The value that meditation brings to the practitioners life can be mysterious at first. What can one possibly get from sitting still and closing their eyes? After trying meditation a few times it seems boring, uncomfortable and a waist of time. It is at this point that most people give up, saying that ‘it is not for them’. So what’s all the hype about then? Millions of people practice meditation everyday and have so for millennia. Some of the most successful personalities in media, film and business swear that meditation is the key to their success. We know it is good for us but we just don’t get it and don’t make time to do it.
If you want to run a marathon you don’t spend your first training session running 42 km. You start with a short distance and over many months you work your way up to a full marathon. If the average Joe decides he wants to bench press 300 pounds, he does not attempt that on his first day at the gym. It takes months, sometimes years of training to build that kind of strength. Training the physical body is similar to training the mind - it takes time and consistent effort.
Many people think meditation means to clear your mind. With experience and practice, it is certainly possible to settle the activities of the mind - but for the new practitioner this exercise will be impossible to execute without some preparation exercises that first train the mind.
Training the mind is important because everything that happens in your life starts in your mind! Our thoughts become words, our words become actions and our actions become our relationships, projects, accomplishments, regrets and triumphs. Your thoughts are the beginning of the manifestation of your life. You are - what you think!
When we first sit down and close our eyes we ‘see’ our thoughts - a whirlwind of feelings, wants, dislikes, memories of the past and our imaginations of the future. The mind is often a messy place! If our mind is cloudy - full of confusion, desires and powerful emotions, it is difficult to be effective in anything that we do. We are a slave to our emotions and this leads to a life full of turmoil and distress. Master your mind and you can do anything!
Before we can settle our thoughts first we must learn to master where we place our attention. Our attention naturally jumps from thought to thought like a wild monkey jumping from tree to tree in the jungle. Training our attention is a simple matter of practicing concentration exercises. By deepening our ability to focus our attention we will become more effective in everything that we set out to do.
Observing what is happening in your mind, on the way to settling our thoughts, will also teach you a lot about you. When a wary traveller arrives in a foreign city and looks at a map of of the subway system the feeling can be overwhelming. What grounds the tourist is the “You Are Here” sticker. Now he or she has a starting point to move from and navigation becomes easy. When you decide to take on the practice of meditation that is exactly what we are doing. You turn your attention inward, using various techniques and spend time observing ‘where you are’ - physically, emotionally and mentally. Now you have clear starting point from which to act. Knowing where you are is very important and will help you to intelligently determine what to do or not do next.
Meditating is actually easy. We can all do it. With practice it will become a time in your day that you cherish and look forward to.