The Principals of Meditation are a collection of common mental characteristics that play an integral part in our mediation efforts. All Applied Awareness™meditation classes and personal meditation advice take these characteristics into consideration to expedite progress while avoiding common pitfalls.

Mental Habits: We can replace our current mental habits with new ones through repetition, which is how our current mental habits were formed in the first place. As we incorporate meditation and the principals of meditation into our daily lives, a new level of self-awareness emerges in the form of new mental habits. As being more aware becomes more natural we find that we have access to valuable information we were previously unaware of. Perhaps the best way of describing it is that it’s like when we learned to read. Before we learned how to read we had no idea of the amount of valuable information we were missing on signs, in print media, online, etc.

Mental Associations: We form mental associations all the time. Some common ones are associations with smells, music and other sounds, tastes, temperatures, humidity, etc. Mental associations are memory-based where we not only remember a specific time in the past, but often times re-live our emotional state at that time. Mental associations can be a great meditation tool. One example is the mental association we create between paying attention to breathing and relaxing in basic awareness classes to create a relaxation-response in otherwise stressful situations by purposely being aware of our breathing.

Syncing: Our mind and body naturally try to sync-up with one another. For instance, if we go from sitting to running our mind also speeds up so we can maintain balance and avoid obstacles. If we are tired or depressed we tend to move slower. We can purposely speed up or slow down our physical pace and the mind will naturally try to sync up. This lets us refresh the mind with a quicker pace, and calm the mind with a slower pace.

Self Reactive: Although it can seem that we react to others or to our environment, the fact is that we only ever react to ourselves. Our entire thought process consists of choosing how to interpret a situation and then choosing how to react to our own interpretations. The only thing we ever really react to is how we choose to interpret situations. Since we can only ever react to our own choices of interpretation, the only thing we can be happy or unhappy with are the choices we make.

Mental Differences: We all make our choices of how to interpret situations and then choose to react to our own interpretations using the same mental elements. These consist of our accumulated memories of what we’ve experienced in life, our emotions, and our incredible ability to speculate in place of missing information. However, we all rely upon some of these mental pieces (elements of thought) more than others.

Communicating: When trying to understand each other, all we have to draw from are the memories of what we’ve experienced in our life thus far. Because we can have vastly different life experiences, the same sentiments, and sometimes the even the same words, can mean something quite different.

Meditation Times: We classify meditation as being any time we purposely distract our mind from its habitual auto-pilot mode of thinking. Generally, we have about 12-15 minutes of focused meditation time before the mind begins placing extra importance on trying to evaluate our surroundings, making it more difficult when we try to push it for longer periods. So for best results, longer meditation periods can be made much more effective by splitting them into 12-15 minute segments and stretching, moving, and looking around for a minute or two between segments.

Difficulty Breathing: Some people may find breathing difficult or uncomfortable when paying attention to it. This appears to occur more commonly with asthmatics but has occasionally been reported by others as well. All meditators who will be asked to focus on their breathing as part of their meditation should be made aware of this possibility beforehand with instructions to stop immediately and tell their instructor/meditation guide.

Misleading Experiences: Some meditation techniques include trying not to think in order to mentally slow down. It’s possible when using these techniques to begin shutting down the normal mental functioning of interpreting then reacting to our interpretations, which causes us to experience altered mental states. It’s important that meditators be made aware of this to avoid getting caught up in these deceptive drug-like induced experiences which can appear to be quite “real”. These experiences aren’t what’s important here, just a side-effect. What we’re concerned with is being aware of the mental processes, or lack of them, during these times in order to better understand them.

Altered states of consciousness can also occur when sitting in the same meditation position for long periods. Within 30 minutes blood begins to pool in the feet and seat decreasing the amount of blood flowing through the brain which can lead to light-headedness and even deceptive meditation experiences. This period can be even shorter for people with a variety of cardiovascular health issues, or when sitting in posters that can further restrict blood flow.