Sometimes I have conversations with my friends and others about meditation, and the powerful benefits that it brings.
For me, it is a way to connect and tap into a deep bedrock source of tranquility, well-being, clear guidance and happiness. Mediation also helps me receive clarity regarding a question or decision I need to make, or an idea I need clarity about.
I have been meditating (on and off) since 1988, when I first discovered meditation during a trip to Colorado during a college Christmas vacation.
At the time, I was feeling profoundly unhappy, and didn’t know why or how to change how I was feeling.
So, as often happens when someone feels unhappy, I began to search for clarity and happiness.
That was my first trip to Colorado, and I found it to be a bright effervencent place, and hope started to flower within me.
My friend took me to a spiritual bookstore, and I was exposed to a variety of different ideas, including Spiritual Yoga and meditation. I discovered a book called “How to Meditate” by Lawrence LeShan, which gives a good practical guide to different forms of meditation from various religious and spiritual traditions, including Christian meditation.
I believe that the technique of meditation is fairly basic and easy to understand, but like balancing on one foot or playing the guitar, but it takes practice and discipline, one day at a time, to receive the most benefit and to truly understand what medition is.
It is like an orange: someone can tell you what an orange is by descibing it to you with words (it is the color orange, round, tastes sweet and tangy, etc.), but that you can’t truly understand it unless you taste it and experience it for yourself.
Here are the basic steps of how I meditate:
1) I sit comfortably with my eyes closed. It is good to wear loose-fitting clothes, so that you feel as comfortable as possible. You can sit on the floor, or in a chair, but try to avoid laying down because it will remind you of sleeping and you might doze off .
2) My personal technique (which is practiced by some meditation practitioners) is that I touch my thumb and middle finger together, but that is not necessary. The touching of the thumb and finger act as a physiological trigger that more easily brings about a meditative state (like Pavlov’s dogs that start to drool when a bell is rung, because Pavlov successfully associated the ringing of a bell with tasty food – that is, food that a dog finds tasty).
3) Put your attention on one thing. This is often called “one-pointedness. The Dalai Lama and others will tell you that meditation essentially is putting your awareness or attention to one thing, so that you receive deeper and more profound insight of that one thing. That one object of meditation can be an image in your mind’s eye, one word or phrase that you repeat in the quiet of your mind, paying attention to a physical point in your body like the observation of your breathing. The object of your meditation can also be an idea, thought or “problem” that you want to receive greater understanding of. Some people verbally chant a word or phrase, or peform a meditative dance, or even put their attention on a candle or their physical body while they are walking. But, for beginners, it is often recommeded that you meditate with your eyes closed, and choose an object of meditation that feels right to you.
4) When you notice that your attention has wondered from the object of your meditation (for example, you start thinking about the bills that you have to pay, or a noise that you hear outside of your window, or your phone starts to ring ), then gently bring your attention back to the object of meditation that chose.
5) Repeat steps 3 and 4.
Soon, you will find that you are traveling deeper into your consciousness, spirit or mind, and that you begin to have more control of your mind, rather than your unrestrained mind, thoughts and emotions having control over you.
In recent years, the object of meditation for me has been a place very deep within my consciousness.
During the past 3 months, I have felt drawn to direct my awareness to my “heart center,” i.e. in the center of my chest at the same level of my heart. In this way, I am made aware of how my heart feels, and whether my heart feels warm and open.
When I first started meditating, I placed my awareness on my breath, and just was aware of my breath moving in and out.
There are moments in my meditation when I receive profound wisdom and clarity about my life, or peace and tranquility when I have felt a stress or worry.
It acts as a compass or gyroscope that keeps me on my highest path, and towards my goal of serving Humanity and others in the best possible way.
“Dalai Lama Renaissance”