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"It is important to me that my meditation practice supports my belief in a universal
spirit. Will Inner Peace Meditation support my belief in a universal spirit?"
"What am I? Where did I come from? I do not believe that life was created by a
universal spirit or God. Yet to me life seems sacred and holy."
“Why did people start meditating originally? What was its purpose?”
“What does scientific research tell us about which meditation technique is best"?
"It is important to me that my meditation practice supports my belief in a universal spirit. Will Inner Peace Meditation support my belief in a universal spirit?"
A primary goal of believing in a universal spirit is to increase your inner peace and a primary goal of Inner Peace Meditation is to increase your inner peace. So Inner Peace Meditation supports your belief in a universal spirit through helping increase your inner peace.
When scientists began studying meditation in the 1970s they found that people got the benefits of meditating regardless of whether or not they adopted the traditional beliefs that had once accompanied a meditation practice. So while Inner Peace Meditation comes from the ancient traditions of India it does not promote the beliefs from that tradition, or from any tradition. So you can practice Inner Peace Meditation and adopt whatever spiritual or religious beliefs that suit you.
You should exercise caution however when adopting any belief system because how you hold your beliefs can increase inner peace, or how you hold your beliefs can become a major barrier to gaining inner peace.
Since the 1960s a major shift has been occurring with regard to beliefs about inner peace. Today many people view themselves as spiritual but not religious, and some call whatever created life God or Allah while others call It universal spirit, nature, love, science, consciousness, Brahmin, true Self, the Great Mystery, Zen, no self, Tao, etc.
For thirty five years our staff has been living in a community of several thousand
people that came together to experiment with and live this shift. During that time
we learned how beliefs can increase inner peace and how beliefs can become
actual barriers to inner peace. We wrote a short guide book about this, which you
can download as a PDF and read free by clicking on it. →
We also developed a Quiz that is designed to help you explore and better
understand your beliefs about Whatever Created Life. The Quiz includes six
Principles that explain how beliefs can increase or decrease your inner peace.
Once you have taken the Quiz you can then download it as a beautiful, free
ebook that includes the Quiz questions, your answers and the six Principals.
To take the free Quiz click on it. →
"What am I? Where did I come from? I do not believe that life was created by a universal spirit or God. Yet to me life seems sacred and holy."
You are stardust that somehow came alive, and how and why that happened
remains a mystery despite claims by countless belief systems that they
possess the truth about this mystery.
Our experience has been that inner peace comes through better understanding
who you are and where you came from. For an in depth understanding
of who you are and where you came from click on the galaxy. →
“Why did people start meditating originally? What was its purpose.”
We developed the ability to think abstractly only about 70,000 - 95,000 years
ago*. Apparently the part of life we live "in our head" today simply did not
exist before that time, and instead human life was solely a series of immediate
experiences, like the lives of other creatures. For more in depth information about
"The Rise of Abstract Thinking" click on the thought bubble. →
Abstract thinking has certainly improved the human condition, but it has also created some serious problems. Stress accounts for over 60% of doctor visits and much of that stress results from people continually thinking and worrying about the past and the future. Often we literally “are not here” but instead are “in our head” thinking and worrying. It appears that meditation was developed as a way to help maintain a healthy balance of the life we live “in our head” and the life we live as immediate experiences.
In the "Your Beliefs Quiz" above this question is asked: “Are there times during your day when you notice you have no thoughts?” Over 10,000 people have answered that question and 66% say they are thinking all the time while 34% say they notice some absence of thoughts during their day. The following are some of their written answers, which are reprinted here with their permission:
From those who say they never notice any absence of thoughts:
"I wish my brain would stop, but it goes on all the time worrying.”
"sometimes I try to just not think but I always end up thinking"
“There is not a single moment in the day where I have no thoughts”
"I always think. My mind races always."
“My mind is usually a train-wreck. Thoughts whirl around my head constantly.”
From those who say they do notice the absence of thoughts:
"yes, that is when I am at peace"
"Yes, it's nice."
“when I relax and meditate, my mind rests”
“It is a great feeling”
~ ~ ~
Clearly most people are thinking most of the time, and many want to be thinking less. If you are one of them then try doing this exercise:
Reading these words brings thoughts into your mind. As you read these words you are also noticing the light around you. Noticing the light around you had nothing to do with thinking any thoughts.
Now stop reading this, look around briefly, and come back to reading this. Do that now. Look around briefly and then come back to reading this.
When you looked around you noticed things, and you noticed those things innocently without thinking about them. Likewise much of what you do every day you do without thinking. Often however you become so focused on what you are thinking that what is happening around you gets overshadowed by your thoughts.
To help you connect more with what is happening around you, spontaneously do this exercise three or four times every week: innocently notice the light around you and how you notice the light without thinking about it. Combined with regular meditation this exercise can help maintain a healthy balance of the life you are living "in your head" with the life you are living as immediate experience.
~ ~ ~
The biggest problem that arose from our development of abstract thinking was worrying about death, which can trigger intense and sometimes debilitating fear. To manage that fear we long ago developed replacement, more positive abstract thoughts such as salvation, liberation, eternal life and reincarnation; and we developed religions to manage those ideas.
In addition to those idea-based approaches to managing that fear, many religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity also developed approaches such as meditation that decrease stress in the physiology, and hence fear. (Yoga, tai chi and qigong are other forms of this approach.) While these approaches are practiced differently, in general they help with living life less “in the head" and more as immediate experiences.
However for many people the above two approaches do not extinguish the fear of death, particularly when facing life threatening medical situations. In that regard recent research into a third approach from traditional religions is encouraging. In research at New York University and John Hopkins, terminally ill cancer patients were given psilocybin (magic mushrooms), which had the ongoing effect for many of diminishing their fear of dying. **
* E. O. Wilson; The Social Conquest of Earth; Liveright, 2013
** "The Trip Treatment"; New Yorker; February 9, 2015
“What does scientific research tell us about which meditation technique is best?"
While meditation techniques have been practiced for thousands of years, scientific research on meditation began when researchers at Harvard University began studying it in the 1970s. Since then there has been research on different meditation techniques and their effects but as yet there has been almost no research that compares different meditation techniques with one another in terms of specific effects. For example while researchers have found that mantra meditation may lower blood pressure, research has not been done yet that compares mantra meditation with other types of meditation in terms of lowering blood pressure. Thus it’s fair to say that research on meditation is still in its early stages today (2015).
Research is also suggesting that different meditation techniques may affect the physiology differently. For example mantra meditation may be more effective than other types of meditation for lowering blood pressure, stress, and the risk of heart disease and stroke while other types of meditation may be more effective than mantra meditation for treating psychological disorders and increasing compassion and kindness. Further, it is not yet known how individual factors such as upbringing, dna, psychology, world view, etc. effect which meditation technique is right for you.
We are optimistic that over the coming years such comparative research will be done that enables someone to design a meditation practice based on who they are and the outcome they seek. Until then go online and review the meditation research that is relevant to your goals. Remember that you may be meditating for many, many years, so investing the time now to get properly oriented makes good sense.
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