Meditation is the action of continually quieting the surface chatter in the mind. Take a look at the thoughts that go on in the mind—everything from grocery lists to grievance lists, from judgments about anyone or anything to tasks remaining undone (by you, your spouse, your colleague, your teenager, etc.). In general, our thoughts are unproductive habits of mind. They usually run along the same old groove, over and over again. Inspiration offering creative or original solutions to problems can’t arise because there is no room for them. They get drowned out by chatter about the problem.
When folks first try meditation, they mostly think two things: the first is that it’s hard, and the second is that they aren’t doing it right. When we close our eyes, and begin expressing the effort to quiet the mind, we all of a sudden become aware of the incredible amount of chatter going on in there! It seems the harder we try, the louder the chatter becomes. This is exactly the work of meditation—noticing the thoughts that arise and bringing the focus back to the quiet.
It helps to focus the mind on something, like a word, or the inhalation and exhalation of your breathing, the light from a candle, or a feeling of peace or friendliness in your own heart center (the center of the chest). When you find yourself thinking about anything, you literally move your mind back to whatever it is that you are using as a focus point.
Yes, it is hard.
The alternative is harder because it means that life will continue to be lived through us as a natural expression of our habitual thinking patterns. Our free will evaporates when we live our lives from the chatter.
And that brings us to why it is important to develop a daily practice of meditation. Simply put, we regain our free will, and gain access to more creative and novel ways to solve life’s problems…whatever they are.
I’ll be honest here. The chatter doesn’t really ever stop. Sometimes we’ll attain moments, minutes, even an hour or more of a quiet mind. But the action of meditation never changes. We just keep bringing the mind back to the meditative focal point whenever we discover the mind thinking about something.
I have been meditating everyday now for more than 40 years. This practice is one of the things that changed the trajectory of my life, and helped me gain access to my own creativity, a part of myself of which I had been mostly unaware.
You don’t need a group, and you don’t have to have a live teacher to sit with. There are abundant resources available from which to learn. If you conduct a YouTube search on meditation, you’ll get more than seven million results! I can’t vouch for them, but I know you’ll find a few on the first page of results that can help you learn to meditate. There are also Apps for your phone that can give you an assist as well. I’ve tried most approaches to meditation over the years, and the best advice I can give is to choose one that feels right to you. There is no “one right way” to do it. The most important thing is consistency—meditate every day, even if you only have a few minutes to devote to the practice
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