Let nobody tell you that Meditation is difficult. Let nobody tell you that it requires learning complex techniques. And let nobody tell you that it requires lifetimes of practice. Meditation is your Nature – every animal, tree and rock is naturally inclined to being Meditative. So why should it be a struggle for us!
And yet it is.
Worldwide, people are turning to Meditation to find Peace, Balance and an Anchor in their chaotic lives. And they are doing this in the millions. So much so that, there’s now a global market for Meditation! You can shop online using any number of Mindfulness Apps. Or you can read a growing array of Self-help books. Or join your neighbourhood Chanting, Philosophy, Meditation circles. And if you’re more curious, then you can join the Guru du jour to learn his/her well-branded Meditation technique.
Chances are you’ll soon find millions of ‘fellow-meditators‘ (‘Guru Bhai’s if you have the same Guru). And you’ll be a part of a support structure that nurtures your Meditative practice – which is very useful at the start. Soon enough you’ll be part of a whole new eco-system with new Friends et al. But was that Why you started Meditation practice to begin with?
So, what can I do to get started….right here, right now? Understanding what is Meditation and the types of Meditations will help you find your own practice. You will have to experiment a bit to see what suits you. But then it’s better to spend that time and create a set of practices that work for you. This is better than spending year after year with a technique that isn’t Transforming you or even Inspiring you to practice it.
Of course you will need a technique to get started. But later your innate creativity is required. You will have to pour you body, mind, emotions and soul into fine-tuning your Meditative practice. If is wasn’t like that the entire population would be transforming just by following the pre-set techniques given by Ancients across the World. The fact that we as a Human commune, are constantly finding ways to evolve bears testimony to the fact that Meditation as a practice is also evolving. You will have to work hard to find your own Meditative practice.
I’m using the Yoga definition of ‘Dhyaan‘ to better understand Meditation. Incidentally, as Buddhism spread to China, the word Dhyaan got mispronounced as Cha’an and as it further spread to Japan it morphed into Zen. So Zen is Dhyaan.
Dhyaan is a continuous state of focus. It isn’t defined as being qualitatively different from Concentration – but quantitatively. And that lengthening of the time in Concentration brings about the transformation! Being wrapped in a state of oneness with what you’re experiencing is a Joy that only ‘Meditators’ understand – even if they don’t know they are Meditating! This happens either whilst sitting in Meditation or whilst you’re playing Music, Running, Cooking or whatever is a Meditative practice for you. To do something solely for yourself – to enjoy being by yourself is in itself a huge transformation! You’re going from being Lonely to ‘Alone’ and there’s seldom a more significant transformation in our lives.
In Yoga, Dhyaan is the 7th stage of training in Patanjali’s Raja Yoga tradition. And while I say that Dhyaan is easy – it comes with a rider. Since it’s a progression – if you have done the previous 6 stages of Raja Yoga (Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayam, Pratyahaar & Dharana), then Meditation is natural. But if you haven’t, then it’s the toughest thing in the world to train your Monkey mind. We all know that. And so joining a weekend Meditation workshop never works.
You’re not going to learn the stilling of your mind, that has been running incessantly for 30 years over the course of 3 days! It takes preparation and wholesome changes in your life may be required, before you reach a state of equilibrium that you think 15-30 minutes a day of Meditation practice will bring you. Let’s not belittle the transformation of a Life into a half hour daily routine! 🙂
‘An unexamined Life isn’t worth Living’ – Socrates
For instance, amongst the Yamas (or inter-personal codes suggested in Raja Yoga) if you haven’t dealt with ‘Satya’ or living a life of truth – then no amount of Meditation will help you. In other words, if you’re living a life of lies – if you’re in a relationship that you know isn’t true or doing a job not aligned with your ideals of living – then you will have to re-do your Life before you can experience the bliss of Meditation in a sustained manner. Else you’ll only be applying a little balm over wounds. But that won’t satisfy you for long. The soul-searching that comes with Meditative practice will eventually give you the courage to call a spade a spade and make the changes in your life.
The problem with most of us is that we try to train in Meditation only when something is amiss in our lives. A break-up, loss of job, realisation of a joyless existence and so on. Yes, we do get Inspired to soul-search only when there’s a break in our zombiesque routine of life. But true Meditation happens after you have fixed the cracks in your life – in fact it’s like the Chicken and Egg question – but one leads to the other. Eventually you’ll reach a Happy place in terms of where your life is headed. Then, your daily Life itself will become your Meditation! You won’t need no technique. In fact, there won’t be a difference between our Life and your Meditation practice.
As the famous Zen quote goes:
Before Enlightenment, Chop wood, Carry water. After Enlightenment, Chop wood, Carry water.
And whilst Life doesn’t need to change – your experience of Life will be completely different just by being Present in every moment! And that is the REAL gift of Meditation.
In my next Blog, I’ll delve into the 4 Categories of Meditation. All Meditation practices can be broadly classified into 4 categories. You’ll find all that you have practised over the years fits into one of these types, making it easier for you to choose what suits you best.
yogi, coach, wellness speaker & author, co-founder of Total Yoga. bio >>
Yogi, Mindfulness Coach, Blogger & Speaker
Manish Pole has taught Yoga for 15 years. He lived and trained with Himalayan Yoga Master Bharat Thakur from 2003-2010, eventually working as the CEO of Artistic Yoga.