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Quiet Your Chattering Mind through Meditation
by Chris Wesley
One of the most valuable things I ever learned to do was to meditate, and so I thought I'd write an article on it for my visitors. If you invest time in becoming proficient at it, you will find big rewards, and your life will improve.
Meditation is a way to slow down and control your thinking mind. When your mind is quiet, you gain a peaceful tranquility. You also gain access to the inner workings of your self. These twin benefits are why meditation is of value.
What is Meditation?
Here's the analogy I like most. Imagine yourself within your thoughts. You are in a turbulent, fast-flowing river of thoughts. They carry you along in unpredictable ways. From time to time, you get dragged under and struggle to breathe. Now and then you hit a boulder painfully. Meditation is a way to climb out of the river, and sit on the grassy bank from where you can watch your thoughts. This new grassy perspective is more tranquil and comfortable, and from it -you can learn a lot about the river you normally swim in. You will also learn to be fully conscious - existing in the present moment, rather than running on auto-pilot.
How To Meditate
The first thing to say is that meditation is simple, but it is not easy. You'll need humility and patient practice before you see major benefits. Annoyingly - those who need it most, will find it most difficult to master. There are many ways. Here's the one I use.
Put yourself in a relaxing quiet environment. Be quietly alert, as though you are waiting for a movie to start.
The meditating mind needs a focal point, and I use breathing as mine. Breathe normally, and focus your mind on your breathing. As you breath in, think "in"; as you breath out think "out". For each breath cycle (an IN and an OUT) count "1, 2, 3, ...". Try to eliminate any stray thoughts. Traffic noise, itches, and general mental wandering. This is very hard to do and you will persistently fail! The natural reaction after less than a minute is "Oh, I just can't do this!", but persevere. When you fail, quietly acknowledge that you strayed. I like to think in the third person "He's thinking about dinner" or whatever. Do not become angry or blaming. Just dismiss the thought and start again from 1. Keep doing that for 5 minutes.
Do this often and you'll get better at it. Your straying thoughts will be less frequent; you'll spot them sooner, and dismiss them quicker, so you'll spend more time in the meditative state, which is very pleasant.
Extend your sessions to 10 then 15 minutes. You will find you no longer need the counting - your mind can just sit on your breathing. You'll go into state quicker and more reliably.
When you are reasonably good at this and can spend several minutes at a time without major distractions, you will begin to feel the benefits of a quiet mind, and you'll be ready to use your meditative state to explore.
Once you can enter a meditative state you can use it in a number of beneficial ways.
Firstly, the meditative state is a pleasant one. You can use it as respite from your troubled life. Half an hour or even 15 minutes will leave you refreshed. Even 60 seconds of meditation can defuse difficult times and provide welcome relaxation and a broader perspective.
Secondly, you can perform "directed meditations". Here are a couple of examples which I find very useful:
There's so much more to meditation!
Go forth and meditate!
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