Meditation Matters

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Welcome to “Meditation Matters” – a weekly journal and podcast published each Thursday, exploring the many worlds of meditation.

Meditation is the gateway to the infinite, the spiritual realm, the reality within us. Meditation can energise our life, transform our outlook, solve all our problems and unlock hidden capacities.

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Everyone can meditate: it’s simple, it’s natural, it’s powerful … and it’s free.

Meditation is self-discovery, self-awareness of all that lies within us beyond the thinking, rational mind. As we go deeper within, we discover that what lies within is also the key to understanding and appreciating all that lies around us as well.

We can read about meditation, talk about meditation, think about meditation – but for the many benefits of meditation, we have to PRACTISE … daily.

“Meditation Matters” will explore the theory and philosophy of meditation, but will mostly focus on the practice; the lived experience of meditation.

We’ll introduce simple, practical exercises that anyone can enjoy at home on a daily basis, and the steps to establish your daily meditation practice: how to incorporate meditation into your everyday life and make it a part of your very living – for meditation has to be a lived experience that flows into every heartbeat, every thought, every intention, every feeling, every breath of our life, to transform not only the way we see and feel, but our very way of being.

We’ll share our knowledge of meditation, our passion for meditation, our experience of meditation and our love of meditation.

“Meditation Matters” will explore all matters meditation: we’ll look at the challenges and obstacles facing someone starting a practice of meditation for the first time, and maintaining that practice. We’ll also explore the many benefits of meditation, and most importantly, delve into the infinite reasons why … Meditation Matters.

76: Am I a Failure?

We know that the goal of meditation is to enter into a completely vacant, still and silent mind. Yet even after years of practise, I am still being bothered by thoughts and distractions. Does this mean I am a useless meditator, wasting my time? Not at all! To be able to silence the mind at will is a monumental achievement requiring an enormous effort of will, practise and persistence.
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75: All These Thoughts!

We are so used to our mind’s constant clutter, that we become inured to its incessant activity. The only time we notice so many thoughts is when we sit down and try to meditate. It’s as though all of a sudden there are all these thoughts at the precise moment we don’t want any! Of course the thoughts have been there the whole time…
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74: Morning Meditation – To Serve the World

If we are inspired to feed the hungry, we must first grow and harvest some crops. If we are inspired to give money to the poor, we must first earn the money. The same applies to inner wealth: peace, love, happiness and satisfaction­. We must first find and cultivate these qualities before we can offer and share them with the world at large. Many feel a calling to save the world. There is so much suffering, unhappiness, ignorance, anger, fear, stress and despair.
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73: Morning Meditation – Instructions for the Day

All of us have a sense that there is something or someone superior in wisdom and capacity – whether part of our own being or beyond us – to which or to whom we would ideally turn for guidance, instruction and inspiration. Be it a family member, friend or counsellor, a scripture, our spiritual heart, soul, God or some other deity, we all feel the need to turn to some source greater, deeper and more illumined than our own minds and emotions.
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72: Morning Meditation – Gliding from a Height

There is a widely held view that we are all either “morning people” or “NOT morning people”. Those who regard themselves as NOT morning people tend to find it more difficult to meditate successfully in the morning, and report better quality meditations in the evening.
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71: Morning Meditation – Your Identity Card

Next time you are angry, stressed, confused or depressed, look at yourself in the mirror. What do you feel from this face? Do you find it attractive – or otherwise? One time after you have had a good meditation, do the same: look at yourself in the mirror. What do you feel from this face?
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70: Morning Meditation – Tuning our Instrument

Every day is a new game, a new song, a new journey, a new examination. Our instrument is our consciousness. Just as an athlete prepares with stretching and warm-up exercises, a musician carefully tunes their instrument, a traveller packs their bags and a student studies for an exam, so our morning meditation prepares our consciousness so we are in shape for our daily game, song, journey and examination.
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69: Morning Meditation – Money in the Bank

Meditating first thing in the morning is like putting money in the bank.

