How to Meditate Effortlessly
Often people say, ‘I can't meditate' or ‘I can’t sit still' or ‘my mind doesn’t stop thinking’. These comments arise because people have not been taught correctly, or have a misconception about how to meditate. Many people believe they are meditating however they are not. They stay on a surface level concentrating, resisting thoughts, or maybe getting a rest. When people eventually have a direct experience of meditating effortlessly they get a shock! It always makes me smile. It happens regularly when I teach people at rehabs, meditation studios and in my private practice. When they finally taste transcendence it's a new experience for them. They enter a fourth state of consciousness - different from waking, dreaming or sleeping. When we enter this fourth state it feels blissful, like we are finally returning home. The mind when it experiences this bliss will want to re-visit it, over and over again - just like a bee returns to a fragrant flower. This state is nectar for the soul. So where is the bliss? How do we enter this fourth state?
1) Choose an effortless meditation technique
Teaching meditation is a subtle and delicate skill. If we tried meditation and found it difficult then we haven’t been taught properly or may be practicing a concentration technique. Meditation when correctly practiced is effortless. All techniques are not the same, and not all techniques are scientifically researched. Currently there are two methods that are heavily researched and shown to create positive brain changes when practiced regularly. The first is Transcendental Meditation (TM) and the second is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). I have taught MBCT and I also practice TM daily. TM can be learned over four days from a certified TM teacher. I highly recommend TM because it's so easy and effective, and the teachers are highly trained and understand what is going on at a very deep level. Always learn from an authorized TM teacher and you will only find them at this website www.tm.org. I have also tweaked the MBCT course for everyday use and created effortless nature inspired guided meditations that are suitable for beginners and advanced meditators. My meditations are available to stream or download and can be purchased individually or in a pack. Do whatever feels right for you.
2) Allow thoughts to come and go
We need to understand within the first few minutes of meditation how to handle thoughts. If we allow thoughts to come and go, we slowly drift down into a deep state. If we try to stop thoughts we stay on a surface level and get agitated. Thoughts are not the enemy, they are simply stresses being released, bubbles bursting. Thoughts are better out than in. We do not want to keep stress in, we want to release stress. Never try to stop thoughts, it doesn’t work. We are not rocks, we are humans who produce 60-70 thousand thoughts per day. Depending on our physiology - what we have eaten; how much sleep we have had; external circumstances and triggers - our thoughts will change. Do not take thoughts personally and fully identify with them. Allow them to float in and out of the psyche. And always remember: thoughts are not facts.
3) Allow everything to be as it is
Allow everything to be as it is, without the need to change it. Allow sounds to be as they are. Allow emotions to be as they are. Allow thoughts to be as they are. The constant effort required to try to manipulate reality drains energy. Once we let go of trying to change things which are outside of our control, we save valuable energy and feel much lighter. When we connect to stillness creative solutions spontaneously arise. When we let go of resistance we enter the flow of life, and everything unfolds perfectly without being pushed.
4) Be comfy
Comfort is essential. Always listen to the body, if we are uncomfortable it will take us out of stillness. If we cannot sit for an extended period cross-legged with our knees resting easily below our hips, we can sit in a chair. Choose a position where the spine is straight yet relaxed. It's best to sit upright. When we are upright we enter a meditative state, rather than a sleep state. If we are exhausted then begin upright for 5 minutes then lie down on the back. Always take time to come out of meditation, never rush. The longer we take to come out the more stillness stays with us.
By Aruna Shields (CHP, MBCT) Therapist, Meditation Teacher and Mentor.