The basic meditation method is simple: once the mind has strayed to unwanted thinking, have your attention return to the chosen meditation content, e.g. your breath, mantra, or prayer. Repeat this continuously.
Similar to the way the mind’s eye “sees” objects and events, your mind’s ear “hears” your thoughts. With consistent meditation all thoughts will become more quiet and soft.
As your thoughts become quieter they will seem more distant, more faint. You will notice that your awareness seems to travel from the front of your head to the back of your head. Thinking is now more subconscious.
Quiet mind means there are now longer periods of not thinking between your subconscious thoughts. You “hear” less in the mind.
Still mind is when there is more time of not thinking and your subconscious thoughts are slowing down and decreasing in frequency,
During meditation your attention will go back and forth between the chosen meditation content and subconsciously thinking of something else, occasionally and momentarily resting in no thinking.
Not thinking feels like timeless eternity with no beginning or end. You will not notice it has occurred until thought returns. One mentally recognizes the difference between what has just occurred versus the present moment in which one is now thinking again.
As you become more proficient at meditating your mind will rest in no-thought more often, resulting in a distortion of time, with time experienced as having passed more quickly than usual. This is caused by the greater periods of time in timeless eternity. This is one way you will know your practice included periods of not thinking.
It improves your mind if at the end of a positive meditation you remember how it has been to meditate, and remind yourself that you will relive it in the future when you formally meditate or spontaneously choose to remember the experience.
Meditation improves your ability to concentrate by improving the ability to observe and direct one’s mind, enabling one to keep the mind focused as one wishes, a necessary skill for most spiritual practices.
Periods of not thinking improve your ability to access your subconscious and unconscious thoughts, strengthen intuition, and facilitate divine inspiration.
Contemplation during meditation is holding one thought or question as the fixed meditation content and allowing all other thoughts that arise to come and go, only consciously considering them as answers or insights at conclusion of the meditation.
Successful meditation practice usually increases one’s psychic abilities in which one may experience subtle energies, influence manifestation of events, and/or receive information that ordinarily would not be possible unless the laws of time and space were transcended, i.e. clairvoyance.
If you attend to your meditation experience throughout the day, unconditional love, peace, and joy experienced in formal practice will arise and eventually be felt even when not making this formal effort.
Successful meditation practice is a transcendent experience in which one becomes one’s spiritual or transpersonal self. Over time this results in positive character change in which a person becomes more lovingly kind and altruistic.
2 thoughts on “Fifteen Things to Know About Meditation”
I am assuming that your experience with meditation is that it has made you a more lovingly kind and altruistic person but I don’t think this is a universal outcome of meditation. I agree with your other description of meditation in this note but my experience with meditation has been that it has freed me to express who I am more “authentically”, a word I don’t like but it seems to be in vogue now, But mediation has tended to make me more of a curmudgeon than to be more compassionate with people. It has made me more tolerant of people but I don’t feel more compassionate toward them. I feel compassion for those in pain but not toward those inflecting pain. You know me well enough to take a good guess as to why that is. Thinking about supposedly enlightened individuals, such as Osho, who practiced mediation and then perpetrated things that society has considered morally reprehensible is a case in point. I believe meditation liberates us to do what we really are but whether that is always going to be a lovingly kind and altruistic person I question.
I like your emphasis on meditation liberating a person and resulting in one being more authentic. This may be considered a change in one’s character, a blossoming if you will. I agree this happens. And that it is desired. And I also agree that it can level out there, or even turn negative. So for me, the point you’re raising is at the heart of spiritual practice. Resilient and lasting compassion, other virtues, and altruism do not automatically result from meditation. We experience them during practice, and usually for some time following practice, but they do not last unless other effort is made. There is no certainty one’s character will become and remain more divine.
I remember reading the Dali Lama stating that compassion practice is the next “level” of spiritual practice. I believe most want the “fun with God” that comes from feeling good when one feels spiritual. Or, they want the power that comes from some spiritual consciousness. Both okay if no harm is caused, particularly useful if a healer of some type. And as you mention negative can result. What to do then when at this point? If psychological issues are revealed then they need addressing (and I would add, become part of strengthening compassion toward oneself which then later is shared with others). This is a common challenge for all of us, and as you mention regarding Osho, can occur at any “level” of spiritual development (as they all have their unique challenges and liabilities). The second answer to the question of “what’s next” is to decide the purpose of one’s spiritual practice. From what I have read, and from my own experience, the next stage is a more complete surrender of individuality and independence, a shift from serving humanity to one of serving the Divine, and becoming Love.
This second “level” of practice requires surrendering ourselves to altruistic ways we associate with the Divine. Aside from meditating on these actions we must use will to act accordingly in circumstances until it is natural to do so. And to do so with much compassion for ourselves when we fail, and while making sure we do not abandon the practice. Harder than it sounds, but compassion is not easy at first. It goes against human nature. For here we are trying to act from our spiritual nature. Our expectations of others must also be relinquished. I find this practice means applying my best and most loving feelings as I explain to myself the reasons for acceptance of that which I do not want, dislike, etc. Judgements of all kinds (positive and negative) are thought-stopped and released. And I remind myself that an accepting response is a means of bringing the Divine Nature into the world; serving the Divine. An approximation of unconditional-sacred love, as a “combination” of No-thinking or No-mind along with as much loving tender, warm, caring, kind feelings as possible, are also to be felt as well as one can.
Meditation is instrumental in reinforcing all that is mentioned above, but not sufficient by itself to accomplish the change from human nature to spiritual nature. Eventually all that I’m referring to must be integrated seamlessly into one’s subjective feeling of agency. This is the expanded definition of self we associate with spiritual practice. I believe it is the beginning of the “level” people call “awakened”, beyond “fun with God”, but still far short of enlightenment (because individual self is still present). The characteristics we associate with this ideal begin to be realized if we make greater effort to renounce the world and relinquish the self. I’ve mentioned some strategies here and there are some others in other postings.