Meditate. Do it now. Stop reading. Get comfortable, sit still, breathe rhythmically, focus and don’t let your mind wonder. Here it is, done! Your life has just become better. Now go buy your buddha beads and preach. No, but seriously. It is a good idea to start meditating, especially if you have a feeling you can do/be/feel more as a human being. Whatever your motivation, whatever your cultural/religious/spiritual background. Whatever your age or education.
Meditation can be seen as a part of a spiritual practice or be completely divorced of it and treated as a very secular part of healthy lifestyle.
It is a pure experience, so no matter how much you know or read about it, you won’t benefit from it until you do it. It’s very simple to begin with and maybe that’s why many people will hang up on it.
However, meditation doesn’t mean that you just sit there and suddenly become a better person. It doesn’t mean you’re all enlightened now and better than everyone else. Be careful not to fall into that trap!
What is meditation?
You will find countless different definitions of meditation. With experience you will find one that suits you the best. It’s an altered state of consciousness that leads to building and maintaining mental state and awareness with no judgment.
Meditation is a state of thoughtless awareness. It is not just concentration, breathing, sitting still or forcing yourself to think about nothing. You can use different techniques to help you achieve the meditative state but essentially there is nowhere to get to, it’s rather bringing yourself back to where you are. It is a state, not a goal.
It is a way to exercise your mind and your nervous system, giving you more tangible results. Just like with physical exercise, it’s something you have to do a lot, consistently, to see the benefits.
Meditation is also the first and the most essential skill of everyone who wants to practice magick. It’s a way to train your mind to focus on one thing for a long period of time.
What are benefits of meditation?
Countless experiments and research scientifically proved that meditation can improve the functions of your brain. It is not something completely far-fetched, abstract and reserved only for those who “believe” in it.
1. Increases your focus and creativity
2. Helps you control your emotions
3. Reduces stress and helps you relax
4. Improves your willpower
5. Allows you to let go of the things that no longer serves you
6. Helps dealing with illnesses and slows down the aging process
7. Increases productivity and helps you access the “flow” state
8. Ultimately leads to the state of enlightenment and deeper understanding of reality
As you can see, meditation helps you to improve many if not all aspects of your life. It’s free and available to everyone. Why not give it a try?
How to meditate?
There is many different kinds and techniques of meditation. I will try to go deeper into this some other time. For now, it’s important to just start and allow yourself the experience – it will be much easier to grasp the nuances afterwards. It is tricky to present such a vast subject in a very concise way; however we don’t need all the theoretical information to benefit from it.
Often I hear that some people just “can’t focus”, their brain just keeps going, it’s just not their thing. Here is the news – everyone’s mind is a chaos. We live our lives with a never ending narrative going on in our heads. It is probably one of the most difficult things to still your mind and no one is just born with it. I’d risk to say that the older we get the more stories we tell ourselves. The more things we have to remember and the more our minds are cluttered. There is nothing wrong with you and you are not failing – it just really takes time and practice. It can be difficult at the beginning. Noticing how loud and chaotic your mind is should convince you even more to start practicing meditation.
So how do I start?
You don’t need anything to meditate but yourself and 5 minutes a day without interruption.
- Find your space - it can be a meditative cushion in the corner of your room, the space by the altar, a chair or entire room dedicated to meditation. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re not interrupted and are safe to switch off for a while. It’s best to use the same space every time and ideally not to use it for anything else than meditation.
- Find your posture – sit in a comfortable position – keep your spine straight but relaxed, be alert but don’t tense unnecessarily. Lying down is not recommended, as most probably you will just fall asleep. Don’t worry about lotus position, just make sure you’re comfortable and steady for a long enough time
- Still your body – don’t fidget, scratch, move around. Relax and let your muscles become heavy and comfortable. You can try scanning your body top to bottom, making sure you’re not holding tension in any part of your body. You can also visualize a sphere of light or a field that enters your body, bringing you a nice comfortable feeling. Pay attention to little muscles around your eyes and lips, the temples and the back of your head.
- Still your breath – try to calm your breath and maintain a rhytm. You can start with 4 fould breath – Breath in on 4 counts, hold it in for 4, breathe out for four. Focusing on the breath will help you so your mind doesn’t wonder. With time you won’t have to think about the rhythm – it will come automatically. Try to breathe through your nose.
- Still your mind – good luck! It is very hard. Imagining that it isn’t can help at times but it is really difficult for all humans. Your brain will try to take you for a magical ride through everything you can remember. Your dreams, loved ones, shopping list, bills, stupid things you said, the things you are ashamed of. The strangest thoughts will come to mind. You will feel bored, sudden urges, anxiety, panic. All of the things that are not who you are but that you so strongly identify yourself with. There are different ways to deal with this thoughts. Acknowledge them without judgment, like you perceive any other natural phenomena – the clouds or the rain. Try to concentrate on the point between your eyebrows and bring yourself back to focus. Repeat.
- Continue meditating. You can start your practice with as little as 5 minutes a day. Slowly increase the time to 30 minutes. Be persistent and try to meditate every day, regardless of circumstances. The best time to meditate is right after you wake up, when you haven’t yet exhausted your mental capacity and you’re not yet distracted by the challenges of your daily life. Meditate with a clear mind, when you’re not too tired.
At the beginning it might seem like a lot to take in. Try not to get caught up in the details and keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate it as it might just put you off your daily practice. It is important not to try to get “good at it” or beat yourself up for “not doing it right”. JUST DO IT.
Until next time,