Meditation has always been an elusive, far-fetched practice for me. How does one simply sit there and meditate? How does one calm his mind? Don’t the thoughts still come? How do I achieve the state of no thought? Is such a state possible?
These are just some of the questions that I had about meditation. I always believed for the longest time that meditation means no thought. After half a year of mediation through trial and error, I learned that this is not true. Meditation just means enhancing your perception. It makes you hyper receptive to what is already around you.
For example, if you meditate for a while, you can feel all the sensations in your body that you are currently unaware of. You can feel your heartbeat, the flow of blood in your body, the expansion and contraction of your lungs, the surface contact of your legs to the ground, and many other things.
Meditation doesn’t mean that you stopped your brain from working. You can still be thinking various things, but there is a distance between you and your thoughts. Meditation makes you aware that even though you are thinking, you are doing so consciously. You can choose to think whenever you want and whatever you want.
There is a big misconception with meditation. Meditation doesn’t mean sitting still with your eyes closed. You can meditate while you are doing just about anything. You can meditate while you are standing, moving, or sitting still. Any action you take or don’t take can be a form of meditation.
We know this is true because when we are totally absorbed with an activity, it becomes a meditative practice. It doesn’t matter if you are looking at a flower or writing a masterpiece. You are, in a sense, meditating.
So why is it that whenever we think about meditation, we think of someone sitting in a crossed legged position on the ground with his eyes closed? Well, the reason is simple. This is a common meditation posture.
This posture prevents distraction. Think about it. Your eyes are closed, so you cannot take in information through your eyes. You are sitting still, so there are less activity going on in the body. These two combined greatly enhance your receptivity because there is less clutter in your mind and body. You don’t need to absorb extra information. You work with what you have.
To Meditate or Not
When I was young, I had issues with meditation. There is just so much activity going on in the mind that simply sitting still is an unachievable feat. I love to think. There are so many things you can think about. You can think about amazing food, fantasy-esque stories of magic, and countless other things that your imagination can come up with.
If you can’t come up with amazing thoughts to think about, you read a book or watch a great movie. Whatever the case is, you can take your mind on a wonderful journey of its own.
If it took billions of years of evolution to create a mind of this scope, then why would anyone want to stop it. Therefore, meditation doesn’t make any sense to me.
But now I know the reason. Meditation doesn’t mean stopping our brain functions. It doesn’t imply returning to a state of cluelessness and cabbage-hood. Instead, it’s the natural progression of the mind. It is the next step in the evolutionary process of our mind.
You see, meditation is a natural consequence of a well lived life. If you are functioning at the highest peak of humanity, then you will naturally become meditative. You don’t have to meditate or force your mind to become still. This will naturally happen.
The only reason meditation is desirable is because thinking has become a huge problem in society. People don’t know how to switch off their brain. If you are constantly thinking every moment of your life, then can you say you have control over your own mind? If you are thinking nasty thoughts, and make yourself miserable doing so, then wouldn’t your mind be working against you?
These are the questions worth thinking about because meditation isn’t a solution to any of these problems. Meditation does not promise anything. Instead, meditation is bringing forth space between you and your thoughts. It slowly untangles the various attachments and identities that you have created for yourself.
Without this space, you are identified with the thoughts in your head. Without this space, you are identified with your very body. With this space, it gives you room to truly see what is there. Else you are always lost, and you don’t even know it.
So, the question of wanting to meditate or not is not an important question. If your brain is always producing happy thoughts one after another, you would not care at all. You may still be trapped, but at least you are in a blissful state.
How to Meditate
If you do want to learn how to meditate, then learn to sit still. Pay attention to your breath. That is one of the simplest forms of meditation.
You don’t need complicated meditation techniques or forms. These are not what meditation is about. If you try to make meditation more than what it is, then that’s just another form of thinking or exaggerating.
When we think, we exaggerate things in many ways. We never see things the way that they are. If you love someone, you will exaggerate many wonderful things about that person. If you hate someone, for sure, you will exaggerate many hateful things about that person. In the end, you never see things the way that they are.
My life is an example of this. So many things I want to happen didn’t happen, but it didn’t matter because so many more amazing situations came out of them. Life is just like that. Unanimous and unbiased. Every situation can be a wonderful moment because every moment is a brief happening.
If you remind yourself of your mortal nature every moment of your life, then becoming meditative is simple. All thoughts and expectations falter because they are not enduring. They are just temporary and brief. If this much sense exist within you, then you can meditate.
I will tell you this right now. The most important thing to you is that you are alive right now. Because you are alive, so many things matter to you. Your home, your career, your status, your possession, your principles, your values, and much more only matter because you are.
If you cease to exist, then what is anything even about? This is the reason why meditation is important. If you are meditative, you come alive.
Just do this for a practice. Lift your left hand above you. Try to feel all the sensations that are there. Look at it intensely and pay attention to all activity in the left arm. Feel the blood flowing in and out of the hand. Feel every single hair located on your forearm. Slowly move your fingers. Close your eyes if you must.
Do you feel life flowing within you? For most people, they can’t feel anything because their thoughts are so loud that being alive at this moment doesn’t mean anything to them.
If you never touched the dimension of being truly alive for a moment, then you will live your life in constipation. A little bit of joy here and there from eternal events and occurrences. Nothing sustaining and lasting. This is not a good way to live.
The most important things in life are already happening to you. You are always on life support. If the atmosphere disappears, you will be gone within a few minutes. If the sun suddenly decides to not show up for the next few days or decides to never show up, you are also gone. If all water sources are polluted, life on earth would not be able to sustain themselves. All of these are simple, necessities for live. Yet, are we aware of them every moment?
Life is always on. It is silent in the background and requires striving. When you learned the ABCs as a kid, it was not easy and took a bit of effort. Wanting to know life requires attention. If you don’t even pay enough attention to yourself, then no one else will.
I want to ask you a question. How do you know that every blade of grass isn’t trying to teach you Zen? How do you know that trees aren’t expounding profound truths about life every moment of its still existence?
Just because something isn’t human doesn’t mean you have nothing to learn from them. I learn the most from the sound of water flowing down a stream, the dance of a tree to the winds, or the reflection of the sunlight from the moon.
These are my meditation methods, but nonetheless they are ambient and an ever-present help for me. My meditation methods may be different from yours. But any outlet can be used.
If there comes a point where no matter what you do, you can’t meditate, then give it up. Just focus on how to make the body healthy. Focus on how to make the mind happy. Focus on how to make your emotions sweet. And focus on how to make your energies intense.
Meditation will then naturally happen.