What is Meditation, Anyway?
Have you noticed that there’s a lot of talk about meditation these days? And have you also noticed that meditation and yoga classes are offered just about everywhere you go? Why is that? Why is meditation so popular? What can meditation do for you? Is meditation really helpful? Can it help you experience inner peace?
To answer these questions:
- Meditation is an extremely effective, simple and potent means to quiet the mind and attain inner peace.
Have You Ever Tried to Meditate?
Despite the widespread availability of meditation instruction, classes, workshops, books, audio recordings and more, there are quite a number of aspiring meditators who remain pretty confused about the subject. Many times when discussing this with students, their responses sound quite similar, “Well, I tried to do it, but I just couldn’t.”
The reasons why meditation appears to be complicated to many individuals are, ironically, the very reason why they need to meditate:
- Many people tend to make meditation complicated, when in fact, it’s just the opposite – it’s simple.
- Many are under the false impression that they didn’t meditate correctly, when, in actuality, they did.
- Many think that if they didn’t experience perfect quiet the first or second time they meditated, that they did it wrong. This is entirely untrue.
So What is Meditation, Really?
Meditation is the practice of sitting quietly and watching the thoughts of the mind. The mind has a tendency to chatter non-stop. Almost without exception, everyone has a very noisy mind. It is estimated that the mind thinks more than 25,000 thoughts per day. It goes on and on and on about everything.
No matter how hard you try to stop the mind from thinking, quiet simply cannot be forced. Meditation is not the practice of trying to force the mind to quiet down. Meditation is the process of simply letting the mind be, letting it think, letting it do whatever it does. It is from this inner posture that the mind will eventually become quiet. If you try to force it to be quiet, you are only making more noise. If you let it express, and just watch the thoughts, eventually it will get quiet – on its own. It’s paradoxical.
What is the Difference Between Meditation and Hatha Yoga?
Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind and is usually practiced in a sitting or lying position. Hatha yoga consists of physical postures that strengthens the body and helps the mind become focused. Both meditation and hatha yoga serve the purpose of quieting the mind, if practiced correctly.
In the truest sense of the word, meditation occurs when the mind becomes one-pointed and focused. This may happen during formal meditation, hatha yoga, baking a cake, practicing the violin, throwing a baseball, driving, studying, swimming in a race, concentrating on your breathing, or tying your shoes.
The sage Patanjali, who is known as the father of meditation, explains it this way:
- “Yoga is the cessation of the movements of the mind...”
A Brief Meditation Lesson
- Sit quietly, close your eyes.
- Inhale and exhale twice, without straining.
- Now just breathe naturally.
- Simply be aware of your thoughts, if you have any. Just “let them be.” Watch them without trying to stop them or slow them down. Watch them without judging them.
- Sit quietly in this way for 10 or 15 minutes, whatever is comfortable for you.
- Gently open your eyes.
- Congratulations. You have just meditated.
- Meditate once, twice or three times a day.