Why I Meditate – A List of Reasons

Why I Meditate – A List of Reasons


There was a mixed reaction from the audience when I said that I meditated for two hours every day.

A few shook their heads in concerned bewilderment. Why was he wasting his time?

But several people in the audience were also meditators and understood.

The situation was an academic conference at Kent University on transformative education. I was prefacing my presentation with some autobiographical information.

An interesting challenge came from one professor. He was concerned that meditation might reinforce an established sense of self and do nothing to develop anything new. He was thinking particularly of fellow academics who were not open to developing their thinking and just used meditation for self-soothing. I welcomed his disquiet.

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So why do I meditate?

Yes – I enjoy it very much.

But more than that, it is the most productive and creative period of my day.

In Autobiography of a Yogi Yogananda suggests that  in terms of service and self-development one good meditation is worth a year’s living. I agree! But how can that be?

So let me list some of the things that happen in my meditation.

 

INTO THE ZONE

First I just sit, am patient and wait. Wait until I go into the zone. By the zone I mean that my body, emotions and thoughts are at ease – and that I am mentally very conscious, alert and watchful.

At ease and alert.

At the same time I feel connected with . . . what shall I call it? I feel connected with life, with the flow, with all that is . . .

I can come into the zone even if I am in physical pain or emotional distress. (This is when many people give up and walk away.) I am in both states at the same time. In the zone. In my humanity.

 

HEALING

Just being in the zone is profoundly healing. It soothes my biology, my nervous system, brain, endocrine system, heart rate variability, breath and gut. This is a powerful foundation for good physical health.

I also allow myself to absorb the benevolent vitality that permeates the cosmos. I circulate and absorb the healing energy deep into my bones, spine, brain and tissue.

 

WATCHING, WATCHING, WATCHING

All the time in meditation I am coming home to witnessing and watching. Guiding myself to be compassionate, empathic, accepting and kind. Completely trusting the whole process even when the sensations and feelings that arise in me are tortured. Breathing into and through whatever arises. Accepting, integrating, healing. This is so good for my psychological health.

INNER DIALOGUE

Connected and calm I am my own best friend, counsellor, guide and therapist. As difficult feelings, thoughts and sensations arise within me I give them care and attention. I converse and create relationship with them. This is an essential part of my healing and development.

 

REFLECTIVE PRACTICE

Inside every meditation I carefully review my life. I look at how I conduct my relationships, the quality of my emotions, my livelihood, my ecological awareness, my engagement as a citizen, my prejudices, my neuroses, my talents, my future. It is in meditation that I see myself with clarity and can guide my development and behaviour. At the same time I sense how my consciousness needs to expand and I experiment with altered states.

 

CLEARING MY DESK

My meditation time is also part of my work. It is the best possible space to look at and be mindful of business. Mortgage, projects, colleagues, finance, relationships, next steps . . .  Everything benefits from meditative awareness. Here I can prepare and train myself. What better place to contemplate the actual activities of my life? My wise self can shine light on everything.

 

SEED THOUGHT CONTEMPLATION

This is part of the education that happens in my meditation. I can contemplate any concept or idea and allow my awareness to be open to learning. Insights come from what Patanjali called the raincloud of knowable things. I might for example choose to focus on the meaning of Jesus’ incarnation. I can contemplate any symbol or myth, ideology or philosophy, idea or theory. Revisiting a concept day by day, perhaps for years, I learn.

 

METAPHYSICS, ESOTERICS AND EXPLORING THE COSMOS

Another educational aspect of meditation for me is to connect with the vibration and energy of a metaphysical ‘thing’. What is Aquarius? What is God? What is Mary? What are the higher planes? What is Christ? What is the heart chakra? What is a landscape spirit or angel of healing? And so on. In the calm I connect with the ‘thing’ and allow impressions to land. I learn from feeling and sensing the quality.

