I’ve meditated for over 23 years and there are a few props that are essential to my practice.
First is a good seat to sit on! My favourite is the b, halfmoon Zafu. It’s comfortable and forms perfectly to your sit bones, yet is firm enough to support a long sit.
I also love to have a Zabuton underneath, just for the warmth and comfort on my ankles and feet.
Take time every day to sit quietly and observe the natural activity in your mind as it is. Get to know your own thinking. Eventually, you can practice focusing your attention on one thought: a positive thought is preferable! With practice, over time, you will naturally begin to notice that behind this level of thinking in the mind, there exists a deep and indescribable spaciousness.
Your mind will try to label this with concepts, as it does with everything, but just continue to practice noticing whatever thoughts come along and then look past them again, into the space of no thought.
Little by little, you will become more accustomed to this experience. It is not at all the same as sleep or dullness since you remain very alert and present, watching what and who exists.
Your mind might resist this formless space with endless chatter. Accept this as natural, and persevere. You are discovering your own essential being! Meditation is like no other kind of study or practice.
Meditation is not any set of ideas or activities, it is the exploration into what exists when there is no thought and no movement. Meditation is the practice of acknowledging the vastness within your own self where you can experience directly the source of your inner reality, health and joy.
Normally we understand topics using the mind’s concepts. We build ideas and then compare these to others to develop a view of the world. Self-knowledge usually refers to the collection of ideas we hold about ourselves: our personality. Any one set of ideas will inevitably be contrary to another set of ideas, and so endless discussions and even fights go on about which ideas are correct and best.
Study is needed to sharpen the intellect and analyze the functions of the mind and ego, but more important is our direct experience of our inner space gained by actually meditating. It’s also invaluable to have a very experienced meditation teacher who can guide you through your practice.
Meditation philosophy is fascinating to study, but you cannot understand yourself by study alone since you are not just a collection of concepts.
Meditation is the intentional practice of taking time to see beyond your mind’s thoughts into the infinite and formless background space behind all your thoughts, and then resting in the peace and knowledge that you are this pure space of freedom.
Enjoy your meditation and be at ease!
Padma is one of Canada’s most respected and popular teachers of meditation, yoga and self-realization. Padma has over 30 years of experience in yoga and meditation, including a one-decade advanced meditation retreat in the Himalayas of India, and is certified to teach by the International Meditation Institute of India. For more information on Padma go to www.padmayoga.ca.