Meditation Age - A Guide to Enlightenment
The practice of meditation is extremely old. The earliest references to Meditation are recorded in the Vedas around 3000 BC, however the practice is believed to have been developed many thousands of years earlier.
Meditation is universal, appearing across most ancient cultures, and forms part of long standing traditions in Asian countries, such as China, India, Korea, Thailand and Japan. Although the techniques vary, most forms of meditation aim to achieve higher consciousness by learning to be present.
Science shows meditation works. In the East, the benefits of meditation on the mind, heart and body have been known for thousands of years.
There are countless ways to meditate but in this article, we will cover the simplest, yet most powerful technique of all; Presence Meditation.
Presence Meditation is a simple yet powerful way to meditate. It does not require a special time of day, sitting down in special positions or closing your eyes. Presence meditation simply consists of being fully aware and present in the NOW.
If we observe our mental state carefully, we will notice that at any given time, our attention is divided between the task at hand and thoughts about the past or the future. This generates stress which is caused by “being here but wanting to be there”, to quote Eckhart Tolle.
We treat each moment as an obstacle, stopping us from reaching the next moment or next experience, which in our minds, is infinitely more desirable.
Most people’s minds are filled with constant, but for the most part useless chatter, asking us to pay attention to the past or the future. “When I finally get that job, I will be happy” or “Once I own a home, I will be satisfied”. We are seldom ever truly present in the here and now, and this creates stress, anxiety, fear, and can lead to stress related disease.
The “NOW’ is all there is
Our lives only ever consist of the NOW. If you think about the past, you are doing so in the NOW. If you worry about the future, you are doing so in the NOW. And of course, the future never comes, for when it comes, it is the NOW.
Everything we do, we must do with presence. That means that you must, at the very least, accept whatever task you are performing and pay full attention to it. Better that acceptance though, is to perform a task with joy.
All that is required is to pay attention to the present moment. Observe it, and find that stillness that is there when we truly look and listen to what is happening around us.
Whether you are sitting down, or walking down the street, or speaking to someone, be present. Pay full attention to the task at hand, and if your mind wonders, gently return to the present moment. It is simple but so very hard at the same time.
If you wish, you can go within and pay attention to the feelings within your body. Your breathing, the tingling in your hands and so on.With practice, you will find that even though thoughts still arise and try to take you away from the current moment, you no longer have to follow these. You can allow them to come and go and remain in the present.
The essence of all forms of meditation is to gain awareness of the present. The greatest source of suffering is our desire to be somewhere else. Sure, physical pain can come into our lives through injury or disease. But the suffering most people experience most frequently is that of stress generated by resistance to the present moment.
“I hate my job” or “what am I going to do with my life?”. These are the thoughts that are constantly and relentlessly swimming through our minds. We cannot control them and they generate extreme anxiety which can lead to depression and disease.
The truth is that for most people, the present moment is quite safe. We have air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat... what can possibly go wrong right NOW?
In the beginning, you can start by practicing presence for 1 or 2 minutes. With time, you can increase the time and even practice it when you perform tasks or are speaking to people.
The mind will interfere and try to tell you that you are “wasting time” and that “you have more important things to do”. This is not necessarily true though. Unless there is an emergency, most of us have 1 or 2 minutes to spare in the course of a day.
My final words of advice are this. However difficult or inconvenient you might think it is to practice presence for a few minutes a day, it is surely better than spending day after day living in anxiety and fear. You can have a better and happier life now. Stop waiting for the future to provide your happiness. Ω