One does not practice meditation to become a great meditator. We meditate to wake up and live, to become skilled at the art of living” – Elizabeth Lesser
Your mind is a constant traffic of thoughts, and it is always rush hour, day in, day out. Meditation is watching the movement of that traffic of thoughts in your mind. There is no goal in meditation. The goal is not to become more spiritual. The goal is not to become more enlightened. The goal is not to reach a state of nirvana. The goal is just to be present in that moment and to witness. To be in that space, in that time – fully present. Why? Because practicing being present and bringing that into your day to day interactions helps to ensure that in any given moment and situation, you are able to retreat to the quiet space within that holds all your guidance, your wisdom, your soul, your inner mystic. Accessing this part of you allows you to live a life where all your interactions and choices are conscious and not projections of your subconscious fears or conditioning. It allows us to directly participate in our lives instead of living life as an afterthought. Discovering the witness inside of ourselves is the essence of every meditation.
How to Meditate
Find a quiet space. Turn off your mobile and make sure you wont be disturbed. Create the energy you want for your practice by surrounding your space with candles and crystals. Set your intention for your meditation practice. If you want to receive guidance during the meditation, ask your guides, angels or ancestors to help you with that during the meditation. If you want to let go of the day’s stress, set that as your intention for your practice. If you need help to focus, place your focus on one of the candles first. Stare at the candle for a few minutes and then close your eyes. Imagine the flame of the candle in your third eye, hold it there and be still. The purpose of meditation is not to fight your thoughts. When thoughts arrive just observe them. Be a witness to your thoughts. Don’t fight them and don’t get upset at yourself for having thoughts whilst you are meditating. Observe which thoughts come up frequently when you are meditating. Just let go and have no expectations on what your meditation practice should look or feel like.Another way to bring your focus during meditation is to concentrate on each part of your body. Close your eyes and move your focus to each part of your body from your head to your toes. Ensure that each part of your body is relaxed. Relax your eyes and eyelids, loosen your jaws and teeth, release the tension from your shoulders and so on and so on. Move slowly and to the next part of the body after the current one is relaxed. When complete, do another quick body scan and then just relax and stay in that moment until you finish your practice.
Just be an observer, as if you are standing by the side of the road watching the traffic — no judgment, no evaluation, no condemnation, no appreciation — just pure observation” – Osho
Meditating in complete darkness helps to stimulate the pineal and pituitary glands which helps to awaken your other senses. Monks often meditate in total darkness to acquire clarity and wisdom as it removes distractions and other stimuli. In darkness, our body starts to stimulate chemicals and to produce DMT inside which is useful in spiritual progress. The specific experience created allows the mind to quickly quiet down and experience deep relaxation conducive to many benefits. Meditating in complete darkness may bring up some unconscious fears or insecurities. Meditating then helps you to focus on the fear, face the fear, accept it and let it be released from you. It is a way of taking a virtual tour of your psyche and healing the parts that need healing.
You can do this by using a blindfold that allows us to stay in darkness whilst our eyes remain open, making the room completely dark and ensuring no light is present or taking part in a darkness meditation retreat. The act of shutting out all light helps to shut off the mind’s biggest distraction – our sense of vision. Since we aren’t used to living in the darkness, our range of possible activities and preoccupations also decreases. As a natural consequence, expanded states of consciousness can occur.
The benefits of darkness meditation include:
- A profound sense of calm
- Deep relaxation conducive to meditative states
- Enhanced creativity and problem solving skills
- Increased well being and performance
- Improved sleep and eating behaviour
- Transformation of thinking and attitude patterns
- Deep healing, pain and stress reduction
- Direct experience of the energetic body
- Pineal gland activation
- Opening to altered states of consciousness
The darkness is a primal force aiding us in our personal and spiritual development. If we embrace it for a longer period of time, we experience an ever deeper healing, a reconnection with ourselves, the universe and higher powers. After being in the dark for some time, the inner light may become physically visible, which gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘enlightenment’.
Using the night as a tool for sensory deprivation and de-conditioning is a self-discovery procedure known across all cultures and religions. Retreating into darkness, be it in caves, kivas or closed chambers, is a custom found in all traditional cultures, particularly in Japan, India and Tibet. Pythagoras even built an underground chamber beneath his house in Italy, where he spent a lot of time in the dark. According to the pre-Buddhist Bön religion in Tibet, Darkness Retreats represent the “golden road to meditation”.
“The effect of darkness is to shut down major cortical centres of the brain, depressing mental and cognitive functions in the higher brain centres. Emotional and feeling states are enhanced, especially the sense of smell and the finer senses of psychic perception. Dreams become more lucid, and the dream state manifests in our conscious awareness. Eventually, we awaken within ourselves the awareness of the source, the spirit, the soul” – Mantak Chia
Meditation can come in many forms, it does not need to look like you sitting in a quiet or dark room and chanting. You can meditate in any moment. That’s the end goal. To bring that meditative state into your day. When you bake, cook, exercise, go fishing, are at work – be fully present. When gardening be present, use your hands, be one with nature in that moment. When hanging out with your friends and family, put your phone on silent and be present. Listen to them, give them the gift of a safe space to share and to be vulnerable. Listening is such a beautiful gift to share. You don’t always have to speak or give advice or compare what they are speaking about to what has happened to you. Meditating in day to day activity also means that when things don’t go our way or we are faced with conflict, confrontation or a decision to make you are able to retreat into the quiet space within and find guidance or a moment to reflect on how to handle the situation. As Osho said
Remember only one quality that Buddha has. That quality is witnessing. Whatever is happening, just be a witness, don’t be identified. You are not the body, you are not the mind, you are not the astral body. You are not the silence, you are not all those flowers that are showering on you. You are only a witness. The witness is the very being of a Buddha”