For a long time I struggled to meditate. However hard I tried I'd end up frustrated. I'd give up, get distracted, roll over and fall asleep or my mind would end up in a deeper muddle than before I started. Eventually I realised I was thinking about it and trying to do it in a way that didn't suit me so I thought I'd write about how I did make it work for me and the method I developed in case you have found it difficult too.
I think the biggest misconception I had back then was that we have to sit in the lotus position (legs crossed straight spine.) That we have to sit in silence for long periods at a time and completely empty the mind. I now know that this is an almost impossible task and I'd say generally only achieved by highly experienced long term meditators. Scrap that notion and try this instead!
First of all, either sit or lie down (upright is best) with a straight spine for better energy flow plus it will strengthen the spine and improve your posture over time. Take a few minutes to see how the body feels. Is it tired? Is there tension? Where is the tension? Just notice and observe. Then begin to tune in to how you are feeling. Do you feel anxious? Are you feeling excited? Sad? Happy? Its always good to be aware of how you are feeling. Just pay attention. Observe without judging it. However you are feeling is ok. The important thing is your awareness of it.
The picture above is of the human nervous system. Hundreds of nerve pathways that are constantly active, sending thousands of messages to the brain or the stomach. To every part of the body. It is always on. It never ever gets to rest. Even in sleep it is responding to our autonomic functions and our dream state so it never ever gets to be completely off. This is for me, where meditation can have such a profound effect. Where I find the magic.
Becoming completely still is the only time we can allow the nervous system a full rest. When you do this even for a few minutes at a time, it brings immediate calm and increased well being.
Instead of trying to empty the mind, focus it instead. Focus on your nervous system. Imagine all of the neural pathways becoming completely and utterly still. Do not move a muscle. Do not move a finger, a hair, a single cell even! Visualise the all the nerves in your arms and legs, chest and head becoming absolutely calm and perfectly still. Emotion may arise. Welcome it. It wants to be set free.
The next thing I invite you to do is make the pauses between the breath become longer. Make them last as long as you can. It is within this pause, when nothing is moving, not even your breath, where you will find a little piece of Divinity. The beautiful void between life coming in and life going out. Between birth and death and rebirth. A place where if you take the time to listen, you will feel the universe in all its magnificence. Pure peace. Pure love. Magic. Creation. Life. Listen to its calling. Hear your heart responding. This is the space where you can feel the truth of who you are. The place where you can ask for what you truly desire and it will be heard. I'm not talking about material desires I'm talking about what your soul is calling for.
This is it.
Whatever is happening externally for you cannot affect you here.
The past and the future are illusions.
All that exists is now.
In this moment.
Give yourself up to it and the world will be yours.