When we have money in the bank, we can withdraw it to spend whenever the need arises. It is said: “Morning shows the day.” When we wake up we are relatively unconscious. What we do first thing after waking can hugely influence our state of consciousness for the remainder of the day.
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68: The Musk Deer

The original source of musk fragrance is the male musk deer, which produces the famous scent from a gland in its body. The story goes, that when the deer first becomes aware of this fragrance, it becomes enchanted, and starts to follow it, seeking its source. The deer walks around in search of this alluring wonder. No matter which way it turns, the fragrance remains always slightly out of reach. It cannot locate the source. Obsessed, the deer starts to run and run, madly pursuing the elusive unattainable.
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67: The Tiny Infinite

There is an infinite universe around us … and an infinite within. To embrace the infinite, it is customary to identify with something vast, like the ocean or the sky. You can instead choose something very small. The finite realm we inhabit, which dominates our present awareness, is a fine, flimsy gauze covering the infinite reality within and all around. Just as height and depth in meditation are ultimately the same; so the same truth is embodied within the vast, as in the tiny. Vast and tiny are conceptions of our mind; beyond the mind’s domain, vast and tiny alike dissolve in the One.
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66: A Thumbnail, a Black Dot

To meditate, we must focus the mind. Our tool is concentration. The better our concentration, the easier it is to enter into meditation. As a chef cannot work with a blunt knife, so one cannot meditate with a scattered and wandering concentration.
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65: Vaster than the Universe

Sit alone, somewhere quiet. Dive deep into your heart. We feel our spiritual heart in the region of our physical heart, in the centre of our chest, but deeper within. Imagine you are not your body, mind or emotions but only your heart of peace, love, light, joy and gratitude blossoming and spreading with the sweetest fragrance. You are all heart from top to bottom, within and without.
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64: Turning the Light On

When you go into a dark room, if you want light, you turn on the light switch. This is exactly how meditation works to dispel our inner darkness – our problems, worries, doubts, fears and anxieties. If you want light in a dark room, you don’t blunder about in the darkness, exploring all the dark corners in the expectation that somehow the room will miraculously become illumined.
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63: The Mountaintop

Sit alone, somewhere quiet. Focus on your breathing, bringing it under your conscious control, calming, slowing and making your breath one steady flow – in and out, in and out, through your nostrils. Breathe with your diaphragm, your upper body remaining perfectly still.
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62: The Power of Imagination

The present mind and heart are two entire ways of being, each seeing and feeling the world and ourselves differently. The mind craves control; the heart seeks love. We can only control what is fixed and certain; hence the mind’s mission to define, delimit and detain. The mind wants to reduce the universe so it can be possessed, known and dominated.
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61: The Mind and the Heart (7) – Sound and Silence

The present mind and heart are two entire ways of being, each seeing and feeling the world and ourselves differently. The mind craves control; the heart seeks love. We can only control what is fixed and certain; hence the mind’s mission to define, delimit and detain. The mind wants to reduce the universe so it can be possessed, known and dominated.
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60: The Mind and the Heart (6) – The Licensed Driver

It’s not that we don’t like the mind. The mind is not bad. It is potentially extremely good. It has just headed in a wrong direction. The mind is like an adorable little boy of the family who thinks it great fun to splash paint over everyone’s food – at every meal. At some point, his ways need to change, before we all starve.
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59: The Mind and the Heart (5) – The Ruler and the Sky

The mind and the heart perceive and comprehend reality differently. The mind’s modus operandi proceeds on the understanding that it is observing something separate from itself. The mind constructs models of reality based on evidence it receives from the senses and other sources. These models are constantly changing as new evidence comes to light, just as the mind itself is subject to constant change.
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57: The Mind and the Heart (3) – Unity and Division

The mind divides; the heart unites. Yesterday I was poring over some accounts; George was studying calculus – we were both much in our minds. We met and started a conversation. It happens that George and I like different colours, different kinds of music, different foods, movies and sporting teams. After 5 minutes, we made a long list – of all our differences.
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56: The Mind and the Heart (2) – A Coup d’Etat

Our mind is the servant that has become the master. Fire can be used to cook, to warm us and give light: or it can destroy. The mind is meant to be an instrument for our use, processing information from the senses, and applying its intellect for our own and the greater good. The mind is a wondrous power, an indispensable tool to aid us to live and operate in the world.
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55: The Mind and the Heart (1) – The Coalface of Progress

