps you to gain control over your thoughts.

As of now, your thoughts control you. Meditation reverses that process: That’s the first benefit. Then as you go deeper into it, meditation will help you to understand your emotions, which are the foundation of all your thoughts. By being aware of your emotional states you can have 100% control over how you act: Somebody else cannot make you angry, and somebody else cannot make you frustrated, once you know that it is your own emotions that are responsible for all the chaos and confusion. Once you can get to that level of understanding, then you have much better control over your life, and much better control over your present and future.

Success in Meditation = Success in Life

When you go one layer deeper, you can even reduce the physical pain and stress of the body. You can experience deeper states of bliss. Bliss cannot be explained. Bliss is not happiness. Bliss is a deep state of feeling connected with yourself, with life, and with existence. Only when you experience it will you know. Beyond that, there are a hundred more things that you can experience. They are all things that cannot be put in words. Somewhere, you’ve got to begin.

So, instead of worrying too much about the benefits, just dive in. Believe in yourself that you can understand meditation, that you can figure it out. It might take some time, but don’t give up.

If you succeed in meditation, you succeed in everything. If you fail in meditation, then life is an absolute uncertainty. It will always be uncertain. Meditation is the last struggle. The only struggle. If you are able to struggle and understand what meditation is, from different perspectives, from different angles, to use your mind, your creativity, and your wisdom; if you’re able to get the hang of it and you get one drop of the actual taste of meditation, you will know for sure that this is what you need.

You need that one glimpse, that one absolute understanding, that, “Yes, meditation is relaxing me, it’s relaxing my mind.” You have to be very scientific in understanding it. You cannot be prejudiced. You cannot be partial. When you are very honest you can clearly see how it is benefiting you. Then, nobody has to tell you how to meditate or what are the benefits. You just keep on figuring out different ways of transforming every experience of life into meditation. What you are looking for is a moment of decision, a moment of commitment, a moment of courage, to say, “I want to give this a try.”

Once you experience what meditation offers you, then you will know the benefits. You will know there’s so much more to meditation than just what I’m seeking from it. What meditation offers you is much beyond, and it’s something that you cannot even ask for. You don’t even know that what you’re asking for is coming from your mind. What meditation gives you comes from existence. To even know what to ask existence you’ve got to be in a certain state. That’s why you need meditation.

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Why meditate?

Why meditate?

I keep sharing snippets of Avi’s upcoming book, but it just can’t be helped! Avi’s talks are so interesting that I know the information will help everyone, so here it is: A piece from “The Mind” chapter of the nameless book. 

“As of now, the mind has become so dominant that it has completely hijacked all of your other senses. Your mind has become your only reality, which means what you think is what you are. That is what your whole life has become. Thinking never allows you to settle into your being, and will never allow you to relax. Thinking is always about either what happened or what’s going to happen. Thinking is not at all concerned about the present moment. 

What you’re seeking in meditation is the present moment. Thinking wants to constantly oscillate between today and tomorrow. It wants to constantly oscillate between the past and the future. In the oscillation, it gathers momentum. The farther the mind goes into the past, it flings itself just as far into the future. The more energy that pulls the mind into the future, the same amount of energy is pulling it back into the past. You’re constantly moving between the past and the future, and that’s the nature of the mind.

A meditator has to observe this process; observe this oscillation of the mind, and not interfere with it, just observe. Slowly the swinging reduces, the momentum reduces, the intensity reduces. Still, the mind keeps swinging between the past and the future, but now it is not going too far. 

Maybe the first day when you sat in meditation your mind was going all over the place. It was going to your childhood, then it was projecting your life twenty years down the lane. It was thinking about the world, everything that is happening, and slowly it started swinging closer and closer to your body and mind, where you are, because you are not giving it thoughts.

You are not fueling the mind with more thoughts. You are allowing it to settle down. In that settling down, there is no more swinging: That’s the whole objective of meditation.”

