When we hear the word meditation, it can sound foreign. It can sound like a mountain you may never reach or something only the sages know. We might stop ourselves before we even give it a try. In the western culture, meditation is a fairly new concept in the grand span of time. But it is becoming more and more prevalent and an important tool with our busy schedules. In the seemingly constant striving and moving forward toward the American Dream, we have to slow ourselves down, and turn inward in order to balance the energies. It is natural law.
Essentially, to meditate or, to be mindful, is bringing awareness to one’s mind and body. There has been a misconceived idea that meditation consists of stopping your thoughts. The mind never really stops. It is always working. That's its job. Even when we sleep. To put this pressure on yourself while you go into meditation is contradicting. You will drive yourself mad trying to stop your thoughts. This is why many people give up. It is not no-thought. Instead it is a cultivation of the mind. It is becoming the inner witness. When you start to watch your thoughts before you identify as your thoughts, you see the monkey mind is not you. And so you proceed to come into a place of non-judgement through observing your thoughts.
Sometimes we follow these trains of thought. They may lead us down a path of fantasy, or they may lead us down a path of fear. The key is observation. The idea of letting the thoughts pass through your mind as clouds in the sky. We typically react to a thought with judgement as good or bad. This then produces more thoughts leading us down old pathways. If we counter this reflexive behavior with receptivity, without judgement, just noticing how this mind works, it can be quite interesting. You may find yourself realizing these thought patterns have been conditioned for a very long time. You may say to yourself, “Oh, I didn’t know that was such a trigger for me.”
Through this new awareness, we then come to the breathe. Breathe is the key to cultivation. It is prana, the source of life. Your breathe is your anchor. You are the center of the wheel while everything is turning around you. When your breathe becomes steady, your mind also steadies. They are connected. To focus on your breathe is a key to digging into deep meditation.
To bring meditation into your daily life, you can start by just noticing your breathe. Throughout the day, if you take a moment to consciously breathe, you can come back to yourself amongst life’s challenges. Gradually it would be beneficial to create time during your day to find a comfortable yet sturdy seat where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and find your breathe. Start with 10-20 minutes. Doing this at the same time everyday will increase the pathways of your unconscious into forming a new habit of relaxation and truly being. It is a journey into the self.