Family Meditation Program

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About Course

“We can’t always change what’s happening around us, but we can change what happens within us.”
Andy Puddicombe

Welcome to Practical Meditation: A way of life for the individual and the family, and thank you for taking the course. I have divided the course into 16 sections including how to Prepare for Meditation, Meditation in Sacred Texts, and much more. Now let us begin.

Meditation is being silent in order to get an insight. Meditation is focusing your attention on a thing in order to figure it out. Meditation is reflecting on an experience in order to understand it. Meditation is contemplating on an idea in order to make sense of it. Meditation is concentrating the mind on one central subject. Meditation is thinking about something to such an extent that it totally fills your mind. Meditation is just being quiet in order to enjoy the silence. Definitions and explanations for meditation are many but practical meditation is based on the idea that life is a meditation. Most if not all of us have been absorbed in thoughts at one time or another. Sometimes we have been so absorbed that we loose awareness of ourselves; we become one with our thoughts. Becoming one with our thoughts is the height of creativity and we become what we think about. The problem with untrained thinking is that we could easily drift into negative modes of thought. Generally negative thoughts are unhealthy if they are not balanced with their corresponding positive ones. Our attempt is to help you to meditate on the things that bring peace to your life rather than worries. Thus our purpose is to give you the tools to enable you to manage your thoughts. Our belief is that once you are able to take control of your thoughts you could realize almost anything in your life! Peace of mind, purity of thought, self-control, mental alertness, emotional balance, physical strength, connectedness, self-awareness, a sense of purpose, self-confidence, and good health are some of the many benefits to the person who manages his or her thoughts.

It is true that meditation has many benefits but not many people are practicing it. Meditation is still regarded as the domain of the spiritual seeker but there are four main reasons why meditation is still not widely practiced. The first and probably the most cited reason is that meditation is not easy. Well, it is not easy because no one taught us how to meditate when we were growing up. Most things that are new to us take time and practice before we could be used to them. According to Swami Sivananda ‘Meditation is painful in the beginning but it bestows immortal bliss and supreme joy in the end.’ Meditation seems painful because it is new to us. Like most things in life the moment we begin to practice it with a purpose it would become second nature. Another often cited reason is that ‘meditation is a foreign intrusion into our culture’. Meditation is often regarded as an Eastern discipline. “They have their ways and we have our ways”, someone might say. This attitude actually limits the flow of knowledge and in the end it is the individual who suffers. We become stuck to our traditional ways of thinking with no room for new thoughts and therefore no room for growth. However if you are loyal to your beliefs you may still find out more about meditation without adopting foreign practices. For instance if you are a Christian you could find out about what Christians do when they meditate or if you are a Moslem you could find out about what Moslems do when they meditate. In this way you could remain loyal to your beliefs and benefit from a foreign idea. If life is a meditation, as some people believe we are all meditating in one form or other. The practice of meditation will help you to master your thoughts. The third reason is that ‘meditation arouses mystical states’ and neophytes do not know how to deal with their experiences. Yes, meditation could heighten your sense of awareness but there is really nothing to worry about those states of mind. If you are concerned there are many qualified meditation practitioners all over the world. If you are not sure where to begin the best place to start is with a recognized Temple or Church. The last reason is ignorance. Many people do not know the importance of meditation in life. Now you know and we hope this guide will help you to get started.

This program is put together mostly for the beginner and for those who find it difficult to meditate or to control their minds. We are unable to control our minds because our thoughts are everywhere. We think about unholy things, money problems, missed opportunities and our failures the moment we are alone. If we are not thinking about these things we are feeling jealous, resentful, envious and sometimes even angry. No one could concentrate with all these intruders. But the good news is that through the practice of meditation you could train your mind to be free of all the undesirables and to have mastery over your thoughts. Pictures of saints, saviors and angels as well as inspirational passages are great objects of meditations. In training to achieve control over your mind concentrate on a picture, when your mind wonders bring it back to the picture. Continue this exercise until you become good at keeping the picture in your mind for as long as possible. You could do the same with your breath, inspirational passages, your favorite pet, a snow covered meadow, a flower or a past uplifting or joyful experience.

We specially recommend using meaningful experiences of the past when your mind dwells on negative or unfulfilling thoughts. Most negative thoughts catch us off guard and before we know it we are seriously dwelling on the thought to the extent that it literally consumes us. The first positive step in dealing with a negative thought is to follow it to its cause. Is the negative thought a resentment, anger, or loss? Who is the person at the other end of the thought? What happened? If the thought is a recurring one it is important that you address it immediately and stop it on its track. There are exercises to do this in the book. If the thought is just a distraction and has no internal value you may replace it with a positive past experience as soon as you realize it.

In order to make meditation enjoyable for the beginner it is important that you first determine what you intend to get out of it. In other words we want you to set a goal for your meditation program. It could be peace of mind, quitting a bad habit, purity of thought or developing self-confidence. The goal should be such that it motivates you to action at all times. Second we want you to decide to complete the program the moment you begin. This means that you will decide to do all the exercises in this program.

