We all begin any new activity from the beginning. Even when we are fifty-five years old, we still have to begin at the beginning. It is no different with meditation. Or is it?
Actually, most of us have engaged in a wide variety of mental states during our lives. As children, we were able to immerse ourselves completely in an activity and stay with it as long as our short attention spans would allow. Sometimes we found we could stay with a project for a relatively long period—even an hour, which is a long time for a small child. In our work, we now find we can really get into a project and are sometimes amazed at how time has flown by.
Meditation, by definition, is simply a different state of mind from the sort we engage in most of the time. Yet when we meditate, we find the state of mind is familiar. Usually, it is the posture and surroundings that are different from our usual daily activities.
Meditation is sometimes called "mindfulness training." This training is designed to help the mind relax, to help us focus our attention, and to accomplish certain defined tasks. Through meditation, we learn to pay attention to the one thing that is uniquely ours—our mind. This may seem like a strange goal. After all, each of us experiences our own mind all the time. However, you will very likely find that you have not been paying much attention to your mind. You are generally too busy with family, kids, school, work, friends, paying the bills, or whatever else you do all day, every day. Most of us have very little time to call our own, and even that time is spent actively engaged in something outside ourselves. Meditation is about going inward.
Try This Simple Meditation:
Notice any connections you make between the cover and your personal experience as you do this exercise. Whatever arises for you is a bit of insight. It may not be the most profound insight you will ever experience, but it is insight. In the moments when we are not totally focused on the outer environment, when we have a gap in our thought process, we allow insight to pop into our minds. You don't need a huge gap—just a relaxed state and attention to the meditation process.
Perhaps you are not convinced that meditation is a good use of your time. There are many good reasons to meditate. Altering the state of your mind for five to ten minutes a day can have remarkable results. Here are a few things you may experience through meditation:
These are outcomes you can experience almost immediately. No waiting ten years for something to happen. You may experience change on the very first day, and certainly within a few days.
Then there are the things you experience after meditation:
Some of these outcomes may not seem very practical. However, with practice, you will find that all your activities take on the calmer quality that you find during meditation.