Consciously or unconsciously we are all seeking the peace of mind that meditation brings with it. But some of us fear the process of meditation and others consider it unnecessary and a waste of time. But do you know that all of us have our own ways of finding this peace? No way is right or wrong, but what gives us the most long-lasting peace is what we need to find.
How our hobbies help us?
For some of us, it is our own hobbies or past time which are meditative habits - like knitting, gardening, cycling, drawing, painting, and many more.
This is because when we are fully engaged, our attention is 100%, the mind becomes silent and that is when we succeed in restricting our extraneous thoughts to focus on one object or subject. The incessant internal chatting stops and this process then becomes very enjoyable and meditative.
The contentment we feel when our minds are absorbed often comes, less from the activity itself than from the fact that while concentrating our worries and problems are forgotten.
But why hobbies are not enough?
These kinds of activities bring us peace in short spans, as long as they absorb our interest. Once the mind is distracted again it returns to its normal routine of wandering, wasting its energy in thoughts of the past or dreams of the future. But very rarely in the present. And till that doesn't happen we aren't really living, rather we are in constant waiting for something to happen and that's when it never happens.
The Present and Meditation
It is only by being in the present that we open the lock to the potential of the unknown future completely. That is because when we are really in the present, understanding ourselves better every moment, in heightened awareness of what is happening and enjoying it to the fullest, the universe automatically guides you to your best possible future without us doing anything.
And to be in the present and enjoy it thoroughly, for more lasting contentment, you need to train the mind in meditation.
Meditation is a practice where there is constant observation of the mind. By stopping a wave of thoughts you come to understand your true nature and discover the wisdom and tranquility that lies within. But to reach wisdom and tranquility you have to first learn to fight the incessant train of thoughts of an overactive mind.
For most of our waking hours, the mind is tossed from one thought to another, pulled by desire and aversions, by emotions and memories, both pleasant and unpleasant.
Of all the forces that agitate the mind, it is the five senses that most often disturb the concentration giving rise to fantasies and desires. And of all the senses, sight and hearing are the most powerful, endlessly drawing the mind outward and wasting valuable mental energy. and that is the reason meditation uses sounds in the form of mantras or images to control these two senses.
How to Meditate?
When we begin to meditate for the first time, in the beginning, our thoughts will insist on wandering and that is completely alright, but with steady practice, we will be able to succeed in focusing the mind.
Whether someone concentrates on the flame of a candle or focuses on chanting a mantra - we repeatedly bring back our attention to the object of concentration thereby reducing the movement of the mind to a smaller circle. In the case of guided meditation, we focus on the instructions of the person who is leading the meditation and thereby reduce the area of focus of our mind.
Concentration is the first step to meditation. During concentration, we tend to keep tight control of the mind but during meditation, the control is no longer necessary because by that time mind has gone to stay in one place with a single thought.
With continued practice of meditation, we discover a greater sense of purpose and strength of will and your thinking becomes clear and more concentrated, affecting everything that you do.
The mind is like a lake and its surface broken by the ripples of thought. In order to see the Self which lies beneath, you must learn to still these ripples. - Swami Sivananda
What do we want to achieve through Meditation?
During meditation, we experience the mind as an instrument. Just by concentrating for a short period in the day, we start to see how much movement exists in the mind and how little we live in the present. From this brief experience of meditation, we can learn to observe and change our way of thinking. So during meditation instead of getting emotionally attached to your thoughts at the time, just step back and watch everything as a witness as if you are watching someone else. This will help you to see both mind and body as instruments that you can control.
Slowly and steadily you will also learn how to control your mind during the rest of the day and not only during your meditation session. You will learn to focus on the right thoughts and stop wasting energy on unnecessary thoughts.
Types of meditation
There are two types of meditation,
one which focuses on a concrete object like an image, a symbol, or mantra to help you focus and
the other type where the point to focus is an abstract idea.
Regardless of whether you practice the former or the latter, the ultimate result is the same and that is transcendence. The ultimate purpose is to be connected to the single source in the universe.
In the end
Everyone's experience with meditation is different, it is something that comes by everybody in its own time and it cannot be taught. But if you follow the right steps, to begin with, it can speed up the process considerably.
Steps that can help you meditate better:
Set aside a special place for meditation because the environment you sit in will help still the mind.
The time when your mind is free of everyday concerns. Dawn or dusk may be ideal.
Selecting the same time and place each day conditions the mind to slow down more quickly.
Sit with your back neck and head in a straight line in Lotus or Easy pose.
Instruct your mind to remain quiet for the duration of your meditation session.
Regulate your breathing - start with 5 minutes of deep breathing and then slow it down.
Establish a rhythmic breathing pattern - inhaling and exhaling for few seconds each.
Allow your mind to wander at first - don’t force it to concentrate
After that bring it to rest on the focal point of your choice - an image or a mantra or just an abstract thought or nothingness. Whatever you feel comfortable with.
Meditate as long as you feel comfortable doing it. It could be just 5 minutes and that's ok. Do not force yourself to do anything.
In the beginning, you might be uncomfortable for a few days because of the train of thoughts that come to your consciousness which might be unpleasant or uncomfortable and that is normal as it introduces you to your subconscious mind. This awareness is what becomes our tool life long to help us be in control always. So do not stop this process because of that. Show up every day even if for 5 minutes. And in some time you will be able to control the thoughts and dive deep down into your sub-conscience to get all the answers you are looking for to lead a more aware and fulfilling life.