I started to meditate sometime in my teenage years, and always had the feeling that I’m doing something wrong. Since then, I read several books on the subject, did countless guided and non-guided meditations, went to India and meditated with monks and even in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and reached two conclusions:
1. Meditation is very straightforward.
2. Meditation is the simplest form of self-development.
It takes very little time, but needs to be done regularly.
It requires no equipment, only your presence.
It seems like you’re doing nothing, but in fact you’re going through a lot of training.
This year, I made a subscription to Headspace.com, an online guided meditation library, and Andy Puddicombe’s voice and structured guided meditations helped me make a daily habit out of my sitting down and doing nothing for 20 minutes every day.
How to meditate:
You sit down, bring your awareness to the present moment, then, slowly, focus on your breath. Whenever a thought comes, you let it pass, without following it. If you find yourself swept by the thought process, you gently bring yourself back to the present moment, and back to the breath.
It may not be like much, but through the course of a couple of months, here’s what I learned through meditation:
1. The mind can be trained and changed.
It really is like a crazy monkey, but through the course of regular meditation, it can become flexible and responsive. I found that I concentrate easier and have more faith in my capability to zone out and focus on something if it’s needed.
2. Nothing is static, everything is flow.
There are days when the above mentioned concentration is nowhere to be found :(. I struggle, my mind goes from thought to thought and most times I just sit there and go through my to-do list for 20 minutes. But then, the whole point is getting back, gently bringing myself back. Not becoming upset at myself (though, of course, that often happens), but showing up again the next day and continuing.
3. Underneath it all, there is only calm.
If you meditate long enough (for me this happened after about a month or two) you reach the point where the space in between two thoughts becomes wider and wider. Sometimes it lasts for a whole second (before you go “Whoa! I didn’t think anything for the past second!”) This space…is pure calm. It is an open sky. It’s happiness and bliss, fulfillment and emptiness at the same time.
This, Buddhists say, is the inherent nature of the mind. Open and vast as the sky. We only cloud it with thoughts, but through meditation we can return to its original, untarnished state.
4. It makes me my own friend.
Meditation has no objective, no end goal. At least, not for us, Westerners, or for me, I don’t seek enlightenment, only a feeling that I’m more okay with myself. With meditation, I learned to be ok with bad days, to let go of a certain “status” or “achievement” or end goal. Even, as I write this blog post, I realize that it’s been months since I last meditated, and still the effects are with me. I do feel guilty for not showing up for my daily practice for so long, but I know that my only task is to show up the next day, and I will try to do that. And if that doesn’t work, I will show up the next day.
I am my own toughest judge, and oh it’s so easy to feel bad for not keeping my word. But in the end, I bring back the gentleness, the kindness I learned and realize I’m my own friend.
I hope you will give it a shot – actually, more than a shot, make it a habit.
If you want to see real results, you need to put the time behind it.
Time dedicated to doing nothing, just to being.