Daniel Catalaa

Meditation

(Authored by Daniel Catalaa on July 31st, 2009)
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Most of the trips you take in your youth are geographical. You visit places have experiences there and then report back to your family and friends through the pictures you took and the stories you have to tell. Later in life, mainly due to higher degrees of responsibilities, you may find yourself living a more sedentary life. So how can you keep on travelling? For me, meditation holds the answer.

A wrestless mind

When I close my eyes and start to focus on my breathing, that is when it becomes apparent how restless my mind is and how preoccupied it is for example with work. My mind and it&rquot;s thoughts feel like a dog running around at the park trying to chase 3 different saliva-soaked leaf-and-twigs-encrusted tennis balls. Another thing I learned is that you need to be rested when you meditate or it is all to easy to fall asleep.

Biofeedback

Meditation provides a whole new paradigm for travelling because it does not involve physical displacement. On the contrary, the more still you can stay the easier it will be to take off on your trip. When people enter a meditative state all types of physiological changes take place and these are often measured by scientist with electrodes connected to the body that measure what parts of the brain are active or inactive, the size and frequency of brain waves, blood pressure, an other biometrics. I wanted the same type of biofeedback mechanism so that I could tell when I was doing something that brought me into a greater state of relaxation. For this purpose I did something very simple; I listened for and focused my attention on my heartbeat. The big advantage of using my heart rate is that it does not require any special equipment and it is a concept that is very easy to understand, grasp, and feel.

Entering a Meditative State

The key to meditating is quieting the mind, slowing down the thinking process. Since the mind loves to be busy it is often a good idea to give it an easy idle taks that will distract it. What has been working for me is a combination of visualization, focus on bodily activities, and mantra. As I breathe in I say in my mind’s voice "iiii-iii-iin". After the tide of my breath turns I switch to saying "ooo-oooo-ooouutt". In this state of quietness my heart beats become more prominent; at times it feels like my heart is going to jump out of my chest with the force of each contraction. I take advantage of this physiological phenomenon by visualizing a heart contracting and synchronizing it’s virtual beats with the ones actually occuring in my body.

Higher Awareness

During meditation I often receive a single clear thought that explains to me what I should do next, or I become aware of something important that I overlooked in the haste of life. The thought is impersonal and comes from my consciousness as opposed to angels, gods, or gremlins. Often, at the end of a meditation session I will act upon the information given. I consider these revelations as gifts. The revelations are not obscure, they are very mundane instructions like "call this family relative" or "file this paper before it is overdue". By meditating I have gotten many second chances to address important things that would have escaped my mind.

Benefits of Meidatation

I am a novice meditator; however, one benefit that I noticed shortly after beginning is that I can fall asleep much easier. It used to take me 30 minutes at times to fall asleep. Now, after 10-15 deep breaths I am well on my way to la-la-land :o)