For over 6 months now, I’ve been consistently meditating for 20 minutes a day. I can see the benefits of the practice every day.
Why I needed a Change
“Howcould that be so painful?” I asked myself. I had committed to sit in silence for just 5 minutes. I had given up smoking a few years earlier. And I had cut out almost all
television watching. And yet, sitting still for a few minutes seemed like such a difficult task. That’s when I started thinking about my
childhood. I had a TV set in my bedroom most of my life. I would watch
endless programs and commercials, often eating by myself in my room.
Sometimes a family member would disrupt my viewing and I would become
very negative. An addict, is what I was. Outside of my room, my
attention span was limited. I’d forget what people were talking about
while in conversation, and start looking down. I couldn’t remember
someone’s name to save my life.
We live in a face-paced, always-on world of endless entertainment. We are
constantly pinging and being pinged with information. Sometimes, we
need to step back and process everything. Studies show that meditation
triggers alpha brain waves, and can calm the amygdala, the part of the
brain that controls fear. Anxiety seems to be a popular disease these
days, but often fixable without the use of medication or therapy. This
is why I meditate.
How I started
I started with a 5 minute timer, and let me tell you, it was the longest 5 minutes of my life. I had no idea what I was doing, or even why I was sitting there. I just knew that I had committed to 5 minutes and if I couldn’t do that, I was pathetic. All I could think about was how I could be doing something else. It seemed like a thousand thoughts raced through my brain. I was uncomfortable, sitting cross-legged on my bed. I needed to make adjustments, but I was able to sit there and stare at my wall for the entire 5 minutes.
I have 2 pillows that I stack on top of each other on my bed (which happens to be one of the most comfortable places on the planet). I sit cross-legged (usually switching which leg is on top every other day). I keep my spine erect. Think of reaching the crown of your head as high as possible. And I keep my hands laying gently on my thighs. I switch between having my hands faced down and faced up, depending on my intention of the session. I turn off all distractions such as cell phones and television. I will usually keep my eyes closed, sometimes stare at my wall, or even out my window.
At first, your mind will do everything to distract you. Remember, you are not your mind. You are the Observer. You can control your mind like a craftsman uses a tool. Time requires thought. That’s your brain working. When you hit a deep meditative state, you will not think about time.It won’t happen right away. In a 20 minute session, I will only hit this state for about 8 minutes, and the first 10 minutes are usually spent quieting the mind. How you can achieve this state is by focusing on your breath. You want to dialate your focus from inside yourself, to outside. You will feel your body and the area around you. You’ll hear things you didn’t hear before, even your heart and body making noise. Be aware of your surroundings.
There is a story about 2 fish swimming. One fish says to the other, “I hear there is this stuff called water. If we can find it, we will be happy.” That water is presence.
Eyes Open / Eyes Closed
You can do whatever you want. Personally, I like to have eyes closed the entire time. The benefit of this is I can imaging myself in space, or at the bottom of an ocean in total darkness. The ocean analogy helped me a lot in the beginning. Basically, on the surface of the ocean you can think of the waves as your emotion. It can get really choppy up there. However, at the bottom of the ocean, so deep where light cannot even reach, it’s very calm. You’re safe at the bottom, even when a hurricane is passing over the surface. Ya follow me?
Having your eyes open should be practiced, too. Here’s why. It’s an extremely valuable tool to apply your meditation practice in the real world. As I mentioned, you can control your emotions, such as fear. At some point in the world you will feel afraid or anxious, and you won’t have your comfy bed and pillows to retreat to. You’ll have to deal with the situation you’re given. Being able to hit a meditative state with your eyes open, perhaps while walking, is an essential tool. So practice with your eyes open sometimes. You’ll notice with eyes closed that at some point, you have to open them, and you realize just how much information your mind is hit with using sight. You need to be able to control your mind even when tempted with all of this viewable information to process. Practice eyes open when you can, perhaps while riding passenger in a car or on the bus.
Yet another option exists. Surprised? I was. It’s called 3rd Eye mediation. Your 3rd eye does not physically exist. You can think of it as existing as a spiritual portal in between your 2 physical eye’s. This is one area I am still experimenting with, and my belief’s may be very different from the standard, so you can take it or leave it. The way I used my 3rd eye is this. It is an extreme example of the Watcher. Beyond your mind and body is the Self, or the Watcher. I imagine my 3rd eye to be like a big brother. Watching over myself, able to see inside and out. 3rd eye can give me direction that I couldn’t see from within myself.
Ability to retain information and remember peoples.
Improved Analytical skills
Improved ability to stay present and connect with people