Meditation Techniques: Peace and Self-Control are Earned
Everyone tells you the benefits of meditation – spiritual balance, internal peace etc. – and while their experiences are valid, they’re hard to believe when the same isn’t happening for you. For people who have been meditating for a while, we’re likely to tell you that you’ll experience a calm, quiet “blackness” or have some euphoric out-of-body experience that gives you so much wisdom to apply to your daily life.
It sounds so good, so you try it, but you don’t get anything except maybe about three to five minutes of frustration. For you it’s more like, “Okay, I’m calm now. I’m sitting, I’m breathing…Did I respond to James earlier? Should I do that? Is he going to think I’m ignoring him? Oh, there’s a thought! Okay, Thought, time to go away…Thought! I said go away! Seriously how does this even work?! Now I’m overly aware of my voice rambling in my mind. Crap. That’s annoying. How does this even work?”
How do you move beyond that and into all the juicy goodness it promises? I am going to talk about my meditation techniques and how these can bring you closer to realizing the true benefits of meditation.
A common misconception to anyone who has yet to try meditation is that it is easy. I mean, you just sit there, right?
But in practice, meditation seems hard. It feels like it takes a ton of effort, commitment, and motivation. But anyone who tells you about all the fruit they harvest from the practice—well, they probably fail to tell you that they still go through days where they feel like they’re just beginning again, too.
I know I sure do. There are times I just fall asleep, times I get angry and stay angry. Times I can’t ease the thoughts in my mind. And that’s just the way it goes.
There’s a story about a student who tells his teacher that he is horrible at meditating. And the teacher replies, “It will pass.” Later on the student comes back to tell his teacher that his meditation was wonderful. And the teacher again replies, “It will pass.”
No one, not even the greatest teachers, have euphoric meditations every time.
Meditation can be a battle within oneself – and it’s after this that it can yield such clarity.
Meditation: The process
People are full of emotions, and we’ve collected and stored each emotion carefully in our minds with experiences tied to them.
Unfortunately, they’re not as organized as we think they are, and when we get into a quiet place, they tend to fall out off the shelves and cause a lot of noise and mess to clean up.
While you meditate you confront these noisy feelings and come to terms with them. You learn to accept them unconditionally, without judgment. You learn to let them breathe.
But before you arrive at that understanding, it’s uncomfortable. You begin to feel antsy, and it becomes difficult to sit in one spot. You just want to get up. This all leads to tip #1 on how to actually get something out of your meditations.
Tip #1: Sit there and stay longer.
Get through it. If you haven’t sat through the antsiness and the jitters, I want you to try. When you do, you’ll feel a sense of ease. These are the ebbs and flows of meditation.
Inside, we have cognitive dissonance – two sides of our instincts telling us different things. Both want what’s best for us, but each has their own way of accomplishing it, and the resulting feeling is this internal conflict. This comes to us in the form of jitters. Of antsiness.
Normally, people who do not meditate live with these juxtapositions, these dichotomies inside. You can get through your life without meditating; plenty of people do it.
But to truly live a satisfying and in-control life—to truly be in control of yourself and know a happiness and fulfillment of life, you stick with it. You let each side of your instincts flare up and go back and forth towards each other until both are tired.
There was a man I once worked with who claimed he knew how to get the two angriest people in the office to talk calmly and actually listen to each other—you simply put them in a room together and let them yell over each other until eventually they just stop yelling. That’s when they start listening and the real, productive conversation happens.
Our thoughts, worries, anxieties—our egos—are the exact same way!
That’s why I recommend meditating for at least 40 minutes. If you set a goal to only go for 15, you’re not going to give your thoughts enough time to tire out, and you’re going to be committed to the idea that meditation isn’t worth it.
If you can do this, the conflict and cognitive dissonance will pass.
This is the ebb and flow of meditation. As quickly and intensely as that internal conflict comes, it leaves. This amazing sense of calm and peacefulness is nurtured through being able to detach from the body’s internal tug of war.
Catching Feelings, Literally.
But if you’re convinced you can’t miss an episode of The Bachelor and can’t carve out enough time in your busy schedule for 40 minutes (which by the way, both are seeking the same end, but one’s a false means and the other will actually serve you), there’s a shortcut, which leads me to tip #2.
Tip #2: Allow yourself to feel everything that comes to you.
These are the emotions, the sensations, the feelings, and the energy that you may feel going through your body and up your spine – feel it all, wherever and however it chooses to show up (this is not your time to get to control things). Make yourself vulnerable. Remember this is just you.
These are systems your body has been gifted by life, and we have the capacity to control them, or rather to not be controlled by them. However to have this type of control over ourselves, we must make ourselves vulnerable – feel the pain, feel the energy, feel the emotion – before we can ever come to terms with it and therefore control it.
Emotions will come. You will feel them, and yes, they may get perpetually stronger. But let them pass. They don’t own you; you are not meant to be a slave to them just because you feel guilty about something. That doesn’t actually fix anything. Letting go does. Why?
They are just emotions—they are not you and you are not them.
Because we have the capacity to feel them we have the capacity to own them, meaning we are able to come to terms with them. Coming to terms with them is creating peace of mind. Each time you let them pass, you become more in control of your mind and can attain higher states of peace of mind.
If you’re still wondering how do all of that, here’s a practical bonus tip:
Each time you acknowledge an emotion or thought that makes you uncomfortable, follow it up with, “And that’s perfect. It’s completely perfect for me to be experiencing this [emotion] right now.”
Do this no matter how often it feels like it forces you to. Because that’s the actual truth.
The only reason these emotions build up and become uncomfortable is because you’re resistant to them. You know, when someone annoys you, you feel like they’re the loudest person in the room. But if you’re cool with someone (let’s say someone you’re not super close to), you don’t notice them nearly as much.
As you say, “It’s perfect for me to feel this and that and all the hate and anger I feel,” you’ll notice yourself releasing resistance to all of it, and those feelings become quiet because they feel heard and loved, even if you feel like that’s weird and not possible. Whatever—it works.
There’s no need to fix or solve anything at that time, and you can remind yourself of that as well.
Think about it—if someone tells you all the things you have to fix about yourself and gives you a bunch of ways that they think you should do it, you’re not going to like the ideas or them. The same goes for you about yourself.
But when you accept the ideas as not a part of you, but separate entities, they lose their power over you and the fear goes away. And when you see that reality, you’ll see how kindly they wave goodbye.
The flow of meditation is the perpetual confronting and releasing of emotions, each being more central to your being than the last, and thus potentially making it more difficult to sit through than the last. But this is very important and being able to sit for longer allows you to attain one of the main benefits of meditation – internal peace.
During meditation, when you want to get up, instead, kick your feet back and relax. Having the mental perseverance, which is a combination of commitment and motivation, to get through the moments that feel anything but relaxed is what will help you attain and actually get something out of meditation. Doing this over and over again, or practicing, will help you become better at it, allowing you to meditate for longer, and the cycle continues.
These are my three tips. Stay there longer, and let yourself feel everything. It all comes with practice. Meditation is an important part of spiritual development, and the spiritual journey we find ourselves on. I am a big believer in the details – take care of each and every one of them and you’ll begin to find yourself happier and more internally connected than ever before. Soon I will be offering Guided Meditations, and I encourage you to sign up! Reiki and meditation have led me internal peace – an internal peace I work on every day – and my mission in life is to help others attain the same. Stay tuned for more spiritual tips, and stay tuned for Guided Meditations!
For meditation remember,
Sit through it. Let yourself feel it. And just be okay with it.