The good news is that meditating is extremely simple: you set the intention to focus on something – most of the time, breathing – for some time.
However, the simplicity of meditation also presents a challenge, because the standard mode of our mind prefers noisy distraction over soft focus.
When I ask people in my practice about their experience with meditation, the most common answer is a version of, “I tried, but it was terrible at that.”
They may have liked the idea but found that their mind kept wandering, so they thought they were doing it wrong.
When we are meditating, and our mind is distracted, it is easy to think that we have failed.
Our internal monologue during meditation may sound like: “You failed … you failed again … and again … why can’t you concentrate? … I shouldn’t be doing this … I can’t even meditate properly …”
No wonder it isn’t easy to stay in this!
But consider how many times our mind is somewhere other than here and now when we are not meditating. Most of the time, we don’t even realize that we are not present.
During meditation, we begin to see how often our mind wanders and how strong the attraction is to leave the present. So, every time we realize that we’ve lost focus, we come back to the present.
Rediscovering the focus is meditation – it is as much a question of feedback as it is of staying focused.
If we find that our minds wander 11 times a minute, there are 11 examples of returning to the present.
It is essential to keep that idea in mind when you start meditation because the attitude we bring to practice has a lot to do with what we get out of it – and whether we stick to it.
The following are four other guidelines for establishing a meditation practice:
- Remember that the goal is not to be “good” in meditation.
If you approach meditation with an evaluative mentality – “I want to be good at this, not bad”, you are bound to find the experience disappointing and punishing.
Meditation is to focus on the present and not to judge our experience; this includes judgments about our meditation “skills”.
- Stop criticizing your distracted mind.
As discussed earlier, the practice is to notice when the mind loses focus.
The mind is good at being distracted. It will happen. It is not a bad thing. As soon as you recognize it, you redefine your focus.
- You are not a lousy meditator.
The usual way that leads to a distracted mind is the same that will tell you that you are “bad at it”.
We can begin to treat our thoughts less seriously and consider the possibility that not all of the ideas we have (including self-criticisms) reflect objective truth.
- Release the desire to achieve a specific result.
Once we are aware of the benefits of meditation, we can strive to make the experience live up to our expectations.
We can think that we will have some “meditation feeling”, we hope to feel calm and relaxed or anticipate a clear and firm mind.
In reality, we will have all kinds of experiences while meditating, even within a single session.
Part of the practice is to approach meditation with a heart and mind that are open to whatever happens.
Common reactions to meditation
While it helps to set aside specific expectations for meditation, be aware that you may have some of these shared experiences:
- You can suddenly remember things you were looking to do.
The act of “doing one more thing” before meditating can be one of the factors that prevent us from practising.
Even when we start, our mind often reminds us of our to-do list. There will be a time for these activities; for now, get back to your intention.
- Your thoughts can accumulate.
Once we get out of the “doing” way, we can suddenly be aware of the conversation in our head. It’s like being at a noisy party, where you don’t realize how loud you are when you’re in the middle of it.
But if we leave and then come back, we can hear the commotion.
If you find that your thoughts are loud and are clamouring for your attention, keep going – they will probably calm down.
- You may feel a little bored.
We are rarely bored with our constant access to information and technology.
When we leave these things behind for a few minutes, our mind can say to us, “This is boring. I can’t stand it”.
Our boredom is just another distraction to be aware of. Once we recognize it, we can return to our focus.
- You may feel frustrated or want to stop.
You may think, “This is a waste of time”; “I’m not getting any good out of it” or “why did I think this was a good idea?”
As suggested earlier, meditation includes realizing these thoughts and feelings and then returning to your practice.
The practical aspects of meditation
With these principles as a background, let’s consider the practical aspects of meditation:
1. It is best to practice meditation when you are alert (unless you intend to meditate while falling asleep).
2. Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Please turn off your cell phone (unless someone’s life depends on whether you keep it on) and any other likely distractions.
3. There are countless forms of meditation. The most common, and a good starting point, is to focus on breathing. You will notice the sensations of the breath and stay with them as you inhale and exhale.
4. Find a comfortable place to sit. It can be the floor, a chair, the sofa, the edge of the bed – anything. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or specifically “spiritual”.
