When choosing a form of meditation you have to consider:
- What the particular type of meditation is purported to do for the practitioner.
- How realistic it is that
someone will attain those results.
If it takes years of meditation in a monastery to get the purported result, it might not be realistic for the average person to expect to get that result.
- Whether or not that type of
meditation really gives the results it is purported to.
Sometimes a type of meditation doesn't really do what it is said to do.
You should pick a type of meditation that is likely to give you results that you want.
There is a lot written about the results of various types of meditation that is either not realistic for the average person or simply false.
I know of someone who could easily attain the state that in Zen is called kensho - union of subject and object. This is supposed to demonstrate the oneness of all things and eliminate the delusion of self. This person wasn't transformed by the experience and thought it was not terribly enlightening. It was just a state. It would be unfortunate if someone else made a great effort for many years to attain the same ability to enter the state of kensho and after all that effort came to the same conclusion.
I also know of someone else who spends many hours a day meditating for the purpose of releasing their flow of Kundalini energy to get it to flow in a way that is not disruptive. My opinion (based on my own experiences) is that they are misunderstanding their situation and will never accomplish what they hope to through meditation. What they need to do is change their diet and life style to reduce levels of stress hormones in their body.
In my opinion, what is realistic for the average person to get from meditation is:
- The reduction of egoism from noticing thoughts that arise during concentration meditation.
- A greater awareness of emotions from Vipassana (insight meditation).
- A calmer mind and relaxed body from relaxation exercises or meditation.
If someone wants to experience altered states of consciousness, there is nothing wrong with trying the types of meditations said to produce them. But the practitioner should understand what the likelihood of attaining that state really is.
One last example: out-of-body experiences (OBEs). There are many meditation-like exercises said to induce OBEs. However, while OBEs seem real to the experiencer, people who can induce OBEs and obtain correct verifiable information while out of body are rare. This suggests that for many people an induced OBE is more like a dream than a real spiritual experience. (Spontaneous OBEs are probably more "real" than induced OBEs.) It would be unfortunate for someone to spend a lot of time and effort to learn to induce OBEs and then discover that they are not "real".
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