Aug 6, 2018
The Benefits of Western Meditation are Specific Tools to Reduce Negative States of Being
Why is it that so many meditation studios in the US present Eastern styles of meditation and Eastern philosophies? The reason is simple and logical. Meditation originated in the East and essentially was brought to the West by gurus, yogis and other teachers. Western meditation as its own style to a certain extent doesn’t really exist!
Over the years, western meditation teachings have tended to divide along the lines of religion, spirituality and science. Depending on the beliefs and preferences of the student, they tend to choose a style that resonates with their beliefs. If for example, you don’t believe in God or a Higher Power, it is unlikely that meditation will change that. And really, that it totally fine.
Western Meditation Offers Focus on Reducing Anxiety
What we aim to do is provide the teaching that allows the student to take their practice exactly where they need help in their lives. Since beginning to teach in 2006, I have found most prominently a desire to gain more peace in the mind and see a reduction in anxiety. Our American culture seems overwhelmed in both chronic mental activity and high degrees of anxiety.
I have sat in on many meditation sessions that teach very cool techniques for sending out vibrations of gratitude, for wishing happiness for others and for cultivating compassion and forgiveness for difficult people. I truly feel these are excellent spiritual practices.
What I have found lacking in much of the meditation taught in North America are specific processes to diffuse and release negative emotions. One might say part of my mission is to fill this gap.
The premise for making the time to meditate each day is to commune with your inner self. The dominant emphasis in our culture is the outer self, that which is visible to the world. It is pretty easy to present the outer self according to how you want others to see you. Hello Facebook!
Is Your Inner Life Reflected in Your Outer Life?
Getting to know what is happening within or allowing others to see that is very liberating… and a bit tough and possibly quite frightening. The hard part is that most of us know there is unrest inside of us. Our inner reality doesn’t match our outer presentation but we want to come across well.
The solution is first to begin examining your inner life for a few minutes each day. With proper guidance and instruction, you can transform the inner landscape of your being and become much more true to who you really are. Perhaps this is something that defines Western Meditation, a technique to bring congruence of the inner and outer realities.
When practicing this kind of meditation, the initial phase of your session will be the same as most other forms of meditation, The focus is on relaxing the body, breathing deeply and beginning to train the mind to slow down.
Moving from the Beta state to the Alpha state (refers to brain wave activity) brings a heavy relaxed feeling to the physical body. Your breathing is deep and rhythmic. And once in this state, you can really begin to get to know your mind and emotional self.
In our courses, we specifically teach techniques to relate to your mind and your emotional self. I want to reiterate that much of the traditional Eastern teachings which focus on a still mind, opening of the heart, sanskrit mantras etc, I support. However I don’t teach these things. There are many good teachers around for these styles.
Time for the Mind to Mature
I am teaching techniques for training the mind to think in more balanced and peaceful ways. These methods are a sort of mind-maturing practice. When I say maturing, I mean moving away from mindsets that are revenge driven to more forgiveness driven, for example. I consider getting even and taking forceful actions against another to be immature.
Another is moving from mindsets that can be depairing to mindsets that are hopeful and practical.
The same can be said about certain emotional states. Most of us can’t control when we feel anger but all of us have the capacity to control what we do once we are angry. I think it is a little dangerous to teach people that getting angry is wrong. I feel that anger is an indicator coming from within ourselves that something happened which violated our dignity.
One of the benefits of meditation is learning how to diffuse the anger and then examine what happened objectively to determine a mature course of action. In fact, the same can be said of all negative emotions. You’ll likely feel a lot of them each week or even daily. What makes a huge difference is do you have a practice to sit, feel the emotion, validate it and let it go?
Do you have a relationship with your mind such that it doesn’t start rambling off negativities that lead to heavy emotional states and possibly depression?
I think these benefits are what many westerners really want. They want methods that don’t involve drugs or huge expenditures of money to help them move out of negative mental and emotional states promptly. This is what we provide at meditate. For now, I’m calling it Western Meditation.