What Is Meditation?
by Robert Butera, Ph.D.
Meditation can be defined in a literal manner as an exercise of
focusing the mind on one thought, image, feeling, or concept. In the
concentration-oriented meditation methods, the mind focuses on a word,
a prayer, a visual image, a spiritual concept, or the breath. With the
mindfulness type of meditation, you may simply set the mind in observer
mode. Each of the literal definitions of meditation works toward a
similar goal of quieting the mind.
Another version to
this question could be, "What is meditation in terms of how it relates
to daily life?" Suddenly, the literal translation of an activity
extends into the relationship between the practice of meditation and
At this point a tension exists between two parties—meditation and life.
Does practicing meditation by sitting still each day from five to
thirty minutes improve your life? Or does engineering your life in the
direction of simplicity make you capable of meditating? In other words:
Which comes first (the chicken or the egg question)—meditation or a
Let's start from the meditation point of view. If you are going to be
disciplined enough to sit still for an average of twenty minutes a day,
that means you have to make sure that you have the proper food, because
you can't concentrate on meditation if you are hungry. You must be
rested, or you will fall asleep five minutes into your meditation. If
you haven't exercised, you will feel antsy during meditation practice.
And, if you haven't cleared some free time with your family members, it
will be very frustrating to meditate at home. At work, it is better to
decrease any stress-based reactions to keep the mind steady for your
evening meditation. Pretty much, just sitting to meditate causes you to
balance every aspect of your life.
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1. You founded the
YogaLife Institute, and your previous book (The
Pure Heart of Yoga)
focused on yoga. Your new book, Meditation
for Your Life,
focuses on different styles of meditation. Why now a book on meditation?
These days, yoga has become known for its
stellar fitness results. However, mind-body fitness occupies only the
first few limbs of yoga’s famous 8-Fold Path. The steps of the yoga
path that include yoga poses are technically steps one to five. These
first five steps of yoga are highlighted in my first book, The Pure Heart of
Yoga. The final three steps of yoga (please note that there
are many forms of yoga, and this is the aspect that covers physical
yoga postures) are named Concentration, Meditation, and Trance
Consciousness. These final three points are the content of this second
book, Meditation for Your
Life. This second book is a continuation of the first.
2. Many people often think of
meditation as a one-size-fits-all type of practice, yet Meditation
for Your Life
introduces six different types of meditation. From where do these six
different types originate?
The short answer is: during my Yoga
Therapy Ph.D. in a twenty-page term paper on Meditation. Assignments at
the Ph.D. level are more open-ended so long as a compelling 20-page,
footnoted essay was crafted.
What to write on Meditation that wasn’t
written? Traditional Yogis believe in teaching in the one-to-one format
and only practices that relate to each student’s life. With meditation,
the adept yogi is to know all the methods of meditation and teach the
student the one best for his/her disposition.
I figured it was time to simplify the
hundreds of meditation exercises into categories that summarize the
type of mental processing. After weeks of research, these six were
born. The YogaLife Institute has taught this program for years now, and
feel that these categories are solid (that is not just me speaking, but
our instructors and students as well). The six categories are:
- Breathing Meditation
- Mantra Meditation
- Intentionality, Prayer/Nature
- Contemplative Inquiry
does one determine what style of meditation is right for them? Is there
any harm in using the "wrong" style of meditation?
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Blissful Are You? Take the Quiz
by Tess Whitehurst
Metaphysics isn't about adding something else into our
lives, like a ritual. It's opening up to, and tapping into, the
generous flow of prosperity that is already in existence. Consciously
manifesting things that bring us joy, then, is a process of opening up
to who we really are and aligning with the divine energies that
naturally want to flow through our life experience. Tess Whitehurst,
author of The Art of Bliss, explains the concepts of
manifesting joy and happiness in our lives, and provides a quiz to
discover how each of the nine keys to bliss are currently present in
Spirits Amongst the Dead
by Mariah de la Croix
Why would spirits want to hang around a mortuary, a
place filled with depressing energy? Psychic intuitive Mariah de la
Croix certainly didn't think that they would want to; her five years in
the funeral business proved her wrong, however. Here she details just
what it was like to be so up close and personal with the spirits that
remained near the places of the recently deceased.
Tells a Story: The Story Behind the Cards for Witches Tarot
by Ellen Dugan
Witches Tarot deck, by Ellen Dugan and artist Mark Evans,
began on a cold winter day almost three years ago. How did the deck
come to be? Here, Ellen Dugan discusses the story behind the cards.