Meditation is being in silence. Free from the constant unending stream of uninspiring and irrelevant thoughts that usually enter into our minds. To meditate we need to stop thoughts. It is simple to do, but difficult at the same time because we incorrectly learned from a young age that the mind is what needs to be developed. Meditation takes us away from our intellectual and analytical mind. To something deeper within. In a meditation class I attended once, I heard the instructor mention to the students: “When you are beginning, consider it a success if you can reduce the number or volume of thoughts.” True, to a great extent but as you improve, in deep meditation, you have no thoughts. Says Sri Chinmoy “The surface of the sea is a multitude of waves, but the sea below is not affected. In the deepest depths, at the bottom of the sea, it is all tranquility. So when you start meditating, try to feel your own inner existence is like the bottom of the sea—calm and quiet. Feel that your whole being is surcharged with peace and tranquility. Then let the waves come from the outside world. Fear, doubt, worry—the earthly turmoil—will all be washed away, because inside is solid peace.”
Thinking Too Much
So how do we stop thoughts? There are various practices you can employ. Below are three which we teach in our free meditation classes (as well as many others).
- Concentration: this involves focusing awareness and not letting your mind to wander or drift off. “In concentration we focus our attention on a particular subject or object and do not allow our mind to roam,” says Sri Chinmoy. “Thought-waves must stop in concentration. We are like a bullet entering into something divine, or we are like a magnet: we are pulling the object of our concentration towards us. This is concentration.”
- Visualisation: one of my friends liked to visualise himself ducking when a thought came in meditation, or he felt a thought to be a bird he just let it fly past overhead. Another took a more aggressive approach and imagined he had a samurai sword and was cutting them to pieces!
- Access your silent loving heart: Sometimes beginners are under the impression if you have no thoughts you will be a simpleton. It is not like that. You can access more fulfilling parts of your being. The heart for instance Sri Chinmoy describes as like a Himalayan cave or a beautiful garden, peaceful and tranquil. Conversely the mind is like Times Square on New Years eve or a dense jungle. Where would you rather be?
It takes daily meditation practice and attendance at a regular meditation group to get really good at meditation. You will gradually learn the art of meditation and unlearn thinking too much! Attend some of our free classes or free meditation workshop retreats to learn more about it.