Meditation, says Lorin Roche, has been held captive by gurus and overly restrictive spiritual traditions for centuries. It should be one of life's great pleasures-to be savoured like ice cream or a cold beer on a hot summer day.
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December 01, 1998
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Excerpt from Meditation Made Easy by Lorin Roche
Questions and Answers
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a naturally occurring rest state; it is resting in yourself while remaining awake and alert. Meditation is innate, and your body already knows how to do it. The human body has an instinctive ability to shift into profound rest states in order to heat, energise, integrate, tune itself up, and assimilate learning. It is almost a sure bet that you have already experienced this many times in your life.
Meditation is paradoxical in that you are resting more deeply than you do in sleep, yet you are wide awake inside. It is very similar to taking a nap, but you don't fall asleep-you fall awake. You can induce this state by attentively doing anything simple and repetitive. We breathe all the time, and breathing is rhythmic, so you could pay attention to your breathing. There are so many ways in.
Meditation promotes a heightened awareness of the details of everyday life. Even a few minutes of meditation will help you move through the world with more relaxation and alertness.
Meditation is giving attention a chance to explore its full range, both inward and outward. It is a conversation between your inner and your outer life. This sounds simple, and it is. But there is no end to the delights of attention; there is always more to learn, more to explore, more to awaken to.
Where Did Meditation Come From?
Meditation was probably discovered independently by hunters, singers, dancers, drummers, lovers, and hermits, each in their own way. People tend to encounter meditative states whenever they throw themselves with total intensity into life's callings. The knowledge of how to intentionally cultivate meditative states is a kind of craft knowledge-those handy tips people pass on to each other. Meditation does not come from India or Tibet-those are just places where the knowledge rested for a while, and the hermits in those places wrote it all down. Bless them.
Human beings have been using tools for hundreds of thousands of years, according to the archaeologists. I consider it very likely that they have been using sophisticated mental tools for tens of thousands of years.
Hunters, for example, sometimes have to make themselves still for hours. They have to merge with the forest and not even think, lest they scare the prey away. Then they leap into action with total precision at a moment's notice-that's Zen in a nutshell. Hunters teach each other these skills, through verbal instruction and example.
Singers and dancers often enter meditative states through their passionate expression. Singers work with breath awareness in ways far more sophisticated than yoga. Lovers are often in a state of heightened appreciation that borders on meditation. Hermits are the ones we have heard the most from, because they kept the best notes. That is why we always think of yogis and bearded guys in the Himalayas when we think of meditation. But their way is only one small subset of the many different gateways into meditation.
Meditation comes from the human heart and is a way of warming your hands and your life at the fire always pulsing there in your core. It comes from the depths of your instinctive wisdom. Human beings are always wondering and inquiring, and meditation is a natural emergence of that adventure.