Meditation found me years ago but at the time I didn’t understand what it was or that it even existed.
My mom believed in prayers and shared some of her rituals with me, some of which I still practice to this day. My dad was an atheist but there were a few times he admitted to believing in a higher power or source. That was as far as he’d go with it. Otherwise, he’d just joke about St Peter not allowing him into the pearly gates of heaven. He believed that people took the Bible too literally and much of its true meaning was often lost in interpretation. Prayer was certainly not a part of his daily life but maybe meditation was at times.
I wonder now if he realized that as he canoed down the Sibun River, Belize, it’s very likely that he was meditating. I am guessing that his focus was often directed to the sound of the river, the falling of leaves into the water and the sunlight glistening on the tiny waves around him. He was likely in tuned with the movement of his body as he switched his paddle from side to side, going downstream in the middle of rich forestry in his favorite country in all the world.
He probably reached constant states of elevation by allowing “absence of thought” to find him. Even he, the non believer, the smoking meditator (haha) surely found solace in those moments where thoughts escaped him and his only focus was to simply be alive. He was, in essence… meditating.
What is Meditation?
Often times, people think meditation is about controlling thoughts but it’s not. It is defined as a mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. The basis of meditation, or what you’re trying to accomplish is to be in a place where there is “absence of thought”.
It has zero to do with controlling your thoughts. Trying to control your thoughts can make meditation frustrating. My friend Florence often soothed me with her assurance that the thoughts will come and they will go… let them rise and let them fall.
Thoughts will always come forth whether you’re meditating or not. That’s the gift of the mind – a tool for us to use to think when needed, except for Math. Don’t waste your mind on Math. There are no answers. Trust me, I’ve tried.
What’s True For You?
Besides that general misconception about meditation, many people also imagine that it requires sitting in lotus position while making the OM sound for hours on end. Like most things, meditation is about what’s true for you, including how you position your body, what you focus on, how long you do it, what sound you make etc. Most of life almost always comes down to what is true for you.
The basis of it all is simply to reach a place where there is absence of thought. This place or moment is often brief. The timespan and feeling may be different for everyone. For me, it’s like an escape that leads to a connection to something far more powerful than I. Imagine this place like the gateway to your connection with God or Source or Spirit, whatever name rings true for you.
Visualize, if you will, walking down a path and easing into light, clarity and peace – that’s kind of what it feels like for me. More often than not, I don’t even realize I’m there til it passes and I take another breath hoping to find it again.
How Long Should You Meditate?
15 to 20 minutes is a good time slot for meditation, generally. While you’re meditating, you may find that this “place” (absence of thought) lasts for 3 minutes or less. Even if it’s only that, it will have served you well. It is like opening your bandwidth to receive. Once you experience this, it’s very likely you’ll want to experience it again and again.
Meditating for 15 minutes everyday will make way for more ease and flow in your daily life. As you continue on your journey, you’ll find that you receive guidance more readily on small and big things. In the days, weeks and months that follow, things become increasingly clearer to you. This even includes things like what to cook, which way to turn, who to call, when to stay home etc.
Unshaken and Unmoved
Every time I am out of sync with my meditation practice, quiet and down time, things feel disruptive. My mind gets foggy and I’m more easily overwhelmed, like yesterday when I found myself feeling lost. I know a lot of these feelings of disconnect are tied to a lack of meditation.
I can remember times being so in tuned with my connection to God that I felt I could walk blindfolded. Can you imagine what that kind of guidance feels like?
There is a feeling of being grounded that comes when we keep our connection to Source alive. It’s as if you’re a giant tree – your exterior may sway and dance in the wind or the what is reality but, the core of you is unshaken and unmoved.
There were times meditation meant doing yoga, heading out on a hike or just being generally quiet. Whatever ways I found, they were like a lifeline to a place of calm and knowing.
Inspired Action vs Motivated Action
Answers come and you are lead more by inspired action instead of motivated action.
