It is one of the most wonderful things you can do for yourself and those who interact with you. Even your pet (if you have one) will feel the difference in your interactions. That telemarketer who tries to sell you some useless tool in the middle of your dinner? Even he will be delighted with your answer, which may be a no, but at least you will be calm when telling him how busy you are at that moment, etc.
Meditation will bring you closer to peace (peace is already inside each one of us, we just need to be reminded), even if there is no peace around you. After a week or two practicing meditation every day for at least five minutes or so, you will start to experience results. You will be more grounded, you will know where your center is when life’s challenges come up. And you will be able to remain calm and see the situation with better clarity and objectivity even in the midst of a storm. As Thich Nhat Hanh said in his book A Lifetime of Peace when writing about being aware while doing activities, “I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.” And this is what I mean when I write about being in the middle of a storm; there could be many issues going on in your life, and having the ability to allow them to disturb you as least as possible will help you enormously with handling all the issues in an effective way.
I won’t even start to write about all the other benefits of meditation, as so much research has been done already, and you can find a lot about it on the internet or in books. I would like to focus on the meditation practice in this blog post. Usually everyone starts with a guided meditation. Someone who has experience with that activity will lead you through relaxation, and help you reach serenity, even if it lasts just for a few seconds in the beginning! I remember the first time I went through a guided relaxation when I was thirteen years old. It was a Religion class in 10th grade. After a few minutes, I dozed off, falling asleep over my desk… All of a sudden I heard people laughing, I woke up, and my classmates were laughing at me – the only one asleep in the entire class. Fortunately, that experience didn’t lead me to any fear towards the practice of relaxation. About fifteen years later, life brought opportunities to meditate again back to me, and I now consider it a blessing.
After practicing for a while (the duration is different for every person), I could stop listening to guided meditations, and do my own thing. I usually choose to sit down and close my eyes, just being still for a while. If I lie down, I will fall asleep… By paying attention to my breath, I almost instantaneously relax. And from there, I can engage on a self-inquiry to find out more about myself and start to direct my life in the way I want it to go.
About sitting or lying down, many people have trouble with that, including myself. It is not easy to be still while your mind and body tell you otherwise. Sometimes I feel ready to sit quietly, but if I know that it is the only time I have available to meditate on that day, and my body is far from still, I try to engage in an activity that will lead me to stillness; this could be dancing, singing, jogging, doing some yoga poses, etc. There are many types of active meditations, you just need to be aware while doing them so they will also count as meditation.
Next, I will write about some important aspects when practicing meditation, no matter how advanced you are, you still need to keep remembering them every time you practice.