You will notice that some of the meditation exercises have been repeated over the course of the program. This is intentional to emphasize the importance of those exercises. We expect you to do these exercises on a daily basis. The first one is a Breathing Exercise to help to calm you down and prepare you for meditation. In this exercise it is recommended for you to inhale for four seconds. Hold the breath for four seconds. Exhale for four seconds. Hold the exhalation for four seconds. Repeat the process for as many times as possible. The second is a Counting Exercise also intended to calm you down and prepare your mind for meditation. In this exercise it is recommended that you count from 50 backwards, that is 50, 49, 48, etc, until you reach 1. Now count the normal way from 1 to 50. Next try counting from 1 to 100 and from 100 to 1. Concentrate on your counting and see the figures in your mind’s eye as you count. The third exercise is the Past Mindfulness Exercise. In this exercise it is recommended that you take inventory of your activities during the day. Where did you go? What did you do? Who did you meet? What did you contribute? How did you affect your environment? How did the environment affect you? The main purpose of this exercise is to reflect on the immediate past for improvement in the future. The Fourth exercise is the Future Mindfulness Exercise. In this exercise it is recommended that you visualize the next day of your life in the family and at work, at school or wherever you plan to be. What do you want to see happen? For the family you might want harmony, understanding and unity. For work you might want to see that you are doing your work well. For school you might want to get along with your teachers, classmates and getting good grades. You know what you want to realize, give, contribute or share the next day. Make it happen! The purpose of this exercise is to give you some control on your day and influence it in a positive way. Obviously the demand of the environment on your life is considerable and they range from family demands to the demands of your career or employment. In this exercise you decide in advance what you want your day to be.

I thank you for giving my meditation course a try and I wish you the best in your meditation practices. If I knew an easier way I would share it with you because your success is my business. However one way that has worked for many people is to meditate in groups. This works well for families but as an individual you could consult with your friends and begin a meditation program. Another alternative is to join a group meditation program. I encourage you to begin your meditation practice by first setting your goals and practice, practice and practice!

The Place for Meditation
Meditation is best accomplished in a secluded and quiet place but you could meditate in any place and at any time given a proper frame of mind. Any comfortable place will do. Some meditate on their beds, others in the fields, a corner of their home or a combination of them.

The Sleeping Bed
The sleeping bed is very comfortable for meditation but also an easy place to fall asleep. Try to stay awake if you are using your bed for meditation. However we encourage you to be active in your pursuit of meditation. Meditating on your bed is good but you should set aside a special place for meditation in your room.

A Natural Environment
Secluded natural environments like a river, wood, forest, field or the desert add value to meditation. In most cases they are quiet and the feel of the environment can enhance your meditation practice. Have you ever gone fishing in a boat by yourself along a river? If you were the only person at the time you probably enjoyed the quietness and the spiritual quality of the environment. You can experience the same silence in a wood or forest or any other natural environment that your love.

A Corner of your Home
Do you have a sanctuary or a sacred place in your home as explained by Joseph Campbell? Your sanctuary can be at a corner of your bedroom, living room or a room in your office. You could also use the corner of your child’s room. This corner wherever it may be should be set aside exclusively for meditation and prayer. You need a table or a desk and a chair. Cover the surface with a tablecloth and decorate it with materials that evoke a spiritual presence. You may use the picture of a savior, a saint, an angel or a favorite picture of yourself. You may also use  a natural scene that captures your imagination like a sun rise, a sun set, a river, flowers, trees, a snow capped mountain or any other natural scene that you prefer. If you believe in a particular religion you could have the symbol of the religion. In UNISM we use the Universal Love and the Unconditional Love banners. You may also have a diary, writing pad, a pen, a dictionary, and your favorite religious books. You may use soft inspirational music if you care.

Have some candles and incense. When all is ready you may dedicate the corner or the room for the psychological benefit that a ritual provides for those who partake in it. It does not have to be elaborate. You could play a spiritual music, read a spiritual book or light some candles, an incense and pray or affirm according to your preference or inclination. Your sanctuary will now become a place you associate with mystery, freedom, inspiration, goodness, patience, compassion, hope faith, beauty, power, miracles and all the spiritual things you can think about. You can now use your sanctuary for prayer and meditation as well as for resolving challenges and conflicts in your life.

House of Prayer
Meditating in a house of prayer such as a church or temple has the advantage of holiness. Saints, angels, stain glass windows and religious symbols have the effect of evoking a meditative state of mind. If the place of worship is available to you during the time of your meditation, it could be an encouraging place to meditate.

The Temple within Your Soul
The Temple within your soul is the perfect place for meditation in the sense that you could meditate at any time and at any place. The challenge however is how to get into the inner recesses of your soul; how to gain access to the holy of holies! This itself is a practice of meditation and by the time you are done with setting up the temple within your soul you would have advanced in your meditation practices.
Begin by first decorating your place of meditation within your soul. Have a table, a tablecloth, a couple of candles, incense on an incense burner, a comfortable temple regalia, an inspirational music, a favorite picture of yourself, a chair and any other material that you care to use. Now go within and set up the table. Unfold the table if it is a folding table and place it at a corner facing the East. The sun rises in the East and signifies the beginning of day. In the same way when you go into your sanctuary you will be facing the East in order to begin your day. Treat yourself to a new day after problems, conflicts, uncertainties or when having a difficult day.
Now place the tablecloth on the table followed by the candles. Place one candle to the North and the other to the south at the East end of the table. Now place your favorite picture between the candles. Next place the incense burner between your picture and one of the candles. Finally get the chair and place it by the table. Like the sacred place at the corner of your room you need to dedicate your inner temple. Have a shower, clean up and put on your temple clothes. Walk into your sacred place, light the two candles and the incense and sit on the chair.
Next listen to a celestial music or begin a short breathing exercise and when you are calm read a psalm and offer your dedication prayer or affirmation. Stay there for about 15 minutes or so and close the session by first putting off the candles and the incense. You may use your thumb and index finger to extinguish the candlelight or a candle extinguisher. As you put off the candlelight you may repeat the following: As the light of the candle is extinguished the LIGHT of the UNIVERSE is born in my soul! Amen. You can now leave your inner temple, remove your temple regalia and go about your normal business. The next time you go into your inner temple is to meditate or to pray. Dedication is done only once.

