Since the 1990’s meditation has sky rocketed in popularity because of all the benefits that are now arising through scientific studies and the spiritual revolution now taking place. This is the first of a three-part blog series to learn many different types of meditation so you can expand your practice.
The best place to start is with authentic meditation from the Buddhist monk or priest. The first documentation of meditation was from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism in India at the time of 1500 BC. The original form of meditation was called Zazen, which means “sitting” in the lotus position. While in Zazen, it was the state of Dhyana (meditation) that they used to achieve Samatha (tranquility) or Vipassana (insight). It was said that one needed to achieve Samatha first and then Vipassana would follow. The purpose for this type of meditation is to first still the mind and obtain a neutral state (tranquility), and then wisdom and insight will follow. Letting go of ALL thoughts would put you in a non-judgmental, neutral state of mind, so you could then break free and “wake up” to enlightenment.
Now that we had a small history lesson and have an idea of what we are going to try and achieve, let’s get down to some real authentic meditation! Our lesson stated that we need to clear the mind and this means to try and empty it of all thoughts. Don’t feel intimidated by this, because you will learn the tricks of how a Buddhist monk achieves this state of “no thought” while in meditation. This will obviously take practice and patience, but the rewards can be so refreshing. I strongly feel this meditation is MOST beneficial when trying to achieve mental clarity and higher levels of intuition or insight.
The following are steps to experience an authentic Buddhist meditation:
1) We will start with a 5-minute meditation so you can ease into the process. You can increase the time as you feel more comfortable. Please use some form of timer for this, because you cannot be distracted by “time” as the goal is to be in “no thought”. Remove yourself from all distractions.
2) Sit in the traditional yogic position, or in a chair with your bare feet flat on the ground.
3) Spine is straight and shoulders are slightly dropped with your head straight forward. You can close your eyes or leave them slightly open for a point of focus. Each hand can lay gently on each leg or any mudra position for the hands will do.
4) Always begin with slowing the breath to achieve an “alpha” relaxed state. Take a deep breath in and hold it for just a few seconds, then empty the lungs fully by pressing into your belly and hold at the bottom for just a few seconds. Do this at least three times or when you start to feel very relaxed.
5) Start to gravitate back to your normal breath and settle in by focusing on only the sensations of your breath. Without thinking, just simply feel the air in your nose, or feel it filling your lungs or passing through your throat. Say to yourself “in” when breathing in, and say to yourself “out” when breathing out.
6) The idea is that you have a point of focus that is “neutral” (your breath) without thoughts. You want to only FEEL the breath without thinking or judging the process. By saying to yourself “in” and “out”, this helps you to not think or have judgment. Stay with this as long as possible.
7) As soon as you begin to have a “thought”, it is important that you simply go back to the process of feeling “breath”. Do NOT judge yourself for having stray thoughts, and do not analyze the process because this is all thinking! This pattern will repeat though-out your meditation so you very simply go back to feeling the breath without thought. Don’t get frustrated because this is a process of training your mind to not think. The act of going into “thought”, recognizing this and correcting this by then going back to “no thought” without judgment, is original meditation performed by the Buddhist monks and priests. “Quiet the mind and the soul will speak” -Buddha
There are many reactions to this meditation and some say it is very difficult. In my opinion this form of meditation is always helpful and beneficial because it’s what our mind craves. It takes us back to the days of “simple” when our mind was comfortable “not doing”. This is TRAINING your mind to clear the clutter. Over time it will feel refreshing, and it can open up a sense of insight to our soul purpose. There are many times going back to the “old” way is the better way, and depending on your meditation goals, this could certainly be the case.
The next two blogs in this three part series will give you more popular types of meditation so you can add many flavors to your meditation practice.