Meditation is not what you might think.
What it’s not
It isn’t the capacity to sit cross legged on a cushion for hours at a time.
Nor is it the skill to hold your breath for extended periods or perform complex breathing patterns.
And it certainly isn’t the ability to numb your brain senseless by continuously repeating special words or phrases.
What it is
Instead it is a spontaneous, unfettered journey into your greater self.
While meditation can work wonders as a healing balm to ease the stresses of everyday life, that benefit is actually just a side effect. At its core meditation is nothing less than a supreme portal through which you can access the infinite possibilities of your life.
Meditation, the real stuff, can never be defined or confined by mental constructs.
You can, however, use your mind to prepare the ground for meditation and encourage its spontaneous awakening. And this applies to you, too, no matter where you might find yourself in life or what challenges currently vex you.
Nevertheless, if you are serious about meditation, at some point on your journey you will need to make a sizable sacrifice. Where meditation is concerned, your lifelong addiction to thinking everything through to a definite conclusion must go.
Meditation is never about pinning things down or organizing everything into neat little boxes. While certain techniques might be advantageous in the beginning, they should be dropped and transcended as soon as possible. Holding on to rigid ideas drastically limits the possibilities of what might be, and any attempt to force your thoughts into confined patterns only increases that rigidity.
This, of course, contradicts much of the currently available “authoritative” advice.
- First up there’s the command to concentrate. Control your thinking! It’s the quickest way to tame your mind and find ultimate bliss.
- Or learn these secret esoteric techniques and repeat them continually. Just do them! In the end you’ll find bliss.
- Or bypass all the sweat and tears and go straight to the source. Seek out the perfect Guru and beg his blessing. Instant bliss guaranteed!
The trap of the mind
This is all busy mind work.
No one can think meditation into existence, nor can they bargain for it or buy it. Mediation just happens.
While the mind insists the benefits of meditation can only be enjoyed at the end of a long and grueling ordeal, in truth those benefits are potentially no further away than your next conscious breath.
Meditation – an uncomplicated path
Beginning meditation is easy.
- Sit down and make yourself comfortable.
- Let your breath stabilize. Breathe in slowly and, when it feels natural, breathe out just as slowly. Except for a brief pause at the end of each inhalation and exhalation, never hold your breath. Let it come and go as it will.
- By relaxing into your breathing, you encourage a natural rhythm to establish itself. Be aware of your breath, but don’t attempt to control it. Just let it be.
- When your breathing becomes calm, gentle, and full, turn you attention to your thoughts.
- As you sink deeper into relaxation, it will appear as if your thoughts have suddenly become unruly. All sorts of strange ideas will bubble up in an expanding, roiling, chaotic mass. And every thought follows closely on the heels of the one before, jostling for attention.
- Despite appearances, these unruly thoughts aren’t anything new; they’ve been with you all along. It’s just that before meditation you rode along with the thought stream, identifying with whatever sequence of thoughts was making the loudest noise.
- Now your deepening state of relaxation is allowing you to become increasingly aware of that thought stream.
The siren song of thoughts
The temptation to identify with and indulge your thoughts will be high, even uncomfortably so. It will feel as if it is impossible to resist those thoughts. And your feelings will be spot on. It is impossible to resist. Don’t even try. You’ll only end up squandering enormous amounts of energy.
Instead, and without any strain, choose to watch the thoughts. That’s all you need to do. Just choose.
And of course, when you do find yourself miles away, lost in some complex thinking extravaganza, accept where you are and gently let everything else go. Never waste energy chastising yourself for losing yourself in your thoughts. Return quietly to a place of relaxed awareness and continue to watch your thoughts.
Each time you become aware of the flow of your thoughts, you effectively position yourself outside the chaotic thought stream and experience heightened awareness.
A liberating question
And at some point in your meditation journey, a most interesting question arises.
If you can observe your thoughts’ movements as if from a distance, then who is it that’s doing the observing? Not the thoughts themselves, right?
It becomes obvious, then, that you, the big YOU, is far greater than you ever imagined. Certainly magnitudes larger than a mere procession of thoughts. Your own in-the-moment experience has confirmed that you continue to exist outside of the thought stream.
Awareness? Is that what you are? Pure awareness? Now that’s something worth pondering!
Continue to watch your thoughts and allow yourself to sink deeper still.
There really is no end to it.
You’ve now embarked on your lifetime’s most extraordinary journey. Let patience and gentle awareness take you where it will.
A few things to watch
- Don’t meditate immediately after a large meal. Give yourself time to digest. Wait an hour.
- Don’t meditate during an electrical storm or any other environmental upheaval.
- Don’t meditate while intoxicated.
- This is a no-brainer. Recreational drugs, both the uppers and the downers, push you away from any chance of experiencing a sustainable meditative state. While a drug’s immediate effects might masquerade as “enlightening” experiences, in the cold, stark reality that awaits you on the other side of each “high” the truth remains radically different.
- Remember, if you habitually take drugs to get high and escape from life’s harsh reality, attempts to meditate are going to be extensions of that escapism. Get clean first, then start simply. Continued use of recreational drugs will eventually leave you washed up on some rocky shore, broken and disillusioned.
- If, however, your continuing health is dependent on drug therapy, and a drug-free life is not your present reality, you can still access powerful meditative states. You just need to embrace your current need for drug use, surrender into what is, and let your present circumstances lead you along your uniquely individualized road to deeper states of awareness.
- Don’t meditate when angry or emotionally upset. Walk it off first. Get your body moving until the emotional storm subsides.
- Don’t turn meditation into a social event. While meditating in groups might give you a sense of belonging, of comradeship, in the end it is only in sweet aloneness that real depth is found.
- Don’t end your meditation sessions abruptly. Certainly don’t immediately immerse yourself in frenetic activity, social or otherwise. Instead gently ease yourself back into the here and now.
A few thing to encourage
- Do meditate regularly.
- Do approach meditation with a joyous abandon.
- Do gently and regularly exercise your body. While you know that you are more than your physical presence, as long as you occupy a physical body it serves you to shower it with all the respect and care you can muster.
- Do meditate quietly with no fanfare or drama. Successful meditation always begins as an intimate personal experience.
- Do let the positive energies you access during meditation spill over into the rest of your life. Smiles, compassion, and love; these forms of expression make life worth living, both for you and all who might cross your path.
- Do be gentle with yourself.