Is meditation important?
Yes, it is.
No matter how much we may wish to
be good, if we cannot change the desires that make us act
the way we do, change will be difficult.
a person may realize that he is impatient with his wife
and he may promise himself: “From now on I am not
going to be so impatient.”
But an hour later he may be
shouting at his wife simply because, not being aware of
himself, impatience has arisen without him knowing.
Meditation helps to develop the awareness and the energy
needed to transform ingrained mental habit patterns.
I have heard that meditation can be dangerous.
Is this true?
To live, we need salt.
But if you were to eat a
kilogram of salt it would kill you.
To live in the modern
world you need a car but if you don’t follow the traffic
rules or if you drive while you are drunk, a car becomes
a dangerous machine.
Meditation is like this, it is essential
for our mental health and well-being but if you practice in
a stupid way, it could cause problems.
Some people have problems
like depression, irrational fears or schizophrenia, they think
meditation is an instant cure for their problem, they start
meditating and sometimes their problem gets worse.
have such a problem, you should seek professional help and
after you are better then take up meditation.
over reach themselves, they take up meditation and instead
of going gradually, step by step, they meditate with too
much energy for too long and soon they are exhausted.
But perhaps most problems in meditation are caused by
Some people go to one teacher
and do his meditation technique for a while, then they
read something in a book and decide to try that technique,
then a week later a famous meditation teacher visits town
and so they decide to incorporate some of his ideas into
their practice and before long they are hopelessly confused.
Jumping like a kangaroo from one teacher to another or
from one meditation technique to another is a mistake.
But if you don’t have any
severe mental problem and you take up meditation and
practice sensibly it is one of the best things you can do for
How many types of meditation are there?
The Buddha taught many different types of
meditation, each designed to overcome a particular
problem or to develop a particular psychological state.
But the two most common and useful types of meditation
are Mindfulness of Breathing (anapana sati) and Loving
Kindness Meditation (metta bhavana).
If I wanted to practice Mindfulness of Breathing,
how would I do it?
You would follows these easy steps:
Ps place, posture, practice and problems.
First, find a
suitable place, perhaps a room that is not too noisy and
where you are not likely to do disturbed.
Second, sit in a
A good posture is to sit with your legs
folded, a pillow under your buttocks, your back straight,
the hands nestled in the lap and the eyes closed.
Alternatively, you can sit in a chair as long as you keep
your back straight.
Next comes the actual practice itself.
As you sit quietly with your eyes closed you focus your
attention on the in and out movement of the breath.
This can be done by counting the breaths or watching
the rise and fall of the abdomen.
When this is done,
certain problems and difficulties will arise.
experience irritating itches on the body or discomfort
in the knees.
If this happens, try to keep the body relaxed
without moving and keep focusing on the breath.
probably have many intruding thoughts coming into your
mind and distracting your attention from the breath.
only way you can deal with this problem is to patiently keep
returning your attention to the breath.
If you keep doing
this, eventually thoughts will weaken, your concentration
will become stronger and you will have moments of deep
mental calm and inner peace.
How long should I meditate for?
It is good to do meditation for 15 minutes every
day for a week and then extend the time by 5 minutes each
week until you are meditating for 45 minutes.
After a few
weeks of regular daily meditation you will start to notice
that your concentration gets better, there are less thoughts,
and you have moments of real peace and stillness.
What about Loving Kindness Meditation?
Once you are familiar with Mindfulness of
Breathing and are practicing it regularly you can start
practicing Loving Kindness Meditation.
It should be done
two or three times each week after you have done
Mindfulness of Breathing.
First, you turn your attention
to yourself and say to yourself words like “May I be well
May I be peaceful and calm.
May I be protected
May my mind be free from hatred.
heart be filled with love.
May I be well and happy.”
one by one you think of a loved person, a neutral person,
that is, someone you neither like nor dislike, and finally a
disliked person, wishing each of them well as you do so.
What is the benefit of doing
this type of
If you do Loving Kindness Meditation regularly
and with the right attitude, you will find very positive
changes taking place within yourself.
You will find that
you are able to be more accepting and forgiving towards
You will find that the feelings you have towards
your loved ones will
You will find yourself making friends with people
you used to be indifferent and uncaring towards, and you
will find the ill-will or resentment you have towards some
people will lessen and eventually be dissolved.
if you know of someone who is sick, unhappy or
encountering difficulties you can include them in your
meditation and very often you will find their situation
How is that possible?
The mind, when properly developed, is a very
If we can learn to focus our mental
energy and project it towards others, it can have an effect
You may have had an experience like this.
Perhaps you are in a crowded room and you get this feeling
that someone is watching you.
You turn around and, sure
enough, someone is staring at you.
What has happened is
that you have picked up that other person’s mental energy.
Loving Kindness Meditation is like this.
We project positive
mental energy towards others and it gradually transforms
Do I need a teacher to teach me meditation?
A teacher is not absolutely necessary but personal
guidance from someone who is familiar with meditation is
Unfortunately, some monks and laymen
set themselves up as meditation teachers when they simply
don’t know what they are doing.
Try to pick a teacher
who has a good reputation, a balanced personality and who
adheres closely to the Buddha’s teachings.
I have heard that meditation is widely used today
by psychiatrists and psychologists. Is this true?
Yes, it is.
Meditation is now accepted as having
a highly therapeutic effect upon the mind and is used by
many professional mental health workers to help induce
relaxation, overcome phobias and bring about self-awareness.
The Buddha’s insights into the human mind are helping
people as much today as they did in ancient times.