Meditation is getting to become an evergreen topic nowadays. Since we have more freedom to practice spirituality and the pendulum is swinging more to the yin side (feminine) of human consciousness, we let ourselves be more intuitive. Those facts and techniques which were considered "woohoo", or even dark or claimed witchcraft, are now subjects of experiments in science and are more accepted as everyday topics to talk about. There are more and more movies coming out which are connected to some kind of supernatural forces, talents etc..., not even mentioning how popular yoga has gotten. Just look around and see how many yoga classes are offered (in studios and gyms) in your neighborhood (not now, when still too many places are closed down, but you know what I am talking about). Many people actually connect yoga and meditation and actually, they are not right, in a way.
It is proven by research by now that people who go to a meditative state, their brain waves, heart beat and pulse slows down. On the long run these people are proven to be more balanced and show more endurance against everyday distress. I don't want to go into the pros of meditation (Google them if you want to know more about the topic).
What my goal with this blog is 1/ to approach the "what meditation really is and how to do it well" topic from a practical point of view, 2/ to help those people who cannot turn their minds off; whose minds speed 20 miles per second and cannot be in the moment for one second. 3/ to give some feedbacks to those who are already on the path but they are not sure about their practice.
Let's start: Meditation is really not a new thing. It is at least as old as humanity. It is a modified or altered state of mind. The point or the goal is to turn off the external and focus or just simply be within the internal. And there are surprisingly many ways to achieve this.
On the contrary of my Kung Fu experience, when I went to my very first belly dance classes visiting two different teachers, they both asked the same thing: "How long have you been belly dancing? Why did you come to the beginner level?" "Well", I said, "because it is the first time I am doing it. It is my first class" So my soul remembered and when I heard the music, my soul stated to move my body, but not on a beginner level, but on a level as if I had been doing it for years. It didn't end here. Once, one of the teachers put on a fusion of belly dance and Indian music. I started to dance as it felt right to me and I let my body follow the music. She asked me where I learned the type of Indian dance I just performed. I had no idea what she was talking about and the name of the style she mentioned did not even sound familiar. It was also funny, because anything she said about how special that type of dance was (the type of dance that was taught not "just for anyone" went in one ear and out through the other. Weird, right? You hear some music and you start dancing in a way you have never done before; someone can name the style you perform, however you don't even know what you are doing.... Then, when you are faced with this fact, you just shrug your shoulder and move on... Oh, and let me tell you, it took me years to put my Indian "roots" to the back burner and clear my Middle Eastern style.
So what is the difference between the Kung Fu experience and the belly dance /Indian dance experience? It was noticeable that I did practice both. I knew it was true about Kung FU (I had "memories" about it, sort of), but I didn't remember about being such a good dancer in another reality. Yet Kung Fu was suggested not to be forced :) and dancing was impossible to be stopped and held back, but I consciously chose to suppress Indian dancing. How does it come to meditation?
Here is a clue. Meditation is a passive or yin way of being. If you did nothing but meditate in another reality, now you need to experience the yang, the active, the crazy. You need to experience exhausting your mind, brain, body and soul in this lifetime so much that in the "next" one you will have the urge and longing for learning how to be still and receptive. And believe me, you will have discipline in that reality to sit still and let things come to you because you will be ready for it. Do I make sense? In that reality, you will be able to bring the two (yin and yang/ passive and active/ mediate and create) into balance. How many lifetimes do you need for this? Who knows.. It is up to you. :)
The conclusion, for anyone or everyone who cannot meditate at all or feels there is a block or something is missing: It is OK. This is where you are now. Be patient; accept yourself and your crazy mind. It will come. And read further, because you might be surprised what I have for you.
For those dear fellows of mine who are to start meditation or have been doing it for a while, I can suggest reading on and just putting this to the back file in this moment: Find the balance between self guidance and following external guidance. As you have already read your soul remembers. So if you are already "tasting" or doing meditation, the very best guide to follow is your inner compass, soul and inner teacher. More about it in a second.