If you sit on the floor, consider sitting on a blanket or pad to raise your hips if this is more comfortable for you.
5. Most people close their eyes during meditation. If you prefer to keep them open, look at a spot on the ground a few feet in front of you.
6. You can practice with or without recording. If you do without, set a timer for the amount of time you are going to meditate.
I suggest starting with five minutes and keeping the watch out of sight.
7. If you prefer guided meditation, there are many free online applications and reflections available.
There is no wrong way to meditate. What I have presented here is one of the many ways to start.
Benefits of Meditation
Are you looking for calm, peace of mind, joy, vibrant health, more energy, positive relationships and life satisfaction? Do you want to be free from stress and worry?
You can enjoy all these benefits and more with meditation. Meditation offers numerous advantages for your body, mind and spirit. The rest you gain from meditation is even more profound than sleep. And the deeper your rest, the more dynamic your activity.
Eliminate Stress with Meditation
Meditation has two significant benefits:
- Prevents future stress;
- Releases the accumulated stress in your system.
Both happen simultaneously, leaving you renewed and with more joy.
With meditation, our physiology changes and each cell in the body is filled with more prana (energy). When the energy level in the body increases, we feel more joy, peace and enthusiasm.
On the physical level, meditation:
- Lowers blood pressure;
- It lowers blood lactate levels, reducing anxiety;
- Decreases any pain-related tension, such as headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle aches and joint problems;
- Increases serotonin production, improving mood and behaviour;
- Improves the immune system.
Meditation brings the brain wave pattern to the Alpha state, which promotes healing. The mind becomes more delicate and renewed. With regular meditation practise, we can:
- Decrease anxiety;
- Increase emotional stability;
- Increase creativity;
- Increase joy;
- Develop intuition;
- Gain more clarity and peace of mind;
- The problems become small;
- Sharpens the mind by gaining focus and expands it through relaxation.
A sharp mind without expansion causes tension, anger and frustration. An expanded awareness without dynamism can lead to a lack of action/progress. The balance between the sharp mind and the expanded consciousness brings perfection. Meditation makes you aware, and your inner attitude determines your happiness.
Emotional stability and harmony: cleans, nourishes and soothes from the inside out, avoiding the feeling of being too sensitive, unstable or emotionally closed.
Meditation brings harmony to the environment: when meditating, you are in the space of vastness, calm and joy. And this emanates to the ground, bringing more balance to the planet.
Development of Consciousness: with daily meditation, your awareness develops. And over time you can experience the highest and most refined state.
When your consciousness develops and expands, the disturbances in life become insignificant. Anger and disappointment become quick emotions that occur momentarily and disappear. You begin to live in the “present moment” and abandon the past.
Personal transformations: meditation can bring about a real personal change. Once you learn more about yourself, you will naturally want to discover more about the mystery of life, the universe, etc. Then the questions that arise in mind will be – What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose? What is this world, what is love, what is knowledge?
When these questions arise, know that you are very fortunate. These questions need to be understood, and you cannot find the answers in books. Once you experience these responses, you will witness the transformation of life to a richer level!
Cosmic awareness awakens in you.
With the assimilation of meditation daily in life, the fifth state of consciousness, called cosmic consciousness, awakens. Cosmic awareness is realizing that the whole cosmos is part of yourself.
Realizing that the world is part of you, love flows freely. This love makes you strong to withstand the opposing forces and disturbances in your life.
The combination of knowledge, understanding and practice makes life complete. When you reach higher states of consciousness, you become more self-confident and robust and, at the same time, soft and delicate, being able to accommodate different values of life unconditionally.
How to get the benefits
To experience the benefits of meditation, regular practice is required. Just a few minutes every day is sufficient. Once integrated into your daily routine, meditation becomes the best part of your day!
Meditation is like a seed. When you cultivate it with love, it awakens. Likewise, the tree of consciousness that is within you and needs to be nurtured with meditation techniques. Some palms grow in three years, others in ten. Those that are not enabled never grow! They exist.
People from all walks of life are grateful to be able to stop and enjoy the freshness of a few minutes of meditation. They dive deep within themselves and enrich their lives.