So let’s cut to the chase. If you really want to know more about meditation all you have to do is Google single- or double-word-search on the subject. My Google “mediation” word search today yielded 151 million results, and “meditation benefits” about 9.5 million. You’re spoilt for choice really!
I had a quick trawl through a handful of sites. The information ranged from definition and benefits of meditation to explanations and claims about favourable scientific evidence. Some of the information was well-informed, and much of it entailed speculation or lack of a full understanding of the current scientific evidence. Mostly however, the information is positive and peppered with anecdotal accounts. This is not a bad thing at all. There is however, a gap in the information.
In all the time I have educated, delivered training, or carried out research in this field, I have found that everyone starts off feeling eager and excited, only to hit, what I call, “the resistance wall”. The resistance wall is a mental wall upon which people write over and over again what’s wrong or not working for them. The resistances cited range from not being able to find a suitable time to practice, to falling asleep, and/or plain old impatience. Most times this leads to giving up within the first month of practice or struggling through it determinedly. Both responses are unnecessary, and the later, a painful experience!
Whatever the resistance, it can be dealt with easily under the guidance of a good teacher. In the initial weeks of meditation the body and mind is adjusting and acclimatising to the experience of new wave patterns, and reduced activity in a part of the brain called the orientation association area (OAA). The OAA, as the name suggests, helps determine our position in time and space. More on this, in a future blog.
Several questions arise for the beginner. What is the best time to meditate? How long should I meditate for? What are the different types of meditation? Which type is best for me? What are the effects of switching between different types of meditation?
To put your mind at rest – no pun intended – your meditation does not have to be a full-on, sitting, 20-minute practice from day one. You can start off by priming your capacity to focus where you are right here, right now. You could just choose to become aware of the many sounds around you, and then focus on one particular sound that you feel you can comfortably bring your attention to. Just stay listening for it. You’ll find that it is not a difficult thing to do. Quieting your thoughts and focusing on a single stimulus is far easier than you imagine!
This in essence, is what meditation is about. Ease. Focus. Flowing attention on purpose.
Whilst complex cognitive and biological processes occur during the practice of meditation, keeping your practice simple and uncomplicated is a wonderful way to begin. Most of all, be playful with it and enjoy the quiet and not so quiet mind-time, for they are both aspects of a spectrum of concentration and focus.