Back by popular demand, some more meditation advice from Michael Brandon.
Meditation remains one of the most potent tools against the ever growing tide of stress that threatens to overwhelm us (me included) and undermine our health and wellbeing. To my mind, deep breathing and meditation coupled with some sort of exercise are the very best tools you can use to de-stress and maintain a clear and happy mind. Recent research has revealed that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions that those who do not. As expected, people who meditated also built valuable long–term skills. For example, three months after the experiment was over, the people who meditated daily continued to display increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms.
Michael has been meditating for longer than I’ve known him and as we are celebrating 25 years of marriage later this year, that’s quite a long time!
This is for people who read my first meditation piece and have still not meditated and for those who did and are ready to move on. Here we go.
Your mind will try to find reasons not to meditate. This is true even for monks. Too much to do this morning, errands to run, calls to make, problems to solve etc, etc.
Forget all the excuses. The mind is afraid of giving up any time. Tell your mind, “it’s okay you can watch me meditate, just stay out of it.”
You are going to sit down somewhere comfortable where you won’t be disturbed by outside noises if possible. Put a pillow under your hips and cross your legs in front of you comfortably. I use this word comfort over and over. Meditation is not meant to be painful or uncomfortable, it’s meant to be easy. If the floor is painful sit on a chair with both your feet flat on the floor.
If possible, take time to light a candle or incense or play something soothing like a tamboura (Indian guitar) quietly in the background. It will block outside noises and not disturb your focus. Do the meditation in the same place each time as repetition will allow the mind to relax knowing what you are doing.
The mind is a tool. We are not our minds. We are more than our minds. Let the mind be a witness to our meditation. Then it becomes a useful tool.
Meditation is not a religion or a cult. It is an arc or bridge, connecting you to whatever your highest principle is. Whatever your religious beliefs are will be intensified through meditation. It’s not one or the other. It enhances your experience of your highest belief or your personal understanding of GOD.
In the prisons I have taught in, in the UK and the US, this has been a very important principle to understand; there is no conflict with your beliefs and you also don’t have to believe in anything other than yourself to meditate.
Just sit quietly and let yourself breath naturally and sense yourself in a safe space. That’s it. Let it go. The whole weight of the world can leave you alone for five minutes. That’s it! Five minutes. I am not asking you to do this for an hour, or thirty minutes or twenty, just five minutes. Just breathe easily in and out letting it come from lower down in your abdominal region.
Close your eyes, and let it all fall away, who you are, what you are, and all that you are supposed to be doing. Allow any noise or interruption to be an invitation to go deeper within yourself. Your mind will remind you of things you have to do. Thank your mind and go deeper, like a fish swimming effortlessly deeper.
If you only get a few seconds or a minute of true stillness in this five minutes it’s worth it. The next time it might double and thereafter it will get easier and your results will be true riches.
I tried meditating for the first time last night using Michael’s first article as guidance. Was really surprised how easy I found the not thinking bit, then the unexpected happened, I began to cry! Actual proper tears, nose running and everything! I wasn’t feeling sad, I wasn’t thinking of anyone or anything, I was totally relaxed and my mind was empty but the tears kept coming so I just went with it. Felt quite emotional afterwards too. Is this a normal reaction?
This is in fact a very normal reaction. It’s the opening up of the heart. However, the experience will be different for everyone. Go with whatever happens. There is no wrong or right reaction. You sound like a natural. If you feel you could sit longer, go for it.
The past few nights I’ve been sitting for 50-55 minutes. I’m totally amazed how much time has passed when I open my eyes.
Another great article.
Love the poetic style and can almost hear Mr B’s voice. I say ‘almost’ because I’m still holding out for that audio.
This is a really tough thing to master. Struggling to empty my mind and switch off. Find myself thinking that I’m not thinking anything which just defeats the object.
So there seems to be a definite link between meditation and hypnosis. I’ve done a couple of hypnosis CDs and fall asleep within minutes. Find it so relaxing.
Found the ‘We are not our minds’ thing a bit confusing though. Thought that’s exactly what we are because the body is just a vessel, surely? So what are we? Do we get to find out in Part 3?
The fact that you sat down to meditate is meditation itself. The mind will always think, as that is what it’s designed to do, and will not be emptied. It’s what you do with the thoughts. Keep going and allow it to reveal itself.
This meditation article was great. Exactly what i was looking for- a way to start calming myself after a long exhusting day at work. THANK U!!!
Thank you for this great article. Meditation explained in a very clear way! Can’t wait to try it tonight
Once again this is the most practical, achievable, encouraging article to read.
It’s reassuring and inspiring.
Tell your mind, “it’s okay you can watch me meditate, just stay out of it.” is so useful a tip.
I’ve quoted the first article several times when meditating and will do so with this as well.
Thank you Michael for writing this
Thanks for the next chapter on mediation. Found this one really useful, I’ve tried it three times now and it actually works:-) I took myself into the garden and sat in the kids den( while they played on the Wii). When I came back I felt much calmer and more energized. Thanks again you’ve saved my kids from grumpy mom;-)
Another excellent article by Mr. Brandon. (Is it me, or does even his writing feel soothing?) I particularly liked the implication that the mind can be a witness to the meditation. It makes so much sense in a strange kind of way.
Thank you very much for sharing. Looking forward to many more parts of this “Meditation Tips by Mr. B” series. 😉