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QUESTION ON IMPROVED ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE:

I'm 15 and I want to know which kind of meditation is best for becoming a better athlete?

ANSWER:

Because sufficient brain fuel is necessary for a good athlete, meditations that fuel the brain are recommended. Most meditations do this, but the Inner Light Meditation, described in the Core Meditations section is especially good for this.

Also, meditations that incorporate visualization are used by many successful athletes. If you visualize yourself performing well on the field, court, etc., this tends to manifest in improved performance. Professional and amateur golfers use this all the time... visualizing the exact shot they want, and it works quite well (albeit, not every time).

QUESTION ON MANAGING PAIN:

I would like to know how meditation can be used to control the pain of child birth. Should I begin by relaxing my mind and body?

ANSWER:

For controlling pain, relaxing your mind and body is definitely the first step. Then there are a few ways to go. Focussing on the breathing is the most universal.

Another is to focus your attention on something pleasant and uplifting that is removed from the pain. This can be a peaceful place, a comforting memory, or a mantra, such as 'Om Shanti', which means 'divine peace'.

Another is to put all your attention on the pain. If you can be totally present with it, it tends to shift into being just a physical sensation, rather than something negative. If you focus even deeper, pain can even become bliss.

I suggest you experiment and find what works best for you (before the actual event).

QUESTION ON SELF LOVE:

Can I use meditation to learn to love myself? I often feel discontentment, which is related to my not loving myself. How can I make these feelings go away?

ANSWER:

There are a couple of very helpful things that gradually unfold through regular meditation. One is discovering that you are a perfect, unique, Divine soul... a spark of Spirit... not the limited personality that we identify with most of the time. Another is coming to know deeply, that Spirit is unconditionally loving. This knowledge gives rise to greater self love and self forgiveness.

QUESTION ON EXPERIENCING ONES INNER SPIRIT:

I am 18 years old and I have been meditating on om for quite a few years on and off (in the last month almost every day). Something really weird is happening that nobody else understands. Let me explain: The question I cannot answer is, 'Who am I?' Of course I know who I am (my name, location, etc.) but I seem to be disconnected from my body. So what used to happen once every few days, but now many times a day, is that I'll look down at my body or into a mirror and have this feeling that the 'I' that is thinking is different from the body it is observing ... then when I get really involved in life again, this feeling goes away ... the feeling shows up more and more often now!!! It's very hard to put into words. I would like your view on this.

ANSWER:

Your experience is very positive, and not at all weird. The 'I' that you are beginning to tune in to - that is beginning to emerge - is your True Self. This is your Essence, or Inner Spirit, that does indeed exist beyond your body, emotions, and even your analytical mind.

The question, 'Who am I?' leading to the direct experience of the Inner Spirit, or True Self, is at the heart of many of the world's spiritual teachings. One great Indian sage who taught a method of meditative self enquiry based on this question, was Ramana Maharshi. I suggest you check into some of his writings, as they will shed more light on your current awakening. Here are some titles: Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, by David Godman. Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge, by Arthur Osborne.

QUESTION ON ADOPTING A PARTICULAR SPIRITUAL PRACTICE:

I have been interested in meditation for some time, and recently have become aware of a certain method whose proponents claim it is the key to immediate enlightenment. To be initiated you must follow the five precepts, one of which includes being lacto-vegetarian. This does not bother me. However, I have no support from my partner of five years. He is not only disinterested, but forbids me to do this form of meditation that he considers too extreme. He has told me that if I do this I will be an embarassment to him, and would have to leave the relationship.

I feel very strongly about doing this and am very upset at having to choose one over the other. Has anyone else every been in this position and how do you know you are doing the right thing? I shall look for your answer on the website as I have no computer of my own. I am presently using an internet cafe.

ANSWER:

Your situation is not totally unique. I have seen a number of similar circumstances, but of course, that does not mean there is any single answer to this sort of dilemma. Over the past 30 years, I have also seen many spiritual organizations make promises of immediate enlightenment. Although these organizations may have been offering something of real spiritual value, I do not know of anyone who has attained "instant" enlightenment as a result. Attaining enlightenment involves a process of transformation which requires a bit of time, although the amount of time will differ from person to person.

I am not trying to discourage you in any way. However, if you are considering a committment that may require a difficult choice, the validity of such claims should be a factor. So, how do you know which road to take?

First, it's a good idea to ask inwardly for spiritual guidance. Then be receptive to your thoughts, feelings, dreams, etc., as guidance can come in many forms. Sometimes a clear choice emerges gradually.

Next, I suggest you ask yourself the following questions. If you need more facts to answer these, ask the organization or your boyfriend some honest questions. Don't be afraid to communicate openly.

• Does this teaching really resonate with me? Does the information give me a positive feeling and evoke a sense of "yes" within me?
• Am I more attracted to the promise of immediate enlightenment and the end of my problems than the actual teaching and its methods?
• Do the people presenting this seem truly happy, sincere and at peace?
• What are the real motives behind my boyfriend's words? Concern for my well being? Concern for his well-being? Control? Insecurity? Distrust of spiritual groups?
• What kind of life do I really want to be leading at this point?

I hope this will assist you in making your choice. Learning to use your freedom of choice is an important part of your soul's growth here on Planet Earth. Remember that you are always being lovingly guided, and whichever road you choose will ultimately lead you back to the Light.

QUESTION ON BREATHING TECHNIQUES:

I have been diagnosed with a breathing disorder resulting in anxiety. I'm currently seeing a psychologist who is great, but i would like to know if you could give me some breathing techniques to bring my carbon dioxide levels back to normal.

ANSWER:

Here are a couple of easy, effective breathing techniques for you to practice.

1. Alternate Nostril Breathing:

• Hold your right hand up to your nose.

• Place your thumb on the right side of your nose.

• Press gently and close your right nostril while you inhale through your left nostril.... (hold breath for just a moment).

• Place one of your middle fingers on the left side of your nose and release your right nostril.

• Press gently to close the left nostril, and exhale through your right nostril.

• Keep your left nostril closed while inhaling through the right nostril.

• With your thumb, press gently and close your right nostril, while you exhale through your left nostril.

• Continue alternating in this manner... inhale left nostril, exhale right... inhale right nostril, exhale left. Breathe fairly naturally... perhaps just a little slower than normal.

2. Silent Prana Breath

Prana is the subtle vital force that is the life essence of the air we breathe. If you could see it, it would appear as infinitesimal particles of light.

• As you inhale, breathe slowly, and as silently as possible.

• Imagine you are breathing in only Prana, pure light - the subtle life essence.

• Exhale slowly and repeat.

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