I have been interested in meditation for a long time. I don’t even remember when I first heard about meditating, but for a long time it seemed like this mysterious thing that unlocked solutions, uncovered wisdom, and had the ability to help practitioners reach their very highest potential. I was drawn to stories of mystical experiences people had through meditation. Even when mystical types of things happened to people outside of meditation, it often happened that they were regular meditators. I’ve always loved reading thought-provoking books from people like His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Parhmahansa Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda, Thich Nhat Hahn, Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield. All of these authors exude a wisdom and power that is uplifting and inspirational, and they are all serious meditators.
Books such as theirs have inspired me over the years to try meditation, in order to try to tap into what they channel in their writing. All of the books I was reading which were piquing my interest in meditation spoke about meditation itself in a roundabout way (meaning, they were not intended to be “how to meditate” books); alluding to it but not giving a lot away in the “how.” What I could glean about it was that the point was to clear the mind, ignore thoughts, be in the present moment. It seemed easy and natural, so I would sit and try it. Ultimately, it wasn’t as easy as it seemed, and I wasn’t really sure how to go about getting to the place where my mind was clear. Did it matter if I was in the lotus position? After yoga, my teachers would always have us lay down for the ending relaxation/meditation. Is lying down the way to go? Do I need to pay attention to the breath? Should I be trying to do anything in the odd moments where I was able to settle my mind down?
This ambiguity from lack of clear direction ultimately always resulted in me letting go of my meditation practice. It wasn’t until I finally had proper instruction from a proper course (courses, I should say - I have taken many to keep developing) that I was able to really sink my teeth into meditation properly and start to develop a practice I could stick with and which inspired me to keep going deeper.
It was important to me to learn the techniques, so that I felt I had direction when I sat to meditate. I knew what tools I could use to get to a state of reaching my highest self (or, at least, give myself the space to try to reach that state), and I knew how to use and intermix those tools. But there was something even more important than learning the techniques: using the techniques!
We can read all day long, day after day, books from wise souls who share the insights they’ve gained through meditation. We can read study after study about the benefits of regular meditation. We can attend class upon class to give us various meditation techniques. None of these things are going to take us within and give us the power to transform ourselves unless we actually make the time to sit down and settle into that stillness. We have to set aside those outward activities and go inward and upward, connect within ourselves, absorb our little self into our greater Self, and silently listen.
So, how do we get better at meditating? We keep doing it.
I am an Ananda® certified meditation teacher. I am passionate about meditation and embrace a yogic lifestyle for greater wellness physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
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