Time for Meditation

Certain times are good for meditation; good in the sense that one is more likely to have positive results at those times as compared to other times. But in fact it all depends on the state of mind of the individual. Thus one could meditate at any time provided one is physically ready and mentally present during the meditation.

Morning Meditation
Morning meditation starting around 5:00AM is considered to be one of the best periods for meditation. If you follow a traditional work schedule you go to bed around 9:00PM and wake up around 5:00AM, you may begin your morning meditation around 5:30AM. At this time the body is well rested and the mind is alert. Most people can meditate with ease. If you do not have a normal work schedule like those who work at night an afternoon or evening might will be good for you. In this case it is advisable for you to begin your meditation after you are well rested. If you have a traditional work schedule you are encouraged to have a shower and clean up as soon as you wake up in the morning. Cleaning up include brushing your teeth, using the toilet, etc. Put on your meditation clothes if you have one and immediately go to your scared place to meditate. It is important that you meditate before you eat or do anything outside preparing you for meditation.

Afternoon Meditation
Afternoon meditation begins around 12:00 Noon. For the one who has a 9 to 5 job this is a convenient time to meditate because you are usually on break. The disadvantage is that you are away from your sacred place and the question is ‘where do you meditate’? This is the time to take advantage of your inner temple as discussed in the last section. You could also retire to a nearby park, wood or river to begin your meditation. Seize every opportunity to be silent; because silence is the food of the soul.

Evening Meditation
Evening meditation could begin around 8:00PM. By this time you must have rested from work and the food you ate around 6:00PM must have been digested. In effect you are ready for a good night sleep but watch out not to fall asleep during your meditation. This is a good period for those who work the graveyard shift. Help yourself with meditation before you go to work. It could be the antidote for all the irritating things you are going to face at work.
Random Meditation
Random means you have no fixed time. You could meditate at any time if you feel like it. But it is a good practice to have a schedule for meditation in addition to random meditation. A fixed time that you look forward to could enhance your life from the happiness you derive from it. When you have a fixed time for meditation you look forward to this moment with joy. Each meditation brings you closer to your goal thus it is a good practice to meditate as often as you want even if it is just for 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes or 1 minute. Even the shortest duration of time you spend on meditation adds to your spiritual growth.

Meditation Sounds

Sound is an important part of meditation in the sense that it calms us down, elevates our consciousness and attunes our minds to the inner reaches of our being or the soul if you like. The proper sound takes us out of this world into a mythological place of joy, love, health and peace. In other words sound has the tendency to take us within. While there we could heal our selves and experience peace. Meditation sounds are many and it is up to you to choose the ones that compliment your being.

The Mantra
A mantra is a spiritual formula repeated by a person for the realization of an objective. Allah, Brahman, Jehovah, Christ, Krishna, Buddha or Oh God could be a mantra. A popular mantra is “Om Mani Padme Hum”. Some believe that saying the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, out loud or silently to oneself, invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Avalokiteshvara ( Tibetan Chenrezig, Chinese Guanyin), the embodiment of compassion. Generally mantras are used to gain control and peace in times of anxiety and uncertainty. We could reap this benefit when we use mantra at the beginning of our meditation practice. Mantras could also help us to deal with bad habits. When next you are inclined to repeat an addiction or an obsession, use your favorite mantra to stop your inclination. We could use mantras to dispel evil in our environment. Use your favorite mantra if you sense evil in your environment. Finally we could use mantra to improve our health or to save us from danger. Nevertheless some professionals believe that mantra should only be used as a means to an end and discarded completely otherwise they would become crutches. In this sense they recommend using meaningless mantras like Ha, Hu or Ho.
Nature Sounds
Nature sounds are waterfalls, cricket sounds, rain, waves, or similar sounds. We can use nature sounds to prepare us for meditation because of the relaxing, soothing or calming effect they have on us. They remind us of places we have been before and keep us in a meditative mood. We may also use them throughout the meditation period as long as they are not a distraction from our focus. One meditation exercise is to imagine a turbulent sea that gradually becomes quiet to the extent that you can even hear a pin drop. This exercise leads you from the outer chamber with noise and distractions to the silence of the inner chamber. There are many free nature sounds on the Internet but for a weekend project you may go to the coast or any natural environment and record your own nature sounds. We recommend audio sounds for your meditation.
Meditation Music
The type of meditation music to use in your practice will depend on your preference but it is important to choose the ones that touch your soul as opposed to your body. Music that touches your soul induces a meditative mood within you but the ones that touch your body makes you want to dance. With that said the music you choose doesn’t really matter as long as it touches your soul. It could be classical, flute, oboe, instrumental, or any other type of music that you prefer.

Meditation Position

The position you assume during meditation is an important one. Your goal for a meditation position is comfort. You want to be comfortable in the position you assume and without any kind of irritation irrespective of the duration of your meditation. You can use any of the following positions as long as it is comfortable for you but not too comfortable as to fall asleep. It is also advisable to try some of the positions that are new to you because they may work best for you if you take the time to practice and get used to them.

Standing or Walking Position
The standing meditation position comes in handy when we are in line waiting for our turn or when we are doing house chores. Use the time to practice deep breathing or to concentrate your attention on an idea or a problem. Since most chores are repetitive they have a way of taking your mind away from the activity and helping you to meditate. Walking or jogging also has the effect of taking your mind away from the exercise to a meditative mood. Do not hesitate to take advantage of such moments to practice your meditation.

Lying Position
You could meditate lying on a meditation mat or on your sleeping bed. The bed has the advantage of sleeping immediately after meditation but make sure you do not fall asleep while meditating. Some may see meditating on the sleeping bed as being too comfortable and with no extra effort made in order to practice. The meditation mat solves this problem with the extra effort needed to locate your mat and spreading it at your meditation corner and putting away the mat after your practice.

