So you’re new to meditation and not sure how to begin. Well it all starts with you showing up to your first meditation session. And here you are! Most likely you’re a crisis meditator or thought you weren’t doing it right, so let’s de-mystify whatever has kept you from having a flourishing practice.
Meditation is simply the progressive quieting of the fluctuations of your mind. We have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day – that’s about a thought every second. When we can quiet these fluctuations – even just a bit – by accessing the space between our actions, the space between our words, even the space between our breaths, we can awaken our most genuine self, which is pure and whole, abundant and infinite.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to change the physical structure of the brain – increasing concentration, focus, learning, memory, even special orientation, while decreasing stress, anger, anxiety, and fear. It increases self-confidence and a deeper sense of self while it expands our sense of camaraderie and unity.
So what keeps so many from the practice? They don’t know how to do it; they have an expectation that something special is supposed to happen; and when it doesn’t, they assume they are doing something wrong. Most likely, it’s even kept you from dipping your toe into meditation.
So let’s move beyond all that by starting with the most popular form of meditation – breathing. When we witness our breath, we drift away from the past and away from the future. We connect to the now – to the present moment and in that moment there is no fear, anxiety, stress, or projection. There’s no list making or regrets, no grievances, or woulda coulda shouldas. There’s no second guessing or sadness – no less than or poverty consciousness. No overwhelm…no swirl of activity. There’s just the present moment.
And it’s in that moment – that space between your thoughts – that the benefits of meditation begin to awaken. Let’s try it now and all it takes is you watching yourself breathe – actually witnessing the air as it enters your nostrils, moves through your body, and exits your nose. So let’s begin: take a long slow deep breathe in to the count of four; now hold it in for four seconds; now slowly release the breath to the count of four; and now hold that breath out for four seconds. That was 16 seconds – 16 seconds in which you were neither in the past or the future; neither in thought or fantasy. You were fully present for 16 seconds.
And that’s it! That’s meditation. How did it feel? Like all that stuff just stopped for a few moments? Imagine if you could have that stillness…that silence…that present moment awareness flowing through you on a daily basis? You can! and all it takes is your willingness to step away from the swirl of activity for just a moment.
If you can take those 16 seconds of bliss and follow your breathing for just 5 minutes at the start of your day then you will create a magnificent trajectory for everything else that happens over the course of your day.
Remember a few things. During your 16 seconds or five minutes of meditation:
1) Don’t worry about thoughts. Let them come and go. Just drift your awareness back to your breath.
2) Nothing special is supposed to happen. If it does, party on! Just keep following your breath – the benefits will unfold throughout your day.
3) Don’t fret over whether you are doing it right. As long as you are witnessing your breath, you are doing it perfectly. The only bad meditation is the one you don’t show up for.
Those few moments of quietude will lead to a more expansive, more creative, more intuitive, more compassionate, more abundant, more loving, and more fulfilling life filled with infinite possibilities.
This, of course, is in addition to all the other physical benefits that ripple through your physiology. A successful meditation is one you show up for! The magic happens afterwards – when you open your eyes and you’re back here with the rest of us. The benefit happens in every word, every thought, and every action that flows from you as you carry around a little bit of stillness and silence with a dash of pure potentiality. The benefits of meditation happen in your waking state, so don’t be looking for clues during the meditation. Just do it and your life will continue to blossom and bloom.
davidji is a certified Vedic Master, a teacher of Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, the author of the best-selling Secrets of Meditation: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace & Personal Transformation, and the creator of the award-winning guided meditation CD: Fill What is Empty; Empty What is Full. Visit davidji.com for free tools, tips, and techniques to take your practice to the next level.
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