What is meditation?

Meditation is a wonderful practice that has been around for thousands of years. 

In fact, early writings on meditation date back to 1500 – 500 BC with the Vedas and Upanisads in India, and archaeologists have discovered ancient seals in cultures like the Indu Valley depicting people seated for meditation. Taoism dates back to 500 BC and many spiritual practices include aspects of meditation and contemplation. 

However meditation does not just belong to the past. It has been gaining popularity in the West, since yoga and mindfulness were introduced and a 2017 study shows the number of people in the US practising meditation, had tripled from 2012 to 2017. In 2018 roughly 16% of adults over 45 practice regularly and it seems to be growing.  

Although it has been found across time and cultures, meditation is also a very individual and personal journey.  In the Magic Meditation training courses,I encourage people to ask themselves, what is meditation to me?

Before you read on, you might like to take a moment to sit with your eyes closed and ask yourself, what is meditation to you? 

Many of the people I work with talk about the sense of peace and calm they connect with, others talk of it as a healing practice and some mention a profound sense of spaciousness and union, very beautiful . Often people talk about these experiences with tears in their eyes as it can be a profound and deeply personal experience. 

One definition of meditation is that if prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening.  

I get that not everybody is comfortable with this concept of God but I love this definition. I personally take the view that there is a benevolent force in the universe. If there is, wouldn’t  you want to create a time and a space to connect with that? 

Even if you are just pausing to become aware of  your own lifeforce, or simply your breath, the idea of listening is key.

By sitting quietly and calmly tuning into the present moment, we get the chance to observe ourselves and start to become more self aware. 

It is very simple but it is not always easy. Yet like all practices we can become more skilled with practice and build better resilience and self awareness.   

Worse case scenario you’re taking a moment to reset and we can now scientifically prove that meditation has great benefits for health and happiness even when we discount the spiritual aspect. 

Meditation can be practised in various ways and to say we ‘do’ meditation is misleading. It is, at its heart, all about being. 

One of the principles of meditation, especially mindfulness, is becoming aware of the present moment. This can be done very simply by becoming aware of our sensations. aware of what we feel, what thoughts are in our mind right now,  aware of our breath in this very moment.  

This very moment, we can start to drop into now, there is no anxiety or worry about the future, because the future doesn’t exist here. Right now, in this very moment, there is no pain from the past, because the past is finished. So right in this very moment, if you stop what you’re doing, and just notice your breath, the breath and the breath out aware of your own lifeforce. Then you have come into a form of meditation, awareness, even if you do notice worries or pain, you are present, just for now, just being. 

So meditation is in one way, the practice of awareness, awareness of the moment that we’re in.

The idea of the present moment,  that the moment that we are in this very point in time is the only moment that exists in reality. It doesn’t exist as a.on a timeline, but rather as expandable as the universe that there is no past or future and that the only moment that we can access is the one we’re in right now. By trying to do that, it may sound very profound. But it’s one of the simplest practices. 

Choose something here and now, for example your body and start to become aware of it right now.  You could choose your breath, a lovely meditation from Thich Nat Han goes like this, ‘ breathing in I know I’m breathing in, breathing out I know I’m breathing out, in, out, breathing in peace, breathing out I smile. In peace, out, smile’ Try it. 

Some forms and practices of meditation encourage us to focus all of our awareness on something, like the breath  Or focus on a sacred symbol, like the mantra om or gazing on a flower or a candle flame. Maybe we gently focus on the thoughts themselves. 

Some forms encourage stillness, sitting quietly and watching, observing and becoming still inside and out, like traditional zen contemplation. 

Others include movement, like mindful walking, feeling the sensation of each step we take, or gentle yoga, feeling the body and breath in each pose. 

One of the greatest myths of meditation is that you must still your mind and control your thoughts. Meditation is a practice. You may learn to control your mind and just different techniques to steady your nervous system and bring you a sense of peace, but it doesn’t usually start that way. It’s like saying you need to be super fit to go to the gym. You’ll get fitter if you go regularly.. 

Meditation is a practice where we can cultivate positive mental states, like gratitude and joy,peace and calm and steadiness. It allows us to step back from reacting to everyday stimuli and create space to know ourselves. . 

Ultimately the practices we use are ways to come into a state of calm, peace and joy, even bliss, the techniques are different paths up the same mountain.   

There are also meditations that use visualisations, such as images from nature, colours and light to help us focus inwards and guide us towards peace and healing. We even have simple  mind set meditations to help us with all aspects of life. 

Meditations focusing on the spaces between the thoughts, the calm after the body scan, the pause at the end of a breath, the silence at the end of mantra or the moment of quiet between busy thoughts, these are some of the most profound meditations we can experience. 

Meditation is available for everyone. It is an experience, a state of being and a powerful practice where we can experience wisdom, insights and profound peace and joy. 

I wish you all of these things and more from your practice, because meditation is life changing.

P:S. If this is something you already know and you feel passionate about it, contact me about the Magic meditation teacher training course.