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Is meditation compulsory?
I am sure there are many people here not ready for sitting meditation.
They might consider the following 'pre-meditations':
1. If the mind body complex is very agitated, yoga and tai chi are good forms of pre-meditation. They have two important components, that of calming the mind and also slowing the agitation manifest in body mirroring. In other words working on calming the body leads to mind calming. In a Buddhist context walking meditation and prostrations are two effective means with the added benefit of immersion into the Buddhist realm.
2. Trance meditation techniques such as yoga nidra and led meditations allow one to enter positive relaxed mind states and experience many of the benefits of positive subconscious reinforcement and its consequent benefits.
3. Concentration and rote based mind exercises are often the first form of meditation practiced. Perhaps Japa yoga/mantrayana or vipassana type awareness of the breath. My personal introduction was through Shingon five element meditation.
. . . meditation is not for all lay people but what of the benefits? Here is an incomplete list of some I have noticed:
lowered pulse, greater sense of emotional equanimity, more calm, more at peace, greater acceptance of difficulties, greater sense of enjoyment, less agitation . . . oh you know all the usual stuff . . .
Can Buddhism be practiced without meditating? I would say yes but the benefits of a practice are always so enticing . . .
What have you noticed?