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    Thread: Meditation Lesson 3: Focal Meditation

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      Meditation Lesson 3: Focal Meditation

      Meditation Lesson 3
      Focal Meditation

      Lesson Plan

      Welcome to Meditation Lesson 3: Focal Meditation.

      In this lesson, focal meditation will be recapped from the first lesson and covered in greater details. Its advantages and similarities with void meditation will be described, and the focal meditation technique will be explained in a step-by-step tutorial. Additionally, frequently asked questions about focal meditation will be answered. At the end, there will be a practical workbook entry to complete. This will involve getting experience with focal meditation and paying attention to feelings and sensations while meditating.

      What is Focal Meditation

      Lesson 1 covered the basics of meditation - what meditation is, and the advantages of meditation - and two specific types of meditation were introduced; void meditation and focal meditation. Void meditation was covered in detail in Lesson 2, and this lesson will focus on focal meditation.

      Focal meditation is the other main type of meditation apart from void meditation, and it involves focusing on a single focal object - such as a physical object, an object in your mind, or even an emotion - to clear the mind of everything apart from the object and to gain a better understanding of the object. Focal meditation improves focus and concentration skills mainly.

      Advantages of Focal Meditation

      In general, focal meditation improves focus and concentration, and improves awareness a bit as well. As deeper states of focal meditation are reached, a greater understanding of the focal object will be achieved. In a way, this is what you do after you reach a deep state of void meditation and think over something in detail; by meditating on the focal object, you find out more about it, and answers to questions that you may have.

      Disadvantages of Focal Meditation

      As with all meditation, focal meditation doesn't have any actual disadvantages. However, although focal meditation has great benefits in certain areas, void meditation is better for other areas. In focal meditation the main area of improvement is focus, and concentration and awareness improve a bit as a result of the meditation in general. However, void meditation improves more on awareness, and improves concentration and focus less.

      Focal Meditation Technique

      Focal meditation uses the same basic technique as void meditaiton - that is, position, breathing and meditation - however, I've rewritten parts of it to make it specific to focal meditation.

      1. Position.
        Before meditating, you should get into a comfortable position, one in which you won't feel strained if you stay like that for a long period. However, you should try to avoid positions like lying down, as you may fall asleep during meditation. For example, I sit cross-legged either on the floor or on my bed, and I rest my hands on my knees and allow the weight on my shoulders to be taken off. For focal meditation, you should prepare your focal object if it is something physical. I often perform focal meditation spontaneously, so I use household objects such as pens, books, etc.
      2. Breathing.
        Sit for a minute or two, just taking time to cool down and allow your breathing to slow right down, and you will begin to feel more relaxed. I do this with my eyes closed because I wear glasses, and having my eyes closed relieves the strain caused by the power of the lenses I wear. However, this step can be done with your eyes closed or open, and for people experiencing the same problem as me who want to keep their eyes open, removing the glasses and placing on a desk or something would work too. The point of this step is just to let yourself relax, and relieve some stress that you may have had during the day.
      3. Meditation.
        After one or two minutes, you will feel ready to start the meditation. I can't really describe this, but you will feel relaxed and calm and know that the time is right. If you're meditating on a physical object, you should keep your eyes open but relaxed, and look at the focal object. If you're meditating on something in your mind, you can do it with your eyes open or closed; do what works best for you. I'll describe this step in terms of a focusing on a physical focal object to make it easier to understand for most people; if you're focusing on something in your mind, just use common sense to adapt it to your object.

        Once you're ready, sit still in your comfortable position and simply watch the object. Try to keep your focus on the object for as long as you can, but don't worry if you lose your focus; just begin focusing on it again. Once your focus goes deeper, you may start to notice some trippy effects, for example, the floor swirling around the focal object, or everything appearing to go up and down as you breathe in and out. I can't really describe why it does, but it feels fun. At least, it does to me. Try not to let your focus slip as you notice these effects happening though; as in void meditation, acknowledge that they are happening and dismiss them, and maintain focus on the focal object.

      You should continue meditating until either you need to get out of meditation, or you feel sufficiently relaxed to stop. However, I wouldn't recommend meditating for long periods of time if you haven't been meditating long, as it's good to build up from shorter periods to longer periods rather than going straight to longer periods. Also, don't worry about what to expect during the third step. Most likely you will feel more and more relaxed as you keep meditating, and a sense of understanding of the focal object, and a feeling of calmness, will spread through your mind.

      Meditation Workbook

      Optional homework is given at the end of each lesson to be completed in your meditation workbook. If you don't have a workbook yet, create a new thread in the Meditation sub-forum with an appropriate thread name. For example, if your forum username is zebrah, your workbook might be called "zebrah's Meditation Workbook". Particularly vague workbook names will be corrected, and workbooks with inappropriate names may be corrected or removed.

      Another practical exercise this week. By now, you should have had some practice with void meditation. Now it's time to try focal meditation. The exercise is basically the same. I'd like you to try meditating a few times using the technique covered in this lesson, and to record three of your attempts throughout the week in your workbook. For beginners, I would recommend a maximum of 30 minutes of meditation total per day, as you need to build up your concentration through practice before going for longer periods of meditation. If you've done the exercise from the void meditation lesson however, my recommended maximum time would be 45 minutes (note that this is the maximum time I recommend per day, not the recommended optimal time).

      If you have any questions about the lesson or the course, or if you need something clarified, feel free to send me a private message, or post your question in your meditation workbook. I won't claim to know everything there is to know about meditation, but I'll try my best to answer questions.

      Last edited by Shockk; 08-31-2011 at 11:12 PM.
      Ancient, yuppie11975 and CHiLLEN like this.

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