When it comes to meditation as one of the self-improvement techniques, people are usually divided into two categories – the ones who spontaneously started practising meditation and now cannot imagine their life without it and those who claim that they are not able to meditate, that the technique is not suitable for them and the like.
It is important to understand that meditation is a natural state of every human being and that if someone cannot meditate, it only means that they are way too much disconnected from their inner self - it means that they are too much “driven by” their mind or ratio.
Meditation is the time we spend in the silence of our thoughts. A no-thought state is undoubtedly the goal we all strive for, but meditation does not imply that state. It is important to keep the thoughts that pop into our mind while (trying to) meditate detached from ourselves. If we try to observe our thoughts as if they occurred on a TV screen, without having any emotional and rational reaction, they will bear no importance for our functioning. So, our emotional and cognitive distance from the thoughts that do exist and appear occasionally bring peace to our being that we all strive for.
Any form of dissatisfaction, suffering, sadness, jealousy, anger, anxiety and other painful emotions build up at the level of thoughts. Later, those thoughts turn into words, then actions, and then we have a tangible consequence of the products of our thoughts. That is why it is important to maintain our inner purity. Only the purity of our thoughts, words and actions will bring us eternal peace that will consolidate our being both inside and out.
How to meditate?
Silencing the mind or being detached from our thoughts is not easy. It takes practice, consistency and continuity. It takes the power of will, faith and a clear purpose. It is the path of inner change that makes events taking place.
Meditation does not necessarily involve sitting in a certain position, a set of recorded instructions that we have played and that guide us, or a specific way of breathing. Meditation means being 100 percent in the present moment. Full awareness of your actions. Whatever it is. Look at small children. They are constantly in meditation - when they play, when they have fun by themselves. Whatever you do: walk, watch the nature, do some craft-work, dance, paint, etc. - if you do these activities with full awareness, focused only to your movement, if you just observe, without taking a second to think about what is just happening, you are already meditating or contemplating intensively. If, for instance, you are taking a slow walk on a beach and collect shells, not thinking about what to do with those shells, to whom you will give them, who might like them, could you make something out of them? None of these. Nothing. Do not let your attention be diverted from what you saw. At first, the hole in the thinking process (the state of quiet thoughts) may last only a few minutes, and later it may last for hours. It is the same as if you are just sitting and listening to the sound of nature in a quiet place or the sound of waves near the water. Do not mentally engage in associations and memories of people, places or any period of your life. That will surely happen. Our mind always aims to remain in control over our whole being. It will develop various connections and associations, it will lead you to the past or the future, and you will automatically start to develop a feeling - happy or bitter memories, concerns, melancholy, even euphoria. Keep in mind that you ended the meditation state at that moment because you failed to remain attached to the present moment. Before you even realize it, all kinds of thoughts have already raced through your mind, aroused some feelings or emotions and triggered our entire system that instantly put the silence and emptiness behind. Let us never forget that peace resides in our empty inner space. Only total concentration on the sound we hear, without interference and attachment to the thoughts that will likely occur in connection with any external stimulus. Because it is often difficult to remain uninvolved in the train of thought at first, which we fail to detect when it starts to lead us, applying a technique of focusing on one’s own breathing will be very helpful. When we pay attention to our breathing, when we focus on the way air enters our body through our nose, visualizing how it descends all the way to the bottom of our abdomen, and the exhale following the same way (also through the nose), we are entirely in the present moment. There is also another option, if you are prone to visualizations and are good at them - you can focus on your breath in the following way: imagine that you breathe air (life, driving force) from the ground, from the very core of the earth. Follow your breath that enters your body through the contact point of where your body meets the ground, and goes up along the spine all the way to the top of your head, from where it leaves and goes up high into the sky. Repeat the same activity for a few minutes, or just take a few inhales and exhales that way; soon, you will see how much you expand and stabilize. The spine is the central pillar of our energy system. If we keep our attention to the spine, constantly attached to the breath, we will stay centred in such an important energy pivot. If we practice it long enough, our energy and emotions will grow strong and unbreakable. On the other hand, we will become more sensitive and subtle, we will express more compassion and care for the world around us. Our peace will spill over into the environment and the people around us.
