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Ideas Presented in Chapter 2

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Idea #4: The Meditative Function is the Foundation of Meditation

The meditative function is the least abstract aspect of meditation, bringing consistent shifts in both metabolism and consciousness. These shifts come from nature’s programming and present the universal human aspect of an otherwise highly elaborated human construction. They are the most concrete and widely available features of meditation, which is why they were the first to be studied by Western science.

Nearly everyone who regularly does a sitting meditation gets these effects, whether or not they name them, understand them, or care about them. The many methods of meditation derive from diverse cultures, philosophies, and worldviews and do not all bring the same degree of interest in the “lower” layer of natural process. They might focus on developing wisdom or a loving relationship with God and not be interested in things like Dr. Khalsa’s explanation of rational thought processes housed in the cortex in dialogue with the hippocampus and amygdala housed in the limbic system.

Physical foundations get overshadowed by the buildings they support, and that happens with meditation, too. The foundational nature of the meditative function sometimes gets brushed off as “just relaxation” or as side effects of the real work of meditation. But to understand and enjoy Natural Meditation, we need to understand and appreciate this foundation because Natural Meditation does not directly provide the upper layers of philosophy, wisdom training, moral insight, religious and cultural bonding. The meditative function is a foundation, and that is a great thing. It is a powerful meditative engine producing restorative and developmental influences in the body, mind, heart, and spirit. It is a complete form of meditation that can last the rest of your life because it is precisely honed to elicit the maximum effects from the meditative function. It provides an inner environment that supports the upper layers of philosophy, religion, culture. It doesn’t conflict with these layers, but encourages their development. Indeed, the expansive and transcendent insights of meditative awareness depend upon the deeply stable physiology and subtly refined awareness produced by nature in the meditative function.

We can liken the meditative function to the structure and ambience created by a library or place of worship. Mostly we think about the books, readings, and prayers that exist in those buildings, but the building itself has an almost commanding influence on its contents. The library and the sanctuary create an inner coolness, a separated, silent barrier to the outer buzz of the surrounding culture. The role of the building and its ambience in promoting study and worship has been deeply appreciated for centuries, as a visit to the great European and Asian structures will readily prove.

The meditative function is a sanctuary that surpasses any building in its power and significance. Happily, it is much lighter to carry and inexpensive to erect. All people carry this sanctuary, whether or not they know about it or choose to enter it. The power of this foundation can be hinted at by the sight of someone meditating on a bench in the train station or other busy, noisy, public place. The meditator has been able to slip into the coolness and separated silence of meditation as if there had been a chapel or a library right there.

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