After the Meditation – Rumi
Every morning I meditate. I cannot overstate how wonderful the effects of meditation are. It has changed my life. I am calmer. Healthier. Slower to anger. Quicker to compassion. Easier to understand others. It has changed my relationships with friends and family. This morning I shall mediate for 10 minutes. Please join me for just 10 minutes. It’s the best 10 minutes you will spend. 100 benefits are listed at the end of this article. Please use the above movie as background music and a guided meditation everyday. Meditate everyday for 10 minutes. I promise it will change your life!
After the Meditation
Now I see something in my listeners
that won’t let me continue this way.
The ocean flows back in
and puts up a foam barrier,
and then withdraws.
After a while,
it will come in again.
This audience wants to hear more
about the visiting sufi and his friends
in meditation. But be discerning.
Don’t think of this as a normal character
in an ordinary story.
The ecstatic meditation ended.
Dishes of food were brought out.
The sufi remembered his donkey
that had carried him all day.
He called to the servant there, “Please,
go to the stable and mix the barley generously
with the straw for the animal. Please.”
“Don’t worry yourself with such matters.
All things have been attended to.”
“But I want to make sure that you wet the barley first.
He’s an old donkey, and his teeth are shaky.”
“Why are you telling me this?
I have given the appropriate orders.”
“But did you remove the saddle gently,
and put salve on the sore he has?”
“I have served thousands of guests
with these difficulties, and all have gone away
satisfied. Here, you are treated as family.
Do not worry. Enjoy yourself.”
“But did you warm his water
just a little, and then add only a bit of straw
to the barley?”
“Sir, I’m ashamed for you.”
sweep the stall clean of stones and dung,
and scatter a little dry earth in it.”
“For God’s sake, sir,
leave my business to me!”
“And did you currycomb his back?
He loves that.”
“Sir! I am personally
responsible for all these chores!”
The servant turned and left at a brisk pace…
to join his friends in the street.
The sufi then lay down to sleep
and had terrible dreams about his donkey,
how it was being torn to pieces by a wolf,
or falling helplessly into a ditch.
And his dreaming was right!
His donkey was being totally neglected, weak and gasping,
without food or water all the night long.
The servant had done nothing he said he would.
There are such vicious and empty flatterers
in your life. Do the careful,
Don’t trust that to anyone else.
There are hypocrites who will praise you,
but who do not care about the health
of your heart-donkey.
Be concentrated and leonine
in the hunt for what is your true nourishment.
Don’t be distracted by blandishment-noises,
of any sort.
How To Meditate
If you choose a sitting position, place your hands in your lap, palms facing upward, the right hand on top of the left. If doing the exercise lying down, put your hands on the abdomen, one on top of the other, or at your sides. Close your eyes.
Next, direct your attention to the abdomen, an inch or two above the navel. Find the point that seems clearest to you. Don’t actually look at the spot. Just place your mind there. The point should lie along the vertical midline of the body.
As you breathe in, the abdomen expands; as you breathe out, it contracts. In meditation these movements are called, respectively, “rising” and “falling.” They never cease to alternate as long as you live.
As the abdomen rises, observe the motion from beginning to end with your mind. When the abdomen falls, do the same. That’s all there is to it. Just keep watching the rising and falling movements. You don’t have to do anything to them. Just know the movements without judging or describing them.
If it is difficult to perceive the rising and falling motions, put your hand on your stomach in order to feel them clearly.
Instead of making a continuous loop, the rising and falling motions are actually separate movements. Imagine a rock thrown straight up in the air. When reaching the highest point the rock stops for a fraction of a second before falling. Likewise, the abdomen stops rising for a moment before falling back.
As you do the exercise, restrict your attention to what is occurring in the immediate present moment. Don’t think about the past or future—don’t think about anything at all. Let go of worries, concerns, and memories. Empty your mind of everything except the abdominal movements occurring right now. But don’t think about them; just know them.
It’s important to understand that knowing bodily motion (or knowing anything) as it actually is in the present moment is entirely different from thinking about it. In insight meditation the aim is not to think, but only to know.
To know an object during vipassana meditation means to experience it with bare, nonverbal awareness. You merely register the sensation with impartial attention, without identifying, naming, judging or describing it. You don’t have to comment on the movements: “That falling motion lasted longer than the previous one. That rising movement wasn’t as clear as the others,” and so on.
As soon as there is bare awareness of the rising or falling movement, you are already knowing it. The same is true of everything you might observe during meditation practice. No matter what appears, just know it with bare attention for one moment and then let it go.
