As I was having lunch with my Mom earlier this afternoon in one of our favorite Chicago hot-spots, I noticed just how everyone around us seemed to be rushing; moving in fast-forward as if no one had enough time in the day to just be in the moment, nonetheless enjoy it.
The restaurant was packed, which it normally is for being so deliciously awesome, so everyone preparing the food was frantically calling orders and running mini-marathons to ensure top service to their customers. And while I am one of those customers that greatly appreciates their hard work, I couldn’t help but notice how it set the energy for the whole place; a sort of “rushed” vibe that was so obvious and apparent in everyone from the guy restocking the plastic forks to the little kid who couldn’t wait to get his ice cream.
It seemed to spread throughout the place, like word of how good their cob salads are, and yet in the midst of all this chaos, a funny thing always seems to happen when my mother and I get together and talk about life. It’s as if the world around us stops and before we know it, we’ve laughed, we may have even shed a tear or two and at least two hours have passed.
How does this always happen with us? It’s quite simple, actually. It has everything to do with our focus; or rather lack thereof. When you surrender your grasp on the need to control the moment, it just flows and webs of emotion are free to crash like the tides.
In true connected, deep conversation with someone you love, expectations and insecurities can fall away like rain, and all you are left with is authentic sharing. A mutual commitment to the enveloping of time; the free passing of each moment without concern of what you feel or think needs to happen in the next one, but rather letting experience simply emerge and unfold as it will.
And the same goes for meditation. When you are willing to surrender to the moment, all things simply come to you. Your search is over…once you stop looking and just be. I find with talking to so many people about meditation that this is perhaps the hardest part for them when just getting started.
It’s the giving yourself that time to sit down and just BE that causes the most resistance. To stop the automation that is constantly running in the brain of what we need to do, where we need to be etc. and instead, for some precious slivers of time, doing nothing but simply being alive. How simple that sounds, yet so difficult for many of us to do.
I’ve come to understand that with meditation there are 3 main steps that go into getting the most benefit out of this practice of quieting and centering one’s mind. Some people believe that you have to light incense, or dim the lights, or put on a recording of chanting Zen Buddhist monks, but these are all simply “ways to the WAY”. Consider them tools to get you there, but they are in no way necessary to meditate.
So, I guess the first point to make is don’t worry so much about whether you’re doing it right or wrong, because there really is no wrong way. To put it simply, just being fully present in the moment (at ANY given time, no matter where you are or what you are doing, sitting or standing, eyes open or closed) IS meditating. Anytime you bring your full conscious awareness to the NOW, you are in a state of meditation.
Now, there are of course various types and techniques of meditation, some used for various purposes and some requiring certain states of consciousness to work on a subconscious level (using binaural beats for instance to help with concentration or curbing an addiction), but overall general meditation can be achieved anytime, anywhere, so before you begin, just know that your mere presence in this practice is what will ultimately provide you the most beneficial experiences.
Step #1: Focused Breath. The quickest way to quiet the subconscious mind is to treat it like a child. Give it something to play with, or in other words, something to focus on. Breath-work is a great tool to get you started with a meditation practice as it not only gets you centered, it gives you a focal point to come back to when your subconscious mind wants to wander and think about your business meeting tomorrow, what you want for dinner, or what often happens in my own subconscious mind, where does light really go when it enters a black hole? Learn the 100 breaths technique to get you started!
Step #2: Get Comfortable. If you plan on meditating for at least a few minutes or more and wish to do it privately, then it is most beneficial to find a nice, quiet space where you can sit comfortably. Again, there is no right or wrong way to sit, however lotus position is so popular because it literally has a calming effect on the body. It was adopted to allow the body to be held completely steady for long periods of time and also encourages deep breathing and proper body posture. The main focus here is that you are comfortable because if you are not, then your mind will of course be distracted by your discomfort. So choose to sit in a space and position that allows you to sit relaxed for an extended period of time. Learn how the healthcare industry is catching on to how meditation can reduce pain, blood pressure and stress and even induce new brain cell growth!
Step #3 Let Go. For many people this is the hardest step. The thoughts might continue, then we sit and judge ourselves for the fact we can’t stop thinking. Then we get angry and give up. But the key to developing a good meditation practice is well, to keep practicing! Instead of trying not to think, instead let the thoughts come (don’t judge them which only leads to more thoughts), and when they do, simply acknowledge them and bring your attention back to your breath. Think of it like a game you’re playing with your stubborn child of a subconscious mind. Eventually it will get tired and will go quiet, and then the magic happens.
In that inner space of quiet solitude and peace, is where you will find your true connection to your Higher-self (the link to your intuition) as well as Source. It is here you are open to receive guidance about yourself, your life and your path. It is here where fears can be faced with courage and obstacles can be looked at as opportunities. I like to call it my own personal well, where I go to literally refill my soul. Once you relinquish the need to control the process, the process will gift you with clarity, wisdom and most of all, inner peace. Learn how letting go is the key to opening doors to abundance!
“3 Steps to Inner Peace: Meditation Techniques to Quiet the Mind”, by Tamara Rant, April 18, 2015 at http://consciouslifenews.com/3-steps-inner-peace-meditation-techniques-quiet-mind/1183732/