Dude, what are you doing?
That is generally the response I get when I get “caught” meditating. Despite how mainstream meditation has become, it’s still considered abnormal or weird. I believe it’s just misunderstood.
When you think of meditation your mind most likely conjures up images of monks in red robes from a far away land sitting cross legged in total silence. Omming optional.
“The purpose of meditation is personal transformation. The you that goes in one side of the meditation experience is ultimately not the same you that comes out the other side.
It changes your character by a process of sensitization, by making you deeply aware of your own thoughts, word, and deeds. Your arrogance evaporated and your antagonism dries up. Your mind becomes still and calm. And your life smoothes out.
Therefore meditation properly performed prepares you to meet the ups and down of existence. It reduces your tension, your fear, and your worry. Restlessness recedes and passion moderates. Things begin to fall into place and your life becomes a glide instead of a struggle. All of this happens through understanding.”
Powerful, intense and amazing stuff.
Gandhi successfully led India to independence using revolutionary techniques of non-violent civil disobedience. He was also a massive advocate of meditation. Gandhi recognised the value of meditation before scientific research came along to back it up. This habit allowed him to keep calm in the pressure cooker of early 20th century India.
Scientific and peer reviewed research has shown that meditation physiologically changes and improves the brain. Read that sentence again. Isn’t that amazing? Further research has also shown positive physical effects of meditation, such as stress levels and skin temperature;
Meditation and the results that are directly correlated with it is unbelievable real.
Meditation makes you happier, improves concentration and makes you smarter and less stressed. One of the untestable benefits that I’ve personally experienced is a intense sense of clarity.
Think of it like when you go to the beach and out into the water. If you scrunch your toes up and move your feet about, all the sand is disturbed and the water becomes murky. But when you stand still, you can see clearly through the water. This is what meditation feels like.
So, why don’t you meditate?
When i talk to people about meditation they generally understand that it has benefits, but they typically offer one of three excuses.
Perhaps you’re too busy?
Gandhi once said; “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” This probably seems counter productive, if you have things to do, you should not waste time sitting around meditating right?
Think about this, at the time Gandhi was attempting to drive the colonial British out of his homeland while simultaneously keeping the Muslim and Hindus from slaughtering each other. Yet he still found time to meditate. If anything, he prioritized it above all other activities. There must be some value to this right? If you can make room for 20 minutes to watch TV or play video games, you can make room for meditation.
Maybe you think meditation is only for Yogis or new age gurus?
Phil Jackson, coach of the championship winning Chicago Bulls, made Michael Jordan and the rest of the Bulls practice meditation to enhance their performance. Jordan commented;
“I tend to be calm and things tend to slow down as i go into situations where i don’t know the outcome.”
Above all else, i think this is one of the major benefits of consistent meditation. It allows you to deal with high stress situations with an almost supernatural calmness.
Or thirdly, you want to, but you don’t know how.
Well, you’re in for a treat.
First of all, despite what you may think about meditating (essentially sitting still doing nothing), it is not easy. Especially if your life is as busy, complicated and stimulated as the average human being. Think of your mind as a muscle and if you haven’t done any meditation before, it’s going to be quite weak. That’s okay.
How To Meditate For Beginners
One of the best things about meditation is it’s very personal. A lot of how you meditate will come down to personal preference and what is more comfortable to you.
Where? Anywhere, as long as it is quiet and comfortable. Some people prefer a dimly lit room while others prefer being out in the heart of nature when they meditate. Its up to you.
How long? 20 minutes once a day, preferable in the morning. I’m not going to lie to you, the first time you meditate is going to rough. Set an alarm for 20 minutes, place it a few metres away from you so you won’t be tempted to check it.
Position? This is very much down to what is comfortable for you. Experiment a bit. Try lying down, sitting down, crossing your legs, etc. Find a position that you can stay in for 20 minutes and be comfortable in.
Eyes open or closed? Again, this is down to personal preference. Some like to keep their eyes open as when they close their eyes their mind bombards them images and thoughts. Others prefer eyes closed as they won’t get distracted by their surroundings.
Now, what to do? Nothing. It is a lot harder than it sounds. Simply think of nothing. Your mind will throw thoughts, ideas and images at you, but you must let them go. Think of it like seeing a cloud and calmly letting is pass by. Don’t grasp onto it or give it any time or attention.
If you decide to research and delve into the world of meditation you’ll find a whole host of different ways to do it. However, i’m going to list three of the basic and practical methods to get started;
- Focus on your breathing. Consciously inhale and then exhale. Control your breathing. Or just observe yourself breathing, listen to it. This is by far the easiest and most common way to start meditating.
- Use a mantra. You’ve probably seen monks in films or on TV omming. It doesn’t have to be the traditional “om”, it can be any word, phrase or sound that you repeat to yourself.
- Count upwards from 1. Exactly how it sounds, count up from 1, every time a thought enters your mind, start over again.