how-to-meditate

How to Meditate

The Guidelines, Purpose and Benefits of Silent Meditation Practice

by Andrei Skwira

The word meditate stems from the Latin root meditatum, which means to ponder, give attention; and mederi—to heal, become whole.

In all spiritual traditions meditation is one of the main practices to connect with God, Spirit, Oneness.

The habit of meditation is a basis for all real knowledge.

Be still

The Old Testament says: Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).

The question arises: How to be still in the busy world? How to meditate?

There are hundreds of meditation practices and the most common is a practice of silent meditation.

Silent meditation retreat gives an opportunity to go deeper within, where you can find a refuge from the disturbance of the outer world. Meditation retreat is also an effective way to support you in establishing your committed daily home practice.

Here are some Silent Meditation guidelines:

Begin with meditation with form, as described in Vipassana, a Buddhist tradition, which invites to observe all the objects arising in the awareness using all senses and just witnessing what’s showing up.

This practice may facilitate insight into your true nature.

Breathe mindfully

Sit straight without any strain. If you experience pain or real discomfort during a session, change your position, but only when you are sure that you need to.

Start with putting your full attention on the breath.

Be aware of each inhale and each exhale. Breathe fully and without an effort, fill up your belly, let it rise when you inhale and fall when you exhale.

Notice all the sensation of the breath passing through your nostrils, throat and into your belly.

In the beginning you can count the breaths to increase your focus and to slow down the thinking mind.

Witness

Slowly expand your awareness and in each moment pay attention to the breath, all the sensations in the body, your emotions and thoughts.

Be aware of all the objects in your environment: sounds, energy, people.

Notice that your sense of space increases. At every moment you become aware of more objects and forms. With every breath you are more spacious, more open to receive and witness.

Whatever thought or emotion passes on the screen of your mind or your heart, just stay in the witnessing, without getting involved or identified. Silent meditation may bring up past hurts, which you haven’t fully faced and instead created all different distractions to avoid them.

Witness all the ways you want to escape and stay still. Meet everything that shows up with full presence.

If you don’t have much of a meditation experience, you may encounter busy activities of the mind and restlessness in the body, which wants to follow the mind and keep moving.

Allow

Do not try to stop the mind or force anything. Surrender all effort, all control. Silent meditation is an opportunity to face and witness everything that’s arising without trying to change anything.

You may notice a habitual tendency to distract yourself and move away into the future or the past. Just witness the fear-based mind attempting to create a perceived sense of security in the fictitious future or dwelling in the nonexistent past and regretting, blaming, judging.

Allow everything to be exactly as it is, and as it is showing up on the screen of consciousness. Just be still, observe without doing.

When you catch yourself being totally lost in the thinking process, the moment you see it, come back to the breath awareness. Nothing is ever lost, you always have only this moment, inviting you to return, to be present again.

Abide

Pay attention to the gaps between thoughts and the gaps between breaths. Abide in a gap, staying in a thoughtless awareness and a felt sense of it, even if it lasts only a second.

Inquire

After some time, during your silent meditation retreat or during your own practice at home, you may notice a shift from focusing on all the objects in awareness your attention may start shifting to the subject of meditation, with a question: who is aware of all the forms and objects, who is present to all that arises?

Who is it?

This is a main question of spiritual self-inquiry:

Who am I? What is it that breathes through me? What is it that is aware?

Is it the mind, which tries to grasp it, understand it, control it?

Am I the mind?

Fail as a meditator

Observing yourself in meditation you learn that the mind is made of mostly repetitive thoughts and they come and go.

Trying to find yourself in the thoughts, you cannot, you must fail.

It is a failure of the thinker, the controller, ego-based identity. In the process of meditation, you loose the meditator, only the meditation remains.

Discover your true nature

You may observe that what is aware doesn’t have a form, it is unmovable, unchangeable, it’s beyond thought, therefore it’s timeless, eternal. The separate egoic identity starts to dissolve into formless awareness.

You discover a True Self. You are aware of being aware.

Through you the Awareness becomes aware of itself.

The sense of Oneness, inner peace and freedom is restored.

You come back home to yourself, where you become whole and healed again, trusting and loving what is, feeling gratitude and appreciation for all gifts of life.

This is a true purpose of Silent Meditation.

“Meditation is the ending of thought. It is only then that there is a different dimension which is beyond time.

“Meditation is one of the greatest arts in life—perhaps the greatest, and one cannot possibly learn it from anybody; that is the beauty of it. It has no technique and therefore no authority. When you learn about yourself, watch yourself, watch the way you walk, how you eat, what you say, the gossip, the hate, the jealousy – if you are aware of all that in yourself, without any choice, that is part of meditation. Meditation is a choiceless awareness in the present.”

—Jiddu Krishnamurti

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