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Why"natural"?

Why is Natural Meditation called "natural"?

 
 

A: The word natural describes a form (any number of forms, actually) of meditation that is designed solely around deeply engrained natural principles.

Q: What do you mean designed?

 
 

A: Meditations are methods or skilled actions. They consist of rules or a series of mental and physical activities put together like a recipe. 

Q: And what do you mean by "deeply engrained natural principles"? 

 
 

A: The rules, or recipes, of many meditation methods are designed to meet cultural, philosophical, or religious principles and goals. By contrast, the rules of a natural meditation method, as we use the term, are virtually dictated by nature, the nature of the body and mind. There can be many beautiful and useful goals for meditation, but a natural meditation seeks only to "turn on a switch" in the body and mind that results in a unique condition of bodily rest and mental openness. This state is distinct from anything else one can experience. It is a coordinated, complex, healing and rejuvenating process that lies dormant in every human being until it is allowed to emerge. 

Q: Are you sure this is really meditation? Maybe it is some form of sleep or a relaxation technique.

 
 

A: Yes, we are sure. This experience of deep rest combined with open awareness is extremely rare among the general population, yet is nearly universal among people who sit in formal sessions called meditation or prayer. If you set up the conditions that bring on this unique condition in the body and mind, guess what it looks like? Meditation. Not napping or sleeping.  Also, when experienced regularly (daily) over many years (decades, perhaps) it graces and supports life in a compounding way. We sleep and nap every day, too, but it does not seem to bring about long-term development. Meditation over decades produces wide-ranging, all-encompassing gracefulness (sometimes called enlightenment or liberation). 

Q: It sounds quite unnatural, really. Doesn't it? It is not common and it only happens in meditation, something that few people do. 

 
 

A: OK. Let's agree with that. Meditation as a daily practice is not natural. You don't just fall into doing it the way you do with so many other functions. But do not miss the main news here: meditation itself is certainly a choice. You choose to do it or not. But when you do it, something particular happens within your body that you have no way of producing intentionally. This is what makes the case for calling it natural. Hundreds of studies have been done on meditations of many kinds over the past 50 years. While a careful review of them leaves questions about the details, the overall message is that a wide range of effects occur, both short-term during a sitting and long-term over a lifetime. These effects are not ones you can set out to get. So, that is what is natural about meditation: the effects. What is surprising to the general public is that they carry within themselves a unique, unused function--incidentally, we call it the meditative function. They may not have any interest at all in anything traditionally put forth as meditation, yet they do carry around with them, night and day, an unused and magnificent piece of natural software for meditative awareness and healing.

Q: Are you talking about all meditation methods or Natural Meditation?

 
 

A: Nothing covers "all", but yes, many, many forms, have this natural component, even though the meditative forms may be culturally elaborated with other material. Some forms of meditation are so focused and goal-specific that they do not leave room for nature to come in and operate, but a great many methods across the cultural spectrum do in fact allow the meditative function to blossom--no doubt, in varying degrees. Natural Meditation is simply the particular method presented by Natural Meditation Initiatives to turn on the meditative function. It adds nothing extra. And that can be of great benefit for many at the outset. The meditative function is seen as the foundation of meditation. It appears in many forms of meditation even though it may never be spoken of. If you add some other flavors from religion, it will look like a Buddhist or yogic meditation (e.g. Zen) or a Christian contemplation (e.g. Centering Prayer). If you add nothing extra, it is a natural meditation. Natural Meditation is just one very simple, uncluttered form of eliciting the meditative function.

 

By the way, this same meditative function has been studied since the early 1970s, often being called "the relaxation response." What happens during a non-striving form of open-minded meditation is much more complex and beneficial at every level of the body and mind than what you might think of when you hear the word relaxation.

 

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