09 Feb Befriending Your Mind Through Meditation
The goal of meditation is to attain a state of complete stillness at the core of your being, into which no stray thought or imagery dares intrude. It takes practice to be able to reach this mindstate, which is why so many meditation gurus place a great deal of importance on working through the distractions with persistence and determination.
When you first begin meditating, you will discover how amazing your mind truly is. Feel free to marvel at its ability to process thoughts in rapid succession and deliver them straight into your consciousness. You will also notice how erratically the mind can behave when you are trying to control it. Instead of focusing on their inner self, their core, people find themselves chasing their mind at a fast-paced speed.
The capacity of the mind is truly phenomenal!
There are many approaches that can help you to deal with everything your mind dredges up during meditation. While attending a class at Meditation Victoria, we were taught that having a few principles pointed out beforehand can save you from unneeded mental processes that cause your mind to wander during meditation.
To aid you in your meditation practice, try out the following techniques:
– Allow the thoughts, emotions and images arising to enter your mind without comment and without placing judgement on yourself. Watch them pass by like ocean waves or clouds in the sky.
– Work to develop an understanding that your thoughts are nothing more then thoughts, a function of your subconscious. Allow them to dissolve into the infinite, like a drop of water falling into a puddle on the sidewalk, disappearing and merging into the water.
– Think of your mind like a blank screen on which images are projected. Try to discover why these images are being projected, and why you feel the need to watch them.
– Without getting stuck in your emotional ties to your thoughts try to bring awareness to your breath, your mantra, or the focus you have chosen for your meditation. This is one of the easiest methods to put to use when meditating.
These techniques for meditation allow you to go beyond the noise on the surface of your mind and find the stillness deep within yourself. When you can enter this state of awareness there is no more need for them.
Signs of Progress
The early benefits of meditation can be felt on a physical level, and you might notice a feeling of relaxation and overall wellbeing. As you continue with your practice, the effects that become more noticeable are those that impact your psyche. Different emotions and thought processes will arise, either negative or positive, as you go through a difficult period in your practice. If these are unrelated to your surroundings it could be that mediation has begun the process of purification, and if you persevere you will soon start to feel the benefits. You can look at it like when you fast or give up coffee – you usually feel worse before you feel better. With mediation the release is of a physical and mental nature.
Understand this is part of the process, and you are developing the pathways in your body that lead the way to greater inner stability. If you have been working on your mediation practice for a while you may find it’s becoming stale or has plateaued, and you may want to bring some freshness to your technique. After a while the excitement could wear off and familiarity with the process could lead to a feeling of boredom. Keep in mind that meditation can be thought of as a relationship, a progression from one level to the next in a stable sequence. Try not to question this relationship, but instead question your need for excitement. Renew your commitment to your practice – this is where the real work will start.
As you continue your practice you may encounter new experiences, like flashes of energy circulating through your body, even tingling sensations! It is not uncommon for people to report feelings of inner bliss, changes in how they breathe naturally, or seeing and hearing inner lights and sounds. Such things can be a signal that you are on track, but don’t become attached to them. It’s best to think of them in the same way you have been taught to think of anything that enters your mind during meditation – recognize they are fleeting. Let them float away.
And finally, why meditation? Mediation is great for both the body and mind, and in terms of the health benefits I have found it to be much like registered massage therapy. It can be used to treat anxiety, depression, suffering, and to create an amazing source of inner strength for use in difficult times. You may find you are better able to handle stressful or uncomfortable situations, and become more centered and calm in your everyday life.
Above all meditation encourages your spiritual development, leading to greater compassion, kindness, and love…and couldn’t we all use a little more of that?
Dr. Benn Drysdale is a Chiropractor at Tall Tree Integrated Health Centre in Victoria, BC. Benn’s educational career has been intimately connected with sport and health since he began his Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology from the University of Calgary in 2008. His undying curiosity and passion for the human body and all its facets in health then led him to pursue a Doctorate of Chiropractic from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, graduating in 2015 with noted clinical excellence and community involvement. He approaches his patient care and life in general with the same core values as Tall Tree Integrated Health: excellence, caring, and fun.