A very simple view on meditation

The practice of meditation in the Yoga tradition is more than sitting in lotus pose to ‘not think about anything’. It is a process that requires constant practice even -or better said especially – when we are not sitting in silence (no need to sit in lotus pose by the way).

Like in all paths of Yoga, the purpose of meditation is to help us come closer and closer to the core of who we really are, and to achieve this, the attitude we have towards our practical life needs to gradually help us cultivate a quieter, calmer state of mind. If our mind is all over the place 24/7, it is very unlikely that we will be able to sit and meditate in silence for some minutes. So it is like a circle, the practice of siting in silence with yourself teaches you to slow down, to calm down the body and the mind, at the same time as applying some basic principles to your everyday life will also help you cultivate this calmer and more harmonious state of mind that in turn will help you in your meditation practice.

This said, the best is to start somewhere, and using apps such as Head Space or Insight Timer can be a good tool to help you establish a regular practice. Both apps offer guided meditations in different styles and with different lengths that can vary from 1 minute to up to one hour or more. Spend some time exploring the different guided meditations they have and either pick a course (a set of guided meditations with a specific topic or purpose) or a couple of meditations that you like, and stick to them. You will need to try quite a few since the voice, pace and music/no music need to be suitable for you.

I recommend that you try avoiding jumping from one guided meditation to another because if you do so, all you are doing is serving your mind with some sort of ‘entertainment’.

I have tried guided meditations using these two apps, and I like using them mostly to take a break during the day, especially when I am tired, like for example those under the categories of Yoga Nidra or Body Scan, but when I want to slow down, to be with my mind, I prefer to sit down in silence and only use the timer from Insight Timer. I usually start with some simple breathing exercises, and then I sit down and focus my attention on my breath. Most of the time I start thinking about what has happened, what will happen, or what should happen, and when I notice this, I move my attention back to my breath. It is like a dance, and so we dance, my mind and I. No judgement, no pushing, just patiently observing.

Whether you choose to use a guided meditation or try sitting in silence, the very first thing you need to do is to convince your mind that you do have the time to sit down every day for at least three minutes, in a quiet space and spend some time on your own. Once you get so far, you need to have the patience and discipline to stay. Thoughts will come and go, especially thoughts about what you should be doing instead of sitting here and doing nothing. This doesn’t mean that you can’t meditate. On the contrary, it is part of the process. So just observe your thoughts come and go, let your mind tell you whatever it wants to tell you, but sit until the timer rings. With practice, it will get easier.

In this kind of practice, as with anything else you engage in, you need to have it very clear for you what it is that you want, what your motivation is. If your motivation is ‘just’ to relax and take a break from everyday life, I then think you can use any of the mentioned apps or you can also find quite a few guided meditations on YouTube. If, on the other hand, you want to cultivate a lasting calmer state of mind, you will need to do a slightly harder work and learn to sit in silence with yourself , and seek for some guidance to learn some of the basic principles of Yoga that complement this practice.

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