“Meditation is a way of clearing away the mental clutter that surrounds the subconscious. When our minds are clear, we can see and experience the joy of our own soul.” Gurmukh
I started my meditation practice about 3 years ago and till today, it is still a journey where I constantly struggle to quiet my mind.
For me, meditation is learning how to discipline the mind to stop reacting, stop racing around, doing whatever it’s doing, focus on my breath and the present moment. Not thinking about the future, not reflecting about the past. It’s all about just being here.
We all work and live in stressful environments where it is a huge challenge to try and keep still even for 20 seconds. We’ve been conditioned from birth to learn, explore, think, solve problems, and be ahead of others. To try and turn off these “switches” is incredibly difficulty for most people. Ironically, by turning off these “switches”, it leads to more peace and comfort.
To start a mediation practice, all you need is a quiet space, a place to sit and a timer.
I use a sofa cushion and a free meditation timer app on my phone. You can also use your alarm or stopwatch to time yourself.
You can sit cross-legged, in lotus position, or however is comfortable as long you can stay alert and keep your back straight. Alternatively you can sit on a chair if that’s physically easier, as long you do not slouch. We should be calm and alert during meditation, and not drift off to sleep.
For a start, you can set your timer to 5 minutes, close your eyes and focus on your breath until the timer goes off. I started out counting my breaths, returning to “one” each time I caught myself thinking instead of focusing on my breath.
When you find yourself thinking, notice it, and direct yourself very gently and kindly back to the breath as many times it takes.
Do not judge yourself, as there is no success or failure. It is a process; it is training.
The goal is not to stop having thoughts – the day we stop having thoughts is the day that we leave this world – but that you develop the ability to catch your thoughts quickly and let them go.
Sometimes you experience feelings e.g. tightness in your throat, an ache in your gut. Do not fight these feelings but neither should you linger on these feelings. That’s thinking. It’s thinking about feelings.
Feelings will come and go, and you will learn to acknowledge them, watch them without judgment and let them go. If you linger on the feelings, they will thrive and take you away from the present.
Everyone has a “monkey mind”. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t need to meditate in order to be present.
And in calm and abiding presence, no matter who you are or what you believe, there is peace in the midst of any storm.
Mavis Tan 200hr January to May 2014 Batch