Meditation has been growing in popularity and public awareness in the west in recent years.
Research consistently shows that meditation produces positive treatment outcomes of PTSD, ADHD, anxiety, depression and addiction. It is a classical practice that has just lately seen a revival in our instant gratification society. When asked about meditation, most conjure up the visuals of a person sitting in an orthodox position, with legs crossed and fingers held just so to achieve some factitious realm of complete bliss. Hollywood, Kung Fu movies and that one annoying friend on Facebook have collectively planted the wrong idea of the practice of meditation.
Meditation is a state of mind practice used to focus the consciousness on what is happening right here and right now. This is mindfulness. So often we live life in a constant state of hypnosis. When asked, most people can not tell you specifics they experienced on an average drive home from work last night. Their mind was chattering away about everything else except being in the car seeing the world around them. This has become the normal hypnotic state that we function in everyday.
The state that the background noise of our mind is louder than what is going on right in front of us at every given moment.
If you can think of your mind as a new computer. When you first took it out of the box, it worked with lightning speed to do the task that you ask it to do at that moment. As time goes on, your computer starts doing more and more tasks in the background so, that the specific function that you ask it to do starts to operate slower and slower. How do you do to fix this problem? That’s right, you defragment the operating system. Get rid of the background activities so it can act with more energy and computing function to the task that is needed right now. Meditation is the same as defragmenting your operating system.
How do you meditate? The key is to find the place where you naturally bring yourself to mindfulness. Most common is reading a really interesting book or article. Even though you may have some background thought, most your conscious energy in focused on the information that is being digested right now. Another good example of complete mindfulness, is doing a complex physical activity like skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking…etc. Many people refer to this state of mind as being “in the zone”. This is meditation. Your monkey mind can not compute fast enough to keep up with muscle memory and reaction to be of any help so, it goes quiet. Now that you can relate to that state of mind and being, we can start to integrate that into meditation.
A great start is to use a technique similar to one that people who suffer from anxiety are taught. Find a comfy position and take 5 deep breaths and try to focus on nothing but watching and feeling the breath. Then, focus your eyes and look at five separate things in your surroundings. Don’t name them, describe them or define them in your mind, just look and focus on them. Next, touch four things; then, smell three things and then, taste two things. Don’t forget to breath. You should now be in a more focused mindful state. The more you practice the longer you can stay in this state.
Now that you get the idea I will share with you my favorite and more classical technique for meditation. Find a comfy position you can keep for about 30 minutes. You may lay down but you will run the risk of just falling asleep. Start with the deep focused breathing as before. As the thoughts start to fill your head, the key is not to indulge them. For instance, if you remembered that you forgot to pay that one bill, don’t add on to the thought with “I will pay that this afternoon”. Don’t feed the thoughts and they will stop coming. If you can, imagine that you are sitting outside those thoughts as an observer. If you can stay disciplined, those thoughts will begin to fade away and you will find yourself in a complete quiet and lucid mind. It will be startling at first, but stay with it. Like in the first technique, you may only be able to stay there for a short time but with consistent practice you will be able to go longer and longer.