Sitting Position
The sitting position is one of the most popular positions for beginners. You could sit on the floor, a meditation mat or on a chair. Sit comfortably with the spine erect and legs relaxed. Place your hands lightly on your lap with palms turned up or down according to your preference. Relax your shoulders. As a beginner you may rest your back against the chair you are sitting on but do not allow the body to sag. Beginners sitting on a meditation mat may place the mat by a wall and sit with their back against the wall. Supporting your body on the back of a chair or a wall is only a temporary measure to aid your initial meditation practice. You should be able to sit erect without any support as time progresses and more especially during normal breathing exercises.

Prayer Position
There are several prayer positions including but not limited to kneeling with clasped hands by your face, standing with clasped hands by your face, kneeling with raised hands toward heaven, and standing with raised hands toward heaven. The choice of which of these prayer positions for your meditation practices is up to you but some believe that raising the hands toward heaven has the effect of increasing your spiritual energy. Raise your two hands toward heaven and experience the spiritual upsurge! Try it!

Tailor Position
The Tailor position requires that you sit on the floor and bend of your two knees so that the heel moves toward your buttocks. Next bend the other knee in the same fashion but place the leg over the other bent leg. This seems to be the most popular meditation position but not everybody can use it. You may try it but do not put too much strain on your back and body. It involves sitting with your feet

Burmese Position
The Burmese position is so named because it originated from Burma. In this position both feet resting on the floor. Place one foot in front, and the other behind it, so that neither leg crosses on top of the other. The knees should also rest on the floor for proper balance. This is position might also need some practice more especially for beginners.

Seiza Position
The seiza position is commonly used in Japanese martial arts but it originated from China. It involves kneeling on the floor and folding the legs underneath the thighs, and resting the buttocks on the heels. You cab sit seiza with a pillow or without a pillow. You can also use the seiza bench for proper support by keeping your weight off your feet and helping to keep your spine straight.

The Lotus Position
The Lotus potion originated from India as the proper posture for meditation. The Buddha and Shiva are often depicted sitting in the lotus position. In this position one sits down on the floor or a meditation cushion and places each foot on opposite thighs.

Half Lotus Position
In the half lotus position only the left foot is placed on the right thigh and the right leg is tucked under.

Duration of Meditation

It is not important to have a time limit for your meditation but as a beginner it is advisable to meditate for a comfortable time period like 5 minutes and gradually increase it to as long as your comfort demand. For instance you could meditate for 5 minutes during the first week, 10 minutes during the second week, 15 minutes during the third week, 20 minutes during the fourth week, 25 minutes during the fifth week, 30 minutes during the sixth week until you reach a time that suites your lifestyle and schedule. The next issue is how to determine the time in the midst of your meditation. Checking the time in order to know when to end your meditation could be a source of distraction. You should meditate for as long as you want provided it is rewarding and comfortable?

Breathing during Meditation

Breathe easily and rhythmically. Rhythmic breathing slows down the functions of the body. Train the breath mentally to become quiet and slow. As the body and heart beat become quiet, so does the mind respond until both mind and body become stilled and silent. We recommend practice deep breathing regularly. Inhale for four seconds. Retain the breath for four seconds. Exhale for four seconds. Hold the exhalation for four seconds. Inhale for four seconds.

Prayer for Meditation

It is advisable to begin your meditation with a prayer. Prayers have the effect of preparing the mind for meditation. When you pray you may lift your hands toward heaven, be in your favorite meditation position or place your right hand at the location of your heart. You may use the Universal Love Prayer or a favorite prayer. Try to pray from memory instead of reading. Here are a couple of meditation prayers.

Great Architect of the Universe, may I be a channel through which thy Holy ones approach the world. May I be a center for the radiation of thy power. Teach me to travel light, as do all who travel on the path. Break the bonds that bind. Teach me to give myself entirely to thy service, to attune myself to thy will. Teach me to lay down the simple personal life for the great Cosmic Life, and to love with the love of GOD. Anonymous.

Oh LOVE who pervades the Universe! We thank you for your unconditional Love. Your Presence is our Guiding Light. And your Love is our ornament. Protect us from evil. And heal us of all infirmities. Lead us at the crossroads of life. And reassure us when we are in doubt. Be our guide when we are helpless. And impress upon us that you are near. Give us the courage to ignite the Light within us. And let IT glow wherever we go. To enable us to help others to see their own Lights. For our own Enlightenment and for the triumph of Universal Love. Amen. THE UNIVERSAL HOLY BOOK: Book of Love: 7:1-17

Food & Meditation

Consider the following quotes and be wise. The first quote is by Adelle Davis and the second is by Samuel Johnson. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. He who does not mind his belly will hardly mind anything else. Watch what you eat and eat the proper foods. Generally we should avoid red meat and stay clear of heavy, spicy, hot and fried food. Chicken, fish, eggs fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole wheat, brown rice and honey are recommended. Do not meditate with a full stomach. Give two hours after a heavy food before you meditate and one hour after a light meal.

Exercise & Meditation

The following quotes regarding exercise are worthy of note. Physical activity is an excellent stress-buster and provides other health benefits as well. It also can improve your mood and self image (Jon Wickham). A lack of exercise robs the body of an essential ingredient (Karen Sessions). Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states (Carol Welch). Exercise is good for your mind, body, and soul (Susie Michelle Cortright). Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it (Plato). It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor (Cicero). There is no doubt that regular exercise is good for you. Walking, jogging, tennis and swimming are good forms of exercise. Exercising for at least thirty minutes a day is recommended. Enjoy fresh air and walk barefoot whenever you can.

