Getting Into a Regular Meditation Practice
A regular meditation practice can bring so much benefit to us physically and mentally, from reduced stress and emotional wellbeing, to improved immunity, better sleep and healing of some health conditions. There are now scientific studies proving the impact of regular meditation on our physical and mental health.
So how do we develop a regular meditation practice? To fill our garden with flowers we can’t just throw petals and expect it to work. To develop a garden it is necessary to work on the soil, water it, protect it from pests, allow a certain amount of sunlight, study the conditions. A flower does not simply appears out of sheer willpower. A beautiful, fragrant flower is a result of a systematic process worked over time along with the laws of nature.
Our mind and the possibilities of meditation are quite similar. We often hear – or have said – that it is impossible to sit quietly, relax and hold or focus into something. “Meditation is not for me”. We want the fragrance and beauty of the flower without working on the soil first.
The state of meditation is a possibility just as the growth of beauty in a garden. But we must understand the labour and techniques that are necessary to plant on the soil that was given to us. Luckily, we all have similar traits as human beings. We might have different backgrounds and genetics, but the differences are insignificant compared to the similarities we hold.
The common experience of the mind is that of fragmentation and separation. We see ourselves constantly in an internal and external battle against conflicting thoughts, emotions, impulses, daydreams and memories. This creates a natural tendency to enhance a more solid sense of ‘I’, or ‘ego’, out of the need of defence and personal reference.
Meditation is the result of a process that aims to reduce this natural tendency: to see yourself and others with less friction and fragmentation. It is a process of union (Yoga): of realising that what looked separated in fact has always been together.
To realize it, just like our flowery garden, we need to start working on the soil. First, looking at it as it is: confusing, sometimes dirty, maybe without order, lacking life or maybe with too many weeds. Just by observing a land a good farmer will learn enough to plan his actions. A good meditator does the same: he or she observes and understand. The second approach is to fix the gross layer, the body and daily discipline, where weeds must be removed and new seeds must be planted (and so with the body, through proper food and exercise). Then moving to the senses, by knowing how to best manage our sensory experiences. We have to be careful not to do too much with the senses, allowing confusion and excess to spoil the mind as too much sunshine or floods of rain can spoil the land. Learning how to be in relation with our breath, and to understand the connections with the body and min, like the wind that carries seeds, nutrients and rain. Learning how to observe the behaviour of this ‘I’, with acceptance, compassion and care, allowing the true native plants to come alive. Observing the way nature manifests inside us, and then realising that we are not separated from the functioning of the whole. Then with continued mindful efforts, we will starts to see beautiful and fragrant flowers in our garden.