Sit Still. Today you do a lot of sitting throughout your day, but how much of it is in stillness? How often are you present, thoughtless, as you go through your daily actions? How still is your mind when you wash the dishes? When you brush your teeth? As the rate of information and communication and delivery speeds up around us, we must be conscious to keep our own pace in check. We must manage our minds and prevent ourselves from overwhelm. Meditation is the ultimate prescription for a racing mind.
Developing your own mediation practice may seem confusing. If it’s all about nothingness, then what exactly is it? How do I get there?
Before all else, you’ll need to establish a strong motivation. If you are not completely sure why you should meditate, I would advise you to do some personal research and read some inspiring books about this practice. In the end, your intention is as important as meditation itself. Beyond what I have read in scientific research (proving that meditation is good for you), in the beginning what really convinced me is that no one who seriously practices meditation ever regrets it. The proof is in the pudding; just ask those who are eating regularly.
Once you’ve decided it’s something you’re in for, you simply have to practice. This means even when it doesn’t seem to be working, returning again, and diligently sitting. Soon enough it will come. Meditation is a lot about letting go—letting go of thoughts, letting go of what you think you know, letting go of attachments that keep you from being free and happy. With that in mind, go ahead now and let go of whatever you expect your meditation to be. Every day, meet your meditation practice with a beginner’s mind, expecting nothing and appreciating what comes.
You will be wise to explore all the traditional ways of meditation like body or breath awareness, using mantra and mandala, visualization, and eventually combining all of the above methods together. They definitely are the most efficient ways of meditation because they have effects beyond just stilling the mind, yet beginners may find it easier to get started with another approach.
Here are 7 alternatives to get you closer to a strong meditation practice:
- Move before stillness:
Just deciding to sit may not be the best, especially if your body is stiff or tired. Your body may need some warm up, something to start the energy flowing, something to wake up all the parts that are going to say still during your sitting. You can try a variety of movements from simple stretching, to dance, t’ai chi or yoga asana. Preferably make slow and conscious movements, without raising your heart rate too high. Always finish by moving the neck and the head, so energy flows up to the higher energetic centers.
- Empty the mind first:
Ideally, you would like to reach your sitting spot with an empty mind (early morning is best for that reason,before e-alerts start blinging in and outside demands influence your day). When your mind is running a relay race between all the things you have to do and the handful of creative ideas that you do not want to lose, then you may be better writing down all your thoughts before sitting. One rule though: be short and concise. The point is not to procrastinate.
- Play some music:
Your choice of music is key (check our free download music meditation). The right music with the right focus can bring deep meditative states and promote sublimation of energy. Be aware and monitor your own use of music, making sure you do let not this become an addiction in your meditation. Use the music to feel what surfaces in your body, rather than listening for entertainment. Music of a high vibration lifts you up and allows you to deal with your emotions efficiently. (For more on dealing with emotions read here.
- Be active with an empty mind:
If you are a very active person, stillness may be a challenge, in which case it is better to be active with an empty mind. Run, swim, go to ecstatic dance, climb a rock. Any activity that empties your mind may be better than sitting with your mind full of thoughts and frustrations. At the end of your favorite “mind-emptying” activity, sit for a while—this is the important part. Rather than running from one activity to the next, the key is to explore the inner space you have created with your emptiness activity.
- Learn to sublimate sexual energy:
Sleepiness, hunger and sexual desire are the most common challenges in meditation. Learn to sublimate your sexual energy by attending one of our trainings. This skill makes meditation super-charged and will also transform your sexual life. Your partner will thank you!
- Deal with conflict:
If your life is full of eruptive relational stress, it may be better to resolve these conflicts before attempting to explore your inner emptiness. Similar to a smoker who wants to run, in the beginning, you may experience a tension in your meditation if you bring unaddressed conflicts to the cushion. If you sit in mediation and are overwhelmed by your conflict, you aren’t meditating. Take some centering breaths and deal with your conflict. Meditation is not a quick disappearing trick for your problems, it is a training ground in equanimity that we bring beyond the cushion into our daily lives.
If you are so inclined, praying is a great option. There is an intelligence beyond the mind. A prayer is like knocking at the door of this intelligence and asking for help. Be assured that your prayer will be answered, though not always with the answer of your choosing. Ultimately, prayer is a whole lot of talking and asking; whereas, meditation is listening for the answer.
It is important that we cultivate that silent space to hear the answers laid upon our hearts, the answers of our deepest inner knowing. If we can live from choices made out of this knowing, we have the opportunity to give up doubt, fear and worry. Meditation helps us get to the point of living fully in the present, in the unknowing of exactly what is to come, with the realisation that whatever it is will be the best thing we could receive for our greatest unfolding.