Cigarettes, Drugs & Alcohol & Meditation

This is a direct quote from the Universal Holy Book about cigarettes, Drugs and alcohol: Smoking cigarettes or tobacco is bad for you. Using drugs or anything that alters the peace within your body is bad for you. They are deadly, addictive and they usually have side effects. You don’t need them to enhance your strength. You don’t need them to improve your memory. You don’t need them to lose weight. You don’t need them to control your weight. You don’t need them to appeal to your peers. You don’t need them to fit in. You don’t need them to develop muscles. You don’t need them to feel good. You don’t need them for anything. You don’t need them at all. Your body is designed to give you a sense of peace at all times. The Book of Life 6:90-103

Your Body, your Mind & Meditation

Your body is MY BODY. Keep it fit always. Keep it fit by exercising regularly. Keep it fit by eating the proper foods. Keep it fit by managing your thoughts. Keep fit by managing your emotions. And keep it clean always. Keep it clean by having a regular bath. Keep it clean by brushing your teeth regularly. Keep it clean by shaving if you have beards. Keep it clean by maintaining the peace within your body. Keep it clean by having a regular medical checkup. The Universal Holy Book: The Book of Life 1:63-74

Your mind is MY MIND. Rest your mind on noble thoughts. Use your mind to create your world. Use your mind to change your life. Use your mind for your own good. Use your mind for the good of all creatures. Use your mind for the good of the Earth. Use your mind for the good of the Universe. The Universal Holy Book: The Book of Life 1:75-82

Dress for Meditation

You may acquire a special robe for meditation. Usually one that is free and non-constricting will do. A graduation gown or a similar outfit is recommended. You need a dress that puts you in the mood for meditation. When choosing a meditation dress or gown you may think about spirituality. Actually any dress that takes you from the mundane world into the spiritual realm will do.

Meditation Subjects

Meditation involves entering the great world within, closing the outside doors and windows, shutting out all distractions and living yourself to the stillness within. Here you may examine the subject or problem under consideration. Once in the stillness within you let your thoughts to go as far as you are able on the subject, and open yourself to suggestions from the Divine Mind. Your choice of a subject for meditation could be divided into three categories: Attributes, Objects and Inspirational Sources. Attributes include Love, Faith, Compassion, Joy, Patience, Beauty, etc. Objects include a flower, a lighted candle, a crystal ball, a rough sea, etc and Inspirational sources include the Divine, a favorite Savior, a favorite spiritual teacher, a song, a poem, etc.

Meditation Process

You could mediate without any ceremonies but when meditating in your sanctuary you may consider the following process:
1. Determine in advance when to meditate in your sanctuary and stick to the time.
2. Clean up before meditation.
3. Retire to your sanctuary and play your favorite music or sound.
4 Light two candles and incense and put off the electric light.
5. Concentrate on your breathing. Learn to breathe deeply and rhythmically. Try the following exercises:
-Inhale for four seconds. Hold the breath for four seconds. Exhale for four seconds. Hold the exhalation for four seconds. Repeat the process for as many times as possible.
-Have your lips slightly open. Breathe in slowly and deeply. When you have breathed in as deeply as you are able hold the breath for a moment. Exhale slowly through your nose until your lungs are completely discharged. Repeat this process for as many times as possible.
-Breathe in slowly and deeply. Think of the breath as SPIRIT. Hold this breath and use it first to purify your head region including your brain, eyes, etc. Exhale slowly with all the impurities, pains, diseases, etc., leaving that area of the body and making it whole. Repeat the same technique with your chest region including the heart, liver, etc. Repeat with the remaining internal parts of your body. You may practice this exercise daily.
6. Reduce the volume of the music or put it off completely according to your preference.
7. Read a psalm or a poem; pray or repeat your favorite mantra.
8. Meditate on the assigned subject for the session. Let your mind examine the subject, reflect on the subject and be open to impressions from your soul.
9. You may end your meditation with an affirmation or a prayer.
10. Put off the candles and the incense at the end of your meditation.

Using candles and incense is optional. It all depends on you preferences. Most people use candles and incense to create a meditative state. It is like going to a temple or a church to pray. Stain glass windows, saints and angels create a meditative state for the individual and people who use candles and incense want to create an environment that is conducive to meditation and prayer.

Meditation Goals

I have reserved goal setting till the last in order to drive the point home that you need a goal even in your meditation practice if you want to succeed. Consider going to a bus station or an airport for a ticket to travel without a destination; you won’t get the ticket. You must know where you are going in order to get a ticket to travel to your destination. In the same way if you want to succeed in your meditation you ought to know where you want to be or what you want from it.

For instance do you want to kick a bad habit? May be your goal is to control your temper. Perhaps you want to lower your blood pressure or to improve your self-confidence. You know what you want from your meditation but whatever it is it should have the following characteristics:
– it is conceivable so that you could see it in your mind’s eye;
-it is believable meaning that you believe in it;
-it is achievable;
-it is measurable and it is controllable meaning that realizing the goal is within your control.

Goals are very important in the sense that they clarify our dreams and aspirations; they motivate us and give us a sense of purpose. Set your goals for meditation before you begin your practice to guide you in the direction you want to go!

Meditation in Sacred Texts

It has been said that knowledge is powerful but I say that spiritual knowledge is even more powerful. Some of our problems stem from cultural knowledge as opposed to universal knowledge. Consider the idea of God as an example. How can one really know GOD with a cultural knowledge? If GOD is universal which I think God is how can we be content with a definition from only one culture? We can’t! Thus until we look into other cultures and the universe as a whole we really cannot define GOD! “Meditation in Sacred Texts” presents meditation as viewed from different cultures. I believe this will help you to understand meditation more and may be carve your own path than following anyone blindly.

