Most westerners just don't meditate. Our culture is a culture of “doers”. We do so much, or think about doing so much, that we tend not to develop any inward awareness until we can’t do something we want to do. In those cases we typically experience a negative emotion. A culture like ours that is conditioned to feel and experience through outwardly directed consciousness is highly susceptible to an over-exposure of doing. The result is a progressive onset of fatigue, which often leads to injury. Unfortunately for our culture of doers, injury is often a necessary means of cultivating inward-awareness.

Many of you will have had the experience of going on vacation and shortly after arriving at your destination you get a cold, flu or other illness. This occurs because the conscious doing-mind tends to suppress our inner-experience of ourselves until we have the time and space to relax. When focused on completing tasks or under pressure, the mind can and does suppress the immune system. When we are under stress, we release stress hormones that inform the body that it is under attack, inducing a fight or flight response. As part of this response, the immune system will ignore any offensive organism that it perceives to be less threatening under the influence of stress hormones. Thus, even the immune system can become outwardly directed or doing oriented in such instances.

First Steps to Meditation
The chief reason westerners are so challenged to meditate is because we have little or no experience with directing our consciousness inward unless it is necessary to survive. When this form of meditation does occur, we want to end it as quickly as possible. When we continue to direct our consciousness outwardly, we are directing energy and attention outward too. When we get tired we drink more coffee, eat more sugar, or do both so we can maintain our pathology. And I mean it when I say this is pathology because it induces an imbalance in the energetic systems of the human organism.

Thinking is very energy consuming. Physiology texts show that when we are cognitively engaged and thinking about anything, the brain uses about 80% of the available blood sugar. This is why people feel so tired when learning new tasks or skills. When I train athletes, I commonly have to teach them how to feel their inner-reality so they can best determine when to train hard and when not to do so. If they simply follow a coach’s program or “recipe” without realizing that the ingredients for success change on a day-by-day basis, they can easily become the best burned out student the coach has!

How to Feel Your Happenings
So how do we develop a healthy inner awareness? Here are a few awareness exercises I’ve learned and developed for my clients and athletes. The goal is to use these exercises as a starting place to for the process of meditation in a way that is more manageable to the outwardly directed psyche.

Try chewing your food with your eyes closed while feeling, smelling and tasting the food. Chew the food slowly and pay attention to how your whole body reacts. If you go from a salty to a sweet, to a bitter food, you can easily feel how your entire community of cells reacts by either becoming open to or closed to the experience. Openness typically results in an inviting sense and encourages you to consume more. A closing experience typically results in the making of funny faces and the desire to reject the foodstuff. Take your time with your meals, keep your eyes closed and allow yourself to go within and connect to the experience your cells are having as you eat. Not only is this a form of active meditation, the new found awareness often leads to the realization that for some time, you’ve actually been eating foods that are repulsive to your cells, which leads to illness.

Lay or sit comfortably, comfortably enough that you could fall asleep if you wanted to. Begin breathing slowly through your nose. Pay attention to how the air feels as it passes the hairs in your nose. Feel the tickle as the air rotates through the nasal passages. Then pay attention to the energy in and around your eyes and face and you will notice that there is a feeling of expansion of your cells and energy field as you inhale, and a feeling of decreased energy or contraction as you breath out. If you do this for ten or more minutes while breathing slowly and rhythmically, you will eventually begin having moments where you totally forget what you are doing, or even that you are there. This is meditation. This is what occurs when the conscious or ego-mind is pacified by a single-pointed focus or rhythm.

Muscle Contraction
One of my favorite tricks for inducing inner-awareness is to have people lay on their back and contract the muscles of one thigh progressively harder and harder until their muscles are as hard as rocks. Do your best to only contract one thigh and not let the rest of your body tighten up. Then, after holding a maximum contraction for 3-5 seconds, suddenly let it go and follow alone as the energy released from the electrical activity of the muscle flows to different regions of your body. Try doing this until you’ve contacted and relaxed every major muscle grouping in your body and soon enough, you’ll find yourself lying there between contractions for what may only be a minute or two though that short time now suddenly feels like a little eternity. It’s almost as though you’ve lost consciousness or fallen asleep, but you haven’t. That’s meditation.

I invite you to give these simple exercises a try. After a few weeks of putting them to use I guarantee you’ll feel more relaxed and well on your way to developing a full meditative practice. Enjoy!

Author's Bio: 

Paul Chek is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of holistic health and personal, professional and spiritual mastery systems. For over twenty-five years, Paul’s unique, holistic approach to treatment and education has changed the lives of countless individuals worldwide. As a walking, talking definition of success, Paul is above all an educator: teaching and applying his methods to benefit others. He has produced more than 50 videos, 6 books, 2 e-books, and 16 advanced-level home study courses while regularly contributing to many diverse publications and web sites. Paul is the founder of the C.H.E.K Institute and the P~P~S Success Mastery Center, in San Diego, California, USA.

Once you've become comfortable with these awareness exercises, learn to make your whole life a meditation with Paul's TAO-TE-zen program. Visit the PPS Success Mastery Website today to find out more about his weekly spiritual development program.

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