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10/8/00 Meditation

Music choice is the first step to meditation. It must have throbbing bass, preferably no lyrics. The speed of the music, and the instruments used, are decided by you, depending on your musical preference. Classical is fine, R&B is good, even country may fit, but some form of techno is the best -- the genre referred to as "trance" is called that for a reason. Trance techno is my preferred meditation background music. Get some good headphones, get a portable CD player with bass boost, and plenty of batteries. The around-the-neck headphones work well, as I'll explain later.

Put on the headphones, start the CD, close the door. Sit down on your bed, feet flat against the floor. The bed should either be made and unslept-in, or pull the sheets completely back so that there is a smooth surface underneath you. Leaving your feet on the carpet, lie back onto the bed.

Adjust yourself so that your shoulders are back, shoulderblades flat against the bed. Arms should be spread slightly, not uncomfortably, but relaxed. Head should be tipped back slightly (which is forced by the behind-the-neck headphones), chin toward the ceiling.

Close your eyes.

Push all analytical thought out of your head. This means, stop thinking about what you will do tomorrow, but instead remember what you did today. Do NOT analize what happened today; just remember the steps which occured. Thoughts will begin to become tangible. Think about where you ate at lunch, and the thought will become the smell of the food, the feelings of the people around you, the sounds of the environment. Let the memories flow, let it blend with imagination, begin to think in terms of how things are, not what they might be, nor what it's made up of.

Pay attention to your eyelids. At first, your eyes will be twitching and it will take muscular tension to keep your eyes closed. As you eliminate cognitive thought from your mind, your eyes will slow, and your eyelids will stay where they are. Try to look at the insides of your eyelids. Try to make your eyes stop moving completely. You won't be able to do either, but the closer to success you get, the more relaxed you will be.

As you lie there, the music creating rhythm, inducing tangible waves inside of you, begin to shut off extremities, beginning with your feet. They are sitting flat against the floor - stop feeling the floor. Think to youself "I cannot move my feet." Relax your feet. "I cannot move my knees." Relax your knees. Do not move them. Continue up your legs. You do not need to go limp, but there should not be any tension in them...remember, you cannot move them. To test your success, try to move them -- you will not be able to, without reversing the process and telling yourself that you CAN move them. Continue with your arms, beginning at the fingertips, moving up through your wrist, elbow, biceps, shoulders. Relax your neck, jaw, and forehead. It takes practice, and it takes time. I went over a month without meditating, and my first try was not successful in 'shutting down' like this. Beginning with the feet is easy, but the more you add, the more difficult it is.

Continue telling youself that you cannot move your body, continue to banish analytical thought from your mind, continue to feel the beat of the music roll through your body. Allow your eyes to rest, relax, and stop moving. See the insides of your eyelids. Forget about the floor that your feet cannot feel, forget the bedsheets that your hands cannot feel, forget the motion of your chest as you breathe.

My analysis of this method of meditation that I practice could be called by other names: self-hypnosis, astral-projection, lucid-dreaming. The experience I've had could be defined by any of these terms. It isn't exactly relaxation; there is a lot of thought and concentration involved. However, the concentration is very right-brained. Once you are completely relaxed, you feel like you're going to fall asleep, but the music and the concentration prevents you from crossing the line into unconciousness. However, you begin to dream. Or, something like dreaming. I've reached a point where I've been completely awake, aware of the fact that I've been lying in my own bed, listening to my portable CD player, but in an instant I'll be somplace else, seeing a room that I'm not in, feeling things that I'm not really feeling, experiencing something which isn't really there. One side effect is the sensation of texture in your hands, even if you've conciously shut them off and aren't actually touching anything. You may be able to feel or see undulation, either related to the music, your breathing, or your hearbeat, or some other form of percieved motion which isn't really there. A somewhat negative experience I've had is the sensation that there is someone in the room with you. This is all normally reserved for, and experienced during, dreaming, within the experience of sleep. However, with controlled meditation, it can be created artificially. These experiences are all concious, and can be looked at objectively, experienced and observed at the same time, unlike dreams which are without simultaneous understanding of what is happening. It becomes very relaxing, bordering on a brief nap, but without any grogginess or lost time. Once you shake yourself back to reality, you're still as aware and concious as you were during meditation, when you were trying to stop your eyeballs and cease feeling the floor. However, in order to turn off your extremities, to push analytical thought out of your head, to relax to a point near dreaming, stress is pushed to a back burner. Indirectly, you are forced to clear out stressful baggage, and that stays with you after you bring yourself out of the meditative state. Standing up and returning to the real world occurs with weight off your shoulders. Possibly, the near-dreaming state may bring an epiphany which had been prevented by reality. You may reach a state of lucid dreaming/astral projection which results in an otherwise unattainable experience, such as flying or breathing underwater.

This form of meditation works well for me, but it may not work well for everyone. There's nothing in my instructions which must be followed without deviation; try everything, and adjust from there. However, learning how to conciously disable parts of your own body is something everyone needs to learn. It is important because it demonstrates that there is something that is still within your control, and it gives a tangible switch to turn relaxation on and off. Often, when I have too much stress, the manifestion of stress is worse than the feeling - my muscles tense, I breathe quicky, my eyes dart around and I cannot sit still. The ability to sit down and slowly, methodically eliminate the physical expression of stress is half way to true relaxation. Stopping to think about eliminating those manifestations also forces you to banish stressful thoughts from your mind. This act is self-hypnosis, turning your brain back on itself, manipulating your own mind to do what you demand it to do. Truly, this is something that everyone believes they are able to do, but is rarely practiced. Logically, if someone tells you that you control your own mind, you laugh, but all too often you spend your time reacting to what your mind comes up with. The rest of my method, the music, the bed, the banishment of analytical thought, all is designed to help in relaxation. The conscious disconnection of mind from body is what takes you to the level beyond 'calm'. Explaning it in english terms is not even possible; really, it's a mindstate normally connected to religious experience. There is a reason that total relaxation falls into categories of philosophy and theology. This is also why chemicals are designed to artificially cause this sensation in the human mind - it is not treated as though it is a standard state of mind, even though the individual parts are considered to be normal human experiences. Of course you are in control of your own mind, of course your body follows your instructions, so reaching a level of total control should not be defined as something extrahuman. It can be had, using the proper techniques. The technique above has worked well for me, and takes from other techniques which help other people. Finding the best technique is something each individual needs to do for themselves. Without the ability to successfully meditate, to bring about a truly relaxed state of mind and body, humans cannot experience all that their mind and body is capable of.

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