There are a lot of flowery poetical quotations about meditation that are lovely and true, but one of my favorite quotes is from Yogi Bhajan, the man who first taught kundalini yoga to the West in the 60s:
"If you meditate, you are not doing anybody any favor, and you are not going to grow wings from your armpits. It will only help you to be a self-controlled person. It will only mean people will respect you, trust you, and like you. You will not have a split personality, and your words will mean exactly what you are saying. That's all. It's no big miracle. If you don't meditate, you won't be true to yourself."
He wasn't a very flowery person. I laugh every time I read this.
There are so many kinds of meditation, both formal and not. The best kind of meditation is ultimately the kind that works for you so you do it every day, but I'm going to write a wee bit about kundalini meditation, because after trying several types over the past decade, this is the one that has brought miracles into my life most consistently. Even though Yogi B says it's no big miracle, compared to the way most of us live our lives nowadays, it is! But if doing a slow ponder over the dishes you're washing each night does it for you, you keep on keepin' on, and power to you.
A few years ago, I realized I was in a place where, if I didn't decide what and how I believed and work hard to mean it, I'd be in trouble. So I buckled down and read the LDS canon (that's the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) cover-to-cover in seven months, looking for specific answers to specific questions and taking notes about fun things like every reference to women and temples and the Atonement. It was a fantastic experience that I'd heartily recommend to anyone wanting a jumpstart in the faith department. I learned so many things during those months, not least among them being that the answers everyone talks about coming from the scriptures often don't actually come from the scriptures--they come from the quiet time you spend in the scriptures, showing God you really do care about getting to know Who and What he is. When we do that, God has room to enter our hearts and tells us the things we need to know. Without realizing it, I did a lot of meditating during that time, and getting to know God exploded my world.
I was more easily led during those months than I'd been in the past, and God took advantage of it, introducing me to a super weird meditation technique that seemed to appeal mostly to crazy people, as far as I could tell. Even so, I dabbled. I experienced miracles. I quit. Then I dabbled some more, and experienced more miracles, and then I quit again. Over and over. Finally, a year ago, I began my first 40-day meditation challenge in earnest, and I've been at it ever since, and I love it so stinking much. Daily meditation as part of my devotional routine has brought me closer to God than I'd thought possible a few years ago. It has solidified my faith in areas I'd previously assumed I'd always be weak and has awakened me to my divinity while gradually purging the ugly ego parts of me I thought I'd never be able to let go of. I love waking up ridiculously early to learn about my true self and about my God. I want as many people to have access to this "technology" as possible.
Kundalini yoga and meditation is, as they call it, a technology of awareness and God-realization. Through mantra and postures, we use the physical body to come into contact with God as we discipline the mind to be able to listen. The mantras are ancient words believed to be revealed by God, and the vibrations they cause inside your head create scientifically proven effects in the brain and throughout the body. The postures are also calculated to produce a desired effect on specific systems in the body, and everything comes together nicely to create an environment ideal for devotional practice. It stills the mind and opens the heart, and a mind that won't interrupt and a heart that won't reject are the key requirements for the God who wants to talk to you and speak peace to your soul.
If you are looking for answers of any kind, consider starting a daily meditation practice. Give it 40 days before you decide what you think of it, because it takes 40 consecutive days to start to get the full benefit of any given meditation or kriya (exercise set). For me, I basically hated it and faced a ton of resistance until day 39 or so, and then the lights just turned on. So be patient if you're not feeling as miraculous as you'd hoped at first. Remember that apparently wings won't grow out of your armpits.
I'll write more about this stuff in the future, I'm sure, but here's a basic starter kit for someone interested in kundalini meditation:
Cover your head.
Tune in. This is likened to dialing your radio to God's station.
Meditate. This one is good for anybody at any time, and it's one that has been studied a lot, hence the Alzheimer's Institute link. This YouTube helps a lot with timing and remembering what you're supposed to be doing.
Pray, if you want. Meditating is praying, but sometimes you want to speak English for a minute, you know?
And guys, I know it's weird. Trust me. I know. So is the temple. So is Jesus. So it goes.
Sat nam ; )
Exploring the spiritual side of things. Brevity is not my forte.