Saturday, 13 September 2014

While waiting for Sam Harris' book - how I meditate (by an utter beginner)

I'm waiting for Sam Harris' latest book: "Waking Up", on non-religious spirituality, but I have been a convert to the idea of meditation for years, since some therapy in 2010, even though I definitely don't practice it often enough.  Buying Sam's book is a way of encouraging myself.

When I do meditate, it can be only for a few minutes at a time, and yet it is extremely calming and very pleasant.  I thought I would explain what I do, as it's simple (at least to describe).

First I find a situation where I can remain still.  It doesn't have to be quiet, just so that no-one will interrupt me.  Then, I find something visual to focus on.  Often I will look out of a window at some tree blowing in the wind, but anything will do that isn't likely to disappear from view.

Then, I keep my visual attention on that object while gently working to quieten my thoughts.  I will find my mind wandering, and when I do, I bring it back to what I am seeing, and put aside what I was thinking about.  This has to be done calmly - there should be no anger or frustration at finding thoughts arising and attention wandering - just keep putting aside thoughts and bringing the attention back to what you are seeing.  You should not try and think about what you are seeing, just keep working to keep your mind as empty as possible.

It make take several minutes for your mind to quieten, or it may not happen.  It doesn't matter if it doesn't happen - the point of this is to train your brain to be able to find calmness.  It's the process of putting aside thoughts that is (I believe) therapeutic.

When you mind truly does quieten you may experience what I do - a feeling of utter peace and a loss of the track of time.  There is no feeling of urgency to do anything, only calmness, free of any emotion.

There is no mysticism involved, not even a mention of the word 'spirituality'.  It's all about learning how to turn off distracting, compulsive and urgent thoughts.  I believe this is helpful for sufferers of OCD and obsessive thinkers, like me.

Anyway, good luck!  I'm pretty much a beginner.  I'll report back what I find useful in Sam's book.

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