I don’t know about you, but meditation has always been a fascination of mine. I’ve been studying and researching the concept of “stilling the mind” and connecting with the subtle energies of the body since my late teens. It’s part of what led me into this field of acupuncture as a career.
There are about as many meditation methods as there are teachers. Thousands of books, courses, e-learning, and guided imagery tracks are out there for us to consume. It can be a little overwhelming if you want to learn how to meditate. I mean, which method do you choose? Which teacher do you trust?
I went through this for quite some time. Until one fateful day when, after years of “research” and “practice”, I suddenly got it — with help from a teacher who spoke almost no English.
I was taking a class with a Qigong (“Chee-gung”) Master. Qigong is a movement and stretching art like Tai Chi, but instead of a martial art, it is focused on cultivating healthy energy, or Qi. Qigong is used not only as physical exercise, but also as meditation and as a form of hands-on-healing.
The class was really, really good. Because the teacher couldn’t speak much English, we just mostly followed his movements. He took care to demonstrate the breathing that went along with each exercise. It was probably the most relaxing class I’d ever taken, because we were just “in our bodies” doing the exercises and there was so little verbal instruction.
Once we finished the physical movement section of the class, it was time to do “Still Qigong”, or what we call “meditation”.
And, this is where the eureka moment came. The teacher’s way of telling us it was time to meditate is what gave me the realization I’m about to share with you.
He said, “OK, now we meditate. Sit, and be quiet.”
Sit, and be quiet. Sit, and be quiet… Sit, and be quiet!
After years of study, reading, research, taking classes, trying all kinds of methods, that day was the most profound meditation I’d ever experienced.
It suddenly dawned on me:
Meditation isn’t something you DO. It’s a STATE OF MIND.
Meditation is being quiet, not doing quiet. It’s stillness. It’s not something you manufacture. You can’t force it to happen.
You just sit, and be quiet, and if you can do that long enough, things in your mind and body start to settle, relax, and let go. On their own, and quite profoundly.
Another insight from this is that meditation is something you already know how to do. It’s a matter of LETTING IT HAPPEN, not making it happen.
Since that day, I don’t do a lot of fancy meditating. I try to do some form of meditation every day, and when I do, it’s simple. I just sit, and be quiet.
My mind may be racing a million miles and hour. My body may feel restless and jittery.
“Just sit, and be quiet.”
I might be thinking of that thing I forgot to do earlier.
“Just sit, and be quiet.”
All kinds of content fills my mind…
“Just sit, and be quiet.”
And, if you can do this long enough, something absolutely magical happens. Your body goes along with it… Your nervous system “downshifts”. You actually become quiet — both inside and out.
The more I practice this type of meditation, the less I seem to be bothered by outer circumstances. The more the “quiet” becomes the dominant theme. Mind chatter and even the chatter of other people doesn’t seem to have the same influence.
So, how do you do this? Well, it’s easy. It really is easy. I know you are thinking it can’t be this easy, but it is. The hardest part is developing the patience to do it, because in this day and age instant gratification is the name of the game.
But, I promise, if you do the following for 5 days in a row, you’ll begin to see dramatic changes in your mood, energy levels, sleep, and other areas where nervous system function dominates.
- Choose a time and place where you won’t be disturbed. I like to do my meditation either first thing in the morning, or before bed.
- Choose a place where it is quiet. If you’re meditating at night, pick a dark place as well. (I like to meditate inside my bedroom closet. It’s large enough for me to sit comfortably, and because it’s a small space with no windows, it tends to be very quiet in there.)
- Sit comfortably, either in a chair or on the floor on a cushion. The key word here is COMFORT. Your spine doesn’t have to be perfectly erect, you don’t have to sit in lotus posture (although if this is a comfortable position for you, by all means use it).
- Now, just begin counting your breaths. Start with 25 breaths. After a week, increase to 50 breaths. Eventually you can do 100 or more breaths.
- Breathe in a slow, natural, relaxed way. On each exhale, count a number. Like this: Inhale… Exhale (“25”)… Inhale… Exhale(“24”), etc…
- Your mind will be thinking in the background. You may feel restless. Just keep breathing, sit still, and count. If you get distracted and lose count, just pick a number where you think you might have left off.
- Try to be perfectly still and not get up until you finish your count. This is the most important key.
You may not notice anything after the first time. That’s OK. Just keep doing this daily for at least 5 consecutive days. By the third day, you should be noticing a shift. Again, this is not something you can manufacture, your body simply has to do it once it gets the point that it is time to “sit still and be quiet”.
Once you’ve finished your 5 days, you can commit to another week, two weeks, three weeks… Or commit to meditate regularly from now on, forever.
I would love to hear feedback from you once you’ve tried it out for a few days. And, of course, you can ask me any questions you want in the comments below.