The goal of meditation is to quiet the mind in order to hear the truth spoken by your clear consciousness.
We sink into deeper and deeper levels of consciousness as we fall asleep. For those of us who do so easily, the different states may shift too quickly to discern. We slip through the same tiers in meditation without the goal of sleeping. Some people may fall asleep when meditating. They are just tired. Eventually they will catch up on their sleep. Following the body’s inclinations is the key.
Meditation is like putting your oxygen mask on first, before helping others, in a depressurized plane. The first step in any meditation practice is to love your self. If you cannot look in a mirror and honestly attest your love to the image reflecting back at you, start here. In meditation a mantra is one or more words you remember to repeat in between being distracted by extraneous thoughts such as the electricity bill. Self-love is fostered first by the trust developed as a fetus, when all your needs were met. Repeat the phrases: “I trust myself. I love myself. I am a good person. I do good work.” Fear is overcome by love. No matter how traumatic the life, self-love conquers all.
Meditation is a way to hibernate on a daily basis. The breath moving through the nose connects to the depths of the body at the kidneys. These organs are considered the seat of the self in Chinese medicine. Meditation reconnects us with our own deeply held beliefs, whatever they are. For this reason it is nondenominational. It provides a regular break from the constant input of the outside world telling us what to do. It is a chance to relax in a culture that bombards us with information and often asks us to do too much.
Meditation is commonly practiced twice daily for 20 to 30 minutes. The best way to foster the habit is to do it at the same time everyday. Healthy routines are just as easy to develop as poor ones. If you need, start with once a day and make it 10 or 15 minutes for some real baby steps. It is a good idea to dedicate the corner of a quiet room to the practice. Do not meditate after eating. Our digestion is responsible for the ability to focus in Chinese medicine. It cannot do this effectively while digesting too. Meditation is not necessarily suitable for everyone. Look at the area below your nose where there is a groove running down to your lips. If it is a deep cleft, you will benefit from exercise the most. If the lips are full, you respond more to dietary interventions. If the chin is strong, meditation gives you the biggest bang for your investment. Ultimately you are the one to decide where you dedicate your time for self-care.
Your comfort while meditating is important. Commonly one sits on a comfortable pillow cross-legged with the back unsupported. The pillow under your butt should keep your knees at hip level or below so the back lengthens and relaxes more easily. This is not necessarily something you may be able to achieve yet. Sit in a chair where your feet are flat on the ground. If your legs are short like mine, you may need a pillow on the floor under your feet. You may even require a pillow to support your lower back. As your physical flexibility increases with exercise and stretching, your goal is to sit with your perineum at the front of the chair. Your back needs to be strong for this step because the chair no longer supports it.
Your hands may be open on your thighs to absorb heaven’s energy, perhaps with only thumbs and middle fingers touching. Your thumbs can be interlaced to communicate with the divinity of the self. Alignment is important. Keep the tip of the tongue on the roof of your mouth to close the circle of energy you create. Feel the tailbone descend, curling subtlely and the top of the head rise as if a string pulls it from heaven.
First and foremost you must sincerely love yourself, check out the mirror again if you want reassurance! If your face does not yet inspire these feelings repeat the mantras suggested at the beginning.
Defined by love, you are ready to let go of the thoughts that enter your head, pleasant or unpleasant. With compassion and understanding you acknowledge their existence. You may imagine them floating skyward or you might repeat the mantra “Let them go” in your mind. Letting go is a process unique to you. Transcendental meditation employs the repetition of certain mantras to discourage thinking. Some thoughts may not leave so easily. In this case just keep letting them go. Meditation can be a slow process because it removes the garbage we accumulate in our minds. How deep is your rubbish pile? Clearing the mind leaves it more open to being in the moment. If we persist in defining our experiences according to history, we will repeat it over and over again. The mind becomes flexible without the weight of all your previous assumptions. It becomes more finely tuned to your personal mandate on earth.