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To answer in a Zen-like way, nothing is necessary because if you feel you have to do it, it is a chore that will soon be given up. I have always recommend daily meditation to my clients. Even though at first they may object to doing it, once the discipine is established and they realise the value they are getting from the practice in day-to-day life, they then choose to do it freely and even look forward to it. To begin with, many find that a recorded guided meditation help to discipline the mind. Later on though, the recording can be discontinued as the power of focus and concentration develops. For free instructions on meditation, please click here
There is very little difference, if any difference between the hypnotic and meditative trance. In both, one's mind has usually become more focused, and is susceptible to suggestion. However, hypnotic suggestion is something I prefer not to use in favour of motivating the client and clarifying in his/her mind what is wanted and needed, and then giving them a meditation in which they can intensify their own created intent on a day-to-day basis. The places the progress firmly in the hands of the client, and enables a greater degree of self-reliance and not therapist reliance.
Tests carried out on meditating monks have shown that brain-activity in hypnosis is identical to a monk in deep meditation and just the act of regularly entering such mental states has been shown to be of enormous value. One should not give too much credence to movies that show hypnotised subjects under the spell of a hypnotist. Although possible during stage shows, such deep trances are rare and needs the full co-operation of the subject. People who can reach such deep trance are also very rare - around about 4% of the population.
Back in 1981 I attended a Zen workshop for the first time. I had always had an interest in Buddhism and had heard about the "power" of Zen-Buddhism, and decided to explore it myself first-hand.
I was introduced to zazen (Zen meditation, the objective of which is to still the mind). I was amazed at my own resistances to sitting still in the silence and focusing my mind just on my breathing, but after a while my "struggle" stopped and what can only be described as a powerful sense of well-being enveloped my consciousness. I noticed that every-day stresses like looking after a family and paying the mortgage, making ends meet etc, seemed to completely fade away. They were still there, but my Zen was beginning to show me that nothing was permanent and to fret and stress about such things was an absolute waste of psychic energy. For the first time in my life, I really felt a powerful peace of mind as if I had entered heaven.
That Zen workshop was to have a profound effect on my life from that moment on and when I returned to work with my clients, I found that my Zen-like way of looking at life and my work enhanced my abilities to help and support my clients.
As I examined the Zen phenomenon more closely, I recognised that as my clients continued to come to me with a variety of problems, it was very easy for me to fully understand and appreciate what they were going through on a very deep level, because during my zazen (a practice I have kept up to this very day), I was continuing to go through the myriad of subconscious conflicts that had their roots in my earlier existence and transcend them. My Zen training was not only empowering me as a person, but also as a therapist and my communication with the clients was having an inspiring effect on their lives too.
Because one is a therapist, it does not mean that he/she is immune to the stresses and strains of every day life, any more than a doctor is immune to illness. Day after day, constantly being exposed to psychological disturbances like neurosis and anxiety, needs constant attention to what the therapist may identify with, in order to resolve it. I have found Zen is a very powerful way of dealing with this as well as enhancing other abilities, outside of my work..I see problems as a sort of a "call from the Self" that all is not well, and that the personality needs to grow and have a greater awareness of who he/she really is. Therapy in these cases is like a training program to accept and recognise these stressful conditions are there to act as a catalyst in the spiritual growth process, that we are all subjected to in life. Zen is like an accelerator to this growth.
It is said that Zen Buddhism is not a religion, and whilst I would partially agree with that, I would say that it is more than that. It is a religion if you want it to be because there is plenty of ritual. But nobody is worshipped in the convential sense. The founder of Buddhism Shakyamuni Buddha, was an ordinary man who did an extraordinary thing. He sat under a tree, vowing that he would not move until he found the answer to life's suffering. He did so with his enlightenment and then went on to teach others how to do the same. Some would say that Zen Buddhism is atheistic, but again, I would argue that if one is aspiring to a higher state of consciousness that cannot be fully explained by the finite mind, is that higher state of consciousness any different to God?
To me, Zen is a way of life. And you can apply that way to any religion if you want. Zen is the way of mindfulness, compassion and ego-less-ness, with a commitment to assist all to an enlightened state of mind.
Please note: Derek Ayre is a participant in Associates Programs, which are affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking
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