Prior to Autumn 2008, I practiced meditation a few times a week. My practice included tending to my breath, fantasizing about the dinner I would eat after meditation, and judging myself for fantasizing about my dinner. Knowing that distraction and self-constructed judging are not the products of a good meditation practice, I sought change. I upgraded my meditation commitment to twenty minutes every day for thirty days and I set an intention to look closely at the thoughts that entered my mind during meditation.
The internal process showed me how to handle my thoughts in meditation. I learned to pass the inner critic (self-judgement) by honing skills of discernment, determining thoughts to uncouple from, and thoughts to integrate. I did not validate thoughts that created distraction. External circumstances, thoughts of past regrets, and anxiety over the future all loosened their control over me. When these thoughts do come up, I take refuge in my upgraded, sacred space of daily meditation to release them. Here I am not driven by past and future time or external circumstances. Here there are no self-constructed boundaries – only peace, acceptance, and inner freedom.
My meditation journey has taught me that each of us hold inner tools that can resolve our disembodied thoughts and emotions, leading to inner and worldly peace. I believe daily meditation can show us our imbalances and reveal a pathway to wellbeing.
Tips for Better Meditation
– Seated on a meditation bolster or yoga blocks, assume a cross-legged position. If seated on a chair, have the soles of feet firmly planted on the floor. Lengthen the back to increase energy flow from the base of the spine to the top of the spine.
– Focus on the breath and relax the body. Allow thoughts, sensations and feelings to enter the mind. They may be unpleasant, neutral, or pleasant. Observe them with discernment, identifying thoughts to be redirected and thoughts to be with. For example, if a negative memory arises, reconnect with a positive memory. If a thought or feeling comes up that is too difficult to be with during meditation, intend to be with it another time and redirect focus from it.
– Bring ongoing attention, focus, and concentration to the meditation process. Enter the flow state in which the mind, breath and body are yoked to become one.
Some of your meditations will quiet the disturbances in the mind. Others will foster non-judgmental awareness of what is in the mind. Some practices will uncover suffering by revealing the mind’s hindrances. Others will allow a mental break allowing you to rest and recover. All have the capacity of reaching non-ordinary mind states by opening to energy flow and loosening mental control.
I invite you to explore a daily, twenty-minute meditation practice to achieve freedom from negative mind states by joining Mountainside’s New Moon Meditation Challenge. From June 3rd to July 2nd set aside 20 minutes each day to meditate. Upon the closing of the challenge, reflect on what has transformed in your mind because of your daily meditation practice.
May all your meditations lead to inner freedom.