What is meditation?
I want to demystify meditation, and make it accessible to everyone. So I'm going to tell you in very simple terms what meditation is, and I'm going to share some of my experiences with you - partly to inspire, and partly to show you what is possible.
Meditation is really very simple:
It is the combination of deep relaxation, and focused concentration.
It is not a doing. It is a being. You don't do relaxation - you are relaxed (or you are not). And you don't do concentration - again, you either are concentrated, or you are not.
Many people are put off because they assume that meditation means 'stopping' the mind. So they try to stop the mind (doing). They might try it a few times, and they usually see that it's really not very easy to make the 'monkey mind' shut up! So they give up...
Of course, one of the long term goals of meditation is to be able to achieve a degree of mental control. But for a beginner to try to silence the mind at once, is a bit like someone who has never used a computer trying to design and program a website in one go!
relaxation + concentration = MEDITATION
When you relax deeply, and focus your concentration, something magical happens. I use the word magical rhetorically: it is not magical in the sense of inexplicable - on the contrary, I will explain scientifically exactly what this 'magical' effect is - but it is wonderful, enriching, and enlightening! With practice, a whole new world, a new life opens up before you. You become more grounded, more balanced emotionally, physically rejuvenated, and... I'll write in much more detail about the specific benefits of meditation later.
So it's very very simple. There is no goal in meditation. There is only the practice of relaxing and concentrating.
The more deeply you relax, the more you are able to concentrate.
And the more you are able to concentrate, the more deeply you relax.
So what happens is a kind of spiraling effect - relaxation leads to concentration, which leads to deeper relaxation, and so on. The body/mind relaxes and becomes more and more focused, and the awareness goes inwards. As the awareness goes inwards, gradually it comes into contact with itself. It is like a meeting of oneself with oneself. And in that meeting there is the ultimate rest; the ultimate peace; the ulimate joy; and the ultimate celebration.
Each morning I meditate, and it feels like I bathed myself - body, mind, and soul - in golden nectar. With this practice I am able to see more clearly; communicate more deeply, and love more fully, the world around me - starting with myself! It is the most empowering thing I can do for myself.
This will be a series of articles on meditation:
- I will tell you about my experiences;
- I'll teach you some techniques to help you to meditate - including some tricks that not many people know.
- I'll also describe the benefits of meditation in detail.
For now, I'll just encourage you to focus on relaxation. Read the articles - relaxation 1 and relaxation 2.
Practice yoga nidra (the deep relaxation exercise described in the first article). The more you release accumulated stress and are able to access deeper states of relaxation, the more quickly and easily you will take to meditation. This is the best preparation.