Many meditation beginners often ask themselves the questions: What is meditation? How do I know that I am meditating? Where should I start?
Here I would like not only to answer these questions, but also to break down some negative beliefs about meditation that may have led many to stop meditating after a short time because they felt that meditating was too difficult for them.
For people who have never meditated before, this is an invitation to start and for those who have given up, this is an invitation to resume their meditation practice.
In 8 steps, I would like to demystify some beliefs about meditation:
Meditation has shown me something important: the realisation that we are here to know ourselves and to understand that we are here to live life in full joy, in love with oneself and with others.
The meditation came to me in a difficult phase and suddenly it was as if I had a shining staircase in front of me, showing me that I could get out of it and that everything depended on me… that I could open up to life. The meditation helped me and reminded me of who I am, what I am doing here, what is real and what is not, what I love and what brings me joy. It is a process of self-knowledge.
But is meditation really that simple? There are people who want to start meditating, they come home, close their eyes and they get stressed. It is very important to realise that everything in life is learned: we had to learn to walk, to speak, to write. It is the same with the practice of meditation … You have to learn to enter into a meditative state and this process is not a waste of time … but it takes time. There are some techniques to help you calm the “monkey mind”:
Step 1: Find a place where you want to meditate.
It should be clean and you should like it. There should be as few external influences as possible that could disturb your meditation. This includes unnecessary objects and noises.
Of course you can meditate anywhere, even in your garden or in nature. However, for regular practice it is good to have a fixed place in your home.
This space will be your spa: for the body, for the mind, for the emotions, for the soul
Step 2: Don’t get into a battle with your mind.
It will be a futile battle. Meditation is the opposite of control, of judgement. The practice is an invitation to be an observer of everything that is going on inside you. To go into battle with the mind is to give it your full attention.
It is not about silencing the mind. It will not be quiet because it suits you, it is part of your nature and it also has a very important role. Observe … train to the point where your focus is elsewhere (for example your breathing), in such a way that you don’t even notice what the mind is telling you … it loses its power.
Step 3: Role of the observer
You need to train the role of the observer who does not judge and does not become attached …. The observer who does something so simple and important: he trains the position of looking at the thoughts from the outside, perceiving them and letting them go.
And in the role of the observer, there is no pre-judgment, only observation: “These repetitive thoughts are there, these emotions are there for whatever reason.” The observer only becomes aware of what is going on inside. A meditator practices looking at himself from the outside to become aware of himself. The observer does not attach, does not judge, only perceives.
Step 4: the complete absence of prejudice about the quality of your thoughts and feelings
The observer knows that it is fundamental to accept one’s true human nature, which has different emotions and different kinds of thoughts. When I train myself not to judge, I train myself to have compassion for myself, because I know it is part of it. When I train myself to accept myself as I am, I also train myself to accept the others as they are.
Step 5: Let go of expectations
It is important that we do not compare ourselves to other experiences and expectations. Let go of expectations of what must be or that you must feel peace… here we meditate in expectation of a result and when this is not achieved we are frustrated. Meditate out of love, meditate without expectations.
Step 6: Patience
In a time when many things happen immediately, we think that the results of meditation must also be immediate. We have to give time and exercise patience … Meditation is a mental workout, it’s mental gymnastics. You don’t start working out in a gym and your muscles grow from the first workout. That’s not possible. It is a constant and regular training. It is the same with meditation. It requires patience, time investment and training.
Step 7: The insights that meditation brings to life.
Inner stillness allows us to understand why something is the way it is and why something happens the way it does. Taking responsibility for what happens is also very important.
Step 8: Make a commitment to yourself
Consider meditation as the most sacred commitment you have in your agenda that you have made with yourself. Many people expect to be at their best in their relationships and at work when they don’t know how best to be with themselves, when they don’t know how to be in their own company.
You are really in meditation when you can enjoy this sacred encounter with yourself without haste and in complete presence. When I open my eyes I see the outer world, when I close my eyes I open my eyes to the inner world.