Meditation is about your consciousness. It is about being as still in your mind as much as you possibly can. When I began this project, I found it incredibly tough to let go of the worries and be calm. Scheduling was just as difficult to be in control of. I started by taking away 10 minutes of my mornings and nights that followed half hour yoga sessions over the course of 3 weeks. The first few days didn’t go exactly as planned. It was incredibly uncomfortable to sit still for a long period of time and I would always get distracted or just did not find it necessary at the time. I started discovering more help for meditation since the repetition of this practice has not gotten me anywhere. In Urban Mindfulness, Kaplan wrote about the techniques and the main physical items that would help in meditations. This includes purchasing a certain cushion or anything that would help beginners. Around the second week of this project, I visited a religious event at a Theravada Buddhist monastery that my family attends regularly. I sat down with one of the elder monks, Sayardaw U Nyanavara, who told me reasons behind meditation and his observation of the effect it has. He told me “Meditation is to make your mind calm down, to make peaceful. Worried about what does not need to be worried like junk thoughts and depression.” He mentioned four meditation techniques. Meditation on the body, feeling, mind, mental object. In order to meditate correctly, your mind should not be anywhere else. This means, not focusing on breathing, on the work that has to be done or the sound of the plane that’s flying above you. “In principle, very easy. In practice, very difficult. It should be easy,” Nyanavara explains. He explained he would practice meditation for a few months and get nowhere and it cannot be forced. It is about clearing the mind, not putting more focus into it. Even for someone that has meditated his whole life, Nyanavara says it has taken him years to be able to get an hour of meditation under his belt. I was unsure of his age but he was easily 60 or older. He told me when he began his meditation, the only thing he could think about was the horrible back pain. After years of practice, his meditation practice is complete solace and painless. This conversation eased my mind about the scheduling and worrying I had about the project and actually getting the physical part done. I almost, in a way, reevaluate my ideas about meditation and I started to practice on my own terms and when I really needed it. I did not have a set schedule but I had better motivation this time to take time away from watching tv or surfing the web to sit in silence, because of this better understanding of what meditation is supposed to do for you.
In my last week of this practice, I began to feel more comfortable with meditation, mentally and physically. Instead of being bored of the idea, I allowed myself to “try it out” any time I felt it was necessary. A lot of important times that were necessary for meditating were moments before a big test or after an argument. It puts everything in order for a bit and focuses on the “nothingness.”
I chose meditation because it’s not a substance, something you have to buy or forced into completing. There are no specific goals in meditation. Similar in practicing yoga, we like to say “it is about the practice and journey not about the specific asana (pose) or goal that you want to reach. There is nothing wrong with reaching for goals but meditation gives you a chance to appreciate the present, the “now”, and the understand patience. Reading Monaghan and Viereck’s Meditation- the Complete Guide, caught my attention when they wrote:
Meditation is a path, not a goal. It is like the ringing of a bell. The afterglow of the experience is like the sound of the bell as it dies out. You need to meditate again in order to maintain and amplify the effect. (1)
Mediation can boost your mood, and especially with older…