These are some of the building blocks of how to meditate and how to get started with our own meditation practise.
Simplicity and experience
Meditation is inherently simple. When we meditate well, we feel we are doing something natural, spontaneous and joyful. We can read many books about meditation, but to really know what it is – we have to practise and experience meditation for ourselves. The art of meditation is not a complicated or intellectual subject, but something we try to experience inwardly.
The first step in meditation is to improve our concentration. This is the ability to be aware and focused on only one thing at a time. When we concentrate we put all our attention into the smallest object and exclude everything else. Often in daily life, we get easily distracted; the mind flits from one subject to another. But, when starting meditation we try to keep our attention closely focused. As soon as our mind wanders, we need to bring it back on the object of our concentration. Feel like you are a charioteer, whenever the horse (your mind) veers off course, you must use the reins to keep it going in the right direction. (more…)
One of the challenges in developing a regular meditation practise is finding the actual time to meditate. We have 24 hours at our disposal, but finding 20 minutes for quiet reflection can be surprisingly difficult! However, to give ourselves the best chance in getting the most out of meditation, we need to cultivate a regular daily practise. As we get into a daily routine of meditation, it becomes much easier to find time. We start to enjoy meditation so much, we want to do it before anything else; but in the beginning we need to make quite an effort to make sure we can always find 15 minutes in the day.
To find time for meditation, these are a few tips that we might consider.
Give it a high priority. The most important thing is to give meditation a priority in our life. If we feel the importance of meditation, then we will make sure we find the time to meditate. It is like anything in life, what we value, we give ourselves time for.
Set a weeks challenge. It is very helpful to set targets. For example, we could set ourselves a challenge to meditate for 20 minutes everyday for a week. This target is quite achievable and not too daunting. After we have managed it for one week, it will be easier to make it a second week. Then we can set ourself the challenge to meditate for a month, and see how different we feel at the end.
Don’t give up. Don’t be discouraged if you find meditation difficult. One of the biggest problems beginners face is that meditation is often more difficult than we would like. We sit down with the best intentions to keep the mind calm, but it isn’t as co-operative as we would like. However, even if we don’t feel we are doing a particularly good meditation, we should remember we are still getting a great benefit from it. Sometimes, we need to put in quite a few hours of practise, before we can take it to the next level. Sri Chinmoy suggests for absolute beginners to meditation, it is useful to get in the habit of simply sitting still for a few minutes a day. We shouldn’t expect too much in the beginning. Our capacity will increase the more we meditate. (more…)
In recent years meditation has become much more popular in the west. People from all walks of life have been trying meditation to find a greater sense of peace and learn to switch off the pressures of daily life. People may try meditation for quite a few different reasons, but these are a few of the benefits you might get from meditation.
Keeping things in perspective
In the hectic hustle and bustle of life, it is easy to let things get out of perspective. We can become constantly pressured by demands and deadlines. However, if we take time to meditate, we learn that our world doesn’t collapse around us if we take 15 minutes out of our day for quiet reflection. In fact, with a good meditation, our problems will seem less pressing and demanding. No matter how busy we are, it is always worth finding 20 minutes to find time for our own meditation.
Modern life can make us increasingly distracted, and reduce our attention span. It seems like we are always trying to do several things at once, but not really doing anything well. Meditation teaches us the very important capacity of concentration. Concentration means developing the ability to focus on one thing at a time. This capacity to concentrate will help us in all aspects of life; ff we can focus on only one thing at a time, then we will be much more effective in a variety of tasks.
Practical stress relief
When we meditate we can substantially relieve the stress and tension we may have in our daily life. Unburdened of our thoughts, we feel a greater sense of freedom. From a practical perspective, this ability to let go of stress can help our physical and mental health. Quite a few studies have shown the link between a peaceful mind and a healthy body. If we carry stress around in our mind, we can be more prone to some physical ailments. This ability to de-stress both mind and body is a great benefit of meditation.
Learn to switch off from our thoughts
Sometimes our thoughts are our own worst enemy. If a train of negative thoughts gets into our mind, we can become depressed or unnecessarily worried. Meditation teaches us that we can detach from negative thoughts and emotions. This improved control and focus of our mind is a real secret of developing happiness.
Meditation is a simple exercise where we try to quieten the mind and enter into a more peaceful and illumining consciousness.
If you have never meditated before, you might wonder what will happen in meditation. At first, not much may happen at all! But, even if you find meditation a little difficult, hopefully you will feel a new sense of happiness. As you progress in meditation, you will feel a deeper sense of peace and happiness.
Stages of meditation
Firstly, you just become aware of what it’s like to sit in outer silence. We try to keep the body as still and calm as we can; we try to forget all about our usual worries and concerns, but focus on a particular meditation exercise.
At our first attempts, we may be surprised at how persistent the mind is. Even though we are trying to keep the mind quiet and blank, thoughts still appear. Some people comment that they never realised how many useless thoughts their mind could produce in a short space of time!
After some preparation and letting go of the first thoughts that come into the mind, we may see that our mind is slowing down. We become aware that there is more to us than our surface consciousness. It is when we can distance ourselves from our own thoughts that we feel a sense of peace and well-being.
In one sense meditation is a retreat from the world. We close our eyes, sit still and try to escape from the thoughts of the mind. In real meditation, we can experience a tranquillity and peace that is usually lacking in our everyday life. This moment of silent reflection and inner peace is a wonderful way to start the day. If we can experience even five minutes of peace first thing in the morning, it will positively affect the rest of the day for the better.
These moments of meditation, where we retreat to a quiet corner to consciously still the mind are an essential part of any spiritual life. But, we can’t spend all day in meditation. Even half an hour of meditation a day can prove quite a challenge! But, we can still try to incorporate many of the principles of meditation in our other daily activities. These are four tips on how we can try to incorporate the principles of meditation into everyday life.
1. Concentration. The first building block of meditation is the art of concentration. In concentration we try to focus on one thing to the exclusion of all else. If we can concentrate, we become one-pointed and absorbed in our focus. In meditation, we may practise concentration by focusing on a candle. In our everyday life, this practise of meditation can be applied to a range of different tasks. When I was a student, I used to find it hard to concentrate on writing an essay, I’d soon end up staring out of the library window. But, when I took up meditation, I found the concentration I developed in meditation could also be applied to these other aspects of life. When we work, we can see it is a form of meditation. All we need to do is to be very mindful and one-pointed in our work. When we learn to work with care, precision and one-pointedness – it makes work more enjoyable and satisfying. (more…)
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Our meditation classes are inspired by meditation Master, Sri Chinmoy