Why Is meditation and discipline important?

Many men spend a lot of time and effort on improving the state of their cars and computers. It is of extreme importance to them that their machines look good or run smoothly and fast. A lot of women focus huge amounts of energy and time on making their flat or house clean and beautiful. Having a “fit" body is also a high-priority on today's list. Many drive to the gym and work themselves into exhaustion with some intense training programme. A lesser number of people are inclined to make sure that they eat healthily, although the numbers are growing. The external things to tune seem far more important than the inner factors, which explains why it is only a very small percentage of humans who seriously attempt to keep their minds in good health!

More and more have heard about meditation, and it is generally becoming more popular. However, to really put it into practice in a disciplined manner, enough to keep our minds as finely tuned as our cars, is another matter. It is much easier to find an excuse for not having time to take care of the mind. The logic goes, everything else is far more pressing. But the fact that everything is so stressful or that we have reason to complain so much simply shows the lack of discipline to fit in regular meditation which would certainly ease our minds, free up energy, create more quality time, healthier bodies and satisfaction in life in general.

Discipline is essential for breaking bad habits and illusions. It is not about overworking just for the sake of some unreachable, utopian vision. It is about replacing all that is destructive and restricting, with something that makes us feel alive – this requires vigour. Meditation or something which is very meditative and puts us in a positive trance, is fundamental to our well-being. How can we create deeper perspectives on our lives otherwise? How can we develop our understanding of others and a sense of goodwill for fellow humans through more acceptance, or see where we have been lacking in courage to stand up against injustices?

Without discipline and meditation activities we will surely become like trees on underdeveloped trunks. We will sway extremely with any buffet of the wind. The choice is ours: whinging, whining, bendy tree in a state of illusion ans suffering or tree of straight, healthy trunk able to stand and support us through the storms?

Meditation and use of the brain

I recently posed this question on Facebook: “what would it feel like if we used 100% of our brains instead of the usual 15%?". Somebody responded that it must be awful because it's bad enough feeling like overload at 15%!

It is a common misconception that brain usage is pretty much equivalent to thinking, perhaps aside from instinctive and reflexive behaviour. But actually, brain usage can be increased by decreasing thought activity! What I meant was how would it feel if we increased our intelligence by deepening and broadening perceptiveness (consciousness)? If we can perceive more of what's going on inside and outside of ourselves, then surely we can act more wisely.

The science of neurology has not yet been able to find a part of the brain that they can call consciousness because physicality is a subset of consciousness but more recent studies have shown what happens when the brain is operating at deeper levels of consciousness. Using electronic sensors, brain researchers are able to detect electrical signals in the brain, determining how much activity there is and in which parts of the brain it is occurring.

Normally, during the state of being awake, we are predominantly in thinking mode which is known as the beta level of consciousness. The typical electrical activity is sporadic and uncoordinated between different areas. However, in experiments where subjects entered deeper states of consciousness, so-called Alpha and Theta-levels, (in this instance through transcendental meditation) the study showed a synchronised pulsing of electrical signals which occurred over a much bigger area van at the beta level. Activity was happening in an organised fashion.

For people who meditate regularly, this makes sense. Effective meditation calms the mind, creates a restful state and allows for a larger perspective. That means greater intelligence because more information can be assimilated and processed than with a very active mind. This is why proven relaxation techniques, such as classical music in the background, are popular in some teaching courses, as it has proven to increase the rate of learning.

Masters of the martial arts know that with a calm mind you can achieve a great degree of concentration and are able to react much more quickly and effectively van with a mind full of thoughts. They demonstrate how a calm mind can be extremely alert.

It is essential to practice some form of effective meditation to achieve this clarity and regeneration of a healthy mind which is exposed to so much thought pollution. It aids the power of self-observation which is essential for personal development. One becomes more true to oneself and the inner wishes. Greater wisdom means making the right choices at the right times. That benefits health as appropriate dietry decisions are acted upon, and stress reduction because of the implicit relaxation and also due to the meditator becoming more in tune with the body's stress reactions. Compassion grows due to increasing attentiveness to the needs and suffering of fellow beings.

There are many different forms of meditation, most of which stem from a complete spiritual philosophy, the best known being Buddhism, but in many ancient traditions meditation is a cornerstone. Some practices involve a mantra or mandala (the continual repetition of a word or sentence), whereas others are completely silent. It is best to experiment and find what works best for you. I personally normally practice either the Japanese Buddhist meditation of Nichiren Daishonin with a mantra "Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo" basically meaning "I commit myself to the law of the Universe of cause and effect" or the silent, mindfulness meditiation of Samadhi-Vipassana. I find there are complimentary qualities in the two

What is empowerment?

What do I mean by empowerment? Let’s first exclude the contradictory interpretations. I am not talking about the commonplace, materialistic notion of the giving of power, or enabling because this is by default limited to material dependency. It is not about having or enabling political power or the power to control or manipulate others, being at a competitive advantage, achieving unlimited technological progress or having access to vast choices of affordable material goods. It is not about licensing to destroy.

Whilst these features of a materialistic society might appear to seem beneficial in the short-term, it is only at the cost of others less advantaged and the environment. What goes around comes around: the greed, aggression, domination and all the symptoms of a belief that we live in isolation from one another, has bred more of the same.  In fact this belief, although part of human nature, is psychopathic, irrational and yet so institutionalized that it allows for extreme human rights abuses to be committed, and often directly or subconsciously hidden from others’ eyes, whether through media control, politically, or individual cover-ups. That world-view says nothing about how to enable the sense of freedom and hope, despite e.g. a lack of material possessions, low status in an official hierarchy, a period of illness or conflict with others. It only tells us how the material status can be improved for a limited time for a restricted number of people and ignores the costs to a dangerous degree because it doesn’t understand the concept of unity.

True empowerment is when an individual or group recognizes that they have a choice to push those limiting fears aside, the type of fear that constrains our creativity, love, wisdom, compassion, ability to follow our dreams. It is the enabling of courage to rise up out of incapacitating negativity and apathy, to move forward towards the desired situation. It is when we start to understand that our lives are inextricably linked to others’ in a vast network of existence, despite our differences, so we become more conscious of our responsibility to support the whole and not just the self. This allows compassion and wisdom to increasingly infiltrate our thoughts and deeds. Simply the connection with the whole gives a sense of place and meaning to life which, naturally, creates a deep feeling of happiness in itself. It is the use of free will to choose new, unexplored paths that broaden horizons instead of narrowing them. It is the creation of a vision of value for the self and the whole. In these moments we are empowered. We are then conscious of the power to change the course of our lives for the better, and how we can positively influence our environment. We can act, regardless of how hopeless a situation may seem to be at the time. The voice of hope becomes louder than the voice of circumstances. We cease to be the effect and instead become the cause. We see that problems are a springboard for gaining greater strength.

This is the greatest power there is to be experienced, because problems become our nourishment when they unavoidably arise!  When this all becomes the basis for our life, we will start to manifest amazing, ultimately desirable changes. Life becomes an adventure, something joyous, precious and full of meaning and patterns of causality. We become grateful for the wealth that life has offered us. Empowerment is the realization of happiness through unity and free-will. Once we become empowered we are in the position to make quantum leaps in personal development relative to the non-conscious state. We start taking full responsibility for our situation – we are the creators. 

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