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Founder's Msg


Three Years of Natural Meditation

(Report from man who took A Course in Meditation online in 2000)

"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 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 external distractions. 

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








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