Introduction to Meditation

Patricia KauffmanMeditation is the key to a good life, to good health, to peace and happiness. Why? Because when you meditate on a daily basis, even for just 5 minutes, [though preferably 10 or 15 or 20, or better yet, 30 to 60 minutes]….you begin to experience the HIGHER SELF, that part of you that exists inside… that never ages. Have you ever noticed that there is a part of you that is the same as it was when you were 10 or 15 or 25 or 40 years old?..... that part of you that can remember back when you were in high school, or the 1st job, or 1st married, or 1st kid born, or whatever. There is that part that remembers all this, that is always the same……that's the HIGHER SELF [aka Highest Self, Inner Self, Great Self, or just the Self], just wearing different hats, the hat of a teenager, or parent, or secretary, or Mom, or Dad, or street sweeper or grandparent. Same Higher Self, different hats. That Higher Self never changes; is always there, witnessing; eternal, stable, not subject to emotions or physical changes. You look in the mirror, and see this face now 60 years old, and you say, "Holy, Moley, what happened? I used to be so youthful, no wrinkles, no blotches!" That's the body! Not the Great Self. And the emotions are part of the personality, from the Greek word, "persona" which means MASK. The part we present to the outside world. We even say, I am a father, I am a mother, I am a worker, a dentist, or I am angry, I am happy, I am sad. All nouns or adjectives describing who we think we are. But if you drop the noun, the adjective, the hat, and just shorten it to I AM, then and only then, do you start to experience the Great Self or Higher Self.

In meditation you experience the Higher Self also, once the mind stops thinking. Of course, this is no easy task. In fact, most people say, "Oh, I tried meditating, but I can't do it. My mind won't let me, it just keeps thinking all kinds of things!" Yeah, well you see, that's the point. The reason to meditate is to train the mind to stop thinking "all kinds of things." The mind is like a kid in a candy shop, going here, there, I want this, I want that, jumping from one thought stream to another, freely associating about …whatever pops up, having a good time, …. Or if thinking bad thoughts, like "I'm no good, nobody loves me, I'm too fat, etc., etc." then having a bad time. The point is YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS or FEELINGS or EMOTIONS. You are the Great Self, that which witnesses the thoughts, feelings, and emotions. As you train yourself to sit for meditation each day, you train the mind to slow down and stop, like pulling the plug on an electric fan…..the blades continue to spin 'round and 'round, but they do slow down, and eventually stop. It is then that you experience the Self, the witness of all, and this is where you experience calmness, peace, and bliss.

According to one of my meditation teachers, Sally Kempton, puts it:

Meditation is both a state and a process

The State
According to the Indian yogic system, we experience 3 “normal” states of consciousness…. waking, dream and deep sleep. Deeper than these, yet threading through them is a 4th state, known as “turiya”, [literally ‘the fourth’]. This is the state we access in deep meditation.  Coexisting with all our other levels of experience, it is also the source of them, and it is filled with power, intuitive wisdom, and joy. It is also called the Heart, rigpa [expanded mind], pure consciousness, the highest reality, the inner Self [as opposed to the empirical, personal self associated with the body and personality], and the state of God-Consciousness.

The Heart State
There are three main qualities:

  1. It is always present [though often hidden!]. For this reason it is often
    Described as ‘pure being’ or sat in Sanskrit. We do not have to attain
    It, because on the deepest level, we are it.
  2. It is aware, conscious, awake. For this reason, it is sometimes described as the witness, or 'pure consciousness" [Sanskrit, 'cit']
  3. It is innately joyful. for this reason, it si sometimes called 'pure love' or Bliss [Sanskrit, ananda].

The Process
As a process, meditation is the act of sitting quietly with our spine erect, and focusing inward. Since there are different forms of meditative practice, the technique itself is less important than the act of inward attention. It is the inward attention itself that calls forth the meditation state.” [taken from “The Compassionate Witness: Fundamentals of Meditation”]

Meditation is a very important key to good health. There are 100’s of medical research studies that prove this:

  1. Patients with hypertension experienced significant decreases in blood pressure and needed fewer or no medications over a 3 year measurement period [Eileen M. Stuart, RN, C, MS].
  2. Patients with chronic pain experienced less severity of pain, more activity, less anxiety, less depression, less anger, and they visited the managed care facility where they received care 36% less often in the 2 years after completing the program than they did prior to treatment [Margaret A. Caudill, MD, Ph.D].
  3. 75% of patients with sleep-onset insomnia [meaning that they couldn’t fall asleep easily ] were cured and became normal sleepers. Sleeping also improved for the other 25%, and most patients took significantly fewer sleep medications [Gregg D. Jacobs, Ph.D].
  4. 36% of women with unexplained infertility became pregnant within 6 months of completing the program [meditation] [Alice D. Domar, Ph.D.]
  5. Patients with complaints described by the admitting personnel as psychosomatic and who were frequent users of a health maintenance organization reduced their number of visits by 50% [Caroline J.C. Hellman, Ph.D.]
  6. Women suffering from symptoms of premenstrual syndrome [PMS] experienced a 57% decrease in severity. The more severe the PMS, the more effective the relief with the relaxation response [a type of meditation] [Irene L. Goodale, Ph.D.]
  7. Patients with cancer and AIDS experienced decreased symptoms and better control of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy [Ann Webster, Ph.D.]
    8. Patients with cardiac arrhythmias experienced fewer of them [Herbert Benson, MD].
  8. Patients who suffered from anxiety or mild or moderate depression were less anxious, depressed, angry, and hostile [Herbert Benson, MD].
  9. Patients undergoing painful X-ray procedures experienced less anxiety and pain and needed 1/3 the amount of pain and anxiety medications usually required [Carol L. Mandle, RN, Ph.D.]
  10. Patients who had open-heart surgery had fewer postoperative arrhythmias and less anxiety following surgery [Jane Lesserman, Ph.D.].
  11. Migraine and cluster headache sufferers found they had fewer and less severe headaches [Herbert Benson, MD].
  12. High school sophomores increased their self-esteem [Herbert Benson MD].
  13. Working people experienced reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and hostility [Patricia Carrington, Ph.D.]
  14. Working people had fewer medical symptoms, fewer illness days, improved performance and lower blood pressure [Ruanne K. Peters, SD].


[taken from the book, Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson MD]

In summary, it seems to me that if you aren’t meditating yet, the time has come. Just do it! And you can get lessons, one on one, if you wish with meditation teacher Patricia Kauffman. Patricia has 34 years of experience meditating, and is quite gifted at teaching to all levels of meditators….beginners, intermediate, and advanced. Call up for a session, at either clinic, Sacramento or Auburn.

p.s. PS: here's a very useful interesting article about MEDITATING AT WORK: