Imagine if you had the ability to switch off or postpone your thoughts and feelings instead of being constantly hijacked by them. When we fully grasp that we are not our thoughts or feelings, this becomes not only desirable, but quite obvious.
Meditation is a tool to quiet the mind, calm the nerves, and discover the small still voice within. In meditation you can isolate the picketing of the ego. From this perspective the ego looks like an intruder or imposter who is forever trying to distract you with concerns that are not worth your while.
For those who are too antsy to sit silently still for very long, there is an alternative to traditional meditation. It is possible to take a meditative approach to a routine or mundane task.
This is such a gift, because we all know how rhythmic or pulsing movement, and repetition, can send us to sleep. It can be easier to reach a meditative state this way than being physically still and trying to be a constant gatekeeper of your thoughts.
Even if you are not a big fan of meditation, by simply trying it out you can reap some benefit. Those few seconds you manage to be still and silent will give you an insight into what the alternative of a buzzing body and chattering mind can feel like.
Ideally, it’s better to have an effective five minute meditation than a strained 20 minute meditation where you only achieved mental and physical relaxation for a few of those minutes. The compulsive nature of the mind likes to impose judgements, criticise, analysis, rehearse, and ruminate. This is why it’s more effective to try a short period of meditation at a time, at first. You’ll get more mileage from your efforts if you build up the meditation time slowly.
If you commit to doing some meditation for a period of time in a consistent way, you will notice you become stiller in the mind and less prone to getting tense and worried. You are alert and more alive. Meditation lets you develop the ability to disengage from the intellectual mind, at will, and enter the spiritual heart, or our soul nature.
The heart by nature has a broader view of life and can give you a feeling-sense of the oneness with all others and nature. Waking consciousness expands and you can tap into and experience the higher emotions more readily.
This will enhance your experience of life on all fronts because you will have the ability to keep your subjective view but also have awareness of the objective, or another point of view.
If you are set on trying the traditional way by silence and keeping the body still, you can try for five minutes then build up to twenty.
Here are some meditation tactics to build up the ability:
– Close your eyes and feel your chest rise and fall and the air moving down your lungs, as you breath. Listen to the in and out breath through your nostrils. You can alternate your breathing from, in through the nose, and out through the mouth.
– When you get a thought, don’t resist it, but acknowledge it and release it as early as you can. If you get an intrusive thought that acts like you will forget something important if you don’t dwell on it, tell your mind ‘I will think this thought later, I won’t forget’. Then let it go.
– This technique gives your mind something to focus on, but it’s still easy to be carried away by your thoughts. Still, if you regularly suffer from body tension you can work your body in segments. Starting from the feet work your way upwards. Toes, ankles, calf muscles, knees, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, back, shoulders, arms, neck, face.
– If your mind is more visual than auditory, then a scene in nature, held in your mind’s eye, can be effective. To stop mind chatter you can accompany the scene with a word association that you repeat slowly. For example, picture a waterfall and the water tumbling down while repeating slowly the word ‘Peace’.
– Matthew Johnstone, author of Quiet the Mind, has a technique that uses sensorial awareness. Imagine your body is a ship and your mind is the captain. You decide to slow down, like a ship that’s reducing speed to come into a harbour. See yourself entering calmer waters and you let yourself drift. If your mind is still active, picture your thoughts like a swarm of bees that are locked out from the cabin.
What you gain from Meditation
The benefits felt from meditating take time to come into effect. So do persist.
• After a single meditation practice you may feel more focused and relaxed.
• After a week of regular practice, you should notice that your mind is less buzzy.
• After several weeks, you more often remember to observe and release those thoughts you don’t want to continue thinking.
• After several months, you can recall to observe your thoughts quite often and it starts to become a conscious habit.
• Over the long-term, you become more peaceful, confident, emotionally balanced, sense of balance improves, ability to concentrate improves and you have more energy.
See this post on what meditation can do to reduce ego.