All about meditation
Meditation is a vast and fascinating subject. Here, we will cover the most important basic concepts that are useful for your meditation practice.
Here is a video on the origin and importance of meditation by Avi. Avi is an enlightened teacher and founder of Meditation Farm.
Avi’s Guide to Meditation
What exactly is meditation? How to meditate? The art of doing nothing!
Absolutely nothing has passed the test of time like meditation. If it didn’t offer any benefits, it would not have been such an integral part of the human consciousness for more than 6000 years.
There is no doubt that meditation works; yet, why is it that people find it so hard to meditate? What makes meditation so difficult and how exactly do you meditate? Let’s explore the actual mechanism of meditation to unlock its secrets.
I have spent a large part of the last 8 years in meditation; roughly a little more than 10,000 hours. Not the walking and talking meditation, but the actual, old fashioned, sit on the floor, close your eyes and don’t move kind of meditation.
First off – the word meditation: What exactly does it mean?
Actually, it doesn’t mean anything – it’s just another word we use to designate something we don’t fully understand. Just think about this: The word meditation literally means ‘to ponder’. Well, isn’t pondering something we do almost all the time? If pondering is meditation, then everyone is meditating. Well, we know this isn’t true.
In fact, there is no word in the English language that can exactly describe the actual practice of meditation. Meditation is simply a word that comes closest to describing the art of meditation, but it isn’t the same. If the ocean is the actual practice of meditation, then the word meditation is simply the shore. Everyone who has ever spoken about meditation has only spoken about the shore. The actual ocean still remains a mystery.
This is one of the main reasons why meditation is difficult. We cling to the word meditation and forget that what we are trying to practice is something else altogether. The first step in learning how to meditate is dropping the attachment to the word meditation. So, the next time you sit in meditation, just remember that you are not in meditation—Don’t be confused–it gets clearer!
The second step in learning how to meditate is learning how to let go of the idea of doing. After dropping the word meditation, you have to go a little further and drop doing as well. Meditation is not another activity you add to your already busy schedule. Meditation is not something you do; rather, it is something you allow to happen to you.
The importance of knowing the difference between doing and allowing it to happen cannot be emphasized enough. If you think you are doing meditation, then you will always be frustrated. The next time you tell someone, “I am going to meditate” just remember that you have no clue about what you just said. Not knowing how to meditate is the best place to start your meditation. Knowing that you don’t know is important.
The whole problem with most of us is, just because we know the meaning of the word meditation, we simply assume that we know how to do it. We mistake the shore for the ocean and cling to it, blocking the very thing we are trying to see.
Here are my 10 golden rules to begin and continue your meditation:
1) Find a good meditation guide and teacher. Your teacher should have personally spent a lot of time in meditation. He/she need not be perfect, but they should be able to guide you beyond the “sit quiet, close your eyes, and watch your breath” phase.
2) Fix one dedicated place for your daily meditation practice, establish a strict schedule, and follow it diligently. Eventually, both the place and the time become anchors to remind you of your meditation. It’s a lot easier to train your mind and body to meditate if you can get into a rhythmic and regular practice routine.
3) Pick a comfortable meditation posture. You can sit cross-legged on the floor if that’s your thing, or you can just sit on a chair with a back rest. The “meditation gods” simply don’t care about your posture, so don’t worry too much about not being able to sit in the lotus posture.
4) Pick a simple and easy-to-practice meditation technique like watching the breath, mirror, or candle light. Don’t worry too much about finding the perfect technique. Meditation is 99% you and 1% technique. Any technique will work as long as you are willing to work with it.
5) The ideal meditation duration is between 30 to 60 minutes in one sitting. It might be a little difficult to sit for 30 minutes initially, but you should be able to push through the initial difficult phase with a little determination. Watching movies is easy; meditation isn’t. If you are looking for immediate relaxation in meditation, you will be disappointed. Always remember that meditation is not a sprint; it is an ultra-marathon.
6) Make meditation an absolute priority. If your meditation is even the second most important thing in your life, you will give up after a while. Figure out a way to constantly keep in touch with your meditation practice. Read books, follow meditation teachers, join meditation communities, attend programs and retreats – do whatever it takes to stay in touch.
7) Have fun. Just because meditation is hard, doesn’t mean that it has to be dry, dull and boring. Meditation is a great adventure. In fact, it is the greatest of all adventures; what can be more exciting than diving into the depths of your being to know life fully? Having fun with your meditation and keeping it light is very important.
8) Meditation is a battle against your mind. Your mind will never fully like, appreciate, or approve of your meditation, and you should be totally ok with this. The single biggest thought you have to ignore if you’re going to succeed in meditation is, “My meditation isn’t working”. Your mind will find a million reasons to try to convince you that meditation is a waste of time – do not give in.
9) You have to be a little selfish in order to succeed in meditation. After all, meditation is the only thing you do that is 100% directed toward your own personal wellbeing, happiness, and transformation. If you are too much concerned about the opinions of people around you, it becomes difficult to meditate.
10) Aim for the highest goal in meditation. The ultimate purpose of meditation is self-realization or enlightenment. It just doesn’t matter whether you get there or not. Aiming for the greatest possibility in meditation will, at minimum, keep you motivated. Relaxation, peace of mind, awareness, intelligence, clarity, and confidence are all byproducts of meditation; none of these can be the actual goal. Aim for the highest and keep practicing; everything you get along the way is a bonus.
Meditation for inner peace
We’ve all heard the term “meditation” many times in our lives. The word probably brings up images of monks, bald heads, temples, incense, crossed-legs, and all that. Well, it turns out that meditation is a lot simpler.
To know what meditation is, or what meditation can do for you, simply close your eyes for one minute and notice what’s going on in your mind. Make a note of how many different thoughts pass through your head in one minute.
Notice how many of those thoughts are sheer nonsense, and how many of those thoughts are simply rewinds of thoughts you have seen innumerable times. Wouldn’t it be nice to go beyond this constant disturbance of the mind to enjoy a perfectly peaceful and quiet moment? That’s exactly what meditation can do for you.
Meditation eventually has a positive effect on virtually every aspect of our lives. Some of the changes that can be experienced early on include:
Reduced stress (Mayo Clinic)
Reduced anxiety (Health.com)
More self control and discipline
Kick bad habits and pick up good habits
Able to get along with other people better
Feel “more in charge” of your life
Meditation as a way of life
Meditation is not a journey to an end. Meditation is a journey through life. As a matter of fact, if you get distracted by some pre-conceived end result, your mind has already won!
Your mind will constantly taunt you into thinking that you don’t know what you’re doing, and you’re wasting time. Just keep meditating. What you’re trying to do is to quit letting the mind have control of every moment of your life; to learn how to use it when you want to, and keep it quiet the rest of the time. The more you sit and watch your thoughts, the lesser they come around. Avi says “Trust the process.”
We’ve got a great online meditation program designed to teach you how to meditate to improve every aspect of your life. For both beginners and more advanced meditators, Avi teaches us how to meditate no matter where we are, and he explains in simple language how meditation improves our lives in every way.
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