Some members of iblindness.org asked some questions about meditation and I thought there was some good information that I would include here as well:
“I have been meditating for approximately 4 or 5 years. However, I didn’t learn about the Bates Method until last month. During my pre-Bates meditation my eyes never improved because I never even knew I could help correct my eyes! So I never took off my glasses or lenses to see if my vision was better, because I didn’t expect it to be. Without glasses, I always assumed I couldn’t see. Since I’ve learned of the Bates Method however, I have maintained my meditation and now realize what benefits it has for fulfilling Bates’ recommendation of relaxation. Meditation is very relaxing for me. If it were not relaxing for you though- I don’t think meditation would help with the vision correction process…
I was meditating last night however and when I finally felt all of my body “release” or “relax” I felt a natural swinging motion begin at the base of my spine and it continued up to my neck until my whole upper body was swaying very slightly from side to side and then from front to back. It was very interesting and it made me wonder why I always hold my body so rigid (and why I had never felt this before!). While meditating I tried an experiment and I held my body still. It felt uncomfortable (that’s the only word I could think of) to try and stop this natural swaying motion. I found this interesting as well because Bates condones movement and relaxation. This is the first time in my life that I have felt “natural motion” in my body but it required that I was first relaxed- and meditation was the method for me that resulted in feeling this natural motion.
I meditate with my eyes closed, in the traditional Zen style (Zazen). I do not sit facing a wall however. I have a mat and cushion at home that I sit on, and I recommend meditating in a very low-lit room (bright light can make it uncomfortable to focus, for me anyway). It’s best if it’s quiet and you haven’t just eaten a big meal or completed really strenuous exercise. I have found that first thing in the morning or in the evening is best. It’s nice to do right before bed because it helps calm your mind. I sit on the edge of the cushion (you don’t want your legs on the cushion) in a variety of positions, depending on my mood. There are many positions you can sit in (full-lotus, half-lotus, Burmese, or Seiza). Usually I sit in the half-lotus position, though I will sit in the Burmese or Seiza position if my ankles are feeling tight. It doesn’t matter what position you’re in though as long as you can sit quietly for 20-30 minutes. Some people even sit in a comfortable chair, and this is fine. The only thing you shouldn’t do is lay down. I have read that this is incorrect because you want to remain alert, albeit relaxed. Lying down will make you sleepy At first if you find it hard to have a calm mind, I would recommend that you count your breath and focus on your breathing. As you advance you’ll find that your mind will stay relatively quiet and you can focus on different parts of your body.
Mental benefits: I’m not as easily distracted and have an easier time focusing on whatever I’m doing. I don’t know if it’s the meditation or what I’ve read about Zen buddhism, but I have come to appreciate the daily things that I must do (cooking, cleaning, laundry, work, etc), and am happier when I do these things. That may sound kind of weird, it’s kind of hard to explain. Basically I’m happier, more focused, and when I’m meditating a lot I’m very peaceful.
Physical benefits: I don’t know if I would have ever thought to address a physical benefit if you hadn’t specified it. But I am definitely a lot less stressed out than I used to be and I personally believe this helps my whole body to be more healthy. I don’t really get sick at all anymore (this could be from other changes I’ve made in my life, eating healthier, sleeping more, etc). Also, now when I exercise it’s almost like I meditate when I exercise. When I exercise I try not to think of anything except the muscles I’m using and I try to just enjoy the act of moving my body. As a result I’m probably getting higher quality exercise, which is good for me physically.
Spiritual benefits: The reason I actually started meditating was because when I graduated from college and moved away to my job I began to question my past spiritual beliefs. I had a lot of time to myself as I didn’t know anyone and I realized I didn’t ever really believe in the faith I was brought up with. I came across some literature on buddhism and it eventually led me to regular meditation. I have since come to a very comfortable place with my spirituality. The meditation aspect of buddhism is of course only part of this spiritual awakening (if you want to call it that), but never before in my life had I felt passionate about my spiritual beliefs, and now I do. I have left out what my previous affiliation was because I don’t want to give the impression that I have no respect for that faith, or others that are similar. Regardless if you would agree with buddhist beliefs I think there is a lot to be gained from meditation. Spiritually, meditation alone made me sit down and just be comfortable being my self, by myself, and learning to actually pay attention to how I was feeling (both physically and mentally). I think this could be a great benefit (spiritually or not!) to anyone.
Also- I don’t know what category you would classify this, but one of the best benefits I have gained is that I don’t care (as much) about what other people think of my choices. I don’t live a non-traditional life by any means, but I used to be overly concerned about what other people thought of me. I still have a ways to go before I could really say I don’t care at all what people think, but I make more decisions now that are more closely related to what makes me happier. This is probably because for the first time in my life I actually know what makes me happy and before I never even knew!
I realize these meditation posts have come completely away from the Bates method and traditional eye improvement topics, but I personally very strongly believe that meditation is one of the most effective relaxation techniques. Most societies are so hurried and stressful that it could do everyone wonders if we all just “sat” quietly everyday, even for just a few minutes. “