“Your mind is your instrument. Learn to be its master and not its slave. Meditation is the gateway, through which you arrive to the world of freedom.” Remez Sasson
Whether we are aware of it or not, we aim for a peaceful mind. However, it is the nature of our mind to blow from one thing to another. When our mind is easily influenced and disturbed, this creates internal stress and costs us peace.
Meditation is a potent modality that develops an inner space for clarity and truth. It dissipates the tendencies we have to fluctuate between the extremes of excitement and despondency, elevation and deflation, expectation and disappointment. Through a consistent meditation practice we find our way to being peaceful, even in the most difficult circumstances.
Meditation takes us to a portal—a doorway of consciousness that resides within us and within the whole universe. Ultimately, it takes us beyond thought to the source of thought—our inner most Self. Here, we experience stillness, pure awareness and equanimity.
When you sit for meditation, restful alertness releases mind and body tension. You’ll find a place of inner safety to ground more easily into compassion and peace.
Meditation promotes health on many levels. It has been proven to reduce the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn reduces the stress hormones that lead to disease and aging. Stress on our system causes poor memory and weakening of the immune system.
When we are under stress, the brain processes information through pathways that lead us to impulsive and reactive behavior. Meditation enhances the pathways that strengthen the part of the brain that connects total brain function. Thinking becomes clear, purposeful and flexible with an ability to focus your attention.
When your mind is confused or you have a specific problem, contemplate it in meditation. In so doing, you bring both conscious and subconscious intent to bear on the subject. This deep space of wisdom will access the problem from many angles, in a non-linear fashion. Your answer may come during the meditation or perhaps the layers of insight will unfold afterwards. Often with an insight or ah-ha moment, that normal linear logic couldn’t attain.
How to meditate:
1. Engage your willingness to be opened. Your intent is an important ingredient to meditation.
2. Bring your body to a meditation cushion. In this way, you create a vortex of meditation energy that naturally pulls you inward when you prepare to sit. Consistent meditation in the same location daily creates an accumulation of shakti—the light of meditation. .
3. A correct posture supports your ability to relax. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the ground or sit on an elevated cushion with your legs crossed. In this position, make sure that your knees are lower than your hips, which helps the lower back relax. You may need two cushions to accomplish this. It is important that your spine is straight and perpendicular to the earth, no matter which sitting position you choose. This opens the central channel between the base of your spine and the top of your head, allowing the energy from creation to emptiness to move freely and merge.
4. Choose anchors that signal to all parts of you that it is time to meditate. These anchors can be incense, music, a shawl and the consistent location you choose. Your whole being prepares to sit when your senses are triggered by the scent and sound that you associate with meditation. When meditation is a daily practice, you will soon experience it turn into a habit.
There are many ways to meditate and all are intended to create that space where the mind chatter subsides and you drop into stillness. Don’t be disgruntled if your mind continues to chatter. Deepening in meditation happens as you continue to return to the focus of your attention. Below are 3 different ways you can learn to meditate. Choose one or all three and feel into what works for you.
Meditate with Breath
One direct way is to use your breath to move you into the deeper levels of your consciousness. Focus on the inhalation and exhalation of your breath. Inhale a deep breath through your nose and expand your lungs and ribcage—stop at the top of the breath for a moment, and then exhale the full breath through your nose.
The focus of your attention is the key. You will focus on your breath and then…. you will notice your mind kick in and you will lose your focus. What is important is that you keep returning to the focus of the breath. The cycle of focus and de-focus and back again is what deepens you.
Meditate with Mantra
A mantra is a seed syllable that is imbued with a vibration that resonates within your deepest consciousness. It is a a sacred syllable or set of syllables that is used as an object of attention to quiet your mind. When you focus on the silent sound of a mantra, your mind can stay alert while you drop into deeper levels of meditation or contemplation, meeting the stillness inside.
The mantra ‘So Ham’ sounds out the breath as it enters and leaves the body. Another powerful mantra is ‘Om Na Ma Shi Vai Ya’. The sounds of this mantra act like a musical instrument that strums the central energy centers of the body, illuminating their force.
Using a mantra for meditation elicits your ability to focus. As you repeat the mantra silently to yourself, you will notice your body and mind attempting to distract you. Once you notice that your attention has left the mantra, you immediately return to focus on it.
This is the way of mantra meditation.
Meditate With Conscious Relaxation
Sit with your eyes open. Let your gaze rest gently. Breathe slow and deeper than normal at a relaxed pace. Gradually slow and deepen the breath, not so much that it is a strain. Do this until you feel your body relax. Hold your attention on this feeling of relaxation.
When in a state of relaxation, with your attention resting gently on an object of perception, you are in the first stage of meditation.
The next step is to turn even more attention to the relaxed feeling and breath by releasing the outer object of attention. At his point it is often easiest to close your eyes but not necessary. In fact, it is a good practice to meditate both ways with eyes open and eyes closed.
The next deeper phase has two general pathways. Which you choose depends upon your predilection. These are the path of heart or the path of mind. Both lead to the same place and you can practice both as the mood strikes you. The path of the mind focuses on emptiness. The path of the heart focuses on fullness.
Both of these lead to the same end. They may seem paradoxical but at a certain point the mind and heart merge and the paradox resolves.
Meditation nourishes every level of your being. Mental activity lessens, emotional energy smoothes out, the physical body relaxes and your spiritual body is present to your brilliant nature. You will access creativity and inspiration will arise. An inner strength will grow and this momentum will propel you on. Your soul that longs to meditate is bathed in its deepest joy—bliss!