Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What is Meditation and How to Do It

Meditation can mean different things to different people. Sitting quietly constitutes meditation for some. My husband felt for a long time that "meditation" was having the TV on and just letting his mind wander. I believe that this opinion has changed now, but having the mind wandering and chattering away is not meditation. The point of meditation is to still and quiet the mind, still the constant chatter that takes us to all the negative places we tend to dwell. When we are completely still and quiet, this gives the body a chance to relax and heal, while the mind is at peace in the stillness. But how to accomplish this seemingly impossible task?

From my own experience, meditation becomes easier the more it is practiced. At first, the mind chatters incessantly and that point of stillness never manifests. Long ago, back in the 1960s, I recall the admonition to focus entirely on one's navel. This is in order to give a focal point. But let's face it, the navel is not an entirely exciting focal point! At least, it never worked for me. 

Over time, it seemed that if one can make a particular place the "meditation place", and re-create the same type of background each time, the mind tends toward relaxing as this routine becomes known and one becomes accustomed. For some, it will be lighting a candle. For me, it was a certain type of incense I enjoyed. Smelling this incense set the tone. Very non-specific music, without much variation in tone and played very quietly, can also help. In the 1990s, I meditated daily and used a sandalwood incense (because that is what I liked) and on occasion played a cassette tape (at the time) called Santosh, by PC Davidoff. It was soothing and calming for me, and it gave me a solid 26 minutes of uninterrupted music. The other thing that is helpful is to create a safe place to go to, in the mind. 

Safe Place?

A Peaceful, Safe Place
A safe place is just a place in imagination. If you can create a space in the mind that conjures up the feeling of complete safety and relaxation, this is what is wanted. For me it was a place surrounded by high rocks and with a view of some snow-capped mountains and many trees around me. I had "tried out" many other places over the years, such as a deserted beach or a pretty herb garden, but I kept coming back to the place surrounded by rock. This safe place is totally for each individual to go to, so it is created as the perfect space, if there was such a thing, for you. Let the imagination soar here, but it is best to keep it in nature. All of these things can possibly help, and there may be other things to set the mood for meditation. None of them are absolutely necessary. I pass them along only to give some examples.

The next most important thing is to turn off phones! The last thing needed is a phone call to ruin the moment and the mood that has been created. 
A Peaceful, Safe Place

Okay, So What Else?

When one can achieve a still and peaceful mindset during meditation, then the higher self becomes more receptive. The higher self is that spirit part of us that is connected to ALL. It is in this receptive place that we become attuned to that part of us that is always peaceful and calm, always connected, and able to receive answers to most any question. Whether it comes through intuition, or an Angel or a Guide, answers are given and we can begin to allow the true self to shine through rather than the mind with its chatter, telling us other things than our highest good. 

Some people will hear things. Some people see visions. In my case, it is a little of both. I do hear answers and sometimes have conversations with my Guides. I am also a very visual person, and prefer to read a book than listen to it on CD. In this case, I am also given pictures in my head, that demonstrate a point and paint a great illustration for what must be done. I am often shown an animal and I will later look up the animal in my "Animal Speak" book, by Ted Andrews. At other times I am shown things that I have no idea what they are for, but I accept the visions and move on.

If you never see a vision or are shown an animal, this does not mean you are doing something wrong, but only that this is a completely subjective practice, and we must do what works for each one of us. When my quest began in late May of 2015, I was taken on a true adventure with a whole lot of visuals. 

In August, I began reading "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose" by Eckhart Tolle. In the latter half of the book, he wrote of being silent and setting all one's focus on the act of breathing. I tried this, right there and then, and found that if concentrating only on breathing, no extraneous thoughts could even form! This does not mean that it is an instant cure for a wandering mind, but it does truly help. Just gently bring the focus back to the breathing in and out and let go of all other thoughts. This has also turned out to be very helpful when I wake in the night and cannot sleep. If it does not always put me back to sleep, at the very least, I know my mind is peaceful while I focus on breathing.

Of late, I follow Tolle's breathing exercise to set my frame of mind and this takes me easily to a still and quiet place where my mind is relaxed and free. I hope that some of these ideas can help you to create a good meditation practice.

I have been on a spiritual journey, questing for inner peace, acceptance and non-judgment for many long years. This blog is the story of how I worked past some of the many issues. Outside of spiritual questing, I am an avid cook. Join me also at "A Harmony of Flavors" Blog, Website, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am an artist since childhood and recently began painting in acrylics.