Learn to Meditate
The purpose of meditation is to cultivate those states of mind that are conducive to peace and well-being, and to eradicate those that aren’t.
How do we do this?
First, we must learn how to quiet our mind. Your initial meditation sessions will be spent in practicing breathing meditation. The key skill we are looking to cultivate to support our meditation practice is that of focus. Normally, our mind likes to travel all over the place (perhaps you’ve noticed?) In meditation, we want to shift from this multi-tasking mind to one that is centered and single-focused. By taking the time to follow our breath – making our own breath the only thing we are focusing on – we begin to break free from the skittering mind.
And this sort of relaxed concentration feels good.
Moving beyond the basics:
But meditation is not simply enjoying a quieted mind. As helpful as that is, the benefits of meditation go quite deeper.
Once we have become familiar with this technique for quieting the mind, we are ready to practice contemplative meditation, which involves using this single-pointed focus to absorb into what is called “an object of meditation.”
Essentially, an object of meditation is a state of mind that feels good (for example, love or generosity or compassion), resulting in a special insight and/or positive experience in the heart.
Once we have “found” our meditation object, we cease our contemplation and allow ourselves to move deeply into the insight or the experience itself.
All of the classes at KMC-NYC, as well as the books and audio products in our bookstore, are wonderful sources for your becoming familiar with these states of mind.
A regular practice:
As with any skill we wish to perfect, the more consistently we train at it and practice it, the better we will become at performing it.
Ideally, then, you would want to do your best to meditate on a daily basis. Most people who attempt this find that meditating first thing in the morning is the best way to accomplish this. Our minds are generally quieter in the morning than at other points along the day, so our ability to move into that centered and still experience is much stronger. If you can find even five to ten minutes initially to commit to your daily meditation practice, you will soon enjoy great results.
However, be assured that there is nothing “magic” about meditating in the morning, and if your lifestyle or own personal style is such that a different part of the day is better for you…take it. You never want to fight with your meditation practice. The less we look at it as an obligation but more as a lucky opportunity to feel better, the more likely we are to happily make it a regular part of our life.
Finally…be assured that you do not have to sit on a cushion in order to have a “qualified” meditation session. If cushions don’t work for you, a chair is fine. You’ll want to do what you can to meditate each day in the same location (your bedroom, your living room, etc.). Designating a specific place for your meditation helps you move more swiftly into the meditative experience once you have closed your eyes and begun to focus your attention on your breathing.
There’s plenty more than can be said about meditation and setting up a practice. But guess what? You don’t need to wait until you’ve heard all those details in order to get started. You’re ready to go. Please enjoy.