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Frequently Asked Questions About Meditation
By Chris Joscelyne

What is meditation?
Every day we are subjected to sensory input from a variety of sources and our minds absorb and sort an enormous amount of information. Some of the information is important; some is not. However the mind is kept active as the information flows constantly into our conscious and our unconscious mind. Meditation allows much of this activity to settle down, and often results in the mind becoming more calm, peaceful and focused.

Meditation is a technique of relaxed awareness that can reduce stress, boost mental focus and heighten clarity of thinking. It usually involves a concentration technique that could be a word or a sound (mantra), music, an object such as a candle, a flower, a tree, or one's own breath. By concentrating on a sound or an object the mind has something on which to focus. As the meditation progresses, random thoughts diminish and the mind is more open to positive affirmation. Meditation helps the body to relax, reducing the effects of stress both mentally and physically. Meditation can achieve this to a potentially much greater degree than passive relaxation.

I have been teaching meditation techniques for over twenty years. During this time I have noticed that experiences during meditation can vary significantly from one individual to another. For this reason it is best if one does not have any specific expectations when one begin meditation. Having a sense of expectation of some kind of predetermined experience can create unnecessary stress that inhibits an effective meditation session.

Because meditation involves becoming more aware and more sensitive to what is deep within one's thoughts, it may not always be a pleasant experience. Facing unpleasant parts of oneself may well occur during a meditation session. One should accept that this could be a natural part of the experience and decide, with professional help if necessary, how to deal with and heal any negative thoughts.

Is meditation self-hypnosis?
Self-hypnosis, like meditation, involves an initial period of concentration on an object. However in meditation one maintains a restful awareness of the here-and-now, staying conscious throughout the process. In self-hypnosis one enters a semi-conscious trance-like state without restful awareness of the here-and-now. Therefore meditation and self-hypnosis are different.

Is meditation a religious experience?
Meditation helps one look within to enhance inner peace, rejuvenation and positive focus. Some describe this experience as contacting one's " inner soul" or "inner child" or "higher self".

While meditation is not a religion, various forms of meditation are used by eastern religions and Christianity to focus the mind. However anyone can benefit from meditation regardless of what they believe.

Which is the best meditation for me?
There is no single meditation technique that suits everyone. Some techniques work better for certain people while other techniques work better for others. If an individual tries a number of different techniques the technique that works best can be chosen.


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