You’re enjoying the day as you walk down the sidewalk with your family. You notice the enticing smells coming from the restaurants and balance it with the rancid smell from the trash cans coming from the alleys. All things considered, this is a great day to be out and enjoying the city. You’re jarred away from your thoughts by a mental push. You think to yourself that something is out of place. There is a danger here. You swivel your head like a radar dish and hone in on the reason. At the opening of the alley you notice a rough looking male who is scanning your family. You realize the intent and start planning your moves. You don’t have time to move the family across the street so you advance to the front of your group and keep your eyes locked onto him.
If this is going to be a confrontation then it will be a costly lesson for this young man. The guy suddenly shifts his gaze to you and he is visibly shaken. He didn’t expect anyone would notice him and he realized you intend not to run. He quickly diverts his gaze and jumps into the crowd jostling a few by passers in the process. Like a salmon swimming against the current he fights to leave you in his wake. Your wife grabs your arm and smiles at you asking if everything is OK. You realize she never even felt the silent confrontation between you and the potential robber. You relax and smile feeling good that you’ve kept your family safe by simply being aware. You give them all kisses and rejoin the fun of the moment, and your awareness is now acute, looking for any other threat.
What is the Ninja sense?
Some people call it the 6th sense. Your 5 senses are sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. The 6th sense is the knowledge of things unseen. We are focusing on the ability to feel the intent of another living thing. Most modern martial artists refer to this as the Spidey Sense, referring to Spiderman’s ability to sense danger. One of the easiest ways to see this awareness working is in nature. Go into the woods and sit very still for an hour or two. When you notice the wildlife return to its normal activities you will begin to see this in action. A deer will slowly walk by and even though you are hidden and silent as a shadow the deer stops, raises its head and perks up it’s ears. It realizes it is being watched. It will sniff the air and look for who is watching it.
Sorry to give you the bad news but this is not a simple process. You need to change the way your mind works and you need to learn to listen. Think of it as a baby learning to walk. It must first learn to come up onto all fours and learn to support its own weight before it can stand or attempt a step. The good news is you can start now and begin seeing results this week. Don’t look for miracles right away. There are a few things to do but the ground work is accomplished by meditation.
Can meditation change the brain?
There are many scientific studies that show meditation can reduce blood pressure, lower your pulse and decrease your metabolic rate. Modern brain research into the mental effects of meditation shows that meditation is a tool for happiness and higher awareness (see attached links).
Richard Davidson, neuroscientist at the Wisconsin University’s Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior conducted a study. The results demonstrate that the brain is capable of being trained and physically modified in unimagined ways. People who meditate show higher-frequency gamma waves associated with higher mental activity, perception and consciousness. This structural change happens in the area of the brain associated with attention and sensory processing.
Trying to list all the health benefits of meditation would take more space then this page. I would suggest you take a few minutes and read the Mayo Clinics website and read what they have to say about the effects of meditation. Then pop by the Transcendental Meditation Program’s web site and read their extensive collection of health benefits.
There are many forms of meditation you can study. I use a form of Zen Meditation that is simple to use. One thing I would suggest, once you decide to add meditation to your life, set a time everyday to meditate. I prefer early morning when the house is quiet and the daily stress has not begun its full assault. Try and find 20 to 30 minutes to spend each day in your meditation. Set aside a location in your home. Once you have used it a few times you will begin to associate that area with quiet relaxation.
Before you start, take care of distractions. Go to the bathroom and take care of anything that might interrupt your quiet time. Make yourself comfortable. Use a comfortable chair or sitting pillow on the floor.
1. Sit on the forward third of a chair or a cushion on the floor.
2. Straighten and extend your spine, keeping it naturally upright, centering your balance in the lower abdomen. Push your lower back a little forward, open your chest, and tuck your chin in slightly, keeping the head upright, not leaning forward, or backwards, or to the side. Sway your body gently from left to right in decreasing arcs, until you naturally come to a point of stillness on your cushion.
3. Keep your eyes on the floor at a 45-degree angle, neither fully opened nor closed, and gaze naturally about 3 to 4 feet in front of your body. If the eyes are closed, you may want to start to daydream or visualize things. If your eyes are open wide open, your
mind will scatter.
4. Keep your lips and teeth together with your tongue resting against the roof of your mouth.
5. Place your hands on your lap with the right palm up and your left hand (palm up) resting on your right hand, thumb tips lightly touching, forming a vertical oval. This is called the mudra of zazen. Rest this mudra with the blade of your hands against your abdomen, a few inches below the navel, harmonizing your own center of gravity.
6. Take a deep breath, exhale fully, and then take another deep breath, exhaling fully. Let your breathing settle into its natural rhythm.
7. Keep your attention on your breathing. When your attention wanders, bring it back to the breathing again and again, as many times as necessary! Empty your thoughts.
8.. Practice this Zen Meditation every day for at least twenty to thirty minutes (or longer).
Your will find your first task is keeping your mind from wandering. Some people like to place a simple item in front of them as a focal point. If you don’t live near a Zen garden you can use a candle or any common item in your home. I find there are days where mood enhancers are needed. You can add a lit candle or burn incense or put on some meditation music. I enjoy the sounds of a thunderstorm when the house is active. There are many CDs on the market to help you find a good mood for you.