Meditation in the Upanishads: Svetasvatara Upanishad 2.8-17 

With upright body, head, and neck lead the mind and its powers into thy heart; and the OM of Brahman will then be thy boat with which to cross the river of fear.
And when the body is in silent steadiness, breathe rhythmically through the nostrils with a peaceful ebbing and flowing of breath. The chariot of the mind is drawn by wild horses, and those wild horses have to be tamed.

Find a quiet retreat for the practice of yoga, sheltered from the wind, level and clean, free from rubbish, smoldering fires, and ugliness, and where the sound of waters and the beauty of the place help thought and contemplation.

These are the imaginary forms that appear before the final vision of Brahman: a mist, a smoke, and a sun; a wind, fire-flies, and a fire; lightning, a clear crystal, and a moon.
When the Yogi has full power over his body composed of the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ether, then he obtains a new body of spiritual fire which is beyond illness, old age and death.

The first fruits of the practice of Yoga are: heath, little waste matter, and a clear complexion; lightness of the body, a pleasant scent, and a sweet voice; and an absence of greedy desires.

Even as a mirror of gold, covered by dust, when cleaned well shines again in full splendor, when a man has seen the Truth of the Spirit he is one with him, the aim of his life is fulfilled and he is ever beyond sorrow.
Then the soul of man becomes a lamp by which he finds the Truth of Brahman. Then he sees God, pure, never born, everlasting; and when he sees God he is free from all bondage.

This is the God whose light illumines all creation, the Creator of all form from the beginning. He was, he is and forever he shall be. He is in all and he sees all.
Glory be to that God who is in the fire, who is in the waters, who is in plants and in trees, who is in all things in this vast creation. Unto that Spirit be glory and glory.

Meditation in the Buddhist Sutras: Sutra on the Contemplation on Buddha Amitayus 9-11

Buddha then replied: ‘You and all other beings besides ought to make it your only aim, with concentrated thought, to get a perception of the western quarter. You will ask how that perception is to be formed. I will explain it now. All beings, if not blind from birth, are uniformly possessed of sight, and they all see the setting sun. You should sit down properly, looking in the western direction, and prepare your thought for a close meditation on the sun; cause your mind to be firmly fixed on it so as to have an unwavering perception by the exclusive application of your mind, and gaze upon it in particular when it is about to set and looks like a suspended drum.
‘After you have thus seen the sun, let that image remain clear and fixed, whether your eyes be shut or open;-such is the perception of the sun, which is the First Meditation.
‘Next you should form the perception of water; gaze on the water clear and pure, and let (this image) also remain clear and fixed (afterwards); never allow your thought to be scattered and lost.

‘When you have thus seen the water you should form the perception of ice. As you see the ice shining and transparent, you should imagine the appearance of lapis lazuli.
‘After that has been done, you will see the ground consisting of lapis lazuli, transparent and shining both within and without. Beneath this ground of lapis lazuli there will be seen a golden banner with the seven jewels, diamonds and the rest, supporting the ground. It extends to the eight points of the compass, and thus the eight corners (of the ground) are perfectly filled up. Every side of the eight quarters consists of a hundred jewels, every jewel has a thousand rays, and every ray has eighty-four thousand colors which, when reflected in the ground of lapis lazuli, look like a thousand million suns, and. it is difficult to see them all one by one. Over the surface of that ground of lapis lazuli there are stretched golden ropes intertwined crosswise; divisions are made by means of strings of seven jewels with every part clear and distinct.

‘Each jewel has rays of five hundred colors which look like flowers or like the moon and stars. Lodged high up in the open sky these rays form a tower of rays, whose storeys and galleries are ten millions in number and built of a hundred jewels. Both sides of the tower have each a hundred million flowery banners furnished and decked with numberless musical instruments. Eight kinds of cool breezes proceed from the brilliant rays. When those musical instruments are played, they emit the sounds “suffering,” “non-existence,” “impermanence,” and “non-self “; such is the perception of the water, which is the Second Meditation.

‘When this perception has been formed, you should meditate on its (constituents) one by one and make (the images) as clear as possible, so that they may never be scattered and lost, whether your eyes be shut or open. Except only during the time of your sleep, you should always keep this in your mind. One who has reached this (stage of) perception is said to have dimly seen the Land of Highest Happiness (Sukhavati).’

‘One who has obtained the Samadhi of supernatural calm is able to see the land of that Buddha country clearly and distinctly: this state is too much to be explained fully; such is the perception of the land, and it is the Third Meditation.

‘You should remember, Ananda, the Buddha words of mine, and repeat this law for attaining to the perception of the land of the Buddha country for the sake of the great mass of the people hereafter who may wish to be delivered from their sufferings. If any one meditates on the land of that Buddha country, his sins which bind him to births and deaths during eighty million kalpas shall be expiated; after the abandonment of his present body, he will assuredly be born in the pure land in the following life. The practice of this kind of meditation is called the “right meditation.” If it is of any other kind it is called “heretical meditation.”‘