Discipline and continuity
Like any method, this one too takes daily practice in order to acquire the habit and for our body to remember the feeling, which will soon begin to aspire to spontaneously, even when you do not “force” yourself to take this “activity”. When this routine develops into a spontaneous activity in the midst of whatever you are doing, or you just sit in the silence of your room, close your eyes and start breathing consciously, then you can count on the fact that the changes inside you have started to occur permanently, that your being got a hint of the natural state of peace. Your being was only reminded of that fundamental peace because it is the peace that prevails in your mother’s womb, at the bottom of the ocean and in space (exactly the same vibrations of peace, emptiness and fulfilment, silence and unity). That being the case, meditation has become a part of your everyday life and your way of operating throughout the day, through events that happen to you, through life. Complete presence and acceptance of the moment as it is. As soon as resistance starts, and it inevitably comes from the mind, in the form of criticism, fear, condemnation, concern, etc. you no longer balanced, you are no longer centred and you are hanging out in the wind of daily events and life circumstances.
How does meditating help us in our daily life?
Through meditation you maintain acceptance. Acceptance opens the door to peace and serenity in life. We cannot expect or attempt to avoid unpleasant situations, events, circumstances and people in life. The concept of life is not like that. Life consists of experiences that the human mind perceives as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. Keep in mind that at the level of soul, our being, that is just an experience given to us for a higher purpose, which is always progress and growth. If we refuse that, we will feel resistance and all those negative feelings. If, on the other hand, we only witness, bring awareness and accept (without rational and emotional involvement) events, situations, circumstances, people and emotions that come to us, peace will never leave us. We will become strong personalities whose strength will be reflected not in what they can go through, but in how they can go through everything that happens to them. Do not forget that we should live our lives with dignity, having all the experiences that are given to us in this body, in this life, without resistance and resentment, because they always lead to dissatisfaction and distraction. Acceptance means living every day and every moment in a day without analysing it, without valuing it and without comparing it with other people’s destinies, lives, days. Each of us lives our own fate, destiny or karma and there is no point in thinking of someone else’s. When we accept and become aware of the moment, when we do not become attached to a sensation, thought or emotion, then we meditate. Then we are in a state of peace. Then we have balanced spirit and matter, body and energy, heaven and earth that merge deep in our heart centre. Only then will our hearts be open to receive only love (primarily spreading of love; accepting love will happen automatically when we spread unconditional love), and then we will witness the grace that will only affect our system, engulfing our everyday life and the people around us.
Maintaining inner purity is just as important as maintaining external cleanliness - personal hygiene. Through meditation, we are cleaning our inner being, wash away layers of concepts and beliefs that have stirred painful emotions in us.
We adopted these concepts and beliefs while growing up, mostly unconsciously, through our upbringing, society, cultural and traditional patterns we were exposed to. Be deeply aware that none of this is ours and that none of it belongs to us. These are only social norms and social principles. These are only huge energy blockages, emotional burden, whereas in fact, the nature of our being is lightness and airiness. We are so much more than what society has adopted as morally acceptable behaviour. We are unlimited freedom and infinite potential. Meditation is our inner bath, do not forget that. Keep your inner space clean. Only in this way, your life will be easy, and you will have the strength to face it fiercely, admiring it. Your perception of life will not be pain or injustice but as a true blessing. Regardless of the circumstances and events. Because you will learn the truth of liberated existence. This is where all the beauty of existence begins.
Author: Dejana Vojnović - graduated from the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade she has been working as a foreign language teacher for ten years. She completed her psychology training in transactional analysis and at the same time became interested in a more in-depth spiritual search, which continues today. Using her own acquired knowledge and what she has experienced, she has been working as a consultant for several years.