Continued from last week’s post…
Ironically, we are taught how to move and behave in the world but we are never taught how to be still and examine what is within. We aren’t shown in school or by our culture how to understand the mind or explore the inner self. This is the purpose of meditation.
“I am crowded inside.”-Pradeep Venugopal, Indian Blogger.
Meditation is the practice of teaching and training our brains. (Notice the word “practice”) An untrained mind is like a wavering, fluctuating mass that runs from one subject to the next and finds it very difficult to stay in one spot. Particularly in the first attempts at meditation, the mind provides almost continuous distraction, and the meditator must continually focus and refocus the mind. The mind has to be pushed to stay in one spot. Like doing pushups or weightlifting; we are developing the muscles in the mind.
Consider this – our hearts’ job is to pump blood, our lungs’ function is to continually breathe, and our magnificent brains will generate thought over and over and over again. So to master the mind, it takes focus and patience to teach the brain to slow down and be quiet. The idea behind meditation is really very simple. Doing it well, however, can be difficult, and mastering it may take many years.
There are many techniques and types of meditation, but basically, during meditation we learn to drop from the mind what we don’t want to keep. We only want to keep in mind our meditation subject. As we become more and more skilled at it, we start to use the same faculty in our daily lives to help us drop those thoughts that are unhelpful, becoming master of our own thoughts and learning to think what we want.
And then eventually, hopefully, moving into the deepest meditative state of full awareness and bliss.
Here is how to begin…
1) GET COMFORTABLE, seated upright with spine straight is recommended
2) RELAX YOUR BODY by using blankets, pillows or props
3) CONNECT WITH YOUR BREATH, feeling it and watching it
4) BE PATIENT, let go of any thoughts that you’re doing this wrong. – just close your eyes & feel your breath
5) AS YOU SIT, BECOME AWARE OF THOUGHTS ARISING, habitual thoughts, sentences or just wispy half thoughts floating up,
6) LET THEM FADE to the background and go in deeper to the depths of your being, to the innermost place where you exist as a pure field of awareness. Keep your focus on your breath.
Feel the stillness.
Its hard to hold – fleeting, like a mist, or a dream upon awakening. When we sit in meditation we watch our thoughts. We develop the ability to observe them as they arise and develop the ability to allow them to dissipate without clinging to them or identifying with them. Don’t be surprised if this letting go of thoughts doesn’t work all the time. Just practice with a gentleness curiosity.
You can expect to experience anything from restlessness to drowsiness, boredom to panic, peppered with some frustration and questioning if you are doing it “right”.
Just sit and let your experience be whatever it is. Start with 10 minutes and increase your meditation time 1 minute a day until you’ve reached a half-hour. A timer can be helpful so you are not distracted.
A successful meditation practice requires balancing polarities: focus and letting go, structure and freedom. Begin by using the tool of focusing on your breath to quiet the mind and experience that inner presence of calm and peace. And then, somewhere beneath all thoughts, desires and goals lies the realization of the bliss beneath all wanting.