When it came to meditation, I was always kind of a dummy. It seemed easy enough, but I just didn’t get why I needed to do it. After all, I cleared my head each morning with a brisk four-mile run. Did I really need to meditate, too?
Still, as I read stories about the meditation practices of Sting and perused the filmmaker David Lynch’s book on meditation and consciousness, Catching the Big Fish, I couldn’t help but wonder–was I missing something?
So I tried meditating. On several dozen occasions. But my jumpy, synapses-in-overdrive brain was having no part of it. Why go blank, my jabbering mind would say, when there were so many plans to make, so many different things to think about? I was the world’s worst meditator.
Then, while window shopping at Amazon one day, I stumbled upon the book Deep Meditation by Yogani. I was familiar with Yogani as the guru who didn’t believe in gurus, and after reading several glowing “it’s the only meditation book you’ll ever need” reviews, I bought it. Now, after countless successful sessions, I’m sold on meditation, too. There’s no better way to refresh and recharge the mind.
When it comes to meditation instruction, Yogani is the opposite of a taskmaster, in that he is kind and forgiving—and the thing he is most forgiving about is falling off the mantra, the word you’re supposed to focus on as you block out all your other thoughts.
That was always my biggest obstacle when meditating—having my mind constantly jump from the mantra to virtually anything else going on in my life. But Yogani patiently and frequently eased my concerns by letting me know it’s alright, just come back to the mantra if you get off track. Even if that means refocusing on the mantra again and again and again.
Deep Meditation is a quick and easy read, a slim 100-page book in pretty big type, and can be had for around ten bucks. And while I recommend you buy a copy, I thought I’d provide ten key points from the book which I’ve listed below verbatim–with my thoughts added in italics.
- For most people, twenty minutes is the best duration for a meditation session. But it’s okay to start with 5-10 minutes and work your way up from there. Try it twice a day, once before the morning meal and the day’s activity, and then again before the evening meal and the evening’s activity. I make sure, at minimum, to get a morning session in each day.
- A word on how to sit for meditation: The first priority is comfort. It is not desirable to sit in a way that distracts us from the easy procedure of meditation. Or to do it in a position where you might fall asleep.
- For our practice of deep meditation, we will use the thought I AM. This will be our mantra. We can also spell it AYAM. I use the similar Sanskrit word “aum”. All Yogani asks is that you keep it simple.
- While sitting comfortable with eyes closed, we’ll just relax. We will notice thoughts, stream of thoughts. That is fine. We just let them go without minding them. After about a minute, we gently introduce the mantra.
- Whenever we realize we are not thinking the mantra inside any more, we come back to it easily.
- As soon as we realize we are off into a stream of thoughts, no matter how mundane or profound, we just easily go back to the mantra. Like that. We don’t make a struggle of it. The idea is not that we have to be on the mantra all the time.
- Thoughts are a normal part of the deep meditation process. We just ease back to the mantra again. We favor it. Deep meditation is going toward, not pushing away from.
- No struggle. No fuss. No iron willpower or mental heroics are necessary for this practice. All such efforts are away from the simplicity of deep meditation and will reduce its effectiveness.
- When we realize we have been off somewhere, we just ease back into the mantra again. We are reading it inward with our attention to progressively deeper levels of inner silence in the mind.
- This cycle of thinking the mantra, losing it, and coming out into a stream of thoughts is a process of purification. It is very powerful, and will ultimately yield a constant experience of inner silence in our meditation and, more importantly, in our daily activity.
This post appeared on my Patheos column Wake Up Call, April 16, 2014.