What is Meditation
What is meditation? Meditation is a discipline of training the mind through the practice of present moment awareness. This present moment awareness is also called mindfulness. When you are meditating, you are practicing being mindful. Rather that getting caught up in thoughts about the past or the future, meditation is a practice of keeping your attention gently focused on the present moment.
If youʼre asking the question “what is meditation?,” you might be envisioning someone sitting in a quiet place and stopping all thoughts; however, thoughts donʼt stop completely during meditation. Just as it’s the nature of the heart to beat, it’s the nature of the mind to churn out content, or STUFF (Stories, Thoughts, Urges, Frustrations, Feelings.) Expect that thoughts and feelings will continue to arise.
Meditation is a practice of returning to your immediate experience again and again. Notice when your attention wanders, and then return your attention to focus on something “neutral”, such as your breath. This process is key to the practice of meditation, since it exercises your mindʼs “muscle.” Just as the repetitive motion of doing abdominal exercises can build your core strength, the repetitive noticing and returning can build your awareness. This awareness can allow you to respond to life’s events consciously, rather than react unconsciously. This awareness can transform your life.
You donʼt have to sit in a quiet place for twenty minutes with your eyes closed to practice mindful meditation, although sitting quietly is a good way to practice. Consider weaving mindful moments into your day. Interrupt busy thoughts by gently placing attention on just one breath. Or, when you walk from one point to another, gently place your attention on the bottom of your feet as they touch the ground. When you talk to co-workers or family members, see if you can focus your attention on what they are saying, rather than getting caught up in what you are going to say next. Practicing being mindful can be done most anywhere and anytime. All it takes is remembering.
There are countless numbers of ways to practice meditation. The types of meditation that people are drawn to vary; there is no right or wrong technique to use. I offer training in a wide variety of techniques. The style of meditation I teach consists of new material, along with material synthesized from many different teachers and traditions. I consider this style of meditation to be restorative meditation, since it can help restore the mind to a more balanced state. I try to present material that is easily understandable and accessible to the general public, using ancient wisdom, stories, and a bit of humor in presentations so the material is memorable. I also guide people through a meditation or two so they have a first hand experience of what meditation is all about. If youʼd like to find out more about meditation programs for your group, please contact me.
If youʼd like to see what meditation is like, hereʼs a short audio meditation that focuses on the breath.
Hereʼs a primer on meditation for beginners.