IF YOU DON'T CONTROL YOUR OWN MIND, THEN SOMEONE ELSE WILL...
The mind is our first and last line of defense against the powers that seek to control and manipulate us. In this day and age, advertising, mass media, politicians and their corporate masters constantly bombard us with all their lies and distractions from knowing our true selves purposes. At this time it is more important than ever to take back control of our own destinies - beginning with the mind. Our minds must come to a point of harmony with the emotional self, through quieting the constant thought processes for a deeper understanding of our existence.
What I am seeking to accomplish with this blog is to communicate to a greater audience the tools, both practical and physical, that I have acquired over the years to fortify my own self against all the challenges we face in our modern era. And I shall begin with the foundation of all these practices - meditation.
My first exposure to meditation in my mid teens was Transcendental Meditation. This involves simply mentally repeating a mantra. I have since abandoned this as I believe the goal of meditation is mental silence. There have been times when I have wanted to walk out of meditation classes because the instructor talked too much, and made way too much use of visualisations and chanting. There was even one particular teacher who admitted to having a "monkey mind" - which reminds me of the saying "if you can't do it then just teach it". Anyway, here is a step by step method that works for me.
It is very handy to have a quiet place to practice. Attempting to block out the sounds of a next door neighbour renovating is truly an advanced technique. Also, one useful aid that I have in my possession is an indoor water feature (simply a large bowl with some granite plates, stones and a water pump) that creates the sound of running water. This type of white noise can help one to achieve a state of mental silence, also these water features are known to emit negative ions into the air. Meditating by waterfalls is common in some Japanese traditions - well this is the closest thing that I can have to a waterfall on my coffee table.
Sitting posture can vary from individual. The purpose of yoga postures is to help the yogi to sit in lotus posture for extended periods of time. Personally, if I attempt to sit in this position my legs will eventually go numb (I do lift weights, after all) cutting the practice short. Sitting upright in a cushioned chair is just fine.
1. Sit comfortably, eyes gazing ahead, bringing your attention to the dantian. You may bring your hands to this area (just below the navel) to help.
2.Bring your attention to your breathing. Feel it flow to your lower abdomen. Some beginners may want to count the breaths in cycles of four but as you begin to learn to focus your attention you can begin to simply listen to your own body. Do not attempt to change it's rhythm, but simply listen.
3. Begin to slowly lower your gaze to a point on the floor just in front of you. Slowly lower your eyelids until they are all but closed.
4. Closing your eyes now, listen to the sounds around you. Pass no judgment on what you hear, just listen. Do not try to identify the sounds (this is where the water feature comes in handy).
5. Bring your attention to your body and slightly adjust your posture if necessary to be comfortable. Usually this can involve the alignment of head, spine, and pelvis. A more advanced technique is to focus on balancing the breath flowing through both nostrils equally, but I shall leave that for a later post.
6. On each exhalation feel your shoulders relax gradually backward, downward and outward.
7. Now there should be no movement except for your breathing. Listen to your breathing, attentive to it's rhythm.
8. As you relax more, your breathing should become longer and deeper. Now take time to remember to smile. Can you feel the pulsation of your heartbeat? If so, listen to this and feel the life force throughout you.
9. If any distracting thoughts arise in your head, do not attempt to force them out, but simply observe them, without judgment or analysis, and release them. If you become really distracted then go back to listening to your environment, then your breath, and your heartbeat.
When you are ready to come out of the meditation, wiggle your fingers and toes and slowly open your eyes, take some big breaths and stretch a little. Take some time to move around slowly before going about your day.
Meditation can be an excellent way to rejuvenate and refresh the mind, and also as a way to manage stress or anxiety. These are the most obvious benefits of the practise. Over time, however, one can gain so much more by understanding one's role in the Universe by coming into a state of harmony, in which by being in the ever-present, we can then understand our life's purpose. By beginning each day with this time of introspection as we greet the sunrise, each day's business can increasingly bring us into alignment with our universal role.
The above article is an updated and edited version of an article written by the same author, the author of this blog.