Isn’t meditation for hippies, geeks, and weirdos who sell flowers at the airport? Isn’t it a cult? This is what your rational mind might be saying. After all, it’s not the most “normal” activity in the United States heartland. Yet, surprisingly, meditation is practiced in a multitude of forms by millions worldwide.
A certain mystique has developed around meditation. After all, it comes from the exotic East. It ain’t exactly cornbread, hamburgers, mashed potatoes, chocolate cake, and Coca-Cola. Few people in the Western Hemisphere have any inkling of what meditation is. Many condemn it, even brand it Satanic. Others may have tried it, but gave up long ago, concluding it didn’t work. Some stuck their finger into the meditation fire, but got burned, either by a cult, a guru, or due to ignorance, fear, or misunderstanding.
In the mid-twentieth century the word “meditation” was barely in the dictionary. Now it’s commonplace. From Transcendental Meditation taught by the Beatles’ guru, to Zen meditation, taught by monks in Japan, from subways of New York to sweat lodges of Native Americans, from churches to synagogues, from bedrooms to boardrooms, meditation is practiced in an amazing variety of forms.
Let’s examine some meditation myths and overcome any confusion that you might have.
Myth 1: Meditation is for hippies.
If you believe this, then you probably still own a 1969 Chevy. That’s how outdated this idea is. In the 1960s, when meditation was first introduced to the West by gurus such as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Swami Satchidananda, Yogi Bhajan, Bhagwan Rajneesh, and others, it was practiced by political radicals at University of California at Berkeley and flower children of the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco. But for the past few decades, meditation has spread from streets of San Francisco to average Joe’s living room, to offices of high-tech companies, influencing all levels of society.
A plethora of meditative practices is found in any given city, from numerous marshal arts practices, to Yoga, to Tai Chi, to hypnosis, to Christian centering prayer. Even the most conservative churches offer meditation during their spiritual retreats. Meditative practices are now commonplace in sales, business, and management trainings.
According to statistics in The Cultural Creatives—How 50 Million People Are Changing the World, twenty-five percent of the United States population (approximately sixty million people) regard meditation and spiritual pursuits vitally important and also accept the probability of psychic powers, such as telepathy, knowing the future, communicating with spirits, and so forth. A staggering sixty-one percent of the population is open to various ways of perceiving and experiencing the sacred in life, believe in psychic and spiritual events, think the divine is both in the world and also transcendent, and believe in developing more awareness.1
“Where the growth rate for the U.S. economy as a whole is two to four percent a year, many of the industries that serve the consciousness movement are growing at ten to twenty percent a year. The size of the population they serve, and the money involved, is doubling every few years.”2
Meditation and consciousness expansion is definitely prevalent. It’s mainstream. And it’s here to stay.
Myth 2: You don’t have time to meditate.
The question is not whether you have time meditate, but whether you have time not to. That’s because your efficiency and success at work, at school, in sports, in society, and in your relationships will increase dramatically when you meditate. Hundreds of studies have shown meditation increases alertness, relaxation, coordination, health, even IQ. It has even been proven to slow down the aging process. With such amazing results, how can you afford not to take time to meditate?
Myth 3: You can’t meditate.
Anyone can meditate. Do you have a mind? If you do, then you can meditate. Can you think a thought? If so, you can meditate. Are you alive and breathing, and can you understand simple instructions? Then you can meditate. You can prove it to yourself by using the simple meditation practices in this book.
Myth 4: Meditation is against your religion.
Is there really a religion that’s against meditation?
Hindu, Jain, Taoist, Sikh, Confucian, and Buddhist scriptures advocate meditation as a way to attain a state of stillness that reveals the true nature of the self. The Roman Catholic Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola and The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross instruct Christians to meditate on events of Jesus’ life. Christian centering prayer, a form of meditation, is practiced widely today. Sufis meditate on the Qur’an’s ninety-nine most beautiful names of God.3 Jewish mystics meditate on a verse of Torah to uncover its true meaning. Shamanic seekers engage in a vision quest in seclusion to help them break through limitations and discover life purpose.
