Meditation is for everyone. Even you. How do I know this? Because, as humans made of spirit and flesh, we seek balance. We seek both action and inaction. Both challenge and ease. Both excitement and calm.
Coming into balance, given the daily exchange of stimuli, requires that we pause the incoming and outgoing, and allow for the settling. Like a shaken snow globe returning to still after it is set down.
After encountering stimulation after stimulation in our waking life, we need to calm the mind and center our attention inward. We need to reconnect with and replenish ourselves. Imagine us as little batteries walking around; at some point, we need to get recharged.
The recharging that meditation offers, however, is different than sleep. It’s much more than just relaxing our muscles, closing our eyes and dreaming. Meditation is decluttering.
Meditation Is For The Mind
The mind wants to process and purge. Channel all information culled throughout our life experience and let go of what doesn’t serve.
We don’t need to think about the mind doing what it does, we just need to give it the room to do so. Meditation creates this space.
Off in the background, the mind will intuit and interpret, access and apply. It will sift through thoughts and beliefs, and sort the Truth from the trash.
Meditation is deliberate action, set about with intention and patience. Sleep offers respite, yes, but doesn’t draw upon insight and wisdom like the mind can when it is awake and quiet. This is why you hear it said that oftentimes after meditation, solutions to problems come to light all of a sudden. Or you hear that, with regular meditation, the anxiety-prone find peace of mind.
These pleasant surprises are possible when we get still and silent and stop the barrage of stimuli, to just sit with ourselves and what is right here, right now. Sit with the mind, the body and the rumblings within.
The mind needs space, distance from new information, so it can rebuild its sensitivity to the present moment. It needs time to return to the purity of simplicity and the beauty of nothingness.
In our daily lives, we receive endless requests, demands, opinions and we feel too busy to pause and take a breather. All of it can overwhelm our senses to the point of exhaustion. Without a break from it all, we lose the stamina to deal. We lose patience and become reactive. We panic and hit the fight-or-flight button.
When we pause the disruptions and distractions, turn inward, and sit with the sum total of who we are in the moment, we reconnect with the Truth of who we are. We empty out the misaligned energy, the limiting beliefs and all the other clutter. We decipher illusion from reality. We detach from clinging and craving.
Cleared and cleansed, we tap into the ultimate refueling station. We drink from the fountain of youth, knowledge, power, peace and love.
Yet, despite all the good it brings, many say that meditation won’t (or doesn’t) work for them.
If you agree with that statement, my guess is you haven’t given it—or yourself—an honest chance.
Meditation In A Nutshell
Meditation is nothing more than a practice of calming the mind and removing what keeps us chaotic and mentally preoccupied.
Put simply, meditation is a technique to attain mindfulness and peace. It’s a tool for holistic health and wellness. And, ultimately, it’s a craft to hone our awareness.
If that means nothing to you, consider the additional side effects of meditation like stress relief, improved sleep, and mental and physical performance enhancement.
It’s not unlike any skill—take reading—that, with proper instruction, you could make your way through a book. It’s not unlike any sport—take basketball—that, with disciplined consistency, you could shoot a free throw and score.
Don’t make meditation something it’s not. If you equate it to solving world hunger or climbing Mount Everest, fear will keep you from giving it a try.
Loosen the grip on any preconception that meditation is some unattainable, unrealistic hocus-pocus. Instead, look at it as you would prayer. It’s just that, a devotional practice. Meditation, actually, is common among all spiritual traditions: the act of getting still.
Inherently, there is no conflict between meditation and your religious inclinations. Spiritual author, Deepak Chopra, says,
meditation has nothing to do with belief or ideology or doctrine. It’s a simple, mental technique to go to the source of thought.
How you meditate is up to you. Some people use coloring books, others go for quiet walks in nature. There is no right or wrong way.
Just treat mindfulness as the goal—the natural byproduct of your practice.
Don’t get hung up on location, duration or posture initially. Sitting at the foot of your bed for 5 minutes before starting the day is enough to do wonders for your serenity (and sanity).
There will be those ambitious few who discover meditation and immediately want to shoot for 20 minutes sitting cross-legged on a zafu cushion, strumming mala beads.
Or the extreme opposite; the adrenaline-junkies who struggle with the mere idea of sitting still for more than 2 minutes. They won’t even attempt it.
Don’t set yourself up for frustration. Like any seasoned meditator, keep it simple.
American/Tibetan Buddhist, Pema Chodron, teaches us to “start where we are.” Wherever, however, whenever.
Go into it with a light heart.
If you don’t find meditation easy when starting out, you’re placing too much weight on the insignificant: where you do it, how long you do it, how you look while doing it. None of which matters much.
Focus on the simple, most fundamental aspect of settling the mind: centering. We want to build our mental muscles to center our attention inward.
Use the breath. Listen to yourself breathe, feel the air move in and out of the lungs. Let it inflate the belly like a balloon and deflate fully on the exhale. Use the motion, the sound, the feeling as anchors for your attention.
Whenever your attention wanes and thoughts drift away, steer your boat back to the anchor. Back to center.
As many times as it takes to bring your attention back to the present moment is as many times it takes. Who cares. No need to keep count. It’s all part of the journey. If the mind wanders, let it wander. Notice the thoughts that arise, and how they pass. Return to the breath.
Give it time. Practice.
Make Meditation Yours
There is no handbook for meditation until you write it. You’re the author. The guidance offered by any book or teacher, myself included, is intended only to support and encourage. It’s not until you make meditation your own that it ever becomes effective or enjoyable.
Don’t let expectations get the best of you and rob you of something so beneficial. Instead, stay open the possibility that this could help…with everything. Mindfulness has its perks.
Let it surprise you.
Updated from original post date of Sept 2016.