What I have known for a long time is that there are originally two different types of meditation. Sounds simpler than 26, right? This is what I found on the internet:
"Zen meditation is similar to mindfulness in that it's about focusing on the presence of mind. However, mindfulness focuses on a specific object, and Zen meditation involves a general awareness. ... During Zen meditation, practitioners also dismiss any thoughts that pop into their minds and essentially think about nothing. " Google / Mar 21, 2019. I will summarize up the 6 six+1 types of meditation in a chart at the end of this blog. It will tell you the name, a short description and an example of it.
Instead of writing about things you can find on the internet, let me share with you another personal experience about how I taught myself to mediate without knowing what it was at all.
When I was a very young child I made a bedtime ritual that I did after my mom finished reading a fairy tale to me and right before I went to sleep every single night. I don't remember how I started it. My family members are everything but spiritual, so nobody taught me about "these things". But my dad was an anatomist. I don't remember, he would show me any anatomy atlas or pictures of the human body, organs, etc, but I had the knowledge about the different parts of my body on a high level. There is no other logical explanation (except my dad's influence) why as a 3-4 year old child did this: I laid in my bed, closed my eyes and went through (scanned) my whole body saying thanks to every part of my body for serving me..." thank you my feet for holding me, thank you my legs for making me run, thank you ... thank you my heart for circulating blood around in my body and I can feel happy, sad and love(d) ... thank you my eyes for helping me see trees and animals, etc...". Then I fell asleep. It is not the typical way how a 3-4 year-old goes to bed, right?
By the time I became a teenager, I left out the "thank you" part unfortunately. I don't remember why, but I went to sleep by relaxing my whole body part by part, like feet, ankle, calves .... up to my head and then I went to sleep.
The practice to relax myself before I go to sleep for years resulted in this: When I went to a yoga class or a workshop as an adult where we meditated the only thing I heard: "take a deep breath"... then nothing. Blank. Then I heard again "Take a deep breath, stretch your fingers and open your eyes..." How much time passed between the two? Maybe 5, 10 minutes or even an hour? I could never tell. Until I heard the magic word "stretch", I was sleeping like a baby on the chair. How many amazing experiences had I "missed" (or not, because they say you get and hear everything in your subconscious mind. Well, these amazing teachings stayed in my subconscious ever since...:))
I started to keep looking at one point and tried not to think about anything else, like looking at the clouds in the sky, or I found a stain on the wall and stared at it.... guess what, I fell asleep.
Actually, it was a bit silly to try this technique again. I don't know what made me think that this technique which put me to sleep 10-15 years ago would now teach me to meditate. When I was very young (3-4 years sold), my mom "forced" me to have an afternoon nap which of course I never wanted to do. We napped in the living room on the couch. She knew that I would sneak out and go to play, so she probably wanted me under control hoping that she would wake up if I moved... Well, most of the time I still snuck out and went to play very quietly, but when I wanted to be an especially good girl and I really wanted to put myself to sleep, regardless of all my atoms were on "go on mode", I was looking at one of her dolls on top of the bookshelf till I went to sleep. It was my go for technique; I always went to sleep by staring at one of her dolls. Now, 15 years later, I thought that was the solution. But things we keep doing over and over again will burn a deep path in our nervous system, creating a "reflex cycle". These are called habits. These are very hard to break. I made this Zen meditation technique to my "go to sleep path", which worked really well for many years. Of course, it was not the right way to learn to stay awake while I meditate.
The lesson from this little story is: if you are the type of meditation student who keeps falling asleep, think about if you might have the same issue like I used to have. If your mom used to read you night stories which guaranteed you fell asleep and you still go to sleep as an adult to a monotonous sound of stream, you might find guided meditation hard for you. A soft tone, usually woman's voice, is telling you what to do and imagine step by step might totally relax you and you go to dreamland. There is nothing wrong with it. You just need to revise the technique and find another way to meditate; meanwhile you rewrite this kind of technique for yourself step by step.
