How I meditate: I sit on a meditation pillow in front of a mirror. My spine is erect and my legs are in a half lotus position. I look into my eyes for 20 minutes and stay in my company. That’s it.
I’ve started meditating about three years ago because I just intuitively felt that there is something I must deal with. I have a very erratic personality, while being calm on the outside and would always try to be as busy a possible, even if that meant binge watching tv shows as if they were movies. This bothered me. I knew that it doesn’t make me feel any better but I just couldn’t stop. I either kept watching or did nothing. And nothing seemed to be the scariest thing. So, I remember one particular point in my life where I made the decision to change all the negative habits I’ve developed over the years. I ended my relationship, stopped watching videos and even listening music. I’m a radical guy. I replaced all that with self-developement, non-fiction and exercise to really transform my life for the better. But still, there was one thing missing, I still hadn’t dealt with this nothing stuff and even though I felt on the right track and had plenty of things to fill my time, my fear of it still made my decisions for me.
Explaining this is easy: If you structure your life in order to avoid something specific you are limiting yourself to only the things that conform with that structure. You have a barrier in your mind that lets you make free decisions at gun point by the thing you must avoid. So, this apparent freedom is not really there at all but I didn’t know that yet. I went on with my life and still felt sad and emotionally unstable from time to time, but it got better. I started reading about people like Eckhart Tolle and got The Power of Now. This basically gave me the idea of meditation as a tool and not a spiritual path attached to some weird dogma. I liked it and began to do short 1 minute meditations throughout the day whenever I felt uneasy or troubled. This leads me to tip Nr.1:
1. Meditation is a tool to clean your mind, like a shower is for cleaning your body. Start small: Do a 1 minute meditation wherever you are, whatever position and whatever mood you are in. Imagine your thoughts being clouds and practise to make them disappear. Remember: What you resist persists, what you look at disappears. Look at thought.
The basic idea is that you are not your thoughts. You have many thought in your head but they come from you but they are not you. Imagine this: You have so many things in your mind but it is just a fraction of what you actually know. Your subconscious mind knows much, much more. Try writing down all your memories chronologically. You can’t do it, that’s not how your mind works. How could it? In order to access all this information, you would need some kind of chronologic index to follow which points to all the specific memories, and even that index would be way too big to hold in your head. So we forget, or so we think, but it’s all there, whenever you need it.
That’s why people guided by intuition seem to always find their way, they don’t just rely on what they know, they rely on everything! Sam Harris has some interesting ideas on that, but my all-time favourite is Milton H. Erickson, the godfather of hypnotherapy. He always said that you already know it, you just forgot that you know it and that the subconscious mind is like a sponge and always listening (paraphrased). You thing you are just relaxing with a movie? Your subconscious mind takes it all in. You watch TV but play with your phone? Your subconsciouslistens. You think the music you listen to has no effect on your being? Your subconscius mind will start to align with whatever you expose yourself to. That’s pretty scary in my opinion but also very empowering. The point is alignment. Just like a magnet, the weaker magnets will be polarised by the stronger ones. The ads and commercials you don’t notice work the best because you’re unprotected.
When you listen to a lovesong but know better that longing and wishing just leads to pain and suffering, it doesn’t make a difference, it’s now in there. Look at all the troubles you’ve had in a relationship and see if you would be surprised to see that specific issue in a movie, tv show or song. It’s really, really scary. See, when you look at a picture and want to rate it, you know instantly if its good or bad, no need to argue with yourself. And how do you know it? You feel it, instantly. The picture has changed your feelings just by exposing itself to you. That’s how we work. You can’t reverse that feeling just like you can’t make your body not digest something that has reached your intestines. It’s too late. So, my advice:
2. Be very selective about what you see as part of your life. Music, movies, people, commercials and art all change you without you having to give permission. If the music has stupid lyrics, the movie has an immature story or your colleagues are negative, separate yourself from them either physically or mentally. The more you advance the kinder you will become, but in the beginning, be strict.
The next thing is some kind of meditation practise that is fixed and stands for itself. I do 20 min every morning after some exercises. I do it in front of a mirror for a few reasons. First of all, it makes me focus more, because its harder to look away and think while you look straight into your eyes. Secondly, you give yourself full attention and I think this is the main benefit of meditation.
In the book Sapiens I just read that hunter gatherer tribes touch kids over 90 % of the time, all day long! We are down to something like 17 %. That must have an effect on our psyche. We crave attention and love in a world where sex is easier to get than affection. Ask any woman what is easier to get: Unconditional affection and kindness by a man or sex. I think that is a real epidemic. Reid Mihalko, sex educator, does non-sex related cuddle parties. That’s a great start. By the way, nothing against sex, I love it and everybody should have plenty of it. I will write about sex some other time. A basic principle of enlightenment is that what you want from the universe you first have to give yourself. If you want love, give love. Want sex? Give sex. Want attention? Give attention. That’s why I do the mirror meditation. I give myself attention and that’s translates into my life. I start giving full attention to everybody and in turn get full attention back most of the time. So, next tip:
3. Sit in front of a mirror, cross-legged, lotus, half lotus or a chair, it doesn’t matter. Have a straight back and look into your eyes for 2, 5, 10 or 20 minutes every day. Start small and work yourself up to longer sessions. Look at your thoughts but don’t follow them, they disappear. If it seems important, write it down then go back inside. Breath through your stomach and be still. That’s it.
The idea for the mirror meditation came from this poem:
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
– The Man In The Glass by Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr.
I think this poem is self-explanatory. It’s on the point. Don’t get hung up on out-of-body experiences, profound realisations and emotional release. Stuff like that will happen, but it’s not the point. Don’t get distracted too much. A great resource is the book Zen Mind, Beginners Mind. It has many little gems about what it means to just sit. But, always be careful: One thing you should be very weary of is the pursuit of happiness. There are many meditation centers that sell smiles and not profound self-knowledge. Avoid smily stary people and also those who seem immature in their communication, words or actions regarding others. Don’t trust people who say that they have resolved all their issues, are always happy or somehow make themselves happy when they get sad. You will have ups and downs but you will learn to embrace it. That is different from happiness, you will be at ease.
You will always heave crises every few month or years, and that’s a good thing. There are endless layers to go through and you will die before it will be over anyway. Embrace the path, its all there is. You should just learn for yourself, you are the teacher. Avoid large organisations. Find or convince a friend if you like. Meditation is extremely personal, if you wouldn’t step into a shower with your teacher to clean your body, don’t trust them to help you clean your mind. Too much damage and detours can result from that. You could also be lucky and find a great teacher, you’ll have to decide for yourself. That’s about it for my meditation introduction, I think I’ll write some separate stuff on mindset and translating meditation into everyday life. I’ve just realized that I could write forever, I will try to keep the length at about this level. So, until then.
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