We have seen that of the five levels of our being, the lower three levels – body, vital and mind – are finite, while the higher two levels – our spiritual heart and soul – are infinite. The qualities we seek: peace, love, joy and satisfaction, all are infinite. All abide in our heart and soul. Yet our present consciousness is most dominated by our finite parts: in particular, our mind.
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54: A Unique and Dramatic Tension

At the heart of the human condition lies a contradiction which gives rise to a unique and dramatic tension. This contradiction is in the very character and attributes of the various levels of our being: body, vital, mind, heart and soul.
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53: Our Five Levels of Being (5) – The Soul

The soul is our source, the only part of us which is eternal – yet we have of the soul, only a vague awareness. We have become estranged from our own true self.If you ask people if they have a soul, most will immediately answer, “Yes”. But ask them to prove it; you will likely get a blank stare of bewilderment.
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52: Our Five Levels of Being (4) – The Spiritual Heart

Make a list of all the qualities you most treasure; the qualities you, and the world, need most urgently. Your list might include peace, love, oneness, joy, fulfilment, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, wisdom, courage, strength, belonging, kindness, tolerance, patience, beauty, sweetness, perfection, satisfaction.
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50: Our Five Levels of Being (2) – The Vital

There are two convenient ways to represent a model of our five levels of being. One way is as a 5-story building, where the body is the ground floor and each succeeding level is the next floor above. This model is useful to understand some aspects of the relations between the various levels.
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49: Our Five Levels of Being (1) – The Body

We are complex beings… infinitely more complex than the physical Universe around us. While no model can ever adequately represent the multifarious levels of our consciousness, nevertheless for our purposes it is helpful to envision ourselves as comprising five essential levels of being.
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48: The Ultimate of Everything

The highest moments in our lives, the pinnacle experiences, are but glimpses of our deeper selves, our true nature. When we are swept off our feet with happiness; when we gasp at the sheer beauty of a sunset; when our heart melts in the smile of an innocent child; when we are lost in wonder at the towering majesty of mighty mountains or the twinkling mystery of far galaxies; when we thrill to pure poetic perfection; glow with the flame of inspiration or soar on the wings of song; when we are seized with the revelation of a new truth; when we exult in silent speechless bliss of rapt meditation – these moments are signposts to the Beyond, the eternal reality within.
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47: Just a Moment

Stop. Clear your mind and recall any most inspiring incident, experience or feeling from your past… Fully immerse yourself in and treasure this memory for a while. You will notice that what you have recalled, is just a single moment.
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46: A Hole in the Ground

When you walk past the building site of a new large building in the city, and peer through the window of the siding walls protecting the site, for months on end all you will see is a hole in the ground.
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45: Mantra in Practise (3)

Mantra is a most effective form of meditation practise because it simultaneously involves many levels of our being. The body is involved in creating the sound; we feel the vibration, resonance and cadence of the mantra in our very limbs.
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44: Mantra in Practise (2)

After chanting all the words on your list in turn, each for a minute or two, conclude with the mantra “AUM” for a while. Feel that the sound is emanating spontaneously from the depths of your spiritual heart.
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43: Mantra in Practise (1)

A mantra is the repetition of a phrase, word or syllable. The mantra is the focus of our meditation and the meditation itself. The mantra, its meaning, sound and resonance are at once an anchor for the mind and an invocation of a spiritual force, power or quality.
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42: The Manifold Munificent Mystery of Mantra

Human beings have a deep, mystic relationship with words. Words connect us with meaning, sound, vibration, and with Being itself. They are a means to communicate, to illustrate, to educate, to elevate and to liberate. Words link silence with sound, bridge Heaven and earth, marry the human with the Divine.
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41: An Anchor for the Mind

If a boat is left by itself on the ocean, it will be in constant motion: moving this way with the tides, that way with the wind, another way with a current. The boat itself has no say in where it goes, helpless before the forces of sea, sky and moon.
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40: Gratitude

Gratitude is a magical force in our lives. Just as light and dark cannot coexist in the same space, so gratitude and negative feelings cannot co-inhabit our consciousness. To dispel darkness, turn the light on: to relinquish negative thoughts and feelings, invoke gratitude.
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39: A Most Beautiful Child

If you have attained ultimate perfection, you do not need to change. If you are completely happy, you do not need to change. If you are already fulfilling your potential and your life’s highest purpose, you do not need to change. Yet who can say that he or she is already utterly perfect, happy and fulfilled? No-one.
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38: Change

