Meditation it seems, is “all the rage” these days. Being a spiritual practitioner myself here in New York City, it both delights and concerns me to see meditation depicted as a trendy pastime for over-stressed, over-stimulated, over-achieving New Yorkers. Trendy pastimes aside though, everyone will unanimously agree that there is a real need in our modern society for us to learn to slow down, relax, de-stress, breathe, get centered in our bodies and control our minds.
Many people subscribe to the common modalities of meditation found through spiritual centers, ashrams, meditation workshops, satsungs, yoga classes, spiritual philosophy (Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc.) and energy healing groups. These are all wonderful places to both learn and maintain a meditation practice. But for some beginning students, meditation in a group setting can be somewhat intimidating and the techniques might seem a bit unconventional. But that’s ok, because once learned, a meditation practice is a practice that is highly personal and represents a very special relationship between the meditator and their higher self – so it is best done on your own and on your own terms.
So how can we implement a personal meditation practice that will be right for us? Start with BASICS. Understand that meditation is a form of applying consciousness to your mind. Sitting still and controlling the mind teaches us that we are in control of our thoughts and what we choose to focus on. We learn to exert control over the mind and not allow our mind to run us in circles. In Sanskrit we say, Yogash Chitta Vritti Nirodhah – “yoga (meditation) is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” So in essence, meditation is learning to be conscious of the thoughts your mind is thinking and to recognise that you are NOT those thoughts but the person who is thinking those thoughts.
Why is this important? Because if meditation is a form of applying consciousness to your mind, it really means that it is a form of applying consciousness to your life and the thoughts you have everyday. So ultimately the secret to meditation is to BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR LIFE EVERYDAY in every moment you have. This is meditation.
The most basic form of meditation one can practice is to practice control over your mind in every moment and to apply a degree of consciousness over those moments… so being intensely present when someone is speaking – noticing what they are wearing and what they are saying and how they are saying it. Then exercising control over your mind when you respond to them – what are you saying – how are you saying it – how are they reacting to your words? This intense consciousness forces you to be in the moment of your life so you do not miss any of it and so that you learn to see patterns you might not necessarily catch if you were unconsciously living through that same moment. Focusing your mind helps you to take advantage of opportunities you might miss if you weren’t consciously focusing your mind. This is meditation.
You can decide whether you are going to allow your thoughts to rule your day – if there are negative thoughts, then choose to think the opposite – Vitarka Badhane Pratipaksha Bhavanam – is a Sanskrit sutra that says, “when disturbed by disturbing thoughts, stop and think the opposite.” This is an example of meditation in action. In other words, if your thoughts are creating anxiety, panic or pain for you, recognise that you are in control of those thoughts and consciously decide to change them for yourself. This is meditation.
When you are consciously living in the moment through this consciousness practice, time slows down and it expands for you – so what might only be 15 minutes could very possibly feel like a full hour because you are so present. So when feeling time-impoverished, it is best to focus the mind in the present moment. You will immediately feel more relaxed, more calm and more grounded, less rushed and frenzied. This is meditation.
So don’t think that meditation is only about sitting and closing your eyes. It is much greater than that. It’s sole purpose is to focus consciousness over your mind and your thoughts and not allow those thoughts to take over your existence. It is about empowering yourself to know that if you are conscious over your life, you can always transform those thoughts if they are not serving you in that moment.
Do you want to meditate? Start by applying a degree of consciousness to your own life – own your behaviours – make change where you need to – be a good listener – and know that you are the only one who can make your life great or who can destroy it for yourself. It’s your life, you are always in control. And by practicing everyday meditation, you are consciously helping yourself maintain that control throughout your life. There isn’t any other way to live.
Author Bio – Based in New York City, Donnalynn is a Certified Intuitive Life Coach, Holistic Nutritionist, Yoga Teacher, Inspirational Blogger (etherealwellness.wordpress.com), Speaker and Author of “Life Lessons, Everything You Ever Wished You Had Learned in Kindergarten.” Her website is ethereal-wellness.com.