Meditate, meditate, meditate.
This practice has been around forever, and it’s now gaining traction. No longer will you find just bald guys on mountaintops meditating, but businessmen, teachers, bankers, lawyers, scuba divers, what have you have all joined in the act. It is the most basic exercise one could do to achieve clarity, peace, calm. It is a way to reconnect to the Self, to the subconscious, to God, whatever. Which specific model you ascribe to is not important. What is important is that you understand what meditation is and how important it is.
The practice is simple but not easy. Again, there is extensive literature available online to point you in the right direction, and many different forms of meditation which one can practice.
Yes, prayer is a form of meditation. It is the reason prayer brings many ‘peace’. That and the transferring of one’s problems to a higher power. But I digress; back to meditation.
I do a form of mindfulness meditation which I first saw in a Youtube video lecture (VPN Required) given by Dr. John Kabatt-Zinn at the Google University. That video intrigued me (if the folks at Google are meditating, there must be something to it), and I began a journey into this fantastic practice.
I now meditate every morning for 20 minutes, and have been doing so for over a year.
Those 20 minutes are crucial for how the rest of my day goes.
These past 18 months have been markedly different from the past two decades, and this one simple practice is the reason.
These are the steps I use, which should suffice for any beginner who is looking to get into meditation:
1. Find a comfortable place to sit. If it’s the floor, use a cushion to elevate the ass. If it’s a chair, make sure you aren’t slouching. Keep the spine straight.
2. Empty your mind of all thoughts by focusing on your breathing. Do not try and control your breathing by making it faster or slower, deeper or shallower; just focus all your awareness on the breaths presently entering and leaving your body. Do not use words; feel the breath. Feel the air as it enters your nostrils and fills your lungs, then escapes your nostrils. Alternately, you could place your full awareness on your belly, far from the noise of the mind, as it rises and falls with each breath.
3. Mark each thought that occurs – no matter how trivial, important, serious, funny, emotion-inducing – as just a thought. Acknowledge it, and move back to your breath. This is meditation time; all thoughts are not to be acted upon till you are done meditating.
4. Maintain a sense of the following:
b. Letting go
d. Love (positive acceptance)
e. Gratitude (for life, for living, for breathing)
5. If thoughts are too many, focus all your mental energies on labeling your breaths: “in, out, in, out…” and so on, in a loud inner voice, until other thoughts subside.
6. Do not judge or criticize yourself if you have thoughts. It is impossible not to. Just acknowledge them, and calmly, nonjudgmentally, return back to your breathing. This exercise of separating thinking from being will make your practice stronger.
7. Practice for as long as is comfortable; initially this will be a few minutes. Keep practicing and increasing the time you meditate for.
And that’s it. This is a simple practice but not easy. Just sitting and breathing, and meditating, are two very different things. The latter requires focus, attention, and effort to maintain a sense of mindlessness. Eventually this state of mindlessness will become more and more accessible, and that’s when your reality will start to get really interesting.
Get to it.