“Meditation” is a loaded term with many different meanings. There are several forms of meditation, from mindfulness to Vipassana to Metta to transcendental and any combination of these practices.
Taking mushrooms and acid for the first time really opened up my mind drastically and I wanted to find a way to reconnect with those experiences without having to take drugs. With that being said, if you did take some drugs beforehand and you know that you have a drug test coming up at your workplace, don’t panic. By checking out sites like Alhhs.org, you’ll be able to find a potential solution that’ll hopefully keep you out of trouble.
Anyway, I began my meditation practice on January 1, 2014, as a New Year’s Resolution and I have experimented with each of the above techniques. There are many commonalities between them.
Mindfulness practice entails allowing everything to appear in consciousness – thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations, etc. – and witnessing them as a detached observer, simply someone watching whatever appears.
Vipassana meditation focuses on the breath as an anchor to remain in an ever-changing present awareness (as the breath is constantly moving whether we are conscious of it or not).
Metta meditation is also known as loving-kindness meditation and it uses certain mentally-recited phrases to send well-wishes to the self, loved ones, neutral people, hostile people and, eventually, to all beings on the planet.
Finally, transcendental meditation involves the mental recitation of a mantra over and over.
During the meditation practice, presence – an awareness of whatever sounds or feelings are arising in the moment – should be clear so that one can recognize what is happening and look within. It is important to maintain a non-judgmental attitude during the practice and simply being interested in the present experience with a responsive instead of reactive mindset.
This means that when you become lost in thoughts (especially negative ones), which is inevitable, you should return to the present moment with kindness once you realize you have drifted off instead of feeling frustrated or anxious.
When you experience emotions (especially negative ones) do not identify with them and turn into them, but instead realize that they are transient and will fade away as soon as you return to the breath, or mantra, or whatever you use as your object of meditation. Acting in this manner will allow you to break the normal cycle of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, and it can allow us to accept and even embrace our own suffering.
Personally, I practice a mixture of mindfulness and Vipassana meditation, and on days when I am particularly overwhelmed by relentless chatter in my mind, I sometimes like to repeat a mantra, alongside the inflow and outflow of the breath.
The practice that you choose is not really that important. What is important is allowing whatever arises in the mind to be as it is. Just let everything go and simply watch whatever appears. These appearances – thoughts, sensations, moods, emotions, etc. are not the real you. The fact that you can witness these things appearing implies that there is a distance between what is seen and what is seeing. Try to experience this distinction.
For me, I begin the practice sitting cross-legged with conscious posture, but it is also completely okay to sit in a chair or even to lie down (although you may fall asleep). Then, I take three deep breaths with deep inhalations and slow exhalations during which I imagine a sort of melting sensation as I release any pressure or tension in my body.
Next, I slowly scan my body from my head down to my feet and just notice the present experience in each body part. Finally, I find an anchor for my breathing (I use the rising and falling of my abdomen, but many people also use the expanding and contracting of their chest) and watch it flow inward and outward as I listen to the sounds around me and feel sensations throughout my body.
There is no special trick or secret to meditation, but I promise if you try to do it each day for anywhere between 10 – 30 minutes, you will experience the benefits firsthand.
Slowly but surely, you will begin to discover that the present moment is all that exists. Any memory can only arise in the present and any thoughts about the future occur right now.
If you want to understand yourself, you have to look at yourself now. The moment you are reading this is all that exists. Flow with the stream of your moment-to-moment awareness and watch your thoughts, desires, aversions, emotions, sensations, etc. pass by like pebbles at the bottom of the river. Just breathe.
As the author Pema Chodron wrote:
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently… We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
1. Sit comfortably, with good posture, either in a chair or cross-legged on a cushion.
2. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and notice where your body is contacting the floor.
3. Begin to feel the sensations associated with the sitting posture – the flow of energy, vibration, warmth, coolness, etc.
4. Slowly begin to become aware of your breath. Sense where you feel the sensation of breathing most effortlessly – chest, abdomen, nostrils, etc.
5. When your mind wanders (as it will), return your attention to the breath with a kind and sincere attitude.
6. When you start to notice thoughts, sensations, emotions, sounds, etc. arising in the moment, realize that these sensory appearances are arising in the field of awareness.
7. Continue in this way until you can watch whatever arises appear and fade away without effort.
8. Keep watching and keep breathing. Relax deeply into the moment and let go.