One of the first subjects we run into on our personal development/spiritual paths is meditation. Simple enough. Until we find out that there are all kinds of meditations and everyone has an opinion about which is the best one.
It gets overwhelming pretty fast. Or we waste time trying to find our perfect meditation technique that fits our personality, desires, lifestyle, beliefs etc.
Meditation really is simple. But it deals with the realm ‘just beyond mind’, therefore mind and intellect can get stuck chasing its tail trying to understand it.
It’s one of those things we have to experience first, before we can try to understand and explain/articulate it intellectually.
Different Meanings and Experiences of Meditation
The cause of the confusion is that people mean different things when they talk about meditation. Thus resulting in different experiences.
From my own experience, I’d call them different degrees of meditation.
But before we talk about degree, we first have to agree - what meditation is.
Meditation starts as a quieting of the mind, releasing active thoughts by focusing on something simple as own breathing, candle light or some sound. That is meditative state - more physical and mental process than a spiritual experience.
Next we enter into meditation - where we release our hold on the external world and can conjure/imagine feelings, emotions and scenes beyond our current reality or life experience. Daydreaming and various guided meditations fall into this category.
Finally, we enter deep meditation, where it feels like we ‘lose’ ourselves - our sense of self, personality, connection with physical reality, where we enter a dimension, state or space beyond time, matter, separation and mind.
In other words, meditation is about letting go of thoughts, grip on physical reality, our personality, problems, stress and opening up to the natural flow of our consciousness, our Higher Self, soul, god within, Universe, the field, source, the force or whatever label you feel comfortable assigning.
Let’s look at each one in order.
Meditative state helps us relax and release stress. It is unwinding and recharging after a day at work. It restores the feelings of ease, flow and contentment.
We enter meditative state naturally - as we listen to music, spend time in nature, think about what we like and enjoy. Exercising can put us in a meditative state as well.
Meditation in Nature. Photo by Moyan Brenn.
In meditative state we do not have to sit still with closed eyes. We can walk, look around, softly focus on something enjoyable.
During meditative state our focus shift from specific details to more general ideas and concepts. From daily events to general feeling of well-being. This softening and generalisation of focus is necessary for attaining meditative state and entering into meditation.
Meditation is a further releasing of thought and focusing even more generally. It’s shifting from thoughts to feelings and sensations - entering imagination, beyond rational mind.
Meditation is a contemplative mood. It is the state where we can imagine and feel as real a new version of ourselves - where we can change our thoughts, feeling, personality. Meditation gets us in touch with our subconscious and higher consciousness.
Therefore, meditation is the key skill we need to learn if we want to change our selves and live authentic lives - happy, meaningful and fulfilling.
Finally we enter deep meditation. This is the state where we release all thought and lose sense of self. We connect with and enter into communion with our Higher Self. We receive inner guidance. We can be transformed.
During deep meditation we release our personal history, our personality, sense of self, time and physical reality. We merge with our higher consciousness.
At the same time, we do not lose our awareness. We feel, we know, that we are more than this physical body and personality.
Deep Meditation. Photo by Moyan Brenn.
To be honest, there really are no words to describe the state of deep meditation - it has to experienced.
Deep meditation is truly transformative - we receive inner guidance, specifically tailored for us, personally meaningful. We realise that no outside teacher can give us better answers.
To make it meaningful, think back to times when you had - or you think you had - experiences of meditative state, meditation and deep meditation.
How did it feel? Did you enter them on purpose? How would you feel and how would your life change if you practiced meditation on a daily basis?
Which One Should I Practice?
So, which one is the best, which one should we practice and how often?
Meditative state is like washing hands - we do it several times a day - helps us get rid of accumulated dirt. Should become automatic.
Meditation is like changing clothes when arriving home after work - helps us release the day, regain inner balance and connection to our energy source. It is an essential daily habit.
Deep meditation is like buying new clothes - it helps us change, not get stuck in old patterns. Regular, at least weekly, deep meditations are required to keep sense of our true north and connect with our inner guidance and knowing.
The BEST Habit
In my opinion and experience, regular - daily - meditation is the best habit one can build. It helps release stress and anxiety accumulated during the day. Helps gain clarity, inner peace and feeling of ease, helps to focus and be more productive. It gives energy, joy and enthusiasm.
Regular meditation is the best habit one can build.
The effects of meditation build up over time. With regular practice, that is.
Forget about reading books, attending lectures and listening to any teacher or guru. If you meditate regularly, sooner or later your ‘inner teacher’ will come through and provide you all the guidance and insight you might need.
So, think about your daily routine - where can you squeeze in 5 minutes for daily meditation? Is it morning - after waking up or shower, during your daily commute? Or evening - after dinner, before going to bed, or just before falling asleep? Middle of the day may not be best time for meditation, as our minds are very active. With practice though, we are able to meditate - or at least achieve meditative state - in almost any situation.
At the beginning, keep it simple - breathe deeply, focusing on your breathing. Perhaps put on meditative music.
Once We Begin …
Once we start meditating regularly, we realise we can’t live without it. If I haven’t meditated for a couple of days, I start feeling like I’m not myself, I can get carried away in other people’s drama. I feel cranky, lose my focus and clarity.
Meditation gives us energy, clarity and joy. It also makes us more sensitive to our thoughts and emotions. Therefore sloppy thinking and focusing upon negative affects us more. So, regular meditation is a must if we want to be full of energy and enthusiasm, feel clarity and joy.
Meditation is an essential skill on our path of personal development. But we can be overwhelmed by the sheer number of mediation techniques and opinions. Meditation is simple and a natural state, that can help us release stress, regain energy and connect with our inner guidance.
All meditation fall somewhere on the scale from meditative state to meditation to deep meditation. There are no different kinds of meditations, just degrees of meditation.
Daily meditation is the best habit one can develop - it helps maintain one’s emotional and mental balance, release stress daily and connect with one’s source of energy, joy, clarity and inner guidance.