Meditation in the Bhagavad Gita: Self Control: Bhagavad Gita 6:10-28

Let the student of spirituality try unceasingly to concentrate his mind; let him live in seclusion, absolutely alone, with mind and personality controlled, free from desire and without possessions.
Having chosen a holy place, let him sit in a firm posture on a seat, neither too high nor too low, and covered with a grass mat, a deer skin and a cloth.
Seated thus, his mind concentrated, its functions controlled and his senses governed, let him practice meditation for the purification of his lower nature.
Let him hold body, head and neck erect, motionless and steady; let him look fixedly at the tip of his nose, turning neither to the right nor to the left.
With peace in his heart and no fear, observing the vow of celibacy, with mind controlled and fixed on Me, let the student lose himself in contemplation of Me.
Thus keeping his mind always in communion with Me, and with his thoughts subdued, he shall attain that Peace which is Mine and which will lead him to liberation at last.
Meditation is not for him who eats too much, nor for him who eats not at all; nor for him who is overmuch addicted to sleep, nor for him who is always awake.
But for him who regulates his food and recreation, who is balanced in action, in sleeping and in waking, it shall dispel all unhappiness.
When the mind, completely controlled, is centered in the Self, and free from all earthly desires, then is the man truly spiritual.
The wise man who has conquered his mind and is absorbed in the Self is as a lamp which does not flicker, since it stands sheltered from every wind.
There, where the whole nature is seen in the light of the Self, where the man abides within his Self and is satisfied, there, its functions restrained by its union with the Divine, the mind finds rest.
When he enjoys the Bliss which passes sense, and which only the Pure Intellect can grasp, when he comes to rest within his own highest Self, never again will he stray from reality.
Finding That, he will realize that there is no possession so precious. And when once established there, no calamity can disturb him.
This inner severance from the affliction of misery is spirituality. It should be practiced with determination and with a heart which refuses to be depressed.
Renouncing every desire which imagination can conceive, controlling the senses at every point by the power of the mind;
Little by little, by the help of his reason controlled by fortitude, let him attain peace; and, fixing his mind on the Self, let him not think of any other thing.
When the volatile and wavering mind would wander, let him restrain it and bring it again to its allegiance to the Self.
Supreme Bliss is the lot of the sage, whose mind attains Peace, whose passions subside, who is without sin and who becomes one with the Absolute.
Thus, free from sin, abiding always in the Eternal, the saint enjoys without effort the Bliss which flows from realization of the Infinite.

Family Meditation Practice

“There are no mistakes in meditation. There is only the process of learning how to approach the practice, and discovering what habits or actions to let go of. This journey is unique for us all.”
Andy Puddicombe

The main purpose of a family meditation program is to cultivate unity within the family. As a family we are united in mission and purpose. To be united means that we care for each other; we help each other; we protect each other; we look out for each other; and we love each other. As parents we put the needs of our children above our needs and we put the needs of our family above our individual needs. Family meditation helps us to internalize our family values. The values of love teach us to care for others. Caring for others is the beginning of the development of unity consciousness. The values of patience teach us to take time in our interactions with our environment. When we take time we give way to the forces of fulfillment to work in our favor. The values of honesty teach us to be straightforward with our environment. When we are straightforward we are truthful in our dealings. The values of work teach us to contribute to the good of society. Work enables us to use our talents for the good of all creatures and at the same time helps us to take care of our own needs. The values of cooperation help us to work together with others for the accomplishment of worthwhile purposes. Cooperating with others brings out the best in us that serves as the missing link in a group effort. The values of generosity teach us to give without expecting anything in return. When we are generous with our time, talents and wealth we attract similar efforts from our environment for our good. These values are necessary not only for the growth and stability of our families but also for the growth and stability of society in general.

Family meditation also helps us to develop peace of mind. Raising children could sometimes be a daunting task but through daily meditation and disclosure we could reduce the stress of parenting. Meditation calms us down and helps us to be realistic with our environment. It helps children to divert their attention from the demands of life and focus on worthwhile endeavors. This diversion could be a tonic for their peace of mind and well being. Peace of mind as you would expect is necessary to excel in school since they would be able to concentrate in class and do their homework. Disclosure as mentioned above helps the parent to tune into the life of the child in school and in day care. Children like to talk about their day and do not hesitate to include disclosure in your meditation schedule for the family. In this way you could detect potential problems before they materialize. These problems could be drug use, bullies and similar issues in the life of your child.

A typical family meditation session could begin around 8:00 PM in a room like the living room or any other room. You may use meditation mats or cushions and sit facing the North or the East. Sitting facing the North aligns you with the earth’s magnetic field and sitting facing the East places you in the direction of the rising sun. You may also sit in a circle or semi circle depending on whether it is an individual meditation or group meditation. In an individual meditation each meditates on an assigned subject according to the person’s preference. In a group meditation each follows a guided pattern of meditation. You may begin with a breathing exercise for about 5 minutes before beginning the meditation. Breathing helps to foster the state of mind necessary for meditation. Your meditation could be for about 5 minutes initially and gradually increase the duration as the family becomes more comfortable.

It is healthy to serve tea at the end of your meditation as a treat for the family. Let an adult make the tea. The children may take turns to serve tea to each member. When choosing tea for your enjoyment after meditation, consider tea with health benefits like green tea. Green tea is said to help in boosting the immune system, regulating cholesterol levels, fighting the build-up of sticky plaque in the arteries, interfering with the cancer process, assisting in weight loss, fighting harmful bacteria and viruses, protecting the body against free radical damage, etc. For all these benefits it is worth serving green tea and raise your children to make a healthy choice for their tea needs.
Make individual disclosure a part of your meditation program. This is a proactive way of finding out what is going on in your child’s life when you are not there. Let them talk about their day with respect to their classmates, teachers and friends. Ask them what they did at school or in the day care. Find out about their relationship with their friends and their teachers. Find out if there are any bullies in their class. If there are bullies what is the school doing about them. Follow up with the teacher or principal immediately. Drug use, peer pressure and discrimination are some other areas to be concerned with your child’s education and well-being.
Let the children first take turns to share what happened to them in school. If they go straight to the day care after school let them also talk about what happened at the day care. There should be complete silence as soon as sharing begins. Parents should pay particular attention to each child as he or she recounts what happened. Do not interrupt the presentation. Ask questions after each presentation. Parents should also share their day at work or wherever they went and what they did during the day. Encourage the children to also ask questions after each disclosure session.

