Meditate – Why and How

>At Foo Camp I did a 5 minute “learn to meditate” session for about 50 people. It was fun despite being a really noisy environment (due to a session next door, mostly). A lot of people came up later and gave me positive feedback.

I don’t meditate all the time. I go through on/off cycles of a few months. When I am doing it, I think I’m both happier and more functional. It really increases my sense of mental well being. I feel more ‘clear’, like I’m more able to process information, focus on a task, perceive important patterns, see the outcomes I want, respond emotionally in the ways that I want, and so on.

That dovetails with a large body of research saying that even a few minutes of meditation reduces stress, boosts immune function, increases perceived well being, stimulates learning, and improves attention and memory.

The meditation technique I presented at Foo was basically a simplified version of Anapana meditation, a form taught directly by the Buddha.

Here are the steps:

1. Sit Comfortably

2. Close Your Eyes

3. Become Aware of Your Breathing

4. Allow it to Slow and Deepen

5. Let Your Breath Become the Center of Your Attention

6. When Your Mind Wanders -> Smile, Bring it Back To Your Breath

That’s it. Pretty simple. The imporant thing is not knowing these steps, though: it’s doing it.

Meditation skill, in my experience, is like a muscle – it gets stronger when exercised. When I first tried meditating, I had a tough time going more than about a minute, and my mind was racing constantly. After a week or two of meditating once a day I could do it for five minutes. Another month or two and I could meditate for a whole 20 minutes.

So if you try, just do it, and enjoy it, and don’t get discouraged.

As someone once told me: There’s no such thing as a bad meditation. If you meditate, and you find your mind constantly racing or wandering, that’s just a sign that you really needed that meditation session.

-mez

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