Seriously, I think meditation is one of the most important thing we can do in our lives. Cultivating the practice brings more awareness to daily life. There are as many different styles of meditation as there are teachers. It’s a very simple practice that can be challenging to practice every day, but worth the effort.
Years ago, I went with my friend from NYC to the Omega Center in Rhinebeck, NY. I had been on the yogic path for a number of years and we both decided to attend this meditation retreat. My friend is a typical New Yorker and used to a fast thinking, fast paced lifestyle. We settled into the retreat center and headed for our morning session. The teacher was sitting in a cross legged position in the room as we quietly entered and sat down. After everyone was seated he closed his eyes. That was it. Really? This was no way to introduce a group of New Yorkers to meditation! No explanations, nothing! After a while it started raining outside. He opened his eyes and said we should go outside a do a walking meditation. My friend thought everyone looked like zombies and she wanted to get out of there. So we went antiquing!
I’m sure many people have similar stories and the idea of meditation may sound good but it goes no further. People often say they have tried meditating but they can’t stop thinking! The point is not to stop thinking, but to cultivate awareness. The point is to notice when we are thinking and then to let the thought go. We want to look at our thoughts for what they are: thoughts. They are not us, they are thoughts which are changeable. Our being is not our thoughts, we need to go beyond thoughts and connect with the greater expression of ourselves. To connect with our higher self we need to be still and silent. Only when the stillness occurs can we be graced with a greater knowing and presence that is always there. We are so busy running around that we don’t have time to notice our own true being. Connecting with this source is why we meditate. Once we have this connection, amazing things can happen. Sometimes the solution to a problem pops into my head; an answer that I was seeking. This does not come from my thinking mind but from a higher source and it feels wonderful.
By the way, years later, my NY friend went to a local TM center and has started meditating. She find it to be calming and feels better when she practices on a regular basis. She's started recommending the practice to friends to reduce stress.
The idea has become mainstream, but the actual practice not so much. Like any truism, the concept is simple. Not necessarily easy.
Just begin. If you get distracted, start again. If you go for days or weekend and haven't meditated, start again. Keep coming back. You'll be glad you did.