The art of meditation is a lifestyle tool that helps one calm the mind and sharpen our clarity from within. Meditation allows us to slow and impede the incessant thoughts that ripple through our brains and find that inner realm that resides just below the surface of our ego. There is a shift in perspective and mindfulness that leaves the static of this “material world” we live in behind and thus allows us to disembark on a journey inward and outward all in the same breath – thus connecting to our true nature. There are no boundaries when we discuss the concept of true nature, much like there are no boundaries within this vast cosmos that is everything. All that is matter and energy has no edge or periphery. When we consider the mind, the same notion seems to hold true. Just as we can quantify the vastness of our Universe, we can easily quantify our brain as being something small and tangible. Yet when we think about thoughts, dreams and memories, how large is the mind? What constitutes a thought and where do they come from? Where do they go? When you contemplate the mind, can you see boundaries? Is it fixed and condensed or spacious and unending?
These are questions worth pondering, because once you connect to the idea of space and how it relates to our minds, our true nature and the Universe, you will come to the realization that there are no boundaries and that anything is possible. Space or openness is the infinite quality of our minds: Think of all the countless thoughts that race through our heads each day. Imagine the space required to collect and ponder all of those electrical impulses. The brain seems small, but the mind seems vast. Once we can connect to the concept of space, the world around you will become larger and more maneuverable. Simple crude emotions like anger, jealousy and even fear will seem less ominous and persuasive. With this new spacious mindset, there will be room for the challenges that face us each day. Imagine a world with less stress, conflict and anxiety. Connecting to the concept of spaciousness is the gateway to a Responsive Universe: Vast, interconnected and pulsing with positive quantum energy.
So how does one connect to this quality of openness? Well, it begins with meditation. There are many forms of meditation including traditional or formal meditation. Most of my techniques are derived from the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Still, over the years, I have fine tuned my practice to meet my personal needs. We will discuss formal meditation at a later time, but for now it is worth mentioning a much more approachable path to meditation which I call “daily life practice”.
The concept of daily life practice is simply an extension of the meditative process. It is a process of being aware and more mindful of the present. When we stop and focus on the endless parade of thoughts in our mind we come to realize that most of these impulses of energy are rooted in the past or future. When we remain rooted in the past and future, our mental processes are governed by the ego: emotions and feelings of anger, fear, jealousy, guilt and fantasy. Rarely are we connected with the moment which is pure and unfettered. One good exercise is to ask yourself the following question: How do I feel right now? Do you feel positive, negative or just neutral? By asking this question, you are connecting to the present and thus side stepping the ego momentarily. Taste the thoughts that follow: Are they rooted in the future or past? For a couple moments label your thoughts as guests as they enter the mind. Can you put your finger on where your thoughts entered the mind and where they exited? Did they exit? The concept of meditation is not about stopping your thoughts from forming. There is this misconception with meditation that one needs to clear the mind of all thoughts – I can tell you this is virtually impossible. Meditation is about the thoughts that come and go in our minds. The first step in meditation is to simply be aware of all the thoughts.
Another simple exercise in mindfulness is being aware of your breathing. Something as simple as the “in and out” of breath is an example of being rooted in the present. For a few moments, breathe slowly and deeply into your abdomen pushing your diaphragm down into your stomach or belly. Try to hold a deep breath in for couple seconds and then slowly release the air and any stress or negativity. Do this several times being aware of the in and out of your inhalation. Label any thoughts that enter your mind as guests. It is the breath that connects the body with the mind. After several deep breaths, ask yourself how you feel: Do you feel positive, negative or neutral? Was there any shift in feeling or emotion? Are you amazed by all the thoughts that traverse the mind in such a short time? Maybe try the process again later in the day: Breathe in and breathe out; then be mindful of your constant streaming of thoughts. Do you feel good, bad or just neutral? This simple technique is an example of meditation and can used throughout the day. It allows you to stop, pause, and take a break from the static that surrounds us. It allows you to beware of your thoughts and emotions in the now – if only momentarily. Being present in the moment is an important facet to emotional stability and happiness. The more you are rooted in the present, the more space and clarity will be actualized.
Up next, Meditation Part II
John C. Bader