Meditation is one of those practices that is widely misunderstood. The vast majority of people think meditation involves sitting cross-legged and chanting ‘aummmm’.
Whilst this is true in the traditional sense, the reality is that at some point during the course of every day, we all meditate.
You see, what meditation really means is being in the moment. Focusing on one thing, or just clearing the mind as we tend to do in moments of reverie. Have you ever been sat on a bus staring out the window and drifting away. Then suddenly you come back to awareness and realise it’s your stop.
Losing yourself in a moment is essentially meditating. Concentrating on one aspect of what you are doing is meditating. You see, meditation is merely an expression we use to describe the act of connecting with your true essence.
And this is why meditators choose to sit in the lotus position to meditate. It is regarded as the most uncomfortable posture to sit in and if you can meditate well enough to not feel the pain, you are truly connecting with the wisdom of your higher-self.
Meditation and yoga
It is a common trait for people to have an opinion about things they do not know. And opinions are usually wrong until we have fully experience and understand. I used to do it all the time. Now I understand the error of my ways.
Furthermore, when people are given a concept of what we should and shouldn’t do, we tend to believe it. We don’t think for ourselves often enough. We rarely research around a subject to accrue an independent idea. Most people follow the crowd just to fit into social stigmas.
And this is why we do not understand things we have little experience or knowledge about. Like meditation, yoga is another practice that is misconstrued. Even today, many people think only old women do yoga, just because that was common 20 years ago. But try it for yourself, and you will know it is tough. And people of both sexes and all ages do yoga.
When I did Bikram yoga in Valencia, there were a couple of guys who had completed iron man courses, but said the first time they did Bikram yoga it was the toughest hour and half work out they had ever done.
Furthermore, yoga is intricately connected with meditation. Every move in yoga is designed to help us get into the classic lotus posture for mediation. But you do not have to sit in posture to meditate. You just have to focus.
When you are fully absorbed in what you are doing, you are meditating. So if you are fully absorbed whilst reading this article without being distracted by what is happening around you or thinking about what to buy from the supermarket you are meditating. So concentrate dumbass!
What IS Meditation?
Meditation is described by Wikipedia as “a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself.” The entry goes on to explain the practice involves an “effort to self-regulate the mind” and to generate “an emotional state for the purpose of analysing that state.”
Whilst it is true that meditation is often used to answer questions internally, and it is used to train the mind to help us cope in life situations better, meditation is much more than this – it is connecting with your subconscious, you inner wisdom. And you can do this at any time, you don’t have to be sitting in a lotus position and “focusing” your mind.
Think about the last time you had a Eureka moment? Were you meditating in a lotus position? Probably not. You were more likely to have been daydreaming on a bus, washing the pots, in the shower, ironing. Whatever it was you were doing, your mind was probably still. You were connected with your inner wisdom.
When I was in Chile researching my book, Journeys to Ancient Worlds: What Modern Man Can Learn From Ancient Civilisations, I interviewed Jorge, a member of the Mapuche tribe who actively practices ancient traditions. Inevitably the conversation turned to meditation.
“We should meditate all the time,” Jorge told me. “It’s simple. Concentrate on what you are doing. If you are driving, drive. Don’t think about anything else. If you are eating, eat. Don’t watch the TV. If you are reading, read. Don’t allow your mind to wander.”
And so it is.
When you daydream you enter into your personal sanctum and drift into a reverie where time seems to stand still. It is often in these moments that answers to your questions will come. You have connected with your inner consciousness, the infinite wisdom that exists in us all.
When Plato wrote about innate ideas, he explained that all answers to life are already within you – you just haven’t realised them yet. In other words, you haven’t had the experience you need to learn. You haven’t asked your subconscious mind the question.
And why would you, if you don’t know you have the answer.
So now you do know you have all the answers, meditate. Whatever it is you are doing, live in that moment. If you ask yourself the questions you want to know about, the answers will come. Maybe not immediately, but they will come.
In his book, The Power of the Subconscious Mind, psychoanalyst, Dr Joseph Murphy, describe various methods of resolving life’s problems by contemplating them and visually imagining your preferred outcome. Dr Murphy calls this “infinite intelligence” and says we all have the ability to tap into and train our subconscious mind.
You can create your own future by conditioning your thoughts to what you want from life.
Connecting with your inner wisdom
Meditation is a life choice. Even though we all meditate naturally at various intervals throughout the day, learning how to meditate properly will bring more benefits, especially if your focus is to improve your life. So how can you connect with your inner wisdom?
First of all, address a particular aspect of your life you would like to change. This may be a question you have about a job, a relationship, how you can make more money, maybe even something as simple as what book you should read next.
Once you have decided, take a moment to still your mind. When you still your mind, you can hear the answer to your question.
Many people actually find it easier to still their mind when engaged in a familiar activity that does not require any thinking such as washing the dishes, ironing or cleaning the house – although hoovering is not recommend – ideally you want quiet.
Trying to mediate on the other hand can cause frustrations and your mind will be gripped with anxiety that you can’t empty your mind. When you sense you are in a relaxed state of mind, ask your question. Don’t expect the answer to come immediately, but now you have put your question out there, now it will come.
If you are open to receiving you will recognise the answer so look for signs. The answer may come as a thought, which are the easiest signs to perceive, but they may come to you as an event, what somebody says, something you see walking down the street, or, as often is the case, you stumble across the information randomly in a book or browsing the internet.
But when the answer comes you will instinctively know it is right, because the answer is within you and thus will resonate.
You can learn more about meditation and the power of the mind in my book Journey’s to Ancient Worlds: What Modern Man Can Learn From Ancient Civilisations