Motivated action can be narrowed down to the things you “must do” for a specific outcome. Inspired action can be narrowed down to things you are lead to do by your intuition. The outcome is almost irrelevant. You just know what to do, when to do it, how to do it and it just flows. Period.
Life is so much easier when we allow our higher self to guide us. That guidance comes from a place of clarity, ease and flow and that space is created when we meditate.
Outside of doing Yoga, taking a hike or just finding quiet time alone, you may be considering the conventional concept of meditation. Minus the lotus position and making the OM sound for hours on end, here’s my simple take on how to include “conventional meditation” as a part of your daily life.
Focus on Your Breath or the Air-Conditioning
One of things to keep in mind when meditating is that you’re trying to find something to focus on that has no meaning to you. This could be the flickering of a flame, your breath as it goes in and out of your tummy or even the air-conditioning. I learned about listening to the air-conditioning from Esther Hicks. It really is a splendid idea.
Basically, you want to connect to an action (breath) or object (flame) that doesn’t evoke thought.
Today is 100 degrees outside. Focusing on the air-conditioning won’t work because all I’ll be thinking is that it needs more freon. It is super duper hot in here today!
If you choose to focus on your breath, use your visualization to follow it. As you breathe in, connect to it. You’ll become distinctly aware of its magnificence.
As it enters, follow it and let it go all the way down to your tummy. Most people tend to breathe in and they think it stops at their chest.
The action of inhaling basically fills your body with oxygen – first to your lungs then to your heart and onward to the rest of your body. As your chest and tummy feel filled with air, slowly release that breath and start it all over again.
5 Simple Steps Before You Inhale, Exhale… Namaste
1. Find a quiet and spacious spot in your home that’s easy to access at all times.
Is it possible to put something in that space that is a reminder of meditation, quiet or silence? It will help to create a visual/internal understanding that this is your place of meditation. Some people use an altar but you might use a simple photo or element that tells you “This is the spot where I connect to my higher self”.
2. Choose a time of day that works with the daily operations of your home.
If you have a big family or other people to consider then this time would be either when they are out of the house, all quiet or asleep. This time could be morning, midday or night – it all depends on what works best for your lifestyle. All you’re trying to do is establish is finding a time that works best.
3. Think of a position for your body that is comfortable.
Are you able to sit cross legged? Do you need back support? Are you better off laying on the floor? Will you likely need a chair? Consider what’s the best possible way for you to be in a still position for at least 15 minutes at a time in a way that your body will comfortable doing so. This allows you to put your attention only on your choice of focus (breath, mantra, flame, air-conditioning)
4. Set a Timer
You can set a timer for 15 minutes on your phone. I usually set mine for 18 minutes and I use the 3 minutes to light my candles or sage and get comfy.
5. Close Your Eyes
Just close your eyes and start to focus on your object of attention – breath, air-conditioning, flickering flame or whatever serves you best. As thoughts come, and they will, let them rise and let them fall. Let them come and let them go. As you become more and more aware of your ability to be connected to Source, you’ll naturally draw your focus back to your object of attention.
One Meditation A Day Helps the Clarity Stay
Before you know it, 15 minutes will have passed and you’ll carry on and get back to daily living.
Just remember, as the days, weeks and months pass you by, you’ll understand how important it is to find your way to Source at least once a day whether it be through conventional meditation, being in complete awe of a rose, falling instantly in love with a puppy or taking quiet alone times for yourself.
As with all things, there’s always more to learn. Studying the teachings of Abraham Hicks has given me a much better understanding all the ways in which we connect to our higher selves. His simplification of mediation has helped me to fully understand the purpose of it.
Some days, it’s a hummingbird outside but if I can fit in conventional meditation at least once a day, I will get back to feeling completely guided. One meditation a day helps the clarity stay.
Outside of these pointers, you can always look up meditation videos on YouTube. They are often specific to your desires. For example, if you are trying to quell anxiety or stress, just search for a meditation that helps alleviate those or any other nagging human emotions that are wreaking havoc on your feeling centered and grounded.
I’d love to know how it goes and if this post made meditation more clear to you.