In my courses I usually focus on giving people instruction in the practical techniques and 'tricks' of meditation.
The following article, however, is not so much about specific techniques but rather overall stategies to achieving success in meditation.
Keys to Success in Meditation by Stephen Cottee
There are a number of ways to get big results from meditation... fast!
1) Meditate in the presence of an enlightened person
For those who can pull this off, this is perhaps the fastest and best way.
The only problem is, enlightened people are extraordinarily hard to find and even harder to get close to!
Most people who claim to be enlightened are not, and most of those who really are won't claim anything.
In my (nearly two decades) in the field, I've only met a handful who I can confidently say are enlightened, and only one who is a massively enlightened world teacher. She is a major international spiritual leader who has thousands of people wanting her attention every day of the week.
(I am referring to the great humanitarian from India known as Amma or Ammachi. Amma will be appearing in Sydney at free public programs on 18-19 April, 2014. I highly recommend getting in the big queue and letting her give you a hug! Many people find her hugs to be life-changing. And even if you don't go for the 'Indian guru show' you will at least be able to say at parties, 'Oh yeah, I met this enlightened person once. I think she must have liked me or something because she gave me a hug and whispered in my ear.')
2) Meditate for a very long time
If you spend 10 hours a day meditating you will get results pretty quickly. (You might also bugger up your knees so be careful hehe).
This is the idea behind meditation retreats and intensives which focus on lots of hours of practice, day after day. The limitation here is that once you return to the world it is very hard to maintain and most of the effect wears off all too quickly.
It's the difference between visiting a place and living there, I suppose. I mean, sometimes just visiting somewhere can change you, but usually you revert back to old habits once you are back at home, you know?
So overall I believe super-long sessions are great if you are a monk or nun, but not very practical for busy people with jobs, kids and so on - except as an occasional boost.
3) Meditate very intensely
Some traditions instruct the meditator to perform her spiritual practices with the same focus and intensity as someone whose hair is on fire would in looking for water, or a suffocating person would in struggling for air.
Undoubtedly, very intense practices can produce significant breakthroughs very quickly. The catch here is that it takes a lot of determination and devotion to reach that level of intensity in meditation (and apply it intelligently) and that, of course, can take a long time lol
Also, it can be hard to maintain this intensity over time.
So if you can muster up that intensity at will, then great, go for it. But if you can't, then keep reading...
4) Meditate with a group
If you can join a group of strong meditators it will accelerate
your progress exponentially. You will be motivated, inspired and propelled along by the group dynamic. One of the main reasons I love teaching meditation so much is that it puts me in a sacred group environment on a very regular basis, making it very easy for me to stay on track spiritually.
The one-year Certificate of Meditation is a great way to experience this. Past participants have all commented on what a difference it made to be part of such a group.
5) Daily practice
Any worthwhile thing in life takes time and persistance to attain. Learning a language, saving for an overseas holiday, building a loving relationship, getting fit, raising a child. None of these things can be done in a day, but if we do a little bit of work each day we can achieve the seemingly impossible with relative ease!
I often tell my students that they will get far more benefit from practising 20 minutes a day than practising 2 hours once a week. If you can make meditation a part of your normal routine, your every-day-of-the-week life, then 'normal' for you will increasingly be calm, peaceful, clear, strong, self-aware, and full of life and good humour.
Of the five ways to get big results I've outlined above, the two I have found to be the most practical for busy, modern Westerners are 4) and 5). So find yourself a good meditation group, start practicing daily and see how positively life-changing a powerful meditation practice can be!
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