Meditation

Story by Scott Price
Photography by Kobbi Risser

September 30, 1996

A group of people sit in a room, some in chairs and some on the floor. Soft instrumental music plays. The instructor says, Concentrate on your navel center. Put every thing else out of your mind. Most of the people close their eyes to avoid staring at the other people in the room. Each person's heart rate slows, and total relaxation is achieved.

Members of almost every religion in the world practice some form of meditation. The Buddhist religion, the Hindu religion, the Jewish religion and even members of the Christian religion practice quiet prayer. All of these types of meditation serve many of the same purposes. If people are not interested in spirituality, they can still benefit from the relaxation of meditation.

Roger Cantu teaches Vajrayana a form of Tibetan Buddhist meditation. He is the founder of the Meditation Club at UTA. Cantu has studied meditation with Rama, a Tantric Buddhist, in Los Angeles, with the Dalai Lama in New York City, and Sathya Sai Baba, a Hindu spiritual leader, in Bangalore. India. where he lived in his ashram for a summer.

Cantu said anyone willing to follow his simple steps on a regular basis can use the Vajrayana techniques to relieve stress or to find spiritual guidance by freeing the mind. He said one first meditates to find one' vision in life, then he or she takes action based on that vision, and finally the person is rewarded for the hard work

The instructor said that 90 percent of the human mind is filled with information and guidelines that have been conditioned into us by society and our family, and the other 10 percent is the deeper mind that is our true self, where we find out who we truly are. Cantu uses the analogy in class that the mind is like an ocean with a storm raging at the surface: The deeper a person goes down, the calmer the water. To find out who we truly are, we have to get to the bottom of the ocean.

Cantu said another benefit is that meditation help build a shield around your aura to protect you from the unhappy thoughts of the people around you.

Unlike most meditation techniques, Cantu includes relaxing music at a low level during meditation. He said music is the next best thing to being in nature, which he calls a cleansing agent for humanity. Energy and music go hand in hand. he said. The music helps you to balance your energy

Cantu said that when he was a student at the University of California at Los Angeles he went to parties all the time, and his life was going nowhere, until he started meditating. Once I started to meditate, I felt like my life was making progress. he said. I was seeing what things in my life were good for me and which ones weren't. Meditation really helped me develop a vision of what I wanted to do with my life.

Cantu said that after two months of meditating for 15 minutes a day, he reached the point in which he knew where he wanted to go in his life. He said that if a person practices meditation techniques on a consistent basis, meditation will bring you power, balance, happiness and knowledge.

Cathy Wilkerson, a UTA nursing student, said she came to the Meditation Club because she read the club's flyer that said meditation could relax a person and help him in his classes.

I'm one of these people that goes and goes; and goes, and I don't sit down for long at any one time, Wilkerson said. It's hard for me to relax.

Wilkerson said she is also interested in anything dealing with health, but she

is not interested in the spiritual aspect of meditation, because she is a strong believer in Christianity.

Wilkerson said she closed her eyes while meditating the first time and had trouble, because images kept creeping into her mind, I plan to keep going, she said. I want to give it every chance.

Matthew Duvall, UTA Meditation Club member, said that he has researched Native-American and Celtic meditation traditions. He has participated in Lakota-Sioux sweat lodge ceremonies in Oklahoma and Texas, which he calls purifying. Sometimes after the sweat lodge ceremony, people will go on a vision quest. They push themselves to the limit until they have a life vision. It's fascinating how much spiritual paths have in common. Duvall said.

Duvall said people are becoming more interested in meditation. because there's a lot of people stressed out

Rabbi Keith Stern at the Congregation Beth Shalom said all meditations try to reach a sense of calm to find a center and in that center find God. He said that for centuries the Jewish mystical tradition has used meditation.

In the mainstream Christian tradition and the mainstream Jewish tradition it (meditation); was not very well accepted after the 18th century he said. Science and rationalism became the new religion I suppose. To live in both worlds (science and religion), they I had to disassociate themselves from what they might call mumbo-jumbo.

Stem said meditation is becoming more widely accepted by Jews and Christians. He feels a need both personally and in his congregation for something more. I have found the Eastern philosophical traditions very helpful for me to find means by which I can better relate to and find God Stem said.

Krishna Iaas, meditation teacher at the Anandi Church of Self-Realization in Farmer's Branch, said people can be of any religion and still meditate. He said some Christians are meditating but they call it centering prayer or inner communion.

The science of Yoga works directly on the conscience and it doesn't matter the religion. so that you can go beyond the body and mind to achieve total relaxation. he said.

Das said he teaches people how to transcend the ego, which is bound by mind and body. With Hinduism, we transcend the body and the mind/ego and try to commune, unite, ultimately merge with that bliss consciousness that is God. he said.

Das said with meditation, a person closes of her senses to the outside, then interiorizes the energy. This is food for everybody's soul, He said. Meditation gives tremendous energy.

He said it is like closing a pond's exit, while the water flowing into the pond continues to flow.

It is a much more powerful way to energize the body and the mind (than sleep) - right down to the cellular level with cosmic energy.

Meditation According to Roger Cantu

TIME - The best time to meditate is either in the morning after taking a shower or in the evening around sunset. It is best not to meditate after a meal.

POSITION - Sit or the floor with your back against a flat surface, like a wall or a sofa, or you can sit in a chair, preferred. The important thin is to keep your back straight.

ATMOSPHERE - Cantu recommends playing relaxing music at a low level during meditation.

POINTS - Cantu said the body has many chakras or energy centers, but beginners need to focus on three. The manipura, or naval center, located about an inch below the navel, is the center of willpower and energy. The anahata, or heart center, located in the center of the chest, is the center of balance and harmony, and the anja, or third eye, located in the center of the forehead, is the center of wisdom and psychic seeing.

HOW - Start at the navel center and work your way up, meditating on each chakra for five minutes. As you move from the navel up the spine to the heart and then up to the third eye. You are pulling the energy along. Cantu recommends keeping your eyes open. You can focus on an object, like a candle flame or a yantra, which is a geometrical shape that is believed to get more powerful as more people use it.

He also said you should place your fingers on each chakra while you meditate on it. If thoughts come into your mind, ignore them. Focus on the music, and concentrate on your chakras. Sometimes you will feel a warm sensation or energy vibrating around your chakras. Concentrate on that feeling, or just concentrate on the pressure of your fingers over that area. After each five minute meditat