Keeping your mind on the rising and falling movements may not be as easy as you’d think. Be patient and don’t judge yourself, even if the mind wanders out often. Remember that you’re learning a new skill. When learning to play the piano, for example, you wouldn’t expect perfection right away. Likewise, you shouldn’t expect it in meditation. Don’t get discouraged if your progress seems slow. As long as you stick with the practice, results are sure to come.
As a beginner, you should label the abdominal movements with a mental note. A mental note—also called a “label”—is a word or short phrase said silently in the mind. The practice of mental noting helps keep the mind on the meditation object and prevents you from getting distracted. But this technique is only a temporary crutch. You should stop using the mental notes when mindfulness is strong enough to observe objects without them. If you’re not sure whether mindfulness is strong enough, don’t worry. In fact, the labels will fall away automatically when no longer useful, so you don’t have to make a deliberate decision to stop using them.
Labeling an object with a mental note should not be confused with recognizing and inwardly saying the ordinary name of the object, which is what we do in daily life as soon as we see or hear something. Nor should we confuse mental noting with describing the object further. Mental notes support mindfulness in the early stages by increasing momentary concentration. But even when using the noting technique, we should focus on the actual experience of the object instead of on the label, letting go of the conventional names, associations and meanings that in ordinary life are automatically attached to sense-impressions.
Here’s how to use the mental noting technique with this exercise: As the abdomen expands, say the word “rising” in your mind. When the abdomen contracts, say “falling.” Continue to note rising, falling, rising, falling, rising, falling, from one moment to the next.
Only say the mental note one time per movement. For example, during one rising motion you would say the word “rising” once, stretching the word out to last as long as the inhalation. When beginning to exhale you would say “falling,” stretching the word out to last as long as the exhalation. Again, these words are said silently. And as we mentioned a moment ago, even when using the mental notes, try to keep your attention on the actual movement instead of on the word. The aim is to know the experience itself.
The mental note should coincide with the motion, not be tagged on afterwards. Sometimes you might catch yourself saying “falling” after the rising movement has begun, or vice-versa. In that case you are no longer knowing the present moment. Just start over again from that point, noticing what is actually happening now. Later we’ll talk more about mental notes.
During the rising-falling exercise don’t focus on the breath or the physical components of the abdomen. Keep your attention on the surface of the body and focus only on the movement, which is perceived subjectively as a subtle sensation of tactile pressure, a sensation which keeps changing from moment to moment.
Imagine lying on your back, putting a coin or some other object on your stomach and, with your eyes closed, mentally “watching” the coin move up and down as you breathe. Or think of a buoy on the water, moving up and down with the waves. The coin and the buoy are like the spot on the abdomen, and the meditator just follows the up and down movement.
A couple of pointers: the abdomen should not be visualized. You only have to be aware of the movements. And be sure to breathe naturally. Don’t try to control your breath (but if you can’t perceive the abdominal motions you may take a few very deep breaths with your hand on your stomach in order to help you sense the movements. Afterwards, let your breathing return to normal).
If you can watch your abdomen rising and falling one time, you can practice insight meditation. Why not try it right now before you continue reading? It will only take a few seconds.
Close your eyes and inhale, observing one rising motion; then exhale, observing one falling motion. Don’t worry—this page will still be here waiting for you. It isn’t going anywhere. You can continue reading after trying the exercise. Let any resistance drop away. Go ahead and try it now, on the count of three. One, two, three: Begin.
Congratulations. You see? Insight meditation isn’t difficult.
Here is some additional information about observing the abdominal movements. A single rising movement of the abdomen lasts about two or three seconds. It has a beginning, middle and end (and so does the falling movement). Ideally your attention should be equally alert for the entire duration of the movement. Notice the motion as the abdomen first begins to expand, keeping your attention continuous throughout the development of the movement, until the abdomen reaches the highest point and stops expanding. Don’t just focus on the middle stage, which is the most obvious part. The beginning- and end-points should be noticed, too. When the abdomen stops expanding, let go of the rising movement and re-focus your attention on the beginning of the falling movement. Observe the falling movement in the same way, from beginning to end.
Please note, we’re not saying you should mentally chop one abdominal movement into sections. One rising or falling motion should be noticed smoothly, without breaks, until it is over, at which point you would let it go. The same applies to the motion of the feet in walking meditation, the movements of the hands in Exercise 3, and so on.
