"The brain is wider than the sky." - Emily Dickinson
Dr. Jim Fuller

Dr. Jim Fuller © All Rights Reserved. Please report any issues with this website to: info@soninllc.com

Ph.D., LCSW

The eastern mystics refer to the dynamics of the mind as a “play of consciousness”, or never ending drama of thoughts and feelings. The mind is essentially untrained. It wanders and fixes its’ focus in a random and undetermined manner. Meditation is potentially a very effective way to discipline the mind. Essentially, it is a focusing technique which provides a neutral, grounded point where the mind can learn to go and let go. The effects of meditation are subtle, and accumulate gradually over time. One must exercise the discipline twice a day for a minimum of six weeks to see the full range of benefits it can produce. During this period it is important to refrain from the use of mind altering drugs (caffeine in large amounts, sugar, alcohol, or other mind and mood altering agents)


Meditation

In a larger sense, the neutral focal point in meditation provides a blank space in the mind through which new thoughts can emerge. Thus, it may become the channel for creative and insightful thoughts and perspectives. Some find this neutral space as a source of spiritual insight, though no theological or spiritual meaning is necessarily associated with the process.


The Posture of Meditation:


There is both a physical and a psychological posture of meditation.


The physical posture may take many forms. The simplest and easiest form is sitting meditation. In this form the meditator simply finds a comfortable chair, where the back is well supported, and where the feet are flat on the floor with the thighs roughly parallel to the floor. The environment must be quiet and free from interruptions or distractions. The sitting posture is with the rib cage fully expanded and the shoulders comfortably back. This open posture allows breathing from the diaphram, which provides a full volume of air in the lungs. It is a posture familiar to singers and public speakers. It is also conducive to deep relaxation. The hands are comfortable folded in the lap. In this posture the meditator closes the eyes, takes a few deep breaths, relaxes, and picks up the focal point. The focal point may be a particular point in the breath stream. The tip of the nostrils is a good focal point, in that the nasal tissue is very sensitive, and thus draws the mind’s attention. One may feel the flow of the air in the breath stream at the tip of the nostrils, and notice the change in temperature between inhaling and exhaling. A mantra or pattern of sounds may be repeated silently, in the mind, in the rhythm of the breath. The mantra may serve as an alternate focal point. If the mind is particularly busy, both the breath stream and a mantra may be employed to ground the mind. A short mantra, such as “shah ring” (which is a pleasant sound with no meaning) may be used. Ohm na ma she vaya (phonetically spelled) is a Siddha Yoga mantra which, in sanscrit, means “I bow to myself”). The thought suggested by this mantra embodies the psychological posture of meditation, and serves as a longer, or more magnetic focal point for the busier mind. After the mind relaxes and centers on the focal point, it will wander. Thus, the meditator will find the mind straying from the focal point. When this occurs, the meditator simply notices where the mind has strayed, lets go of that thought, and refocuses. Thus, the process of meditation involves frequently focusing, straying, noticing, letting go, and refocusing. Eventually, the mind will relax and center more easily. There may be long periods when the mind is awake, but there are no thoughts. If the meditator begins to drift into sleep, the head will bob and wake him/her up. At this point, simply notice that you are sleepy, and pick up the focal point again. Continue in this pattern for approximately twenty minutes. At first, it may be helpful to position a non-ticking clock and check when you think twenty minutes have passed. Eventually your mind will keep time and bring you out within a few minutes of the exact time.


The psychological posture is one of complete acceptance of any thoughts and/or feelings which come into the mind. The obverse psychological posture is to be critical of the mind. This defeats the purpose of the meditation. The difference between self acceptance and self-criticism is subtle, but essential in properly exercising the discipline of meditation. Whether the mind is busy or relaxed, and without criticism of any thoughts or feelings, the meditator simply accepts what comes to mind. Eventually, as meditation continues over months and years, the meditator will develop a growing awareness of the many different levels of the mind, as well as how the mind operates. This perceptual vantage point is referred to as the “I” (self) viewing the “I”. The ability to reflect on the self provides a plethora of opportunities to alter how one relates to self and others.

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