To anyone first coming to meditation they can be met with a plethora of advice and techniques that is enough to baffle and confuse. Where to go? What to do? Which is best? How to start? How to chose between TM, mindfulness, mantra recitation, kundalini, vipassana, insight, witness, breath awareness, shamata, visualization, MBSR, metta, and more?
Part of the difficulty is that the word meditation means both the experience and the technique. This is important because the experience is spontaneous, natural, arising from within, while the technique is simply the learnt method that helps you have the experience. It makes little difference which technique you use, as techniques are designed to help calm the mind, stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, bring your attention to just this present moment, through which the experience of meditation arises naturally.
It’s easy to get caught up in the technique and forget that it’s only a way to something, not the something itself. We’ve talked with over 100 meditation teachers and practitioners who each emphasized that the experience is far more important than the technique. What you are doing is opening yourself to an inner stillness that grows each time you come to sit quietly. In other words, just shut up, sit still, and see what happens!
The experience of meditation is one of being completely present. That may sound simple but it is rare – notice how your normal state of mind is distracted by issues from the past or dealing with issues in the future – anywhere but just right here. When you are fully present all those demanding thoughts begin to drop away and are seen as being less important, even anger, resentment, hurt and other negative emotions lose their power. Being fully present you experience the totality of your being and the richness found in stillness and silence.
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Which means that meditation is accumulative – you may not experience anything the first time you do it, but keep at it and you will. And though it may appear as if nothing is happening, in the midst of it all you may have a breakthrough, a moment of insight, and that one moment can change your life.