What is meditation? People describe it in different ways. For me, it is a practice of ‘being’. This balances out the hectic ‘doing’ which often consumes us. This means if you find it hard to meditate, it may be because you think you should be ‘doing’ something different…
Physically and mentally, meditation calms the nervous system. It soothes the spirit. With guidance, you can rest in calm, relaxed and refreshing states of body and mind. Your human qualities grow, and you tap in to the beautiful and extraordinary qualities of humanity itself, enriching yourself with empathy, understanding and love. So what happens if you try, and you don’t feel these things?
I first to meditate learned back in the early 1980s, and have meditated daily since. Still, it it took me years to understand how to meditate in ways that worked for me. Now, I firmly believe we need to find the right approach for each of us, individually. This is the inspiration for my three-volume guide: ‘The Gentle Guides to Mindfulness Meditation’. Having taught nearly two thousand students to meditate, I am keenly aware of ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, that meditation brings. And I’m passionate about helping people find a way to meditate that really suits them. My bottom line is, if you ‘can’t meditate’ – it is not you! It is the approach.
If you are struggling to meditate, it’s worth checking whether you think something else should be happening. Perhaps your mind just carries on in its usual way, and you wonder if you’re really meditating? But even as you wonder, something interesting is happening. You have become aware. Perhaps it is just for a few seconds here and there, but you know what is happening. You can wonder and reflect. You can choose. This is the heart of meditation. It is the way we wander in and out of awareness – and the ability to be relaxed and easy on the journey.
For myself, I like to relish these moments of awareness as they come and go. I pause and acknowledge whatever is happening as I am aware: ‘”This is what’s here” (I tell myself). “Here I am.” I rest in being aware for as long as it lasts – and then my mind wanders off again. Awareness is like a blessing. It is a magical and mysterious moment of Being.
Whether comfortable and calm, or troubled and turbulent (and over time, it will be both), cherishing awareness means resting in what is there, authentically, at any moment. You might rest in the sounds and senses around you, or in the inward thoughts and feelings that flow through you. The choice is yours. What you ‘do’ with those precious moments is a journey: a journey within, a journey ‘to the deep’.
‘Journeys to the Deep’ is the title of my first guide to mindfulness meditation. You can check out my books, along with audio meditations and other materials here.