Meditation is a mental process that allows us to find peace of mind. This is a state free of disturbing thoughts and feelings, a place where we can perceive ourselves, and the world, with perfect clarity. We exist only in the present moment in a place of inner peace, contentment, and happiness. You will know you are there when you feel that: “Just for this moment in time, absolutely nothing needs to change”.
Some people believe that meditation means the complete absence of thoughts. They think that if thoughts arise they are not meditating. This is not true. While the ultimate goal of meditation is to clear the mind of thought, this does not mean that thoughts will not arise as part of the process. In fact, it is a natural and necessary part of meditation to allow the mind to generate and release obsessive thought. The key to a successful meditation is how you choose to deal with thoughts once they have arisen.
When a thought arises our ego-mind automatically wants to engage it, open it up, take it apart, learn everything about, it and then decide how to deal with it. It creates an inner dialogue, a story, a cloud of obsessive thought, that obscures awareness and compromises peace of mind. Sometimes thoughts will even recall past experience and generate negative emotion that diverts us from inner peace. Before we know it, we are completely off course and heading to a state of mind where suffering is present. In meditation, rather than engaging the thought by actively following it, or trying to suppress it, we let it be and simply choose to focus our awareness on something else. We choose an object we can come back to when mind starts to wander, which it inevitably will. This object can be anything that exists purely in the present moment: breath, sound, sensation. It is like a lighthouse in the foggy sea of ego generated thought. No matter how far off course our mind may drift, the light is always visible. By simply returning our awareness to it, we can resume our journey towards it, towards peace of mind. Over time, and with practice, the frequency with which thoughts arise will gradually diminish. Ultimately, thoughts will no longer arise and we will be left completely aware of the present moment in a place of inner peace. When this happens we have discovered our inner essence, we have found the true nature of who we are and how we connect to the rest of existence.
Here are some practical considerations that can help you get the most from your meditation experience:
- Find a time and space free of distraction and make yourself completely comfortable, even if that means sitting in a chair.
- Choose an object for your meditation, something free of meaning, and better yet, something that exists in the present moment. Breath is a really good choice. It may be helpful to think of the present moment as being exactly one breath long. By simply watching our breath, our awareness automatically becomes grounded in the present.
- Suspend any expectation of a specific outcome, simply watch your experience, and accept what arises. When thoughts arise, make no effort to engage them, no effort to suppress them, simply bring awareness back to breathe and notice the thoughts drift away, untouched, unopened, unable to take you from the present moment, from peace and contentment, where for just this moment in time absolutely nothing needs to change.
- Do not judge your results, and do not be discouraged if peace of mind is slow to come or does not last long. Meditation is like any other learned skill involving mind and body. It gets better with practice.