Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Who are you kidding? Your claims for meditation are absurd. Nothing could do so much.
A. Meditation is not an instant cure. It is a practice that gives fresh insight into the nature of the mind and of life. The regular practice of meditation helps us to discover what is permanent and what is fleeting. For example, our thoughts and emotions drift through our minds. Unless we take ourselves very seriously, our thoughts have no grip on us. Nevertheless, people who do not meditate may be dominated by their thoughts -- including destructive thoughts planted in the mind by parents, acquaintances and advertisers. (See also a great article, The Acupuncture Needle of Zazen, by Tenshin Reb Anderson.)

Q. How could meditation help me to be more confident and assertive?
A. What keeps you from confidence and assertiveness? In meditation, you will become aware of the influences that give you the illusion that you are small and unworthy. By witnessing those thoughts in meditation, you will see them for what they really are. Meditators often discover that their real power is in being the silent witness. The thoughts are just passing illusions. Once we see them for what they are, we can confidently take our true identity.
Some may call this true identity the "God within". Others may prefer to think it as the spirit of God within us or the Holy Spirit within us. Whatever words you use, you will begin to see humanity as less of a "race" or competition and more as a celebration of complex, creative people with an enormous capacity for love.

Q. How can meditation make me more flexible?
A. People who live by rote, without examining their lives, are destined to repeat their patterns, which they naively begin to believe are their identity. When you become a witness to your own thoughts, you begin to be more humble. You may consider whether others' thoughts are as valuable. You may even consider what others say as a potential source of life changing wisdom.

The Most Powerful                      Personal Growth Program

Q. How can meditation make me more self-sufficient?
A. A person with the habit of examining themselves loses the need to defend what they have done. A meditator need not keep asking others for approval. Meditation gives comfort. It puts us in touch with inner knowledge. In this way we need not live as much for what others think of us. We live more for what we ourselves decide we would like to be.

 Q. Will I really learn to relax?
A. Yes. In deep meditation, which comes with regular practice, meditation produces a profound state of rest called "the relaxation response." This is a healthy way to live. It enhances the work of the immune system and shifts people away from reliance on adrenaline. For more information about this, see Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., Minding the Body, Mending the Mind, 1987 at 10-17. See also my discussion of stress.

Q. How could I "radiate love"?
A. Meditation gradually takes away self doubt. In this way, it also takes away the desperate need to have love from others. The witness, which each of us has, is a very powerful and loving part of us. As we become aware of "the witness," we also become aware that we share the witness with others. Thus, they are like us. It makes sense to look on others with love. This attitude naturally produces inner radiance. It is very attractive to others. It is an entirely different thing than radiating "neediness".

Q. Why will I enjoy life more?
A. Meditators gradually stop having to prove themselves. They begin living life themselves. They can appreciate little things, like the breeze in the trees, the aroma of a rose or the warmth of the sun. These little things become a source of great pleasure. It helps life itself to become more fun. It encourages the meditator to play more!

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