Before I got better with my new meditation technique (sharing with you in a minute), I realized that I could turn off my mind and keep it empty for longer and longer periods of time. I did not stare at anything, I just started to say: "My mind is empty, my mind is empty, my mind is empty....." for a few times so it became a mantra that really cleaned and emptied my mind and then I could stay still in the nothingness. Ever since I have discovered this technique, it is still my favorite! I love that silence and emptiness.
This new technique to focus on the breathing and emptiness, made my first breakthrough. I did not know it was the fundamental goal and that I was already meditating. Now I know. (You see, how funny, I kept trying the same type of mediation (Zen). One way didn't work, I found another)
The second breakthrough came right after this first. This was the time I started to learn about the chakras and it was enough for me to hear once that they need to be clean and spin effortlessly; I "knew" what I needed to do. I didn't, but it came so easily and felt so natural that I still remember the very first time I did it (in this lifetime). I assume something triggered old memories and like in belly dancing the gate opened up and I knew what and how to do the steps. It is actually very simple and logical.
Our mind loves to be in control. So I gave my mind the power and permission to guide me through the chakras. I/my mind told me what color I should see and that I needed to breathe the white light in through the crown right into the chakra and breathe out within the chakra until it was clear...
If you know a little bit about the types of meditation or if you have ever done guided mediation, it is it. I guided myself through the meditation. Until today, It is the easiest way for me to meditate: "Inner guided meditation": telling myself what to do and imagine. Do I still fall asleep when I am tired....? Oh, yes, definitely. You would smile seeing me sitting on the floor with the wall behind me with my head tilted to the front ... "interesting way to meditate, right?"... But I accept that I have days when I just can't, and I know next day it will work, and usually it is true. Next day it is really strong and goes fast. I am awake and conscious. Very often, when I am done with (protection -I didn't write about it in this blog, but it is important), chakra cleansing, emptying my mind, I stay quiet, call my guides or ask for information and then I wait for the answer to come in. These are the types of meditations which bring a lot of insights, and very often tears of realization or healing. (This is called Higher self meditation or Channeling)
You can ask why I shared these personal stories about self teaching. Because, first of all, I think personal stories are the best way to teach you something new and make you feel better about the hiccups you make on your way. And second, I can tell you the same thing about meditation as I say to my belly dance students. "You know this dance, you just need to remember". Everybody is dancing in a way. When you are swaying your baby, you are dancing. When you are skipping a few puddles, you are dancing. When you hear your favorite music and start moving your hand and shaking your head and torso while you are waiting at the red light, you are dancing. (By the way, there is a type of meditation: Moving meditation, here we go: you dance, have fun and meditate)
- Mediation is not strictly about repeating Sanskrit mantras or sitting still in the nothingness. When you are saying your rosary, it is a meditation. I have funny stories about how it went for me, but it is a truly beautiful way to clear your mind and soul. It could be a cathartic experience. (This is a kind of mantra meditation)
"Ohm, ma ni mad me hum" The 6 true words... Google it! :)
- Another way to train your brain to stop chasing thoughts after thoughts is for example you go for a walk. While you are walking, you start paying attention to every little details. How one foot is stretching in the shoe, do both of your feet feel the same in the shoes or one of them fills up the shoe more than the other? How do your feet touch the ground, do you feel any bumps or holes on the walkway? How about your arms: how heavy are they? etc... You see where I am going with this. This is meditation. You are in the moment. You are in an altered state of mind, you focus on the inner world and you are IN THE MOMENT. (This is called Mindfulness mediation or this activity can go under moving meditation)
So the very last thoughts about meditation for now: There is no way to do it in the wrong way. It is a journey and every moment, every meditation is an experience in itself. Accept it, embrace it, and if it is still not enough for you, find a class.
"You are always in meditation. Meditation is your default existence, you just think you need to achieve it. Sometimes you catch yourself fall off the track in this or another reality. Immediately when you find your way back to oneness, you are back in your meditative state of being"
If you liked this blog, please like it and then share it with your friends who you know they cannot meditate or want to learn it. If one thought helps them on their way, we both did a good deed. I wrote this blog to help and you sent it in someone's way, who will grow by it. Namaste