Meditation is a very personal thing. There is only one rule in meditation: there is no right way.
Generally, when one starts to meditate a critical inner voice tells you that you are doing it wrong, that it’s not “working” or that nothing is happening. This is quite common and that’s why many people start meditating and then give up almost immediately. Everyone, not just those prone to anxiety and panic, can get something from meditation, or learn something about themselves. For that reason I have decided to post a short description of how I meditate.
Before I do that I want to say that I have tried various forms of meditation normally with the goal of “curing” anxiety. Also, I learnt mainly from various books and CD’s and not from great masters, although if you have one available this might better! I want to make this clear now because how I meditate may not be how they meditate, and no doubt you will develop your own practice.
Firstly let me say something about posture. Most of the books, CD’s, Yogi Masters etc normally have you sitting or kneeling with an erect posture. This is great, it can also be very uncomfortable. Personally I like to start in the “correct” posture, but am also kind enough to myself to allow myself to use postures which I find more comfortable. Quite a lot of my mindfulness is done while I am lying in bed, on my side, on my back or on my front, positions that many meditators would pull their hair out at!
I start to meditate just by watching my breath. As outlined by Jon Kabat-Zinn in one of his many excellent books on the subject, I watch my breath at the point where air enters and leaves my mouth, and in my stomach. I watch and listen to the sensations and sounds.
I don’t concentrate
I don’t concentrate on these things, I watch them and listen to them because the idea is to get in touch with what’s happening at that moment, in that moment. Not in the past or in the future. As soon as there is an element of “must”, “I must concentrate”, an obsession, I find myself outside the moment, in the past or in the future, listening to the endless conversation going on in my mind.
My watching and listening dispassionately, without judgement, completely accepting what my breathing is doing, I am in the moment.
The mind will talk
The mind’s personal conversation with itself is never ending. The mind thinks, that is what it does, there is nothing wrong with that. And you will consciously listen, there is nothing wrong with that either. It is often tempting (maybe natural?) to react to our minds words, to entertain them, repeat them over and over again, to slow them down and play out fantasies, to get lost in our thoughts. This can at times be highly pleasurable and also frightening, depressing and a host of other feelings, depending on what our mind is thinking about.
Let the mind talk
Let the mind talk, which is a bit like saying let it rain. The mind will talk and the rain will fall. Why waste energy trying to stop them? Instead, let the mind be, just gently draw your attention back to your breath. It doesn’t matter that some time, seconds, minutes or hours have passed by while you have moved from meditating to daydreaming. You haven’t failed or done anything wrong. But if your mind tells you you have done something wrong, let it say that, and take your attention back to the breath.
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