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Jakarta Post

Meditation fosters happiness

  • Ani Suswantoro

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, January 21, 2015   /  12:25 pm
Meditation fosters happiness

Meditating: Participants practice the formal sitting meditation at Tergar Meditation Center Jakarta.

Everyone wants to be happy. The only difference is the way, and the direction, in which people seek happiness '€” some methods lead nowhere, let alone to happiness.

Meditation is believed by many to be a simple yet effective way of achieving that goal of happiness.

Modern neuroscience has shown that meditation is beneficial for the mind and body '€” as it helps boost the immune system, enhance longevity, prolong attention and promote peace of mind.

Still, experiences in meditation vary from one person to another.

Susiwaty, a bank manager, said she has attended meditation workshops at Tergar Meditation Center Jakarta to better understand the method as well as to get in touch with the community.

Before practicing meditation, she said she had a sleeping problem and had trouble controlling her temper.

'€œNow I can sleep much easier and when I'€™m angry, I can quickly control and stop it,'€ said the 44-year-old, who took part in the meditation workshop seven times.

'€œSurprisingly, I can laugh easier now, like when watching funny television programs. It'€™s something that I did not experience before.'€

Modern life does bring progress, from medicine, transportation, communication, education to entertainment '€” bringing many comforts to life.

However, the '€œside effects'€ of the fast pace of modern life engender competition '€” worsened by factors like limited natural resources, population density in big cities and unequal opportunities. Pressures haunt people like invisible ghosts, tormenting almost anybody.

A national health survey in 2007 revealed there were some one million Indonesians living with severe psychiatric or mental disorders, while 19 million others were diagnosed with mild mental disorders.

The trend may escalate as the World Health Organization said as reported by BBC Indonesia that the number of people with mental illness would reach 450 million worldwide in 2013.

Meditation may be a simple yet effective way to avoid delusions and find real happiness.

Tergar Meditation Center Jakarta was set up in 2011 by Indonesian disciples of teacher and master of the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, with a mission to make the ancient practice of meditation accessible to the modern world.

It'€™s official: Tergar'€™s Lama Norbu hands out certificates to participants after completing the two-day workshop.It'€™s official: Tergar'€™s Lama Norbu hands out certificates to participants after completing the two-day workshop.

The center recently held a class attended by some 50 participants from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. It organizes two-day meditation retreats, called Joy of Living, for free on a monthly basis.

The participants follow guidance from Rinpoche, who oversees the Tergar Meditation Community '€” a global network of Buddhist meditation centers '€” through DVD presentations.

Rinpoche himself used the practice of meditation to deal with a debilitating anxiety disorder as child. Later, he took part in a number of groundbreaking scientific studies concerning the effects of meditation on the brain.

His teaching style reflected his background, combining the ancient wisdom of Tibet with the insights of modern science and practical advice on using meditation to deal with the challenges of daily life.

He has also authored two internationally bestselling books on meditation, titled The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness and Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom with Eric Swanson.

The techniques and benefits of meditation are explained in a simple, clear manner and even with light humor in line with his motto: '€œMeditate everywhere, anytime, even in the city'€.

Malaysian participant, 50-year-old Kwong Mook Shian, joined the retreat for the second time with her husband, fully aware that several traditions practiced meditation using rigorous methods, and curious about the methods applied at Tergar.

Another participant, Titin, a tai-chi meditation practitioner, said meditation was not new to her. '€œThrough this method, I got immediate results. I felt the burden in my heart that was there in the morning was relieved after completing the session,'€ she said.

During the workshop, participants were taught basic meditation techniques, such as on body posture and frame of mind. They then practiced meditation using different focuses of attention, from noise, bodily sensations like pain, to thought and emotion.

The meditation can be done in a formal sitting position or even while walking, eating or sleeping. If spending 30 minutes every day on meditation proved difficult, participants were encouraged to divide it into several brief sessions throughout the day.

'€œThe most effective approach is calming the mind several times a day each for a short period, because one trickle of water will make a bucketful in the long term,'€ Rinpoche said.

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