Meditation, it seems, has become a sort of buzzword these days. It’s often presented as a magical solution, the path to inner peace, and the key to unlocking our hidden potential.
After having been on this journey of awakening for years and more specifically including meditation for the last 10 years, I came to a pivotal realization.
I no longer meditate. Surprising, isn't it?
Before you write this off as some form of rebellious stance against a practice that's been around for thousands of years, let me clarify. I am not discrediting meditation or its benefits. I have personally experienced them.
I've felt the tranquility, the lucidity, the heightened awareness that come with regular meditation practice. But at some point, I realized that I was turning meditation into a means to an end.
This realization came to me during one of my routine meditation sessions. I was in pursuit of something - peace, clarity, some ideal state of mind.
The more I pondered on it, the more I realized that I was using meditation as a tool to escape, to dissociate from my reality, to seek refuge in an idealized state. But by doing so, I was missing the point.
Meditation is intended to ground us in the present moment, to enable us to embrace our reality with mindfulness and acceptance. But I was using it as a vehicle to drive away from my present, in pursuit of a future state of mind.
That's not mindfulness at all. That's escapism. And that's when it hit me. I don't want to meditate. I don't want to chase. I want to be.
So, I stopped meditating. I stopped chasing. I stopped seeking.
I took a course on a new approach towards what I wanted, and began to instantly see this is what I was looking for.
I now do a sitting practice, not a meditation. This practice is all about learning to hone and focus your attention and mind to delve into your body and absorb into your body, thereby not feeding your mind with thoughts.
This practice is an exercise to understand how your mind fabricates thoughts, and to be able to catch yourself when your mind begins to generate these thought forms. The goal is to prevent these thought forms from leading you down into streams of thoughts.
For instance, you may have a thought and start duplicating it into sub thoughts, and then five minutes later, you realize that you've been developing in this thought for the last five minutes, not realizing that you've been lost in it.
Then you finally catch yourself and realize, "Oh my God, I've been thinking about this for five minutes." Then another thought appears, and you get lost in that thought, and so on.
This sitting practice is designed to train you to focus solely on what you are doing in the present moment, moment to moment. So if you're sitting, all you're focusing on is just sitting, bringing your mind into your body, not to a localized point, but learning to extend your mind throughout your body.
There are different practices where you learn to expand it. You start by localizing it and then work on expanding it through your entire body.
It begins with acknowledging when you have a thought, and telling yourself, "I don't need to think about this, all I'm doing is sitting.
This trains your mind to not engage in other thoughts, and eventually, you let that go. You can then start to feel this fluidity in your mind and body when thoughts are starting to formulate, and you can redirect your focused attention to just sitting. This is a simple concept, but it is incredibly challenging to do well.
This practice of just sitting and being has truly been a game-changer for me. It's not quite like meditation where you're trying to empty your mind or focus on a particular point.
This is more about being completely present, fully aware of my own existence in the here and now, while keeping tabs on my thoughts and body sensations without getting tangled up in them.
Here are the key changes I've experienced since adopting this practice:
- Improved self-awareness: I've become more attuned to the way my mind works. I can spot when my thoughts start to wander off, and instead of getting swept away, I can gently steer them back to the present moment. This heightened self-awareness has helped me disrupt negative thought patterns and has enriched my everyday life with mindfulness.
- Enhanced mind-body connection: By zeroing in on the physical sensation of sitting and letting my awareness permeate every part of my body, I've discovered a deeper sense of being embodied. I feel more rooted, more synchronized with my physical self, and this has significantly boosted my overall well-being.
- Greater patience and discipline: This practice is by no means a walk in the park. It demands consistent effort and commitment. But with each session, it's becoming easier to reel in my wandering mind and resist the temptation to chase after thoughts.
- Increased tranquility: In my experience, this practice has brought a greater sense of calm and peace into my life. By grounding myself in the present, I've found it easier to let go of stress and anxiety.
- Boosted focus and concentration: With regular practice, I've noticed that my ability to concentrate has improved, not just during the practice, but in my daily life as well.
- Enhanced self-compassion: This practice has also taught me to be kind to myself, especially when my mind wanders off or when I struggle with the practice.
In a world that's always in a hurry, that's always urging us to do more, be more, this practice has taught me the value of just being. It has highlighted the importance of stillness, of grounding myself in the present moment, and of being fully engaged in the now.
If you're looking to cultivate a similar practice, I would urge you to start small. Start with just a few minutes a day and gradually increase your time.
Remember, the goal isn't to empty your mind or achieve some altered state of consciousness. It's about being present, about observing without judgment, and about developing a deeper connection with your own self.