Whenever I talk about meditation most people have one or more reasons why they can’t do it. Usually they don’t have time for it, or they’ve tried it but they felt like they weren’t doing it right because they couldn’t get their mind to stop talking. I say nonsense. These are excuses, to be dropped as swiftly as possible.
First, I always recommend starting meditation gently, with one 15 minute session a day. It never needs to be more, though it can increase if you like later. But there is never a reason to go beyond that, if you don’t want to. I say 15 minutes because it’s manageable. Everyone can find 15 minutes in their day. The benefits are manifold. It brings increased insight into your life and purpose. It strengthens your will and resolve. It brings calm and clarity to your every day. It moves you to a place of genuine authenticity and power. Considered that way, that’s a lot of value for a small amount of time.
Second, people tell me their mind won’t stop talking or they ‘just can’t get it right’, so what’s the point? To that I say, don’t worry about it. It’s not about getting it right. In fact, meditation is not a ‘doing’ or a ‘getting’ at all. It’s a NOT doing. It’s about allowing your mind to exhaust its energy and come to a place of stillness. You can’t do it right or wrong. So let your mind rage and throw tantrums. Eventually it will quiet down, if you are just consistent enough with your meditation practice. As you go foward you will begin to create gaps in the stream of your unconscious and it’s in those streams that your real learning begins.
The purpose of meditation is to help quiet your mind. Of course, you can’t do it right away. If you could you wouldn’t need to meditate. The only thing you need to ‘do’ is commit to 15 minutes a day.
Unfortunately, some systems of self discovery out there have perverted meditation for strange purposes. Visualization is not meditation. Visualization is a product of the mind. It comes from lack, want or need, none of which exist when you are truly present and focused on the now. Meditation is not for producing wealth or finding a soul mate. It’s not a about using the universe like a giant cash machine. You may well end up with ‘more’ or you may end up with ‘less,’ both of which are transient states and have nothing to do with your eternal state of completeness. If you practice, you will end up with exactly what you need, no more, no less.
I’m referring to the ‘Law of Attraction’ or ‘the Secret’ when I talked about using and abusing meditation. The law of attraction is partially correct. You do attract what want and don’t want in the world. But it’s misguided to think that understanding the law of attraction will somehow make you wealthy in the monetary sense. Sometimes wealth does come in that form, but not everyone is meant to be a millionaire. That should not be your focus. If you are meant to make money, it will flow naturally from your present moment awareness, that comes through meditation. I think this ‘secret’ type of thinking comes out of a basic misunderstanding of the nature of abundance. When the mind gets a hold of the concept of abundance it twists it, as it does all things into something that it can ‘get.’ Abundance is something you already have, right here, right now. Nothing you ever get will add to or take away from it. Abundance comes in many forms. Sometimes it is money. Sometimes it is love. Sometimes it is spiritual or emotional. But it’s not always money. It’s not for us to decide what abundance the universe brings to us.
Most importantly, approach meditation with a love and understanding for yourself, even forgiveness. Forgive yourself for not getting it right and eventually you’ll realize there is nothing right to get anyway. The process of learning is one that requires states of confusion and challenges. Appreciate them. Approach your life and your practice with gentleness and understanding. Above all, don’t worry about it and it will come.
It’s best to do meditation as close to waking up as you can. Forget uncomfortable yoga positions and chanting. Just find a comfortable chair, ensure that you are warm and go to it. I like to use the stop watch on my phone. I set it to 16 minutes, instead of 15, which gives me a chance to fidget and settle down. Once you are settled after the first minute, resist the urge to move around. It’s just drama. I would also avoid meditating around other people. You don’t need someone talking to guide you. You don’t need a group or music or chanting or a sacred phrase. You just need yourself, a comfortable chair and a few minutes of your time.
Sometimes, as your practice develops, you might want to meditate for longer. That’s fine. Go with it. But don’t allow yourself to go with less time. Stopping early is just your mind creating drama.
Your mind will create resistance at first and even later, when you are positive you’ve pacified it. It will pop up again to thwart you. To the mind, stopping means death. But it’s not a real death. You see, the mind is really the problem you are trying to deal with. All your troubles, all your addictions and pain are born of the mind and time. If you observe your mind, you’ll see that it is constantly projecting into the past or into the future. You relive events over and over and feel happy or sad about them, or you project into the future and feel either anxiety or longing. None of what is happening in your mind is actually happening in the present moment. It’s like a video game that your mind plays over and over. It’s not real. Until you go and ask your boss for a raise in real life, you have not asked your boss for a raise, even though you have played the scenario over and over and over in your mind a million times. But to your mind, all of those times it played through the scenario are real and essential. To your true self though, they are not.
You see, what your mind is good at is solving problems. That’s what it does. In fact, that’s all it is good at doing. It’s not good at much else, though it thinks it is. In the distant past, people did not walk around with a voice in their head all the times, a constant chattering monologue. Their minds awoke when they needed to and then went back to rest. This is a more natural state. Unfortunately, we live in a time in history when the mind has woken up for good and won’t turn off. It’s a problem because the mind creates problems when there are no problems to solve. It creates problems, plays out scenarios and projects into the past or the future. It simply can not live in the present moment. Meditation helps you get it back under your control.
Sometimes people ask me what happens when I need my mind. Easy enough. Your mind will awake when it needs to. You will just need to trust that is the case and then observe it for yourself. It does not need to be on all the time, like a radio. When you want to turn the radio on, you simply turn the radio on. When you are done, you turn it off. Simple as that.
Now once you’ve made the commitment, don’t allow meditation to cause you stress. If you have to miss it one day, then miss it. Just don’t make it too often. Your mind is crafty. It will say things like, ‘it’s no big deal’ or ‘I’m feeling fine today, I just don’t need this.’ Before you know it, you’ve skipped a week and you’re feeling guilty. So the key is to commit to it and do it no matter what. Just be flexible when real life events get in the way. By that I mean simple day to day circumstances. If something interrupts you and you have to start over, don’t create drama around this, simply stop and start again later.
Now if you’ve made it this far, why don’t you try it right now? There is never a better time to do something than the present moment.