Hey, asshole! You’ve already been meditating all your life. Most people just don't realize it because in the west, meditation is not well understood.
No, you don't need to sit down and, "try" to meditate. It can, and does, come naturally.
You know when you sometimes feel focused, clear and present in the moment? Maybe you wake up in the morning and because the window is open, you don't think about anything. You just hear the birds sing as the cars drive by and kids banter on their way to the bus stop. It's relaxing. For just a brief moment, you can space out, and relax before the rush of, "oh crap, now I have to get ready for work" or other thoughts come to mind. Maybe on Saturday and Sunday mornings, or another morning you don't have to work, you allow yourself to snooze a little longer in bed, and not think about anything. In those moments, you're meditating, and meditation only strengthens your mind's ability to stay focused.
What is meditation? There are many ways to answer this question, but for the purposes of this article, I choose to start here:
Meditation is simply awareness in the present moment. It is the state of just being! Not thinking thoughts! As much as most of us are very attached to thinking with lots of words and ideas running through our minds-- you might agree that most of the time, those thoughts are often repetitive, anxious, depressing--frankly, a nuisance.
Sitting down on the floor somewhere and, "trying to meditate" is something most people find really difficult. I was one of those people before my, "transparentZak" experiment made intentional meditation simple for me to do.
This article, however is about becoming aware of how unintentional meditation works, and understanding what it's often like to not meditate.
The really cool thing is, just by reading this article, I trust that you will now find yourself, "accidentally meditating" all the time. Just let those moments of awareness, of clarity, focus and presence expand for longer and longer moments of time.
But what if I don't meditate?
Think of yourself at the train station in downtown Chicago, IL. You always dreamed of one day taking the train to Denver, CO. So you go to the ticket booth and buy a ticket to go to Denver that afternoon. With your ticket and bags, you head to the waiting area for the train to arrive. You sit in a chair, it's reasonably comfortable. The ticket is resting in your lap. You hear the air conditioning running because it's a hot summer day.
Hot summer... your mind wanders and thinks about other summers and both good and bad memories. While distracted you notice that someone dropped a second ticket on your lap. It reads, "LITTLE ROCK, AR." Of course you feel confused! Thinking it's a mistake, you go back to the ticket counter to return it as a lost ticket.
"No, that's not a lost ticket" the station agent explains. "Mr. Smith probably dropped it on your lap as a gift. You don't have to go to Little Rock, it's just an option."
Now you're thinking about what it would be like to go to Little Rock instead of Denver! "Nono," you tell yourself, you feel sure Denver is where you want to go this afternoon. "I'm here to go to Denver," you explain to the station agent, a little upset that someone would suggest you don't know where you want to go. "OK, no problem" says the agent, and they ask for the next customer.
Return to your seat in the waiting area. Out from the bathroom comes Mr. Smith, a fellow who looks friendly-enough..?
This time Mr. Smith throws 3 tickets at your lap and says, "Please don't go to Denver, it's a crap place to visit. Try one of these destinations, instead." This is your subconcious mind messing with you, bubbling anxious thoughts to the surface.
Before you know it, the air conditioning vents are spitting out hundreds of tickets to destinations all over the country. There are even some plane tickets out of O'Hare to Europe, Japan, India... This is just too much. You stay strong and board the train to Denver, CHOOSING to stick to the plan.
You board the train to Denver. 18 hours later, the Rockies appear on the horizon. Ah, Denver.
But the train doesn't stop. You ask the conductor and they explain there's been a change of plan, and the next stop is CALIFORNIA.
Another 34 hours later, after seeing the majestic beauty of western America, the train finally stops. After 2 days on the train, and a little eye-rubbing, you see the sign, "RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA" before stumbling out into the fresh air.
Wake up, what a dream.
You just hear the birds sing as the cars drive by and kids banter on their way to the bus stop. It's relaxing. For just a brief moment, you can space out, and relax before the rush of, "oh crap, now I have to get ready for work" and other thoughts come to mind.
Get it? For most people today, the voice in one's head is intrusive most of the time. It's not your fault, but you can change it. Only through realizing how meditation works can one take the practical steps to exercising one's mind to be clear of unintentional, anxious thoughts.
Millions of people around the world can stop the train and Mr. Smith's running in their minds, they can press the, "Off Button." Can you silence your mind? Are you ready to Leave the Manic Cycle Gang? (Next Article.)
If you read this far, congratulations and welcome to the journey!