What is Meditation? by Martin Stamper
What is meditation? I think a lot of people ask this question, and the concept of meditation is a huge mystery in my opinion. I have meditated and read books on the subject, but it still seems to be somewhat elusive to define. However, I am going to take a leap and define meditation as simply “stilling the mind”.
The mind is part of being a human being. It is not the entirety of being a human being. As humans we also have a body and I personally believe we have a spirit. Among many things, emotions and thoughts originate in the mind and can affect our bodies in good ways and bad ways. They can also hinder or promote our spiritual growth.
In her book “You Can Heal Your Life” Louise L Hay claims that we create every experience with our thoughts. She even goes as far to claim that we can create and cure illness in our bodies with thoughts. Hay says that many of us learn thought patterns about our self worth from early childhood. If these thoughts of self worth are negative, then we attract negativity. In fact, we may be attracting negativity to our lives and not even know it. For example, if a person goes around all day whispering a thought in their mind “you are not good enough”, then that person might not do things with their life that they may otherwise. Conversely, if a person can live their life with the thought “I love myself and I deserve what I desire”, then a person may be doing things that reflect that.
The way I see it, the mind is a machine that stores thoughts and emotions. If we are not aware of these thoughts and emotions, we are probably not living up to our fullest potential. In some cases our minds can be like a machine that we’ve created that turns against us. What would we do if we had a vacuum cleaner in our house that would not shut off? We’d probably pull its plug out of the wall and throw it away. The mind is no different. We should not throw away the mind (though some people try through the use of drugs, television, and other things), but we should learn how to unplug it.
Unplugging the mind is how I’ve come to understand meditation. The more a person can quiet the thoughts and emotions produced by the mind, the more that person will be able to get in touch with their inner peace. The more a person is able to control the mind, the better able a person will be able to navigate through life. The mind is a tool for us to interact in the world. The tool should not be in charge. The spirit should be in charge.
So, what is the best way to still the mind? I am not exactly sure what the best way is, but I have learned some techniques. Sujantra McKeever has a book entitled “Learn to Meditate”. In it he gives the readers many exercises to achieve stilling the mind. My favorite so far is just to close my eyes and focus on my breathing and or my heart beating. Even just witnessing my breath and heart beating is a function of my mind, but I try to let go of any thoughts that come and go back to observing my breathing. It’s as if I allow myself a break from thinking my usual thoughts. This break from thinking can be a huge source of relaxation, even if for only 3 minutes. Thoughts can zap our energy and a 3-minute break from thinking can be a big deal, especially when you are a worrywart like me.
“The Pilgrimage of the Heart” yoga studio offers 4 free, guided mediations a week. It’s people stilling their minds together to feel inner peace and connect with their spirit. It has been said that group meditation can be more powerful than solo meditation. So come on in to the Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga studio and try a free mediation. Also there are some free, guided meditations available from the Pilgrimage of the Heart online. Or you can purchase a copy of Sujantra McKeever’s book “Learn to Meditate” and start practicing on your own. After all, I think the mind is the final frontier for the human race to conquer. Otherwise, we’re all just beings ruled by subconscious thoughts and emotions.