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Quick Pleasure or Lasting Bliss?

Quick Pleasure or Lasting Bliss?

“The purpose is to transcend pain and suffering.”

What is meditation? What is the message of Jesus? What is the message of Buddha? Their message is that there is a zone within us; a zone where there is peace and tremendous joy. When you touch this joy, you know that it’s internal and you know that it’s real. In this zone, the pain of the body goes away; the pain of the mind goes away, and you experience existence in its most natural state.

While you’re having sex, or when you drink alcohol, use drugs, or take part in whatever it is that you do to escape, you are basically connecting with that zone. That’s when the peace comes. You don’t smoke to be happy, you smoke to forget the pain of the body, or you drink alcohol to forget the pain of the body. Now for me, any “sudden jerk” in trying to connect with that zone–that inner zone–without a systematic process is just like smoking and drinking and having sex.  It’s like walking into someone’s house and seeing them drinking and being blissful, being happy, and then walking into someone else’s house and they are crazily jumping and dancing and speaking in different tongues. It’s the same thing. They’re experiencing some kind of joy, but once they step out of that experience they can’t carry forward that experience, so they feel depressed and sad.

This is where systematic practice is required to help you understand what mindfulness is, what meditation is, and how to gradually get into it. Life is a very long phenomenon; it’s not like you just live for 10 days. It only takes a few years to get to the point of experiencing this bliss. All we need is to develop the narrative. We need to develop the conversations. People should start talking about the scientific way of exploring the inner life and they should get into the practice of naturally touching those internal zones. In all my years of meditation I have never done anything crazy. I’ve never danced, no drama, never have psyched myself up. Once in a while I used to connect and feel all this is good, but then I quickly stepped away from this knowing that those feelings weren’t the “real thing”–They were not permanent. 

For me, I wanted to be in this zone permanently. I didn’t want to just start something accidentally. I wanted to be able to find that zone again. If you approach meditation gradually you might not experience tremendous energy and crazy things happening all of a sudden, but gradually you will experience it and enjoy it. It’s a better idea to experience gradual enlightenment because you need to know the path, you need to know how you got to that zone so that you can go back to it at will. 

Ultimately, what is the purpose? The purpose is to transcend pain and suffering. Do you want to go beyond pain and suffering for one moment and fall back into it? I mean it’s like this: Do you want to go beyond your pain and suffering completely and experience tremendous blessing one moment and then fall back into the body consciousness where the pain is still there, or do you want to gradually reduce the pain of the body, and gradually reduce the pain of the mind by connecting with that zone again and again, by going deeper into meditation? The pain of the mind reduces by understanding it, by watching the thoughts. In that understanding you grow. This is why I say the best meditation   without any doubt comes from the middle path.

When you touch the inner zone through external means such as sex or alcohol, it’s only momentary, and as soon as “the high” is gone, you’re right back to where you were, only feeling worse, because you’re not experiencing that bliss anymore.  The middle path is simply integrating quiet, meditative time into each and every day. Be mindful throughout the day, and watch your thoughts. There won’t be any “sudden light”, but the light will gradually get brighter and brighter until every day of life is full of bliss and you can live from that inner zone without external stimulation.

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Meditation is like a Diet for your Mind

Meditation is like a Diet for your Mind

When I meet people here and there and the conversation always turns to meditation (usually prompted by “what have you been doing lately?”), I’m often asked questions like “What is meditation? What do you do while you’re sitting? What do you think about while you’re meditating?” 

It’s kind of hard to explain meditation, because we’ve not been exposed to such inward spiritual things in our society, and most of the time “being quiet” is imposed as a sort of punishment.

The best way I can think of to explain it is by using the term “Self Control”. We’ve heard that term all our lives. What does it mean? Well, it means to resist temptations of the body, like eating too many chocolate cookies, drinking too much alcohol, or mental self control, by not doing things we know aren’t right such as spreading malicious gossip or perpetuating negative thought processes when they arise.

