What is meditation?
Many people imagine a person in lotus position humming some foreign mantra with their eyes closed on the floor. This is one popular technique that has its roots in the eastern tradition but it is not the only style.
Meditation made its way to the west with teachers like Deepak Chopra and Shunryu Suzuki and has since been adapted and blended with western psychology and practiced by many worldwide. The most important thing to remember about meditation is to breathe nothing else is required.
During my meditation teacher training at Melbourne Meditation Centre, Matt Young told us when he learned he was in India and a guru sat him down in a noisy room and told him to sit and did not return for 4 hours! Meanwhile there was traffic noise, monkeys landing on the tin roof and the hum of people down stairs. Inner peace is achieved from the inside out.
When most people sit in silence for a period of time their mind begins to wander off on a train of thought. Effective meditation does not stop thought and the mind is NEVER free from thought in fact the mind is like a radio transmitter its job is to think, constantly! The key to meditation is to train the mind to think and bring your awareness back to a single point when you find your mind wandering off. The simplest focus during meditation would have to be the breath.
Make the breath a point of focus and begin to become aware of the journey of breathe. I often compare the breath to a river of oxygen and follow it as journeys into my lungs while taking extra effort to fill them to full capacity before the exhale is involuntary. The river to me is a visual but not everyone will use this modality, others might prefer the feel of the oxygen as it expands the chest cavity or possibly the sound of it entering your body and as it pushes back out, if your unsure try a few until you know what works best.
The idea is to engage your senses and to keep your mind focused on one single point. During this time your mind will wander off, it will happen many, many times until you become highly disciplined at keeping it focused on one single point.
I often find it interesting to see what “comes up” during a meditation and what it is that drags my mind away from the task of being with my breath and body, it’s often good to write those thoughts down, perhaps unresolved issues. Its like the mind has a mind of its own and the term brains within brains is very common in neuro-science. Don’t however get frustrated this is very common and frustration is resistance, rather allow whatever happens to be ok, taking time to be is very beneficial and the more practice you have the better it will be. During the meditation try to remind yourself now and again to refocus your mind and become aware of your thought when you do so.
The longer you can spend in focused thought especially those of basic bodily functions like breathing the better you’ll become at letting a lot of the insignificant mental chatter! I mean how often has someone told you something and you’ve gone away and it plays over and over in your head until its no longer them telling you its your own voice telling yourself! I guess simply put Meditation is about insight, rather than being reactive to the outside environment.
Benefits include relaxation and all biological functions that arise from the relaxed state, example lower blood pressure, increased endorphin production, more energy and happiness to name a few! There are also the subtler benefits like better memory retention, creativity, mental focus (great for study), insight into past behavioral conditioning and better sex! (Think Karma Sutra)
Everything is better when you meditate!
It is a natural way of being but something in this modern world we are not accustomed to experiencing unless someone has shown us how. Well that is why I am here to remind you all that life is happening right now, so be aware of your mind is it here, now or is it reliving the past or projected into the future already imagining how its unfolding?
Interesting when you really become aware and engage the present moment, its rich and your body its deliciously sensual and longing to be discovered in this way.
From now on take a small moment to focus on your breathe, even if its five wee lil breathes while your sitting on the loo with your iphone or having a quick coffee break at work and let all those thoughts float right out of your head like bubbles of energy that can keep moving and take your mind and let it travel inward with the river of oxygen and become aware of how you feel when you do this. Let the breath be a trigger to remind you to be mindful of your moment!
Peace within, peace without.
What experiences or styles of Meditation have you tried?