There are as many ways of meditating, as there are meditators. But they all have one thing in common—reaching a peaceful state of mind and body.
Whether your idea of meditation is focusing on a particular object or symbol, listening to a guided visualization, bringing your attention to the space between your thoughts, chanting a sound or a mantra, going for a quiet walk, or listening to your favorite music as you soak in your bathtub, all these activities have the same goal—to help you find inner peace.
With our lives busier than ever, meditation has become a popular way to de-stress and calm down. These are certainly wonderful by-products of meditation but not the true goal.
We forget that meditation is essentially a spiritual practice.
The goal of meditation is to re-discover and abide in your essential spiritual nature.
You are an unlimited and blissful spiritual being, acting and functioning as a busy, stressed-out, limited human being.
To regain your divine essence, the first thing you have to do is to learn how to SLOW DOWN.
It’s impossible to sit in quiet meditation if your thoughts are running helter-skelter, 500 miles per second.
The only thing that will happen to you while trying to meditate in this way is even greater stress than before.
The quality and pace of your thoughts affects the quality and pace of your actions .
Your actions and thoughts are interconnected.
If your thoughts are unfocussed and restless, jumping from one thing to the next, your actions will be also be unfocussed, restless and jumpy.
If your thoughts are calm and peaceful, your actions will be calm and peaceful.
For the beginner in meditation, it’s rather difficult to slow down the pace of your thoughts directly. You cannot ‘catch’ your thoughts as they fly through your mind.
But, you can control your actions and lifestyle. This is the indirect method of controlling the runaway thoughts.
The most powerful practice is to –
Take some time daily to do NOTHING but sit quietly by yourself.
Find a space in your home where you can sit, undisturbed by anyone or anything for 10 to 20 minutes a day.
You should not be:
- Listening to music or recording
- Going for a walk or run
- Watching TV
- Going on the computer
- Most importantly – no sleeping!
Now, this presents two problems: Firstly, what you are supposed to do while doing nothing? And secondly, how to find the time in your already full life?
Do nothing but sit and allow your thoughts to flow and observe them.
This prescription alone will make many people get up and run in the other direction.
They don’t want to face the overwhelming flood of worries and concerns that gush out when they are still. This is the big reason why many people keep busy all day long.
This escape strategy is doomed to fail because our minds go with us wherever we go. Since we can’t leave them behind on a park bench or something, we get up and get busy to shut them up.
Remember, if you avoid even looking at your thoughts, how can you possibly find solutions or ways to cope with your worries and concerns?
Admittedly, most of our problems come at us from the outside. They are beyond our control. But what is under our control is how we respond to those things.
By not facing your thoughts you only increase your anxiety levels because you’ve done nothing to make any changes.
With regular practice, the thoughts subside and the mind becomes quieter.
This is when you can actually begin to consciously and directly relax the mind.
It may be rather difficult at first, but starting with even 3 to 5 minutes a day of quiet time doing nothing can bring about tremendous changes in your outlook and responses to life.
To get the most out of your practice, have a dedicated time and place where you sit everyday.
A good time for this practice is either before going to bed at night, or first thing in the morning before doing anything else.
So, if you are morning person, sleep a little earlier every night to wake up 30 minutes earlier to do your practice. Or if late at night is your best quiet time, then choose that time.
Regular aloneness prepares your mind for concentration and the stillness that is required for meditation Try it for 30 days and then experience the rewards for yourself.
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