What is Meditation?
As a result of meditating off and on for the last 45 years I have experienced an incredible change in my life. I have become much more peaceful and able to live in the present moment. I am able to be creative and think things through much more clearly.
I have used different meditation techniques but found the simplest is always the best. The basics of meditation are summed up in a few words. It involves:
sitting in a quiet place upright in a chair or cross-legged
an anchor, such as the breath, a mantra (word of phrase like love, peace or Om mani padme hum) or something to gaze at (a candle or mandala)
an open, non-judgmental mind (at least temporarily)
Once in this position, the fun begins. That is when the mind basically goes kind of crazy. In the silence, it becomes even more active. Mostly thoughts seem to revolve around:
- “This is stupid, I have so many important things to do”
- “Am I doing this right?”
- “What am I supposed to be feeling, thinking or?”
- “How long do I have to do this before something happens”
- “I can’t do this”
- “I am too anxious”
What I teach students is that the mind is like a tennis ball machine – you know the kind that lobs balls back at you to hit when you are by yourself. The mind (especially when you are quiet) tosses out all manner of thoughts to get you to be engaged with it. There is no need to try to ‘empty’ your mind. The more you resist the thoughts and thinking, the more they will persist.
The best thing I have found is to just watch them -- follow the bouncing ball like in the old black and white movies of staffs of music (if you are old enough to remember). You just need to be present with them, and they will extinguish themselves. Don’t believe me -- try it for yourself. But be prepared for all manner of thoughts to come.
You don’t need to think them!!!! Just let them fall away!
You can start with even 5 minutes a day and work your way up to 30 minutes a day. Another entry into meditation is to stop and do nothing for 5 minutes out of every hour.