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Zuzana, Andalucia - Spain

What is Meditation?

Meditation is when you give yourself space and time to simply ‘Be’.

Our minds today are subject to a constant bombardment of input, whether from the demands of our jobs, our relationships, the news broadcasts beaming the tragedies and endless cluttering of concerns about what needs to be achieved today, next week, next year ... The list of activities that pull our senses outwards is endless.

It is very rare that we take time to be with ourselves and enjoy even a minute or two of silence and ‘not doing anything’.

The two most common comments I hear about Meditation are:
1. ‘I don’t have time to meditate’ and
2. ‘I have tried and it did not work or I am no good at it’

To develop a regular Meditation practice does not require hours of your day nor will turn you into some spiritual strange person!

You will still be able to go to work, fulfil your obligations with your family and friends, enjoy watching tv and having a drink whenever you feel like. The only difference - which will have a huge impact on your whole life - is that you will give yourself 15 to 20 minutes a day to BE by yourself and tune into the closest friend you have, your breath.

For anyone that would like to meditate, the excuse that ‘I have no time’ simply does not apply. All you need is the ‘courage’ to tell the people living in your house that you are going to be by yourself for a while, turn your mobile off, sit and close your eyes.

Which takes us to the second common excuse is, ‘I have tried and it did not work.’

The practice of meditation is one of the single most simple gifts passed on to us by the ancient yogis. It is so simple that, once proper guidance is received, a lot people reply: ‘Is that it?’. All meditation requires of you is to create a space where you will not be disturbed for the time you decide, to sit in an upright position (on a chair or on the floor), close your eyes and follow your breath. That is it. It is that simple.

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” - Amit Ray, Om Chanting & Meditation

I have heard the strangest ideas about what meditation is and how it should be practiced. Most of these ideas are spread by people repeating what they read or heard somewhere.

The most common is that if you meditate you will be able to control your mind. If you are interested in controlling your mind, I suggest you start with some Self-Understanding, Self-Enquiry work to find out what it is exactly that you want to control and why. If you are trying to control your thoughts find out what is the nature of those thoughts first.

Meditation is not about control: it’s about creating space for your senses to turn inward for a period of time so you can let your mind rest.

Another common misunderstanding is that during meditation your thoughts will stop and your mind will go blank. This is not what meditation is about either.

Your mind will continue to be the conduit of a series of thoughts as this is its job. And your job, as a meditator is to return to your breath each time you find yourself following a thought. Meditation is the best practice in the world for you to learn that you need not be the slave to your thoughts.

Meditation is fundamentally different from "trance", "positive thinking", "hypnosis" or "guided relaxation", where you may learn to manipulate the mind and limit it to your own or other’s conceptions. Meditation is founded on clarity, expanded awareness and increased energy. All of these are consequences that will undoubtedly manifest themselves in your life if you practice.

When I started to practice meditation I thought that it had the power to transform me into a different person; that the parts of myself I did not like would disappear in time, that I would always be calm and happy and I would no longer have disturbing thoughts. None of this happened.

What did happen was the realisation that there is nothing wrong with 'me', the aspects of my personality I did not like are the aspects I needed to understand, the 'not so perfectly calm' thoughts are now accepted as part of the flow of life and there is nothing I need to worry about. The result is much more than I expected to achieve.

That is the magic of Meditation, it will work and affect you in the most delightfully surprising ways.

Meditation is best taught directly from teacher to student, simply because the mind needs to receive answers that are initially necessary to develop a regular practice. An initial guidance with integrity will simply take care of answering the mind’s doubts and addressing its questions and enable you to easily and freely Meditate.

We are all different, and our issues as we decide to start Meditation will be different.

The beauty and mystery of Meditation is that once you commit yourself for a few weeks to a regular session of as little as 15 minutes a day, your system - Body, Mind and Heart - will want more of it.