King David said, “Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be silent.”4 “Be still, and know that I am God.”5
Isaiah said, “In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.”6
Jesus said, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”7
Mohammed said, “Contemplation for an hour is better than formal worship for sixty years.”8
The Sufi ‘Ali (Abû Tâlib) said, “Silence is the garden of meditation.”9
Lord Buddha said, “Verily, from meditation arises wisdom. Without meditation wisdom wanes.”10
Lord Krishna said, “When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like a flame of a lamp in a windless place. In the still mind, in the depths of meditation, the eternal self reveals itself.”11
Lao Tzu said, “Attain utmost vacuity; Hold fast to quietude.”12
The Sikh Guru Nanak said, “In the cool, dew-drenched night are shining the stars: At this hour are awake the devotees, lovers of God, Meditating each day on the Name—Their hearts meditating on the lotus feet of God, Whom they forsake not for an instant.”13
The Jains pray, “As long as I am seated in this meditation, I shall patiently suffer all calamities that might befall me, be they caused by an animal, a human being, or a god.”14
Confucius said, “Only after knowing what to abide in can one be calm. Only after having been calm can one be tranquil. Only after having achieved tranquillity can one have peaceful repose. Only after having peaceful repose can one begin to deliberate. Only after deliberation can the end be attained.”15
If your religion wasn’t mentioned above, I’ll bet the original scriptures of your religion will encourage you to meditate.
So which religion do you belong to?
Myth 5: You’re too impatient to meditate.
My guru used to say that the mind always seeks a field of greater happiness. Your mind constantly pursues objects of pleasure that provide more fascination. That’s why it continually wanders. It’s impossible to keep the mind under control, so there’s no point in trying. The reason for impatience is that you want fulfillment now. Experience has proven (and Eastern scriptures say) that the quickest way to complete satisfaction is by reaching absolute bliss consciousness in deep meditation. So why not meditate and enjoy the contentment that you’re seeking, right now?
Myth 6: You can’t sit still that long.
Although Chapter 5 primarily focuses on a step-by-step method of sitting meditation, there are countless ways to meditate where you don’t have to sit still, or even sit down! Since your higher self is everywhere and every time, you can meditate anywhere, anytime, day or night. You can call upon your higher self while in your car, while walking, jogging, working, speaking, cooking, or studying.
Any time you call upon the divine presence, anywhere, you’ll immediately be filled with divine grace, wisdom, and peace. Let’s experiment right now. Take a deep breath. Relax. Take another deep breath. Now call upon your higher self or call upon a sacred name of divinity aloud, and just see what happens. Word your request something like this:
“I call upon ____(fill in this blank with a sacred name)______ to be here with me right now, to lift my vibration and to fill me with love, grace, and blessings.”
Now close your eyes for a few moments.
Myth 7: You’re too tired to meditate.
The issue isn’t whether you’re too tired to meditate. Rather it’s whether you’re too tired because you don’t meditate. If you did meditate, you wouldn’t be tired. That’s because meditation supplies abundant energy and relieves all tiredness. The source of your being is a fountainhead of unlimited power and vitality. When you meditate and reach that inner wellspring, you can drink your fill. Once you have drunk, that well remains ever brimful.
Myth 8: You’re too old to meditate.
The problem here isn’t whether you’re too old. Instead it’s whether you can afford not to meditate at your age. With each passing day you’re either cheating death or else taking a step closer to the grave. Meditation helps you reverse those steps and become more youthful. Many people have managed to turn back the dial on their biological clock through meditation.
Myth 9: You can’t meditate because you don’t believe in God.
Why should you believe in God? After all, how can you believe in something you’ve never experienced firsthand? In order to have faith, first you need direct experience. Meditation is a way to experience your higher self. You may not have that experience the first time you meditate, but, if you continue meditating, you will. No faith or belief is required. All you need is willingness to learn. The meditation techniques offered in this book are simple step-by-step procedures without dogma, creed, or doctrine. Think of meditation as a science, a science of mind, if you will. It’s a way to explore the recesses of your inner being. Like the explorers who traverse outer space, you’re a trailblazer into inner space. So put on your inner-space helmet and come with me into the adventure of a lifetime, a divine pilgrimage into the reaches of your higher self.
“Mediation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.”