|Originally posted by Kat.C
How do you learn to meditate? What exactly is meditation? Is it just breathing? Breathing energy? How do you breathe energy? I know nothing about it at all. Do you learn from a book. What are the benefits?
Gee that's a tough question and a long one to boot.
First it is easier to learn meditation with an instructor. I've trained with Taoist, yogis, Zen Buddhist and other occult schools for over a decade, and a still feel like such a neophyte.
The best definition I ever got was, meditation is the art and science of achieving an alter-state of consciousness. This is not hard to believe since most occultic schools feel like most of mankind exists in a semi-sleep, not truly awake. (States of consciousness: sleep, dreaming, semi-sleep (normal waking consciousness), and awake (most people are rarely truly awake.)) This semi-sleep state allows us to be lead by our emotions even when we know we are doing something wrong (kind of like a dream). When you hear about most violent crimes, the suspect usually says he didn't realize what he was doing, it was almost like it was some else. Also, daydreaming is a slip into an altered-state condition.
Breathing is seen as the doorway into the subconscious (better altered-state of consciousness). Most every other autonomic function is out of out direct control (e.g. heart rate, digestion etc...). Breathing is easily controlled by our conscious will, and that what gives us an opening into the altered-states. By slowing our breathing our brain wave begins to switch from a beta state to an alpha an eventually a delta. This has been scientifically proven in biofeedback research. Once in an altered-state it is possible to begin to control other autonomic function as well as plant suggestions (auto-hypnosis) I think there is someone in this forum better schooled in these application.
Also, by learning to control our breathing we better learn to control our emotions. If you ever noticed a child upset they tend to breathe more quickly and more into their chest. Most every emotion has a different breathing pattern (rate of breath and how deep we breathe). By recognizing these and learning to control our own breathing we are less likely to get swept away by our emotions. Also, we can generate emotions at will. In a calm, alert condition humans tend to breathe deeply into their hara (belly) at a rate or about 4-8 breaths per minute. The average person breathes about 12-16 breaths per minute usually into their chest. I heard that most of the alveolus (sorry about the spelling) are located at the inner lining of our lungs (Colleen is this true), by taking deeper breath we improve the amount of oxygen in our blood.
Breathing and energy (ki, chi, prana, mojo etc...) are different. But again by controlling our breathing we gain access to this energy (usually controlled by our subconsciousness). Breathing leads the ki; it is a form of induction.
I think Koichi Tohei has a great book out call "Ki in Daily Life". The are many others. Some very arcane, some for novices.
Zen Meditation is focused more on achieving a state of true wakefulness. Most occult schools often see this goal as the most superior. Total emission in the NOW. Other schools use meditation to achieve a semi-dream state (controlled visualization). This allows them more control of their autonomic function and resist pain. It also allows them to work with their ki, work spells (if you believe in that sort of thing) and perform other feats.
This is only my humble opinion. I know some of you don't believe in this occult stuff, and some of you western thinkers and scientist get into a big teassy on these things. Please feel free to offer your opions and correct any of my statements about medical and scientific findings.