The attention we devote to our goals is, every few moments, interrupted by outside stimuli. Work, relationships, phones, unexpected problems, and a constant bombardment of advertisements and distractions all divide and cripple the quality of our attention. However, it is possible to counter the chaos of life’s demands by meditating. Meditation is the practice of controlling one’s own attention, and by directing attention one may become free of unnecessary limits through new perspectives.
This series will describe different methods of achieving greater familiarity with powers of mind by means of meditation. Rather than trying to further define what meditation is, which causes many introductions to move in circles, this series will deliver explanations of many different types of meditation. Each will provide a step-by-step initiation for practice, as well as historical context to promote any deeper self-study into a particular meditation. The goal is to promote time-tested methods of meditation practiced for mental resilience, peace, and mental and spiritual exploration.
Becoming familiar with a meditative state really is as profound as having flexed a muscle for decades, and then gradually learning to release that tension.
Throughout the day, some take refuge from mental demands in things like a coffee or phone breaks. These intervals may provide a quick relief, but they actually pinch-off the chance for a sustained and fulfilling attention to the task at hand. Meditation, however, provides relief as well as a replenishment of your willpower and attention.
It is common to find oneself surfing the web or trying to find the right words for a text message during more important activities, such as working or cooking. This is especially likely at the end of a busy day- the brain is fried, the body is tired, a to-do list is stacking up, and there only might be time to make something quick and clean up before it’s time to wake up and do it again.
Once the mind becomes more adept at relaxing, it can achieve great focus, pliability, and creativity. The daily tasks and interruptions will line up rather than surround. Imagine a day filled with the usual business, but with a short body-scan meditation during lunch. A body-scan is a quick inventory of the sensations from each part of the body. Afterwards, the same rush of problems and stresses is in the way, but they aren’t as threatening, and it becomes easier to move through them. The ten-minute buffer established between the feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated allow for a calmer state of mind for thoughts to spring from afterwards.
Several things start to happen with regular meditation. The first is a sensation of lightness, as though taking a backpack off after a long journey. This is accommodated by a feeling of peace, much like a moment often experience right before waking in the morning, before being faced with reality. And then gradually the mental processes – focus, memory, problem solving, and creativity - will operate more smoothly. Each thought will become more defined. Finally, and most rewarding, meditation offers the chance to establish new perspective. The space meditation provides allows problems to be viewed at arm’s length, where one can turn problems to see new angles and creative solutions.
Meditation provides undoubted improvement to the lives of those who practice it, in both researched and personally unexpected ways. It cultivates space between emotions and resulting thoughts, it provides more cushion around stress, and it casts greater clarity in both moment-to-moment living and for long-term priorities. Ultimately meditation provides the perspective to better expend one’s willpower towards aims and obstacles in the pursuit of one’s own happiness.
The first installment in this series will describe the body-scan form of meditation at length, which is essentially a practice of letting your attention slowly crawl over your body, noting the feelings of each limb, and easing tension where it is noticed. It takes ten to twenty minutes, and it can be a highly rejuvenating practice even as a first-time meditation.
Thank you for reading this introduction, it will be a pleasure to introduce the basics for many different types of meditations in the near future!