Why meditation is the new medicine of today
More than ever before we find ourselves estranged from nature and ourselves. With the advent of the internet we have found ourselves in an ever more enticing world that beckons to us every hour of the day. No longer are we able to step away from technology, instead we receive a relentless number of alerts that call our attention. In our ever evolving world dominated by artificial intelligence, it is becoming essential that we intentionally create space for ourselves and our own well being.
Meditation is a great tool for creating not only space for ourselves in our daily lives, but also for allowing us to understand more deeply our relationship to ourselves and others. The world has as many forms of meditation as there are apps on the apple store, however I always recommend to begin with a basic, simple practice that provides the cornerstone to other techniques of practice. The key I find to cultivating a sitting practice is to become aware of the deep state of stillness, both internally and externally. Many other forms of practice know that the mind is restless and so seek to entertain during sitting practice, unfortunately however when the mind is present and engaging during our practice we cannot cultivate a state of wisdom, wisdom is only born from states of deep stillness. Below is a basic technique to get you started. Begin slow, 5-10 minutes a day and work up to 30 minutes. Be gentle on yourself.
Meditation can be practiced either sitting, standing or walking. In the beginning its good to start by sitting in a natural posture. Once you become more comfortable in sitting meditation you can then integrate it into every aspect of your life.
Step 1 : Silence your cell phone
Step 2 : Find a comfortable place to sit
It can be indoor, outdoor, crosslegged or on a chair. The primary thing to do is find a place you can sit with your spine erect, but relaxed. When we slouch the mind becomes lazy and we lack a state of alertness. If were not alert it's difficult to practice when we first begin.
Step 3: Close your eyes
At first we close our eyes, this allows the energy that we are constantly projecting outward to come back in. We allow the external phenomena to fade away and we move I presence inwardly.
Step 4 : Finding the breath
Our breath is always with us, wherever we go. The first step of practicing is simply to notice it. Now, there are several locations where one can find the breath, but the one I like most is by breathing deeply and naturally into the lower abdomen. At first when we bring our attention to the breath, it may change, we may force it to become larger then it already is. Simply recognize that and let it go. Feel the sensation of expansion and contraction associated with breathing.
Step 5 : Now just be
Watch the breath as it moves in and out on the abdomen. If the mind becomes entertained with a vision, a story or a sensation, simply bring it back to the breath. Sometimes we will finish our sitting practice and realize that we drifted away into a fantasy the entire time. Be gentle on yourself, laugh, smile, try again. Meditation takes a lot of practice. Our entire lives are built upon the exact opposite foundation to that of our practice, so it takes time to truly cultivate stillness within.
Step 6 : Coming back
When you complete your time sitting, slowly open the eyes, take in the environment you are in. Feel the stillness surrounding you, even in noice there is silence and calmness. This allows us to integrate our experience into our daily lives. If we open our eyes, jump up and get busy doing something, we don't allow the practice to seep into our lives. This is one of the most crucial points of our practice. Even if we drifted in thoughts, and visions the entire time, when we open our eyes we become aware of it. We have presence.
Meditation is best cultivated at the same time everyday to build a routine and habit the reaffirms our practice. And remember, be gentle on yourself. Always. Loving oneself can be the most difficult of things to practice.