Meditation can lead to vast improvements in your lifestyle. In an overall sense, meditation is “push-ups” for your mental and spiritual state. Meditation helps you understand problems, increase your awareness, memory, focus, and more easily actualize your goals. It is one of the only exercises that is viable for all ages and all states of being.
The concept of self-empowerment, improving yourself, or increasing your abilities to meet some end goal should not be an objective of thought within meditation. Our mind is automatically arriving at those conclusions constantly, so much so that we cannot stop thinking on our own. We are constantly bombarded by sensory input, distraction, and worries throughout our day that keep our mind busy and active. Our objective with introductory meditation is to understand and manage some of the fog within our minds to gain a greater clarity within ourselves.
Clarity and silence within our minds eventually branches into higher awareness. At first we may only be able to reach a state of emptiness (no thought) within our mind for one or two seconds. After that time, a random thought will enter our mind and distract us. This is completely normal, and as with any skill, practice and diligence is required. Meditation sessions will yield better control over our distractions and thoughts, and over time will give us control over our own minds and direction.
While there are several techniques of meditation, we’re focusing on one called “Samadhi,” which has been practiced all over the world for thousands of years.
Posture and Technique
This Hindu form of meditation places the hands near your “one-point” to maximize energy flow and distribution. Your back is straight and your form is as still as possible. It will take practice to reach a half-lotus position (shown) or a full lotus position, where both legs are crossed over one another. In introductory meditation it is more important to be comfortable than to concern yourself with the details of posture, and just sitting cross-legged is fine. Attempt to remain as still as possible.
Your eyes can be half-closed or open. Your first goal is to relax through “scanning,” beginning at your feet and slowly visualizing each part of your body relaxing. Spend roughly a half-minute on each part of your body, traveling upward and ending with your head. Advanced forms of scanning found in other meditative techniques can sometimes focus on single parts of the body for hours.
Once you are relaxed, begin focusing only on your breathing. Focus on the slow, gradual breath traveling in and out through your nose. Invariably, and likely in a very short amount of time, you will come across a thought. It may manifest as a reminder, a concern, a nagging feeling, or something you’ve remembered from a recent experience. Your mind will begin to diverge towards this thought process, and you will catch it here, observe it neutrally, and release it – returning to your breath. A thousand times will these thoughts continue to reach you, and it may be weeks or months before you move forward and reach a state of inner silence.
Your thoughts may be disturbing, enlightening, arousing, horrifying, blissfully joyful, or any combination of the aforementioned. “You” are not your mind in this practice, you are observing your mind neutrally. What you “think” and “feel” should be detached from “you” and your work should center on completely neutral observance. This practice will generate a silence in your mind that will lend you perceptions and experiences you may not imagine possible, as the sheer amount of sensory input in our daily lives blocks a unfathomably massive amount of true experience from reaching us.
By far the most important aspect of meditation is consistency. Meditating five minutes each day usually produces much more noticeable and favorable results than meditating an hour each week. Try to incorporate twenty minutes of meditation into each day, even if it’s split up. Moreover, putting yourself into a discipline of meditation improves your ability to lock onto your goals and be productive when you want to be. Keep up the practice and you will see results.