"It has been an interesting third year of Natural
Meditation. I very much value my daily "traditional" meditation session.
I've established a very comfortable routine where I head for my meditation
space in the basement, reduce the lights, sit in a very comfortable
high-backed chair and settle into an altered state of consciousness.
My sessions usually last 20-35 minutes, but I don't time them and let them
last until the balance between "internalization" and external awareness
tilts towards the outside.
When I meditate, there are definite physiological
results that I can now anticipate...my breathing slows, my pulse drops, I
tend to warm up and sweat a little. These are not conscious or
intentional alternations, they seem to be natural side-effects of
meditating. Equally important is the way that I handle external
influences, especially noise. I meditate in the basement--in part
because there is a low likelihood of interruption, but the sound of the
pipes bubbling or the furnace clanking is not terribly disruptive. I hear
a sound, process it and let it go. It takes something major (like a cat
jumping in my lap) to abruptly bring me out of a session, and it is as if
I have turned off my "involuntary reaction" switch. I realize that the
speed of sound does not slow down while I'm meditating, but the relative
speed with which I process sound is definitely different.
The biggest surprise has been the serendipitous
results of embarking on a daily journey where I don't know the destination
or the route. I certainly bring emotional baggage into these sessions,
but I never know if the emotional issues on my mind when I start a session
will be the focus during the session. I do know that the stress level
associated with emotional issues goes down after a session whether I
explore it or not. I think that drop is frequently the result of allowing
myself to focus randomly instead of continuing to worry a topic to death.
A session may help me gain a better understanding of an issue, or may help
me to put an issue in perspective by allowing me to escape it.
I'm participating in a sport (competitive pistol)
where the ability to reduce my involuntary reflex to certain external
stimuli is a plus. The triggers on my pistols are finely tuned and very
sensitive, but there is still a tendency to flinch when the sear is
released and the firing pin hits a primer. The infamous flinch is
normally associated with the sound of the bang, but in fact you normally
start to flinch before the sound reaches your ears. The crazy part is
that the flinch can move the barrel before the bullet exits the muzzle,
causing a "flip" where the shot goes off course. At 25 and 50 yards it
doesn't take a lot of muzzle movement to move a shot off center. So I
would like to be able to turn off my "involuntary reaction" switch so that
I don't flinch when I pull the trigger or the shooter in the next lane
makes a boom. In fact, I am trying to concentrate my focus on a red dot
(the scope) on a black dot (the target) and a consistent trigger pull and
sublimate all of the external distractions...which isn't all that
different from my daily session where I adopt a mantra and sublimate
My shooting has improved significantly. I was the
most improved shooter in my league last year (over 150 participants) and
have placed first in my class at a couple of matches this summer. I'm
shooting in a low (beginner) class, and one of the things I'm trying to do
is move up to a higher level of competition. The scoring gives me a way to
measure physical changes (sort of like the old bio-feedback), but I
clearly see a separation between effecting physiological changes and
reaching a different state of consciousness.
I think that implementing the Relaxation Response, which I have used in the past, would help anyone who was trying to shoot a pistol accurately, but I know
that the technique alone did not help me significantly with
introspection. Evolving and growing with Natural Meditation has helped me
gain a better perspective on my role relative to the world. Relaxation
Response is like having a truck with no place to go, you've given me a way
to reach a destination without worrying too much about how I get there."
Tom M, Albany NY, USA, September 2003