Let me say up front that I am a slow learner. (And I’m just fine with that.)
It took me several decades of searching for and trying various methods of meditation before I found what works for me. The purpose of this series is to help others find what works for them, perhaps more quickly than I did.
In my years of searching I encountered a number of folks who insisted that there is only one true method for meditation, and if you’re not doing it their way you’re doing it wrong. Others were less dogmatic about the method but insisted on defining the experience, and in a way their definitions can be quite accurate because what one experiences in meditation is heavily influenced by expectation.
I will note here that some folks want/need teachers to provide them with rules and definitions. This series is not for them, but I want to be clear that the ‘find it myself’ method is no better; it’s just different.
That said, after all those years of trying different methods without much success, I realized: Those methods were discovered by human beings who must have initially sought meditation on their own with no rules to guide them. That the experiences of those folks were so varied led me to conclude that not everyone will benefit from the same method, nor will everyone experience the same thing. If some human beings can find what they’re looking for, then perhaps anyone can. The very rule some claim, that only special people are chosen to receive such information, is still only a rule that was established by human beings. Go figure, huh?
So I did my best to set aside all my beliefs and expectations (easier said than done, by the way), and started my journey anew. The first thing I did was so very simple: I put a question in my mind – What do I need to know right now? – and just listened with all my being. My only real expectation was that an answer would come in some form. What I experienced from there might not be relevant to anyone but me, so I’ll spare you the description. Just wanted to provide some idea of where I’m coming from with this series.
This is what I recommend to those who seek their own methods of meditation: Do your best to set aside all beliefs and expectations. Find a comfortable position where your body can relax without drifting off to sleep. Ask a question, then listen for an answer. It might come right away or it might take some practice sessions first before you see any results. Be willing to be patient if that’s necessary, but don’t expect the process to be difficult.
If it is difficult and you feel like you’re forcing yourself to do this, then it’s not a good fit, and that’s okay. The next couple of articles in this series will offer some strategies for self-guided (visualization) meditation, which is great for times when it’s just too hard to stay focused on listening alone.
Feedback is most welcome. Feel free to share your own methods and experiences.
Until next time…