The Art of Meditation

How to Meditate

Meditation is focusing the mind on something rather than letting it roam free. When you focus the mind, the result is a quiet mind. The purpose of meditation is not just to quiet the mind, however, but also to experience the peace, love, and joy of being in the Now and, ultimately, to express this peace, love, and joy in the world.

The mind can be quieted by focusing on any number of things, which accounts for the various types of meditation. Generally, the focus is on a sensory experience because the senses are a doorway into the Now. When we focus on a sight, sound, or physical or energetic sensation, the mind is quieted because we can't think and fully sense at the same time. For instance, you can't think and listen to what someone is saying at the same time. Similarly, you can't think and be fully absorbed in listening (meditating) to a piece of music. The same is true of any sense: If you are fully engaged in sensing something that precludes thinking. If you are thinking while you are sensing something, then you aren't actually fully sensing it, although you might still be aware of it. The goal in meditation is to be fully engaged in sensing and not in thinking. So the simplest instruction for meditation is to be fully engaged with whatever you are sensing, and whenever your mind wanders from that, gently bring it back to sensing.

You can meditate (focus) on music. Or you can meditate on the sounds in your environment and on the silence in between those sounds. Or you can meditate on a beautiful flower, a sunset, the breeze blowing through the trees, the clouds moving across the sky, or any other beautiful sight that has the capacity to capture your attention. Or you can meditate to the physical and energetic sensations in your body as you are sitting or moving. Tai Chi, Qigong, yoga, and other body-oriented spiritual practices have you focus on the body and the sensations related to positions and movements of the body.

Experiment and find out what you most enjoy focusing on. The simple instruction, once again, is to put your attention on what you are listening to, watching, or sensing in some other way, and when you catch yourself thinking, bring your attention back to sensing.

During your day, make it a habit to pay attention to what you're sensing rather than to what you're thinking. The result of being more in your body and senses during the day is greater peace, contentment, happiness-and effectiveness. Listening to our thoughts often distracts us from what we're doing and makes us less effective, not only less happy.

Please consider making meditation a part of your day this week and every week to come.

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