There will come a day when you get up earlier than some parts of your mind. Or, you will stop at any point in the day and sit down. And you will call on guides, or ancestors or angels, or religious names, or a deeper part of yourself. And, while others before you and around you have pointed you here, this is only yours. Your mind, your breath, your soul. You imagine, you pray, you breathe, and you focus your attention to something worthy of your attention, even if you don't entirely believe it.
Alan Watts said,
"Anybody who tries to teach you enlightenment is like someone who picks your pocket and then tried to sell you your own watch"
It is important to remember that it is your practice and though many will help you along the way, meditation is about accessing potentials that are already inside you. It is about being in your true nature. Even when it feels like you are far away from the peace and strength you know yourself to be, it is the tiniest shifts that will get you back home.
You will come across many teachers along the way. Many systems, many podcasts, many religions, dogmas and brands. You will even find people who will tell you that they have the thing that will solve it all. These all will play a role in you coming to your own understanding. Ultimately, it is your path.
If we translate mindfulness as "remembering", it is about remembering who your really are and this can mean something deeper than could even be put into words. Since this is a slightly intangible task, it often is that people desire to meditate, but don't know what to "do". This is a super valid question because, in order to get to a place of non-doing (what someone might desire from meditation), there actually is stuff to "do" to help that state arise. What practice someone chooses to use to access meditation are determined by each individual - what makes sense to them, and also what they desire to learn next. The interesting thing is that, the way one chooses to practice has the potential to bring about a particular integration in their life - that is to say, not just changing you while you are sitting, but seeping into the way you walk through the world.
Here are just a few example of what one might "do" in meditation:
• Remembering. When we are constantly going, we are most likely going on auto-pilot. Stopping the momentum and sitting in stillness and silence can be a chance to remember certain things that are important to you.
• Higher Power, or sense of something larger than any single moment. For some people, meditation is about connecting with their sense of a higher power – whether that is god, nature, or a deeper part of their self. A sense can arise in meditation of remembering that who you are is deeper than your body, thoughts, & feelings in this moment. A sense of perspective and connection can come in.
• Minimizing self-destructive thinking, increasing helpful thoughts. Getting a little perspective may let us look at the way we are thinking and take a break from habitual patterns. You may notice self-destructive thoughts (like self-criticism, anger, grasping) and work at letting it go and return to the breath. You can practice observing these patterns, rather than perpetuating them, and offering compassion to yourself and your situations. You can also practice helpful thoughts, like gratitude, loving kindness, forgiveness, or taking it breath by breath.
• Clearing. Following the breath and returning the focus to the breath compassionately and again and again. Erasing the old tapes. Unplugging from externals. Cutting the energetic and mental chords so that other people, times, & situations do not pull on you in unhelpful ways. Landing in the present moment and clearing from over-doing, rumination, obsession.
• Creating calm & non-reactivity. Though it may not be easy to sit and follow your breath for a few minutes, just consider – if you cannot guide your mind in a time and space of relative safety, how will you do so in difficult moments in life? This is a practice that develops over time and can set the tone of the day.
• Intentions & Commitments. You can remember your intentions and commitments. These are the bigger picture things that you carry through the moment to moment details. This could be a commitment to creating a life you love that you remember even when it feels like you could never be happy again. It could be an intention of loving yourself, or of being of service to others, or getting honest, or being open to connection...
How do you meditate? or, if you want to meditate, with which of these things (or other) do you think you might begin?