Meditation is for Everyone
Meditation is for everyone. It is the universal state of mind when you are not resisting moment to moment experience and when you are in a state of deep loving absorption. Even most nonmeditators have “accidentally” slipped into a meditative state at one time or another.
Have you ever been so absorbed in a task that you lost all track of time? This can be prayer, sewing, singing, gardening or many other things. If so, you may have discovered meditation.
The ego resists uncomfortable experience and clings to pleasant experience, often by restricting the breath. This process is what causes stress in our lives. The resulting stress and tension wreaks havoc on the body and the mind. It also distorts our clear perception of the world and ruins relationships. We must gradually train the mind to be present with reality if we are to have any chance at realizing wholeness.
Taking time to train yourself to enter a state of relaxed, nonattached awareness is extremely rejuvenating and has too many health benefits to mention here. Regular meditation practitioners say that it is as essential for you as stopping for gas is for your car.
There are two components to meditation. They are concentration and equanimity.
Concentration means just what you think it means. In meditation, you concentrate on an object of focus. You relax into it and become increasingly absorbed in it.
Imagine two people in a room with you. One of them you are absolutely in love with and hope to marry some day. The other is some schmuck from your high school days who was never very interesting. Who are you concentrating on more? You are connected with the former on a much deeper level. The two of you “touch” on finer levels. This is what you are aiming for in an object of focus. Therefore, when choosing one, think of one that you can fall in love with. Maybe it’s the word “Jesus” or a visualization of a waterfall. Maybe it’s just your own breath or a body sensation.
Equanimity is a detached awareness of whatever is occurring in the moment. When we resist experience of senses, thoughts and emotions, clarity of mind becomes distorted. Equanimity occurs when we are present with experience and detached from the poles of attraction and repulsion.
You will be distracted with internal chatter during your concentration practice. Thoughts will tempt you, and so will emotions and body sensations. However, these are all happening in the present moment. When they come up, take note by saying “thinking” or “angry”. Let the thoughts move through you like clouds through the sky. Just watch. Then, bring your attention back to the object of focus. This process trains the mind to achieve equanimity.
Now that you know the theory, let’s try it for real.
Sit down in a chair with your ankles crossed or with your feet flat on the floor. Let your hands rest on your lap. Plant your tailbone and “stack” your vertebrae one on top of the next, starting with the tailbone. When you get to the head, your chin will want to tuck in a little bit.
Take a few deep breaths through the nose. Then, just breathe normally. Watch your breath without trying to control it. Is it shallow? Is it deep? Does it start in the chest? How does it sound? Relax and observe.
Your object of focus is the cool feeling in the nostrils as the breath enters your nose and the warm feeling as the breath leaves your nose. From here onward, pay no attention to where the breath goes. Just feel it where it enters and leaves the nostrils.
This is all that exists. Become deeply absorbed in the breath. Soon, the breath will deepen naturally and the brainwaves will slow down.
When a thought comes up, silently say “thinking” to take note of what is happening in the present moment. The thought will start to lose power over you. Go back to the breath without judgment.
Don’t worry about how “deep” you’re going. Your state of absorption will vary according to the fluctuations of your mind. Do this at the same time each day, even if you only have five minutes. You will become much better at it over time.
Now you know the basic nuts and bolts of meditation. In future articles, we will learn how you can fit meditation into the busiest schedules and how to create a strategy that makes meditation much easier to do. After a while, you will realize that meditation is for everyone, and not just people who are fascinated with “eastern” religions.
Tom Von Deck is an international corporate meditation trainer, stress management speaker and author of Oceanic Mind – The Deeper Meditation Training Course. You can sneak preview the first half of the book and get free guided meditation mp3s at Tom’s website, www.DeeperMeditation.net