Learning to meditate …
Meditation is defined as quietening our body, breath, mind, intellect and self, into a state of stillness.
OK, but how exactly do we quieten all of those at the same time? Some doubting souls might ask.
And the question is a good one. The average person has about 48.6 thoughts per minute (which adds up to a whopping total of 70,000 thoughts per day). So it’s no easy task to quieten the human mind, body and brain in order to relax into a state of complete stillness.
But it is possible.
And it generally helps to practice a bit of yoga before we try meditation.
Doing some yoga (to open & stretch the body) along with some deep yoga breathing, helps to relax us in a way that makes it easier for us to slip into that quiet place inside. Because when the body and breath are relaxed, then the mind and the intellect start to relax too.
Now, “start” was the operative word in that last sentence.
Because you can take it from me that we all have distracting thoughts amidst the stillness. It’s a mammoth challenge to still our busy human minds. And when we first begin the journey of meditation we all have random thoughts, like … Am I doing this right? What if I’m not doing this right? Do I look foolish right now? Am I sitting up straight? Are my shoulders slouching? We might even start to think about what we are going to eat after meditation, or how we are going to get all that work done in one day, or why our children can’t seem put their own socks in the wash basket.
But those are just distractions. With practice, we learn to let these kinds of thoughts go, one at a time, and retreat back into the stillness. And even if we only remain in the stillness for 30 seconds to begin with, during those 30 seconds, while we are thinking about ‘no thing’, we can experience a feeling of true peace from within.
And then, just when we feel nice and quiet, we might start to think about our children’s socks again. Or the work list we have to get through that day. Or … Well you get the gist. Our mind is a busy place and it is a challenge to quieten it down.
No need to feel defeated, however. Because it is from this short experience of stillness that we learn to progress more and more into meditation. By learning to prolong it, by letting go of one thought at a time, we increase our space in the quiet place bit, by bit, by bit.
Until one day, we find we have been still and meditating for a whole five minutes without a thought.
And it is through this beautiful, prolonged detachment from the 48.6 thoughts going through our minds per minute that we step back from the ‘outward’ world and accept ourselves for who we are, flaws and all. It is here, in this space, that we realise all we really have to do in order to be happy is to stay calm and roll with the punches, because life is never 'perfect' and will always be full of ups and downs.
The added bonus is that this relaxed state of mind through meditation tends to stay with us long after we have left the stillness, and it can have profound implications on our day, and our life in general.
So the next time you see an advert for that meditation class in your area, or flick past the meditation app on your phone, have another think about it before scoffing. You never know, you might actually enjoy the stillness.
Have yourself a great day :)