You may use part of the meditation period to make presentations on books you read during the week. You could also observe family reading time on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Family reading is when the whole family reads for about 30 minutes. Set a family reading goal. For instance each member of the family may finish reading a book of about 100 pages every week. Encourage the family by rewarding those who meet this goal. A family award certificate, a treat at your son’s or daughter’s favorite restaurant, or a “well done” card are some of the ways to reward anyone who meets his or her goal.

Further you may also use the period after meditation to draft, update or reconsider your family rules. Family rules are important to the family and should be a visible part of the family. Every family member should have a copy. While family rules are important lack of enforcement for violations will seem as if you have no rules at all. For an effective rule let all members of the family including the children make the rules and the children should also take part in the enforcement. Enforcement could be a dollar for each violation and the proceeds donated to a non-profit organization such as a homeless shelter or animal rescue center at the end of the year.

Lastly we cannot overlook the importance of food even in a program of meditation. According to the Bhagavad Gita (Bhagavad Gita 6:16-17): Meditation is not for him who eats too much, nor for him who eats not at all; nor for him who is overmuch addicted to sleep, nor for him who is always awake. But for him who regulates his food and recreation, who is balanced in action, in sleeping and in waking, it shall dispel all unhappiness.

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Course Content

Family Meditation-Month 1
The goal of the first month of meditation is to prepare your environment, mind and body for meditation. Your environment including your neighborhood, home, etc could be a source of distraction. Are you at peace with your neighbors? Does your home bring out the best in you? This is an opportunity to find out potential conflicts in your environment and resolve them. Next consider your state of mind. Do you have any mental issues like guilt feelings, resentment, and similar feelings that encroach on your thoughts? It is time to address them. Finally check out your physical body and make sure all is right with you. 

  • Lesson 1: Month 1, Week 1, Day 1
  • Lesson 2: Month 1, Week 1, Day 2
  • Lesson 3: Month 1, Week1, Day 3
  • Lesson 4: Month 1, Week 1, Day 4
  • Lesson 5: Month 1, Week 1, Day 5
  • Lesson 6: Month 1, Week 2, Day 1
  • Lesson 7: Month 1, Week 2, Day 2
  • Lesson 8: Month 1, Week 2, Day 3
  • Lesson 9: Month 1, Week 2, Day 4
  • Lesson 10: Month 1, Week 2, Day 5
  • Lesson 11: Month 1, Week 3, Day 1
  • Lesson 12: Month 1, Week 3, Day 2
  • Lesson 13: Month 1, Week 3, Day 3
  • Lesson 14: Month 1, Week 3, Day 4 
  • Lesson 15: Month 1, Week 3, Day 5
  • Lesson 16: Month 1, Week 4, Day 1: 
  • Lesson 17: Month 1, Week 4, Day 2: 
  • Lesson 18: Month 1, Week 4, Day 3
  • Lesson 19: Month 1, Week 4, Day 4 
  • Lesson 20: Month 1, Week 4, Day 5

Family Meditation-Month 2
The goal of the second month of meditation is to consider your family vision, mission and goals. Do you have a family Vision? Do you have a family mission statement? Do you have any family goals for this year? If not this is a perfect time to meet and write your family vision, mission and goal statement. If you already have these it is also a good idea to reconsider them and write them down and display them where everyone can see them.

Family Meditation-Month 3
The goal of the third month of meditation is to manage our emotions. Emotions are a part of our lives. There is no day that goes by without one feeling happy, loving, hopeful, faithful, optimistic, sympathetic, joyful, curious, interested, enthusiastic, inspirational, proud, laughing, contented, accepting, and peaceful. On the other hand there is no day that goes by without someone feeling disappointed, hurt, frustrated, guilty, hopeless, jealous, revengeful, greedy, blaming, regretful, resentful, lustful, angry, hostile, fearful, hateful, grief, superstition and proud. There is nothing wrong in feeling these emotions because the emotions are not good or bad in themselves. It is in our reactions that the emotions could result in something good or bad. For instance if you are angry with your parent and you hit her you have done something bad. On the other hand if you are happy and you clean the house you have done something good. The challenge is to find out the link to your emotions and do the things that foster your life and avoid the things that hurt others.

Family Meditation-Month 4
The goal of the fourth month of meditation is to improve our health. Overweight, fast food, stress, anger, fear, superstition, inactivity, bullies, pollution, immunization, injury, violence, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are a few areas that could be a source of problems to our health. The focus of this month is to take an inventory of our lives at home, work and school in order to determine our risk areas.

Family Meditation-Month 5
The goal of the fifth month of meditation is to know your fellow creatures. The plants, trees, insects, birds, fishes, animals and all the numerous creatures that share the Earth with us are also important. As chief Seattle said they are our brothers and sisters. What have you done to know them? How have you helped them? This is your chance to learn about them and know that you are one!. 

Family Meditation-Month 6
The goal of the sixth month of meditation is to determine your stage of spiritual development. Spirituality is a personal journey for the transformation of consciousness to enable us to know ourselves and the world around us. There are 7 stages of Spiritual Development including the Native, the Neophyte, the Awakened, the Seeker, the Rebel, the Enlightened, and the Savior. The NATIVE is born into a particular culture and embraces all or most of the elements of his culture. The NEOPHYTE is a beginner on the spiritual path. He usually starts with meditation. The AWAKENED sees the LIGHT and wakes up from his cultural hypnosis. The SEEKER sets out to make sense of his experiences or to answer the questions on his mind. The REBEL graduates from the quest with a lot of knowledge and thinks he could change the world. The ENLIGHTENED pierces the veil of ignorance. The SAVIOR becomes one with creation and develops compassion for all creatures. He usually provides some guidelines to help the people from their cultural hypnosis.

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