Meditation does not have to be so confusing!
Consider that meditation has accompanied humanity since the sun set on the first prehistoric cooking fire. Picture our ancient ancestors gazing into the glowing coals; a warm, comforting and ineffable pleasure after a stressful day of running from tyrannosaurus rex while hunting and gathering nuts and berries. In the fire’s ever shifting coals, our forbearers imagine animal shapes, faces, or familiar scenes among the fire play of glowing wood.
This ancient fire-gazing object meditation requires no instructions, comes to us as naturally as looking, and all of us can still enjoy and wonder at it to this day.
Sadly, students of meditation can encounter, as I did, conflicts, dichotomies, rigid or contrary instructions, to cause discouragement. The deeper the neophyte looks, the more complex it seems, when really we are self-complicating a simple process.
My view on the subject has become this: developing an inquiring and all-accepting attitude before, during and after meditation is essential. I refer to the first two steps in the “How to Meditate” article by Tara Brach posted on my “Practice Meditation” page.
Here is a simple candle meditation you can try that could de-mystify the process. I like to set a silent running timer that chimes gently (I find the clicking mechanical ones too distracting) for about 10 minutes to start, expanding in 5 minute increments every-other day. The objective is simply to look at the flame while clearing the mind.
Sitting in Candlelight
As you sit comfortably, with an erect spine and eyes focused on the flame, settle your body and take several slow, deep breaths. Notice the flow of air through your nostrils and aim to smooth the process.
Take note of spots where there is tension in your body, then smooth and calm those muscles in your imagination until they become peaceful.
Follow your breath and try to be conscious of the act of breathing as you gaze into the candle flame. During meditation your business is simple awareness, nothing else. No two experiences will be the same. Distracting thoughts will arise but simply bring your attention back to the flame while following your breath.
A tip form my yoga instructor Jenni Burke, who also teaches meditation, “If you want to add a ‘kriya’ to the meditation (detoxification exercise) gaze first with eyes open as long as possible without blinking. This will cause the eyes to water, which is part of a detoxification process. Then return to a gentle Buddha-gaze for the meditation practice.”
When your meditation comes to an end, rest before rising. This transition time is important to reform the mind, so do not return to daily activity suddenly, after meditating.
I wish peace and abundance for all.