 

SERVICE AND INVOCATION

Every meditation also includes periods of service. Mainly I practice Tonglen (Tibetan Buddhist) or turning the other cheek (Christian.) I tune into suffering and negativity, and breathe it into my own body and aura. I hold it, absorb it, cleanse it and then breathe out a blessing.  I also scan my neighbourhood for people and animals who have died, are lost and may need help moving across into the ‘clear light’. And of course I send love and loving waves of positive energy to my family, colleagues, students, folk in distress, world leaders, etc.

 

EMPTYING AND SURRENDER

And for me most important of all, I practice being empty and yielding to the sheer beauty, mystery and benevolence of all that is.

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Of course how I practice meditation is not the same as everyone. For example I rarely use mantra, prayer or visualisation, which I know can be central features for others. But the more I teach and enable meditation – especially how to teach and guide it – the more I assert with confidence that, regardless of our beliefs, style or background, we all enter the zone and connection.

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And all of that is what I would like to have said to the academics at the conference who wondered why I meditate and if I was just wasting my time. Mm. Wasting time. That’s a good seed thought for meditation: What is time?

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May 2020
Most of my ideas about meditation are now available in my Meditation Masterclass.

Book Cover Meditation Masterclass by William Bloom

 

 

50 RECOMMENDED MIND-BODY-SPIRIT BOOKS

50 RECOMMENDED MIND-BODY-SPIRIT BOOKS

This list was put together after a consultation process involving over 200 people.

Anam Cara – Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World, John O’Donohue, Bantam, 1999

Anatomy of Spirit, Caroline Myss, Bantam, 1997

Animal Speak, Ted Andrews, Lllewellyn, 1994

Art of Happiness, Dalai Lama, Hodder & Stoughton, 1999

Artists Way, The, Julia Cameron, Pan, 1995

Autobiography of a Yogi , Paramahansa Yoganada, Indypublish, 2004

Being Peace, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rider, 1992

Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore, Piatkus, 1992

Chalice & The Blade, The, Riane Eisler, Harper San Francisco, 1996

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, Karen Kingston, Piatkus, 1998

Continuum Concept, The, Jean Liedloff, Arkana, 1989

Conversations with God, Neale Donald Walsch, Hodder Mobius, 1999

Course in Miracles, Foundation for Inner Peace, 1996

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala Publications, 1996

Field, The, Lynne McTaggart, Harper Collins, 2003

Flight into Freedom, Eileen Caddy, Element, 1996

Focusing: How to Open Up Your Deeper Feelings and Intuition, Eugene T Gendlin, Rider, 2003

Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, James Lovelock, Oxford Paperback, 1996

Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing through the Human Energy Field , Barbara A. Brennan, Bantam, 1998

Healing with Wholefoods, Paul Pitchford, North Atlantic Books, 1996

How to Meditate, Lawrence Leshan, Little Brown, 1996

Initiation, Human and Solar, Alice Bailey, Lucis Press, 1972

Iron John – A Book About Men, Robert Bly, Rider, 1996

Living Magically, Gill Edwards, Piatkus, 1999

Many Lives, Many Masters, Brian Weiss, Piatkus, 1994

Messages from Water, Masaru Emoto, Hado, 2003

New Natural Death Handbook, Nicholas Albery (ed), Rider, 1996

No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth, Ken Wilber, Shambhala, 2000

On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler Ross,Prentice Hall

Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell, Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1996

Power of Now, The, Eckhart Tolle, New World, 2004

Psychic Protection: Creating Positive Energies for People and Places, William Bloom, Piatkus, 1996

Quantum Healing, Deepak Chopra,Bantam,1989

Return to Love, Marianne Williamson, HarperCollins, 1996

Relating – An Astrological Guide to Living with Others, Liz Greene, HarperCollins, 1995

Road Less Travelled, The, M Scott Peck, Arrow, 1990

Seat of the Soul, The, Gary Zukav, Rider,1991

Seven Experiments That Could Change the World, Rupert Sheldrake, Inner Traditions, 2002

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, Free Press, 1996

Small is Beautiful, E.F. Schumacher, Vintage, 1993

Soul’s Code, The, James Hillman, Bantam,1997

Spiritual Intelligence, Danah Zohar & Ian Marshall, Bloomsbury, 2001

Tao of Physics, Fritjof Capra, Flamingo, 1992

Taoist Ways To Transform Stress into Vitality, Mantak Chia, Healing Tao Books, 1996

Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche, Rider, 2002

Varieties of Religious Experience, William James, Penguin,1996

Vibrational Medicine for the 21st Century, Richard Gerber. Piatkus, 2001

Way of the Shaman , Michael Harner, Harper San Francisco, 1992

Who Dies? : An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying, Stephen Levine, Gateway,1996

You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay, Hay House, 2002

New Research on Spiritual Healing

New Research on Spiritual Healing

A GASP

There is often an audible gasp of shock in my groups when I share that there is overwhelming evidence for the health benefits of spirituality, but there is virtually no evidence or theory for the benefits of spiritual and energy healing.

GOOD EVIDENCE AND RESEARCH FOR SPIRITUALITY AND HEALTH

Over the last decades there have been thousands of academic papers researching the connections between spirituality/religion and health. Dr Harold Koenig of Duke University for example aggregated 3,300 of these papers and the findings indicated a clear set of benefits. These covered physical and mental health, general wellbeing and the wider community. See his paper Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications

As well as the statistical evidence for the benefits there is also now clear theory explaining how they are achieved.  Spirituality and religion deliver meaning, community, life style and specific practices  all of which in general (not always) soothe anxiety, relax tissue and have beneficial effects on the neuro-endocrinal system, heart rate variability and gut flora. A great result for spirituality and religion! All without the intervention of God, vital energy, healing, spirits or any other metaphysical factors.

MINIMAL ACADEMIC EVIDENCE FOR SPIRITUAL HEALING

But when it comes to spiritual healing and a theory that explains healing energy/prana/chi – the research is not there.

This is bizarre, isn’t it? Because to anyone with the slightest inclination towards empathy, poetic imagination or kinaesthetic sensitivity, it is only too obvious that we live in a world of energy and energies. We feel them. We sense them. We know that they influence us.

We know that we radiate them and influence others.

And of course there are substantial healthcare traditions, such as Ayurveda  and  Chinese medicine, in which healing energy is a core element. Spiritual healing is obvious.

There is not however a solid body of research for its benefits. Nor is there a solid body of theory that explains what it is and how it works. From one perspective this does not matter because complementary and integrative healing stratgies, which include spiritual healing, are widely available. People use them.

But evidence and theory are important if we want to integrate energy healing into mainstream healthcare, which I do.

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It is helpful therefore to know where good research is happening. We can refer to it when appropriate. We can also support it.  So here are three links to very recent articles and resources that I have found useful. I hope you do too. They have all been published in recent weeks:

Institute of Noetic Sciences
Mapping the Field of Subtle Energy Fields
This is a very helpful overview of the different approaches and healing methods. Read here  www.noetic.org/research/projects/mapping-the-field-of-subtle

Global Advances in Health and Medicine Special edition
Biofield Science and Healing: Toward a Transdisciplinary Approach
Their November issue online contains the best current overview of the research and theory in the field. They like to use the word ‘Biofield’. It is a good word. Maybe we should all use it. In it you will find thirteen articles with titles such as Biofield Science and Healing: Terminology and Concepts and Clinical Studies of Biofield Therapies: Summary, Methodological Challenges and Recommendations. Yes it is all a bit academic, but that is precisely what we need to support our case. http://www.gahmllc.com/digital_issues/biofield2015/

The Confederation of Healing Organisations
Two Meta-Analyses of Noncontact Healing Studies
This is research funded by the CHO and provides some useful evidence. The CHO is also funding some more research, which will need our help. I will inform you about it when it is online. Chris A. Roe, PhD, Charmaine Sonnex, BSc, MSc, and Elizabeth C. Roxburgh, BSc, PhD You can download the full paper here  www.the-cho.org.uk/images/uploads/Two%20Meta-Analyses%20of%20Noncontact%20Healing%20Studies.pdf

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There you go. A bit heady perhaps. But needed. And bless them for doing the hard work. Gratitude.