Updated: Feb 22
With so many demands on our time and minds, with the business of our daily lives a meditation practice can provide the space to come back to ourselves, to be more mindful of our world and how or who we are in it.
A meditation practice helps to soften the ever increasing noise and hopefully find some peace with the cacophony of our thoughts. The never ending external and internal pop us that keep us distracted and overwhelmed. The human mind has been described like being in a room full of drunk monkeys, it can be increasingly hard to deal with. We think, that’s just what we do. The average human mind gets more than 60, 000 thoughts in the span of 24 hours. Good, bad, pleasant, unpleasant, most are random and fickle. The life span of every thought is the same, it emerges, It manifests, It disappears. Thoughts that you do not let go of leave an imprint. It is the imprint that is the residue. Meditation is the process of washing away this residue, for we are not what we think and we are much more than our thoughts.
Meditation is not about stilling the mind, it is straightening out the knots in the consciousness, a calming of the emotions. A meditation practice can provide some space, between the thoughts, ideas and stories. Meditation allows, it flows, it ebbs, it weaves through the layers of past & future, livening the spirit to come home, to rest. It opens the doorway to another world. This world is yours to explore, to take the last great adventure home to your essence. A practice that is yours alone.
Meditation paves the path to presence. Being present in this moment can be described as a mindful, clear recognition of what is happening, here and now and allowing the space to explore and feel all of our experiences, without attachment or judgement. Presence has two interdependent qualities of recognising or noticing what it happening and allowing whatever is experienced without judgement, resistance or grasping. Presence is our deepest nature and the essence of meditation is to inhabit this whole awareness. Natural presence simply recognises what is arising (thoughts, feelings, sounds and emotions) and allows life too unfold. Busy minds react, calm minds allow.
Meditation is a training of mental attention that awakens us beyond the conditioned mind and habitual thinking, in order to reveal the nature of reality. There are many supportive strategies that can help us become more present in our lives, if this is what we choose. Meditation is a path, a way to silence and the fluctuations in consciousness. To really feel and put to use our immense potential, to go beyond the incessant chattering of the mind and cultivate a more compassionate existence. It is a healing of the spirit. This is why we meditate.
The act of Meditation is steeped in a mysterious and fascinating history. The word meditation stems from the latin word meditatum, which means ‘to ponder’. The Oxford Dictionary describes pondering as to think or reflect deeply, to contemplate, to muse, to wonder. I find this quite refreshing to know that really at the end of the day meditation can be and quite often is this simple. It can be as simple as feeding the ducks, finding time to walk in nature, having some time alone to sit and allow thoughts to digest. It doesn’t have to be complicated or mysterious. Meditation can be a part of our everyday lives, in small or large ways. Meditation invites us to show up, just as we are whatever our circumstances.
Historically, meditation practice might be as old as humanity itself. Meditation within a structured set of practices or techniques in some of the oldest written records are believed to be based from the Hindu traditions of Vendatisim. Other forms of meditation are cited within Taoist China, Buddhist India from Vedic Texts and Japan. It is believed the spread of Buddhist doctrines from India to China and also to Central and Southeast Asia occurred along the Silk Road, an ancient network of paths used for trade, linking the East to the West.
The oldest documented images of meditation are from India and take back to 5000 to 3500 BCE with wall art paintings depicting people sitting in meditative like seated postures. The oldest documented texts of meditation from India Vedic texts describing meditative practices which had previously been passed down through story telling practices for centuries. No one really knows for certain just how old the practice is with multiple references across different cultures and religions all of which have contributed to and inform the practice. However, it is most closely attached to Buddhism. Every tradition has a different perspective on the definition, purpose and mechanics of meditation. Some are used for spiritual means, others self enquiry or transformation and some for more practical purposes. Modern scientific explorations into the benefits of meditation and mindfulness are seen on a physical, psychological and emotional capacity all of which lead to a healthier way through life.
Om Swami describes how a mediation practice is like a home coming. Coming back to ourselves, back to our source, where we belong, so that you are no longer what people tell you who who you are, or what the world has made us believe, or even what we think of ourselves. It allows us to discover who we truely are. A place where our soul rests in peace just for a little while. As Pema Chodron explains “You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather” and Tara Brach says that in meditation we realise we are the ocean, not the waves.
A small regular practice is all it takes. Cherry pick and explore what feels right for you. Meditation is the art of doing nothing, away from the burdens of the world. In that moment, the moment when your mind is doing nothing and you are perfectly aware of it, is where the gold lies. Most meditators would agree that in a nutshell, meditation is the practice of concentrating your attention on a point of focus. The power is in the present. The single most important quality that a meditator must have is willpower, the resolve to not give up in the face of challenges. Irrespective of what path you are on, determination to persist and persevere, your resolve to tread the path, determines the outcome.