Having a meditation practice is about committing to a process of spiritual discovery. Contrary to common assumption, those involved in a meditation practice have not arrived at a sought-after destination, but are on an evolving journey.
When we first begin to meditate, it can seem impossible, especially because many still have misconceptions about meditation. One common belief is that its purpose is to turn off the mind and until you’ve done that, you’re not successfully meditating. Some will give up the practice due to a lack of understanding of its’ gradual unfolding or will lose patience anticipating it.
What I have come to learn, and now teach to those seeking the many benefits of meditation, is that there are layers of our own consciousness we move through as we pursue a meditation practice.
When we begin, our mind is typically racing, and we’re lucky if we can separate from our thoughts long enough to become aware of our bodily sensations, or even to begin to relax. How long we spend at this stage depends on the individual.
Then we typically get to a place where our mind is still active, but we are able to interrupt the “monkey mind” intermittently to bring attention into our body and breath, perhaps even beginning to relax. It is at this stage that the typically overwhelmed nervous system gets the relief it has needed, and as a result, many will fall asleep during their practice. This, however, won’t last forever.
As the nervous system recharges its batteries, we adapt and are more able to remain conscious throughout our meditation exercise. This is when the magic starts. Now we can start to notice the space between our thoughts and tap into the creative possibility there. With experience and by remaining open, the space becomes more vast, moving to the forefront of our awareness as our thoughts fade into the background. This is when we become the observer of our consciousness.
We can use the analogy of our mind being like a train station. It can be potentially chaotic. We get wrapped up in the experience of all the activity going on all at once. Every distraction to our senses steals our attention. There are many thoughts coming and going like trains. Without intent, we can find ourselves riding a thought train, perhaps not even knowing how we got on it, where it is taking us, or whether it is the journey we even want to take.
Allowing the process of meditation to evolve will eventually lead to a witness experience. As we first learn to slow the activity of our mind, it allows us to perceive the activity more clearly. We can then pause on the platform and observe the space between each thought train as they come and go. This is where the creative process of meditation begins. We can now separate ourselves enough from the activity of the mind to see the direction of each thought train and choose which train we want to get on or stay in the space between them, allowing ourselves to rest when appropriate. Ultimately, this allows us to choose healthier thoughts and manage our energy wisely.
We are all creating at any given time, either consciously or unconsciously. Meditation is a pathway to manifesting with awareness.
So while meditation requires consistent commitment and patience, it teaches us to use the power of our mind to bring us into alignment with how we want to experience life. What could be more worth it?