Meditations are gaining popularity in modern society due to its many mental health benefits. Many people may just begin meditation after reading a book or seeing it on media without a qualified teacher to teach them.
While meditation can be very simple, here’s 10 things to watch out for during practice. Some of the advice shared here are taken in context of traditional Chinese medicine practice. I decided to be open minded and share it for the readers to make their own conclusion.
Do not entertain delusive thoughts
It is common that our mind are easily distracted. Many times, we find our mind presenting thoughts, recollections of remote past incidence and daydream during meditation. These are all delusions. It is what we call a monkey mind. It jumps from one thought to another and presents an array of mental images to distract. If we take notice, it leads us to another thought and before long, we are dreaming away and not meditating.
When we encounter such obstacle, it is important to be kind and compassionate with ourselves. Our mind are habitual in distraction. Patience is required. Instead of blaming ourselves for being distracted, we need to patiently refocus on our object of meditation. It can be an external object like a flower, a colour disc or our breathe or some mantra syllabus. We just need to bring the attention back and focus.
2. Do not seek supernatural / psychic power
Buddhist meditation is not about communion with an external being. Nor is it to gain supernatural power or become psychic. If we have any craving or desire to practice meditation for such objectives, then it is a wrong motivation for a Buddhist.
Meditation in Buddhism is for attainment of Enlightenment. The objective is to attain inner realisation so that we no longer have craving, hatred and ignorance.
Many Buddhist teachers cautioned the danger of meditation to gain supernatural capability because one’s mind can be easily lead astray.
Buddhist laity are not forbidden from having sex, but sex is discouraged if it is done within 2 to 4 hours apart from meditation. (this period includes pre and post meditation) It is believed that if one have sex directly before or after meditation, the kidney will be harmed. This is a theory in relation to the flow of Qi.
On the other hand, I think it kinda makes sense from a mental perspective. It seems to be adding additional challenges to our monkey mind if we do that.
4. Meal time
Do not meditate within 1 hour after meal. Personally, I find sitting in full or half lotus position after meal is extremely uncomfortable. I believe it is bad for digestion.
Traditionally, the monks/nuns would engage in slow paced walking meditation instead of sitting meditation.
5. Extreme agitation
One is advised not to engage in meditation if one’s emotion is extremely agitated. Example in cases of extreme anger, frustration and grief. It is believed that the liver will be harmed.
Over here we are referring to extreme agitated state where you can almost feel your “heart breaking” kind of emotional turmoil.
In such circumstances, chanting may be a better alternative for calming oneself.
This is a bit of common sense. If one’s sickness prevents one from meditation, then we should not force our health. For example if one is suffering from spinal injury, then sitting meditation may not be appropriate.
7. Do not over exert or go into extreme
It is common to experience back pain, leg cramps and even nausea for beginners. Do not force ourselves too much. Meditation is not self torture. Keeping a meditation posture maybe hard for beginners and there may be pain or aches or cramps. Rest and stretch. Get up and walk a bit. Then try again.
Do not force yourself to stick to unrealistic target. Meditation is like gym session for the mind. For beginners, forcing the mind to focus for 15 minute may already be very tough and antagonising. We should slowly build up our stamina. Meditation session should be natural and comfortable. Do not force ourselves until we feel suffering.
Balance and middle path is the key. Do not be slack and do not be punishing.
8. Menstruation and pregnancy
It is advised not to do full lotus meditation posture during this period. A recommendation is to adopt a half lotus position or meditate sitting comfortably on a chair. Again the advice is not to overstrain oneself. If the body protest, respect it and rest accordingly.
Have fund in mind training!