How sitting meditation can help you

At Organic English, we maintain a daily sitting meditation practice and it’s had such a profound and positive effect on our lives that we simply love sharing it with our guests. Why is this? How can sitting meditation help and why do we recommend it?

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So many of us are, quite frankly, prisoners of our own minds. We are led about like zombies, believing and giving an absurd amount of credit to every thought bubble that floats our way. The rational mind, as such, is a tool; a very effective tool, appropriate for tackling certain types of tasks that involve linear planning and analytical analysis. For example, once it has been decided that we want to build a bridge and the fundamental vision for that bridge has been established, the actual materialisation of the bridge through engineering will require the use of this highly evolved tool.

In general, however, the tool has taken possession of the one supposed to be wielding it and is now running the show.  It is the governing force of life for most humans, most of whom simply live in accord with what it tells them.

Yet this doesn’t lead to satisfaction. On the contrary, the mind, as a problem solving device, tends to interpret every event and situation as a problem that needs to be worked out and may even unconsciously create problems which give it something to do and support its problem-solving role. Therefore, life lived solely from the rational mind leads to what we like to call the ‘problem state of consciousnesses’. This situation would be funny if it didn’t result in so much misery!

Don’t we all long for a bit of stillness somehow? We attempt to distract ourselves with myriad technological devices, extreme sports, intoxicants and so on. These things are not necessarily bad in themselves, but what are we looking for really? And what are we running from? Many of us find that we are ‘sick of ourselves’. Sick of that same old repetitive voice going round and round in our minds. For that voice, isn’t something almost always lacking?  How many of us have been plagued by agitation, un-ease, insomnia, fear, and general fatigue?

Modern medicine throws drugs at these issues (‘For evey ill, a pill’). Never mind the cause. If we can hide the symptoms then maybe we can pretend the problem doesn’t exist. But the underlying causes haven’t gone away and the problem may manifest in deeper more destructive ways. Surely they must be another way!

Well, there is. One does not have to be in the grip of an ill-contented, fatigued, ‘monkey-mind’, jumping from one thought to the next. There is something you can do and it’s something that’s been done by people all over the world for nobody knows how long, but a very long time anyway… That something is the ancient practice of sitting meditation.

Meditative practices across the world vary, but we can observe some common themes. In the case of sitting meditation, practices involve stillness of body in a particular posture which promotes easy, deep breathing; plus mental clarity and alertness. For the goal is not to ‘space out’, fantasise, day dream, or sleep. Rather, what we’re looking for is a relaxed state of mental alertness, attention, presence.

Different people take up a meditation practice for different reasons. Some for the physical health benefits, some for the psychological aspects of the practice, and others for what could be regarded as ‘spiritual considerations’. Ultimately, it’s impossible to separate out the physical from the mental from the spiritual, but for the purposes of clarification, here are some of the benefits of sitting meditation associated with body and mind:

  • Improvement of health through posture and better quality breathing.
  • Rest and relaxation.
  • Increase in energy and vitality.
  • Improved concentration.
  • The ability to quieten and focus the mind.
  • Process and integrate life experiences. Modern life is so full and fast for many of us! We don’t get much chance to just let it all sink in…

These benefits associated with body and mind are to be enjoyed through the practice, yet other practitioners may engage in the practice in order to:

  • Look into one’s true nature, or essential self: what one is beyond name and form.
  • Connect to the Stillness beyond the ever-flowing stream of thoughts, feelings and sense perceptions.
  • Recognise and let go of patterns of thought/emotion which condition life experience in a certain way.
  • Dis-identify from the mind through observing it. The feeling ‘I am thinking’ becomes ‘Oh look, some thinking is arising in the field of awareness’, but this is a direct experience, not another thought!
  • Develop intuitive intelligence. Rational intelligence is just one form of intelligence and a limited one at that. The mind is usually so noisy that intuition doesn’t get a look in, and yet when taking decisions, for example, it is wise to give it the space to be heard.

 

Cultivating the ability to step back from the noisy mind and see it for what it is (a noisy toy), radically transforms one’s experience. A sense of inner spaciousness starts to emerge and the mind no longer fills the entire screen of consciousness. One begins to sense, and indeed be, the awake stillness beyond the mind. The rational intellect can now be used more selectively as a marvellous tool to be applied to the right kind of tasks, and then put away when the job is done. One now has a sense of having ‘arrived’, of not needing to seek peace in external circumstances, but merely look within oneself and find that it’s there already.

So we here at Organic English can not recommend the practice of sitting meditation more enthusiastically. It has enriched our lives beyond measure and we hope that you’ll come and visit us and taste this gift for yourself.

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