Set aside some time, as much as you can spare, as often as feels comfortable or useful, to retreat from the outer world of things and objects and people, into an inner world of your thoughts and feelings.
Meditation is at first primarily the practice of feeling your feelings and observing your thinking. It is how you cultivate the witness position. In normal everyday life we are in the midst of so many stimuli of all kinds. The sensory system receives information from every one of its sense organs and tissues, visual takes up alot of attention and brain processing power, audio or sound information, music, listening to people talking, listening to all the sounds around us, perhaps listening is part of our job, then theres also touch, temperature, taste, smell etc etc. Your attention is externalized and not much is directed inwards to bring awareness to what’s happening in, firstly the inner feeling body, the aches and pains that go unnoticed, but also the inner state, the emotional condition, mood, or feelings, and the thoughts that are running in the mind.
So its important to minimize outside stimulus, or external noise, and so a nice quiet place, with nature sounds, or gentle peaceful music will help. Also a comfortable space to be relaxed, but not so relaxed that you drift into sleep or diminished alertness or awareness. You want to be able to direct your awareness to your inner state. Loose comfortable clothing to minimize skin irritation and discomfort. It is not necessary to remove all stimulus and to become neurotic about silence or lack of distraction. This will be far more of a distraction. The idea is to create a pleasant beautiful environment conducive to the work you would like to do with your self.
People are at different stages of their journey and need to do different work with themselves in meditation, but for those who are plagued by negative surface and deeper emotions, meditation will be very difficult for a long time, but it is certainly worth the effort, and struggle, and if one perseveres eventually it will start to get easier and more productive, it will bear fruit, but only if your meditation is complemented with understanding of what has happened to you, and how it has affected you. Quiet sitting meditation is only one half of a process, the other half is of course Life, or living out what you learn about yourself and learning from the outer world about yourself. It is like breathing. It is important to read and watch videos etc. to gain balancing perspectives that can help you regulate and re-integrate. It is important to interact with people and grow in relationship with people. In this process, both the inner and outer, you will encounter ideas, or opinions that appear negative to you, that seem to show you in a negative light. If you have been holding onto the fiction that you are perfect and enlightened than you will be surprised and somewhat hurt even disturbed to find out that you have issues (just like everyone else) and that you need to change something about this false you, in order to be truly you. If you can feel into it without taking it personally, that is without blaming yourself, you can start to observe your patterning and recognize it when it is triggered and activated, and this is a very important step that begins the unraveling.
Gradually the idea is to use the power of the mind to observe behavior, emotions and thinking and to tap into imagination, inspiration and intuition and thereby to regulate the emotions, and this is done not by focussing on the surface level emotions and trying to ‘manage’ them with techniques or strategies, but rather by delving deeper, into the repressed, hidden, unconscious disfigurations… This can take a long time and in the beginning the surface will be very turbulent with all the normal outer content of self reflected thinking and emotions, but contrary to pop spirituality, it is not an effort to still the surface and all thinking, but rather to contact the depth, to decompress it, to relieve its pressure and to cast the light of loving wisdom, and intelligence over it, into it, through it, and to, by degrees, free up the attention and the consciousness from the negative fixations and coagulations. The surface will then become more still and more accessible and controllable. You will re-integrate aspects of yourself that have been locked away, and this will make your meditation and your life more meaningful, more beautiful and more alive! Rather than be the victim of destructive thought patterns, you will be using your power of thinking much more effectively and productively, to help yourself and others.
Meditation is different for everyone and is deeply personal and even though there are techniques and methods, essentially you must develop the capacity to:
- Observe and monitor your emotions and thoughts
- Regulate thinking and develop the talent to direct thinking to intelligently illuminate
- Regulate your runaway surface emotions by going deeper into the hidden causes
It is not just about sitting quietly all alone, that is one aspect of the work, there are three dimensions to the work you must do in order to heal. It also involves study and understanding, but also requires you to act, to live your new realizations in communication and relationship, and so it becomes a reinforcing interplay between the inner and outer, individual and collective, subterranean and higher worlds, but to put it simply it is flowing resonance between the silent inner meditation and the outer living and acting on your learnings and enhanced awareness.