So, there IS something other than our minds and our bodies–it’s our SELF. It’s the force that is directing our minds and bodies when we have “self” control. The only way we can have self control is to be in the present moment. There’s no way to control your sugar cravings tomorrow or yesterday–it’s only good for right now. Think about it, and it really makes a lot of sense.

Meditation is simply a diet for your mind. You sit still for a while and don’t think about anything. Yep, nothing-nada-zilch. If (when) your mind starts off on a thought spree, reel it back it, just like you’d slam the fridge door shut right before you grab the ice cream.

As in dieting, it takes time to see the effects of meditation. You don’t lose weight right after eating a healthy meal, but if you keep eating healthy over a period of time, you’ll definitely see the results in the mirror. You won’t feel results after one meditation, but if you persist, just like in dieting, you will experience results like less stress, more creativity, and just an overall happier outlook on life.Come on people, it’s time to put our minds on a diet!

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How to Add Meditation to Your Day

How to Add Meditation to Your Day

We make time for things we want to do

So, are you ready to start meditating but unsure how to work it into your busy schedule?

I’ve been there–corporate job, two kids, husband, daily commute–sometimes insanely long (1-1/2 hours one way) and most of the time we were building a house and probably living in a camper to boot.  Exercise routines were always part of my daily activities, but meditation wasn’t a part of my life during those years, and it is clear to me now that it sure would have helped! 

Fast forward to today. Retired from corporate life now, but still as busy or busier than ever with the Inner-Revolution, but my mind is set that meditation is a priority in my daily schedule.  Four hours a day are dedicated to sitting quietly, watching my thoughts.  If I had a job, I’d still meditate for four hours a day.  We make time for things we want to do, right?  You’ve just got to tell yourself that meditation is something you want to incorporate into your life and make time for.  Where did I find the time? 

I’ve always been an 8 hours of sleep per night kind of gal.  Any less than that and I wasn’t much fun to be around the next day.  Turns out that meditation is a sort of conscious rest, so it substitutes for some of your sleep–really!  It works.  I now sleep for 5-1/2 hours at night and feel great.  That means that I picked up a whopping 2-1/2 hours for meditating just from cutting down on sleep time. 

At the time I began meditating I had already given up tv.  People were more surprised that I gave up tv than when I got a divorce–go figure!  Although I didn’t watch tv, Facebook, the black hole of Pinterest, and YouTube had replaced channel surfing (YouTube does have tons of good educational material though). I picked up another hour or so just giving up spending too much time each day piddling around on unnecessary social media. There’s probably some other time waster you can recognize in your daily routine; be honest with yourself!

You don’t have to meditate for four hours either.  If you’re just wanting to learn how to deal with stress, anger, or relax more, 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night will work wonders.  To do this, all you’ve got to do is get up 30 minutes early and stay up 30 minutes later–pretty much a no-brainer.  If you want to meditate more, you’ll have to adjust your schedule.  Consistency is the key. 

I get up at 5:00 am and meditate from 5-6, then I meditate from 8-9. (During the summer I get up at 4:00 and sit from 4-6 so I can spend more time outside :-)) I then sit for an hour after lunch, and again from 9-10. This schedule could easily be adapted to a work schedule by getting up 2 hours earlier (it is possible, just takes getting used to) rather than the 8-9 session, and juggling the mid-day session. It could even be broken up into 2-30 minute sessions. 

Why do I sit four hours?  Because there is a part of me that will live forever. It’s the “me” part–that spark of aliveness. I want to get to know this part of me and I want to know what life is really like.  Avi teaches that life is totally different from what we know it as, and that if you sit and watch your thoughts enough, you will have a definite physical experience of realizing the Truth about who you really are and about life that cannot be questioned or denied. That’s what Jesus called being “born again”. That’s what Buddha was teaching. That’s what Avi is talking about. That’s what I’m seeking.

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