However, is there a place for the firm, disenchanted atheist in this spectrum?
Recently, Andrew's hardcore Atheist brother was asking about how best to begin meditating, sans any spiritual reference. At all. Including PopPsych foofoo. This is more difficult than you'd initially suspect.
Many of the best meditation books are written by Buddhists. Although many can be very straightforward and low-key on the spiritual pomp page, they are still written from an ultimately spiritual perspective; Buddhism. When we suggested he look into purchasing (or borrowing) one of these books and ignoring all the spiritual references, he made a face. An atheist to the core, spirituality tends to evoke disdain and chips away at the author's credibility in his mind.
But "Meditation is HARD" he says. "And I really want to work on it, any suggestions?"
My first thought? "Start a yoga practice". Last spring a few friends took a free meditation workshop at the local Moksha studio. I expected to learn something new, or be extremely challenged. I don't have a regular meditation practice, therefore I figured this would be HARD. At the end of the workshop I realized that I had been meditating for the past 6-7 years.... during and at the end of every yoga asana practice. I already had the tools that worked well for me, focusing on my breath and some sparten visualization techniques learned through various yoga instructors.
What I did learn was that straight-up, no prep meditation, is MUCH more difficult than at the end of a yoga practice. Why is that?
Although yoga may have many other benefits (both physiological and psychological), as I understand the history, simply put yoga was created to prepare the body physically and the mind to withstand long periods of meditation. Yoga Asana was the entry point to meditation.
After chatting with a few other friends who practice yoga and have a semi-regular meditation practice, we all agreed that it's much easier to ease the mind into meditation after the body has been physically exhausted from a strenuous yoga practice. We're too tired to hold onto any of the anxiety, circular thinking or our "monkey mind" (as much as I dislike that phrase). Further, the actual asana practice teaches you to focus on your breathing and to bring your attention away from the past-future to the now.
Yoga Asana is a shortcut to Meditation.
Now... how to convince a videogaming, Warhammer playing Atheist that actual physical Yoga can be his ticket to Meditation success....and finding the best yoga class fit.
article copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com