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About Meditation, Matrix Meditations, & the Matrix of Consciousness
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Q: Is Matrix Meditations just for people who are seriously into a meditative practice, or who want to get into one?

A: No, anyone can read it and find value in it. The first section of each of the 65 cells --usually about two pages-- is a reflective passage that anyone is likely to find informative and useful. The second section of each cell describes a specific meditation or awareness practice. If you want, you can think about the reflective passage without going on to the formal meditation, or vise versa and only read the meditation.

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Q: This may seem like a silly question, but in your book and this website you have nature pictures. Why that, instead of photographs of people sitting in meditation halls?

A: We wanted to emphasize that someone of any religious background, or none at all, can use Matrix Meditations. Most pictures of meditation itself are set in Buddhist or Hindu or Christian settings, and we wanted to avoid that because it could make people of a faith different from that pictured think, "Oh, this does not apply to me," when it fact it can be useful to anyone. Second, in the book the nature pictures are visually keyed to the subject of each cell. We didn't have pictures of people meditating that would do that. We ourselves enjoy meditating in natural settings, and it felt right for our photos to reflect that quality.

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Q: "I just can't seem to sit down quietly and do nothing," some people say. "Can you suggest anything for me?"

A: Yes. First, I like to ask, "Are you willing to sit for just five minutes?" Almost everyone says "Yes, I can do that." In just those five minutes you can often gain a little more focus and clarity to help you through your day. And you're likely to find that sometimes you want to keep sitting for more than that five minutes. Second, if you have a hard time sitting, start with the everyday awareness practices. Many of those are things you can do while you're engaged in some of your everyday activities. Third, many people don't realize that meditation is not doing nothing. The Matrix of Consciousness give you a series of very specific tasks to go through when you meditate. For example, at the very beginning, first you find your physical center. Then you focus on noticing your breath. Then you consciously scan your body for tension and relax each tense place you find. And so on. When your attention drifts, bring it back to the task. "Doing nothing" --or almost nothing, which really means a pure mindfulness meditation of noticing what is occurring in you or your environment-- is an advanced practice that becomes practical only as you develop your ability to concentrate and focus your attention.

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Q: The comments and methods in the Matrix of Consciousness are divided into four groups: Those that focus on the mind, on body movements and sensations, on emotions, and on action. Isn't that an artificial separation?

A: Yes. Almost any distinctions between different mental and spiritual processes are at least a little arbitrary. Very little in our psychological, emotional, and physical makeup includes only one of these elements. Most conceptual processes have an emotional component; and most of our thinking and feeling involves the body in some way. The cells in each of the four columns of the Matrix of Consciousness focus on one of the four elements just described, but each one includes dimensions of the others as well. When we understand how these elements affect and interact with one another we have a greater capacity to make the right choices and live in harmony.

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Q: Why does the Matrix of Consciousness provide 4 distinct forms of meditation and 65 specific techniques? Isn’t that an awful lot?

A: The 65 specific techniques are indeed a lot. You don’t have to use them all. Some may not apply or to you. If something doesn’t feel relevent to you now, skip it and focus in on what does feel valuable. At some future point you may want to review techniques that may become important to your situation or problems at that time. The 4 basic forms complement and reinforce each other. If your mind jumps all around when you try to practice mindfulness, concentration practices will help you develop the mental focus to stay with mindfulness. The everyday awareness practices help you take both concentration and mindfulness into your daily activities. And the contemplative meditations help you become aware of deeper currents of consciousness and somatic activity that cause you chronic anxiety or limit your ability to perceive or act in certain ways. Once you become aware of them you can make conscious choices rather than blindly reactive ones.

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  Q: I've studied Zen meditation, and one of its principles is "No gaining idea"--that is, that you shouldn't expect to get anything particular out of your meditation, but just accept what occurs as it is. Doesn't that contradict your intention to give people something directly useful in the Matrix of Consciousness?

A: That's an insightful question. Zen meditation is a very disciplined practice. The conception of "no gaining idea" is actually a vehicle for developing an attitude toward life in which you do as you do, and accept what occurs without thinking that you should have accomplished something different. That requires a certain kind of faith (as we define the word in Cell 13 of Matrix Meditations) and commitment. We're trying to reach an audience that hasn't necessarily made that kind of a commitment. In our experience, most people want something that's useful now --or at least pretty soon. So we have structured the Matrix of consciousness to give people tools (or if you prefer, you can call them practices) in which they're likely to find immediate value as well as others that have effects that unfold with time and continued use.
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Q: “How does Matrix Meditations deal with creativity?”

A: It does so in many ways, but most specifically Cell 58 of the Matrix of Consciousness deals explicitly with the creative process. It describes a three part sequence that includes methods to stimulate inspiration, exploration, and evaluation. Also it offers a structured focused fantasy technique that you can follow step by step to stimulate your creativity. In addition, you can use the "oracle" method described just below to help you think about what you want to create from several different perspectives. This can open up possibilities you otherwise might never have thought about.

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Q. Can you describe in simple terms how to use the Matrix as an oracle?

A: It's best to read the oracle procedures described in chapter 9. Basically, the method is comparable to throwing the coins for the I. Ching. First formulate your question. You will then use either coins or playing cards to synchronistically direct you to one or more cells of the Matrix. The card you pull or the total of your coins (using a method similar to that of the I. Ching but less complicated) will direct you to a specific cell, using one of the two tables in Chapter 9. Or more simply, you can open the book to the Matrix of Consciousness on pages 5 and 6, close your eyes and say a little prayer or ask the universe for guidance, and put your finger down somewhere on the Matrix. Once you have been directed to a specific cell, either meditate or reflect on what the cell tells you in relation to your situation or creative undertaking. Most often, this cell will through some light on your question, perhaps helping you to relate to it from a new and different angle.
.....You can also choose to use more than one cell. Use your preferred method to choose three cells, read what each says, and think about what message there may be for your situation. If by then you still don't have greater clarity, then you need to stay open for further information from the world, from within yourself, or both.


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Q: My mother and father are getting divorced, and being very hurtful to each other. My mind and and emotions are in so much pain and going in a million different directions. What meditation can help?”

A: The first several meditations in the Matrix are an excellent starting point. You begin by literally finding your internal balance, calming your breathing, and letting go of muscular tension. (Releasing the muscular tension is especially helpful, because that’s something you can do in the middle of situations where it’s difficult or impossible to go into formal meditation.) You can choose any of three methods that are described in the Matrix in detail to slow and focus your mind. One is concentration on an object, another is a simple counting meditation, and a third is a mantra meditation. You'll be learning to witness how you create your own mental and emotional disturbances, and finding new ways to diminish painful thoughts and move your attention into more desirable thoughts and feelings.
.....Don’t think that it’s wrong for you to be upset about what your parents are doing. It’s normal. But you can become less upset rather than more so. Then you can take that upset energy and channel it into something useful, like sports, your studies, or your creative pursuits.
.....Truly, except for saints and great gurus, learning to handle life's troubles without being overwhelmed by them is an impressive achievement. But recognize that as you become able to be less disturbed by this troubling event, you'll be developing your ability to do improve your reactions to other challenges as well.

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