The rising-falling exercise is not only for beginners. Most experienced meditators continue to use it as their main practice. Even if you move on to the other exercises you should not forget about this one, since the abdominal movements can be noted anywhere, any time.
Motion belongs to the first foundation of mindfulness, the body. The rising-falling motions are material form (in Pali, “rupa”). Regard them with a detached, scientific attitude. In the ultimate sense, these movements do not belong to you. They are only impersonal phenomena, not your self. In truth, they are not a part of you. They are not the mind, either. It is the mind (nama) that knows them. Yet in ultimate terms the mind—what you call “your mind”—is not a self, but just an impersonal faculty whose function is to be aware of something.
Practice the rising-falling exercise anywhere from ten minutes to one hour. If you want to meditate longer than an hour, it is best to alternate this exercise with walking meditation.
The Benefits of Meditation
1- It lowers oxygen consumption.
2- It decreases respiratory rate.
3- It increases blood flow and slows the heart rate.
4- Increases exercise tolerance.
5- Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation.
6- Good for people with high blood pressure.
7- Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
8- Decreases muscle tension
9- Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis etc.
10- Reduces Pre-menstrual Syndrome symptoms.
11- Helps in post-operative healing.
12- Enhances the immune system.
13- Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress
14- Enhances energy, strength and vigour.
15- Helps with weight loss
16- Reduction of free radicals, less tissue damage
17- Higher skin resistance
18- Drop in cholesterol levels, lowers risk of cardiovascular disease.
19- Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.
20- Decreases the aging process.
21- Higher levels of DHEAS (Dehydroepiandrosterone)
22- prevented, slowed or controlled pain of chronic diseases
23- Makes you sweat less
24- Cure headaches & migraines
25- Greater Orderliness of Brain Functioning
26- Reduced Need for Medical Care
27- Less energy wasted
28- More inclined to sports, activities
29- Significant relief from asthma
30- improved performance in athletic events
31- Normalizes to your ideal weight
32- harmonizes our endocrine system
33- relaxes our nervous system
34- produce lasting beneficial changes in brain electrical activity
35- Cure infertility (the stresses of infertility can interfere with the release of hormones that regulate ovulation).
36- Builds self-confidence.
37- Increases serotonin level, influences mood and behaviour.
38- Resolve phobias & fears
39- Helps control own thoughts
40- Helps with focus & concentration
41- Increase creativity
42- Increased brain wave coherence.
43- Improved learning ability and memory.
44- Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
45- Increased emotional stability.
46- improved relationships
47- Mind ages at slower rate
48- Easier to remove bad habits
49- Develops intuition
50- Increased Productivity
51- Improved relations at home & at work
52- Able to see the larger picture in a given situation
53- Helps ignore petty issues
54- Increased ability to solve complex problems
55- Purifies your character
56- Develop will power
57- greater communication between the two brain hemispheres
58- react more quickly and more effectively to a stressful event.
59- increases one’s perceptual ability and motor performance
60- higher intelligence growth rate
61- Increased job satisfaction
62- increase in the capacity for intimate contact with loved ones
63- decrease in potential mental illness
64- Better, more sociable behaviour
65- Less aggressiveness
66- Helps in quitting smoking, alcohol addiction
67- Reduces need and dependency on drugs, pills & pharmaceuticals
68- Need less sleep to recover from sleep deprivation
69- Require less time to fall asleep, helps cure insomnia
70- Increases sense of responsibility
71- Reduces road rage
72- Decrease in restless thinking
73- Decreased tendency to worry
74- Increases listening skills and empathy
75- Helps make more accurate judgements
76- Greater tolerance
77- Gives composure to act in considered & constructive ways
78- Grows a stable, more balanced personality
79- Develops emotional maturity
80- Helps keep things in perspective
81- Provides peace of mind, happiness
82- Helps you discover your purpose
83- Increased self-actualization.
84- Increased compassion
85- Growing wisdom
86- Deeper understanding of yourself and others
87- Brings body, mind, spirit in harmony
88- Deeper Level of spiritual relaxation
89- Increased acceptance of oneself
90- helps learn forgiveness
91- Changes attitude toward life
92- Creates a deeper relationship with your God
93- Attain enlightenment
94- greater inner-directedness
95- Helps living in the present moment
96- Creates a widening, deepening capacity for love
97- Discovery of the power and consciousness beyond the ego
98- Experience an inner sense of “Assurance or Knowingness”
99- Experience a sense of “Oneness”
100- Increases the synchronicity in your life