Two Ways to Meditate
I spent years believing I couldn't meditate. As a novelist, my inner mind chatter was necessarily more persistent than most. It was different for me. I think many of us approach the idea of meditation that way. We have never tried to quiet our minds before. The notion of it is foreign and our efforts are often frustrating.
But eventually, if we are persistent we'll stumble upon a method that works for us. What we might not realize is that our meditation practice, like any practice, is a living, evolving thing. And we'll discover more ways that work for us, sometimes better, more often, just different from our first.
Method One: Distract the Mind
In this method, the point is to stop all thought, and we can only do that by overwriting it with something else. We do that by giving our inner toddler-brain something to focus on besides spewing random thoughts.
Distract the brain by asking it to count the beats of the breaths. I like my inhales to be a little shorter than my exhales, because it's more relaxing, and because my brain is more distracted by counting two different numbers than the same number in as out.
Distract the brain by focusing on a droning sound. Outside, that would be a stream or waterfall or even the hum of the air pump in the pond. Inside, an air conditioner. At night, crickets if they are singing. White noise apps have plenty of options too.
Distract the brain by thinking each color of the rainbow. I can't think a color-word without also seeing the color in my mind, so it's a good method. Red, orange, yellow, green, teal, blue, Indigo, purple. Only I often say it like this instead: "red, orange, yellow, green, darker, blue, bluer, purple. I do that because the words "teal" and "indigo" don't immediately call a color to my mind. Indigo makes me think of the Indigo Girls and teal makes me think of turquoise jewelry and how "that's not right because turquoise isn't teal. Teal is more of a dark green-going-on-blue..." And that's mind chatter. And that's what I don't want. :)
I have used one, two, or all three of the methods above during any given meditation. I usually feel myself sinking into a quiet state of mind a few minutes in. Pretty soon I feel as if I disconnect from my body. I sense the flow from Source cranking up to full throttle. I feel oneness with the part of my soul that's still non-physical, what I call my Higher Self and Source itself. This is a blissful feeling.
At some point, I can often open my eyes and feel Source experiencing my little corner of reality through my physical senses. These times can be so emotionally powerful that I get joyful tears.
Method Two: Be Here Now
The method talked about by Tich Nhat Hahn in his books at first seems almost the opposite of the method above. But the end result is the same.
Just breathe the way your lungs want to breathe. Do not tell the lungs how many beats, just let them breathe. Observe the breath without judgment. Think only, I am breathing in. I am breathing out.
Be fully here, in this space, in this body, sitting on this cushion, with your feet on this floor. Feel yourself fully present in your physical surroundings.
Be fully now, in this time. This moment. Then this one. Then this. Now is all that exists. Be fully present in each nanosecond of time you occupy.
In this method, I feel myself sinking deeply into my body, and deeply into my environment. I open my eyes when using this method, because this