If you have attained ultimate perfection, you do not need to change. If you are completely happy, you do not need to change. If you are already fulfilling your potential and your life’s highest purpose, you do not need to change. Yet who can say that he or she is already utterly perfect, happy and fulfilled? No-one.
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37: A Creative Visualisation

Close your eyes and imagine that you are sitting on a beach. You are alone. It is a perfect day. The beach stretches as far as your eye can see in either direction. Feel the sun’s warmth on your skin, the faint sea breeze on your cheek, taste a little salt in the air.
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36: The Ego: Dinosaur of the Era

As the dinosaurs of yore, our ego now proudly roams and rules the world… and as the dinosaurs found their days were numbered, so the time of the ego’s reign is now well and truly up. Consciousness is constantly evolving, within us and around us.
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34: Our Heart Flame (3)

You have become the flame. You are inundated with the flame’s light, purity, simplicity, beauty and delight. Because you have become the flame, and a flame has no mind, therefore you have no mind. Because you have no mind, thoughts and distractions find no foothold in you.
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33: Our Heart Flame (2)

Imagine your breath forms a bridge between your heart and the flame. Across this bridge, you and the flame offer yourselves unreservedly to each other. The flame is offering you its light, simplicity, purity and delight: you are breathing in and absorbing all these qualities as you inhale.
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32: Our Heart Flame (1)

Sit somewhere quiet where you can be alone and undisturbed. Place a candle in front of you, at eye level. Light the candle. We shall use the candle flame as the focal point for our concentration and meditation.
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31: Meditation as Magic

Magic tricks often rely on distraction: the magician will set up a scenario, then draw our attention away to something else. While we are watching what his left hand is doing, his right hand completes the “trick”, so that when we return our attention to the original scene, the “magic” is complete and we are duly amazed.

So is it with meditation.

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30: A Flower-Heart

For this exercise you will need a fresh flower.
Sit somewhere quiet where you can be alone and undisturbed. Either place the flower in a vase or hold the flower by its stem in front of you.
Gaze at the flower with your eyes half-open, half-closed, so that there is little else in your peripheral vision.

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29: Breathe and Become Joy

Sit somewhere quiet where you can be alone and undisturbed. This exercise can be done either with your eyes closed or else open and resting on a simple object such as a flower or candle flame. Sit somewhere quiet where you can be alone and undisturbed. Focus exclusively on your breathing. Slow your breath and make the flow of breath through your nostrils as calm and controlled as possible.
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28: Breathe and Become Power

Sit somewhere quiet where you can be alone and undisturbed. Focus exclusively on your breathing. Slow your breath and make the flow of breath through your nostrils as calm and controlled as possible.
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27: Our Treasure is Within

Imagine peace is now spilling over from the inner vessel in your heart, flowing into your mind, quieting your thoughts, so that your mind is now the smooth surface of a still lake; from there it flows into your feelings, calming and soothing your nerves and emotions;
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26. Breathe and Become Peace (2)

Imagine peace is now spilling over from the inner vessel in your heart, flowing into your mind, quieting your thoughts, so that your mind is now the smooth surface of a still lake; from there it flows into your feelings, calming and soothing your nerves and emotions;
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24: A Secret Paradise

The ideal of a secret paradise is woven through fairytales, myths, legends and religions of every race and culture. This paradise might take the form of a garden, a bodiless realm of light, a heaven beyond the stars. We catch glimpses of such a realm in our sleeping dreams and in our inspired imaginations.
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23: Naked and Alone

It has been often remarked, that we come into this world naked and alone – and we depart, naked and alone. To enter into pure meditation, we must also be prepared to stand naked – that is to say, naked of ego; and alone – without human company.
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22: Intimations of Immortality

Saints, mystics, poets, seers and seekers in every culture have sought the secret of life eternal. The ever-growing annals of Near-Death Experiences and the findings of quantum physics offer present-day support to the notion that at least a part of us lives on beyond death. If so, what part? Are we immortal?
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21: To Change the World

There is so much wrong with the world – but what can I, just one small person, do about it? Anything? Nothing? How about … everything! There is no such thing as “the world.” There is only what we perceive it to be – and what we perceive is a reflection of our own consciousness – which itself changes from day to day and even from moment to moment.
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20: We are the Source of Love

