“Dedicating some time to meditation is a meaningful expression of caring for yourself that can help you more through the mire of feeling unworthy of recovery. As your mind grows quieter and more spacious, you can begin to see self-defeating thought patterns for what there are, and open up to other, more positive options.” – Sharon Salzberg
What actually is meditation? www.thebuddhistcentre.com explains it beautifully… “Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. Buddhist meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things. By engaging with a particular meditation practice you learn the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With regular work and patience these nourishing, focused states of mind can deepen into a profoundly peaceful and energised state of mind. Such experiences can have a transformative effect and can lead to a new understanding of life.” – Read here
The date that meditation was first practised is not known, the earliest documented records of mediation comes from the teachings of the Vedas in ancient India recorded around 1500BC, however it is thought that meditation could have first been practised as long ago as 5000BC! As it has evolved over the many years it has been practised, many new forms and different styles of meditation have been created, all of which result in attaining similar results of inner peace and becoming more connected/realizing we are connected with everything around us. Something that has been used for this vast amount of time by many people around the world, and that which continues to grow in popularity as it has travelled from the east to west is surely worth some of our time.
No you wont start levitating and you needn’t be spiritual or religious in any way to take up this practise, many people from all walks of life are now engaging in meditation regularly for a number of different reasons.
Anyone can do it and you can practise almost anywhere (actually anywhere if you don’t care what people are going to think of your actions, chances are you wont the more you practise!) If you want to give it a go then just start doing it, don’t over complicate it. Deepak Chopra has been quoted saying “If your doing it… your doing it right!”
Firstly, sit up tall in a comfy position, on a chair, on the floor, cross-legged or not – do not worry it is completely up to you, whatever feels right just go with it. Make sure that the spot you have picked is quiet and relatively free from distractions so you can become fully present in the moment. Perhaps set a timer of some sort if you have commitments later on in the day! Now start to focus on your breath, breath deep and fill your lungs but do not force it. Imagine your breath as the waves of the ocean as it flows in and out of your body, as you begin to relax. You could also establish a mantra, this is a word or phrase that can be repeated throughout your meditation to keep you focused. Whilst you focus on your breath and/ or mantra you will notice your mind begin to calm, notice your thoughts but do no react to them, let them pass by like clouds in the sky. You will become calmer and more present.
After a busy day your mind may be very active, other days it will be relaxed and focused. Either is fine do not judge. When you begin to sit you may want to start with short time periods of around ten minutes as it may feel a little bit un natural, be honest with yourself and increase this over time. Meditation does not have to be seated however it is a good place to start. Meditation is simply collecting the mind this can be done during all activities at all times of the day with a little practice. When you return from your relaxed state take your time to re adjust to your surroundings.
It is important to practise regularly, Steve Hagen a Zen priest writes “There is no point in taking up the practise of meditation if you’re only going to do it every now and then, when the mood strikes you. This is like trying to cook potatoes by putting them in a pot of water on the stove and turning the burner on high for a few seconds every hour or so.” Don’t let this put you off, start with short, regular practices and it will become a habit.
When you start to practice on a consistent basis you will start to notice a positive difference in your physiology. Benefits that many have gained from, including myself are living a less stressful life, an increased attention span, reduced anxiety and depression, a more free flowing creative mind, a better memory, healthier relationships with a general sense of feeling more connected to others, improved happiness and gratitude, easier and more nourishing sleep and increased immunity. Just to name a few!
Modern science is now paying more attention to how mediation is benefiting both mind and body. New scientific reports on the benefits of meditation are appearing more and more frequently all over the internet, a simple search and you could get lost for hours. With all this being said, and I know what I am about to say is in conjunction with what you have just read but, you should not expect anything from your meditative practise, you should simply just do it, not judging or expecting anything – be present and collect your mind.
Even if there was no scientific research available backing up the benefits of mediation, the longevity and wide spread usage and belief in it has got to hold some significance. Give it a go. What is the worst that could happen?
One more thing I would like to mention, whilst studying many “successful” people I have noticed that many of them that I have come across have practised meditation. Actors, writers, business men you name it, the ability to be in control of your thoughts and therefore have a better control over your mind can only be positive in all walks of life. If you are not in complete control and in the driving seat then aren’t you the passenger being taken along for the ride?
Meditation, especially for people who don’t know very much about it and think its this very hippy dippy thing, can really be powerful, terrifying even, as it lifts the rug up on your subconscious and the dust comes flying out. – Amanda Palmer