By Meditation Teacher Andrew Shykofsky
Mar 4, 2015
The Real Secret to Meditation is about Reclaiming Authority Over your Mind
One thing that drives most people away from meditation is the near impossible task of stilling the mind. Much of the teaching you read will focus on this and an extended focus on breathing. In practicing and teaching meditation for decades, I have come to realize that this approach does more harm than good. Not everyone, but many fall away because it’s boring and really hard. Meditation tip No. 1: Let this idea go.
Here’s another meditation tip; to meditate is NOT defined as the act of focusing on breathing and stilling the mind. To meditate means to apply one’s focused mind on something of interest and be able to concentrate on a topic or idea without wandering to other unrelated thoughts. This form of meditation is engaging and productive. While it is helpful to have some control over the mind and it is good to breath deeply, the real secret to meditation is about reclaiming authority over your mind and then using it proactively. This is what our Level 1 Course teaches.
If you were able to catch your mind when it starts spiraling into negative thoughts or replaying memories that lead to anxiety, you could avoid getting yourself wound up about stuff that might not even be real. This is another secret of meditation. Meditation tip: Much of what you think about isn’t even real! The mind left to flow freely without guidance will very often regurgitate garbage that leaves you feeling lousy.
True meditation can occur when you are able to curb that kind of negative, worried, anxious fear-based thinking and use the mind to think about things in a way you want to. You’ll want to learn to use the mind and stop it from using you. This is totally possible and it does take a good effort. The older you are, the more years your mind has become accustomed to doing whatever it wants. Therefore, you will need patience and persistence but above all, you need direction. Where does one even start?
You start by noticing how your mind functions at present. The way to do this is to sit quietly and breath deeply. You don’t have to spend 30 minutes observing your breath. Just breathe deeply. Deep breathing is evident when you can feel your belly rising and falling with each inhale and exhale. After you’re set on breathing, move your focus to relax your body. Sometimes this is referred to as a body scan. You simply go through your body, noting each part and doing your best to relax them. We also teach this in our courses.
Now comes the interesting part. Once relaxed, return your focus to your mind. I know this flies in the face of what many teach but perhaps you can give it a try. Study how you think. Notice what your mind is drawn to as you sit quietly. This will give you some indication as to what the mind is doing. The key is to recognize that you are a conscious observer of your thoughts and NOT the thoughts themselves. The best part is that you can learn to shut down certain modes of thinking when you recognize that they are destructive. You can shelf other thought streams if they are not relevant to what you want to think about. You can dig into other thoughts because they are really engaging. YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO CONTROL YOUR MIND. But you need to get started.
Teacher: Meditation Teacher Andrew Shykofsky