We are used to dealing with specific expressions or feelings of love: we speak of being in love with someone, of loving a hobby or a song or the way reflected moonlight dances on the water on a September evening.
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19: A Cry for Freedom

How many of us are truly free? Not free = not happy. Freedom has been the guiding light, the catch-cry, the struggle of humanity for aeons. “Give me liberty or give me death!” cried American revolutionary, Patrick Henry.
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17: Breath of Life

Our breath represents our very life. Without our breath we can’t exist on earth. Yet how often do we focus on this most essential component of our existence? Do we ever pause to offer even a moment’s gratitude to our breath?
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16: Purity

For our health, we value purity in our food, water and air: even more essential is the role of purity in our thoughts, intentions and actions.
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15: All You Need is Love

Love is not an action, not something we “do”. It is the matrix of our being, the power grid of the universe. It is a force within us which we can invoke, enter into and bring to the fore.
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12: Loving the Source

The secret of meditation is love. The secret of love is meditation. Meditation and love are inseparable. It is through love that we meditate most effectively, and through meditation that we access ever deeper, vaster and sweeter love.
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11: Simply Breathing

According to martial arts lore: “He who controls his breath, controls his destiny.” Doesn’t this sound a bit far-fetched? First gain complete mastery of your own breath – under all circumstances. Then survey your destiny, and you will have your answer…
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10: Never Give Up!

The first few weeks and months of a beginner’s meditation practice are the time we are most likely to give up. Sitting still and attempting to quieten the mind can be a frustrating and seemingly fruitless task, and it is easy to imagine that one is deriving no benefit from it. One hasn’t yet developed the momentum of habit, nor the powerful motivation of deeper fulfilling experiences.
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9: Revelation of Love

We tend to imagine that love is something we will find outside of ourselves. Yet there is only place we will ever find love: within our own hearts. While we may find things or people outside us to whom we respond with love, the love they inspire is not created magically out of the ether – it comes forth from our own hearts.
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8: The Heart of the Matter

When we point to ourselves, we point to our hearts – not our heads. We’re not consciously pointing to the organ located in the centre of our chest which pumps blood through our bodies. So what ARE we pointing to? What sense of self resides in this vicinity?
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7: What About Posture?

For meditation we must be relaxed yet fully alert and vigilant – otherwise it is impossible to control wandering thoughts. Just as we need a quiet place to meditate, our posture must be conducive to alertness and vigilance.
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6: Where to Meditate?

There is a strong awareness nowadays of the value of meditation and many have tried it – or at least thought about trying it. Yet still relatively few are actually practising every day, despite all meditation’s myriad benefits. The main reason for this lack of persistence is the challenge of incorporating meditation into our already-busy daily routines. The irony is our busy lives are crying out for meditation – yet we are too busy to meditate. Catch 22.
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5: When to Meditate?

Because we are all time-poor, constantly busy and incessantly distracted, the most difficult part of establishing a meditation practice is – establishing a meditation practice. The actual meditation is not the hard part. It is the discipline, making the time and space in our lives. So this commitment must come first: once the commitment is made, everything else will flow easily and naturally in time.
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4: Concentrate!

From time to time, we have glimpses of an expanded, elevated awareness: a moment flooded with love, peace or joy; a flash of insight; a state of pure being beyond cares and stress, beyond our little selves, beyond even time and space. Such moments – which are rarely under our control and often appear “out of the blue” – awaken us to a sense that we are much more than we are aware of.
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3: We All Meditate Already

Have you ever felt that sense of being part of something much vaster than yourself? … listening to your favourite music, feeling swept up to another realm of harmony, beauty and perfection … witnessing giant ocean waves crash over rocks, feeling this stupendous power surge through you … gazing into the night sky, feeling at once the inconceivable distance and intimate closeness of each star to your own heartbeat … running through the forest, feeling you could run forever effortlessly, your feet turned to wings soaring …
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2: How Meditation Works

Everything grows from within. As a flower blossoms from the bud and the tree grows from a seed, so all our perceptions, thoughts, feelings and actions flow from our inner awareness. Meditation dives into our inner awareness, the root of our consciousness. It can therefore benefit everything that is determined by our inner awareness – which is virtually every aspect and activity of our outer life.
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