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Meditation. Getting started and letting go

Practicing Meditation

There are many different styles of meditation.

The following is a good foundation for general practice. It is a basic meditation for self awareness and being present.

Meditation is a practice because it takes a few sessions to get the rambling thoughts in our mind to calm down as we progress. It doesn’t happen immediately for most, it takes time.

Starting to meditate is easy when you make time for it. To meditate only requires a few moments. Only 5 to 10 minutes are needed to begin practicing.

Don’t have time for 5 to 10 minutes? Choosing to find time is possible by rearranging your priorities. Make time in your day, it will literally change your experience of life. It’s worth it.

Getting Started

Set aside a time to practice and clear away a space for you to sit calmly without distractions. Turn off the television, turn down the telephone, turn off the stereo, anything that will potentially disrupt you.

* Start by sitting on a comfortable cushion, a pillow, or whatever you have nearby to create a comfortable sitting arrangement. It is recommended not to lie down, as you may drift off to sleep. Sitting upright provides you with the need to be attentive.

You may want to place a mat, or blanket below you if you wish to provide comfort for your legs.

* In the seated position you may cross your legs for a standard posture. Imagine a string from the base of your spine out the top of your head is pulling you in an upright posture to prevent slouching. However, do not force the position. Do not be militant about your posture, feel supported and comfortable, allowing your shoulders to rest.

* Rest your palms face down or up on your thighs, not your knees, so your arms are comfortably at your side.

* Pick a spot a few feet in front of you on the floor, so your eyes gaze slightly opened in a downward direction while keeping your head straight ahead. Do not get fixated staring on the spot itself, as this is forceful and requires the mind. Be gentle with yourself. Allow your eyes to gaze seeing the whole space, being fully present.

* Allow suppleness in your face. Ensure your teeth are not clenched. Feel relaxed.

* You may breathe naturally through your nose or mouth or both, whichever comes most naturally to you. Do not force the breath, just let it flow.

* Notice your physical body and surroundings. Bring your attention through your body from your feet, up your legs, into your abdomen, into your arms, face, head, be present with your whole body. Take it slow without rushing. Now that you’re focused on how you feel in your body, let it go, just be.

* Sit here for a few moments focusing on your breathing, with focus on the outward breath with each natural cycle.

When you notice your mind thinking on various subjects, return to the breath. Saying something like “let it go” when you catch your mind chattering can be helpful to break the cycle of thoughts and return back to the breath. Of course, “let it go” are words and thus thinking, but it is a good step to focus your thinking rather than have it wander off into a lot of random subjects. You may need to say it a lot, like a mantra, if you notice your mind wandering frequently. Choose something that is a positive mantra for you to stay focused and attentive to the moment.

Do this for a few minutes, gently without judgment. Do not put labels on any of the experiences you are having or the thoughts you are having. Be at peace with them and let them pass like clouds, dissolving away whenever you realize you are getting caught up in them. Do not worry, do not try to be perfect, enjoy the process and be easy on yourself. Feel yourself at peace, content, aware, and loving who you are, right now in this moment.

Considerations of beginning meditation

The word Meditation actually meant ‘frequent’ in the ancient Latin language. This points to the importance of practice.

Regular, frequent meditation is an important part of the process of letting go and gives you more opportunities to treat yourself to “You Time“. Don’t you deserve  a little more time to yourself?

Detaching ourselves from thoughts takes time because our minds are so used to being absorbed into our thoughts unconsciously. It’s very common to suddenly realize your thoughts have wandered off, once again, when meditating, but becomes easier to stay centered the more you meditate.

There is no goal in meditation. Having expectations is only a distraction. You should have no preconceived notions of your meditation experience. Remember meditating is about letting go, and that letting go also means letting go of your ideas of what should and should not happen. Just simply be who you are in the moment, chattering thoughts and all without judgment. If that’s who you are right now, accept it, experience it, become aware of it.

When we be kind to ourselves and allow ourselves to observe the moment that is enough. Do not wish for a mystical experience. Do not ‘try’ to experience something profound. This is precisely what your chattering, desiring mind would want. Remember to let all that go. The real magic is living right now.

Meditation teaches us to enjoy the journey rather than living for the future goal or expectation. When beginning the journey of meditation you may feel that meditating is actually making your mind wander and chatter more than it does regularly. However, it really isn’t, you are really just becoming aware of how much your mind actually does race. You’re not alone, it happens to all of us. Observe this rather than labeling it. In these early stages of meditative practice you may notice you can not help from following these thoughts with much frustration. This shows us how little control we have over our mind including our thoughts and emotions when we are living without self discipline. When thoughts are out of control it may also be a reflection of how our lives may be out of control.

Stumbling thoughts

When you stumble (your thoughts have gone on auto-pilot again), pick yourself back up gently. Don’t replay in your mind that you’ve got lost in thoughts. ‘Success‘ occurs when you let go of the desire for success. You’ll notice you’ll have moments of silence and likely many more moments of chattering. It’s ok. It’s all part of the process towards self awareness.

When the thoughts wander just observe them as clouds passing by, without getting attached to them. Thoughts really can be as unpredictable as weather patterns. Meteorologists can study the weather for years with sophisticated equipment and computer analysis, and still not know what’s happening outside their own window until it’s happening before their eyes.

The best way to come back to the silence is through the breath. The breath represents our connection to our bodies, the outer world and the life force that runs through us. Our breath being under unconscious and conscious control just as our thoughts are create a gateway to transform our patterns in body and mind. By working with the breath we realize our ability to be conscious of our interaction with the external world rather than being directed mindlessly. Focusing the mind on each breath offers a connection to the moment. Feel the breath, be present with it.

Time for you

It’s a busy world out there, and a busy world in our minds.

By meditating frequently, you will likely notice it gives you a renewed feeling of being connected to yourself and grounded in your body and mind. When you connect with this deeper, inner self you will likely see the external world in a different light and your connection to others will be brighter because you are becoming lighter within.

What could be more important than taking time for your self? Letting go of stress and connecting with your true self, the inner observer, transforms you giving you a more peaceful inner and outer world. Everyone in your life will benefit from you getting to know yourself better in this silent way. When you become more of who you are, you have more of your authentic self to offer.

We could say that meditation doesn’t have a reason or doesn’t have a purpose. In this respect it’s unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don’t do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.Alan Watts

One notable author is Eckhart Tolle.  “The Power of Now” is recommended for anyone interested in reading more on getting in the moment and living in the present.

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