Meditation for the Western Mind
Meditation is an ancient practice that is thought to have originated in India several thousand years ago, some of the oldest written records dating back to around 1500 BCE.
Meditation began to spread to the West via the Silk Road and since then, this original Eastern practice has slowly made its way into the mainstream here in the West.
There are many many different forms of meditation…mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation (TM), loving-kindness meditation, vipassana meditation, mantra meditation…the list is endless.
One seemingly universal issue people come across in starting a practice is answering the question of “how”. I think this is an integral question that needs to be addressed. How can we go about using this beautiful tool of inward silence and stillness to really create more connection, stability, and peace in our lives?
Here in the West, we live in a society dominated by the constant doing, the pushing, the trying to make something happen. Lots of structure and productivity and control. Yet, if you go to a place like India you’ll witness people standing around, sipping some tea, doing absolutely nothing…for 10 hours. And that’s normal and perfectly acceptable.
However here in America, we aren’t so good at the not doing. We’ve been programmed to believe our worth comes from doing and achieving…causing us to have this relentless internal drive to keep going and pushing throughout our days.
We need to keep this in mind when building a meditation practice that is actually beneficial and healing for our culture.
What us Americans need overall is to relax and do less. So before even introducing a meditation practice into our lives, it shouldn’t be looked at as another thing we have to “do.” Meditation isn’t supposed to be stressful. Instead, letting it be a practice of coming back to a place of pure being. Something that is helping us to let go more in life, not add to it.
Once we have the right intention and mindset on incorporating meditation into our lives, we can address the question of how. How can we go about making our practice actually beneficial for us neurotic doers?
I’ve found the best practice is open awareness. Where you sit and allow everything that comes up to simply exist. You don’t force yourself to try to create and control a certain experience. Instead, you allow your mind to naturally settle into stillness over time. You sit there and learn how to really face yourself, until you feel settled enough to simply exist. Coming back to a place where we can actually handle the thoughts and feelings that arise in our consciousness.
With this approach, you begin to lean how to really separate from the disturbing thoughts and feelings more and more. Not needing to do anything about them except let them go. Let them flow.
For a while I was doing the opposite and spent the majority of my time in my meditation trying to “manifest” what I want in life through the practice...lots of me creating thoughts and feelings and trying to force what I want into my life through the mind. And while I do think there is a place for this form of meditation to bring what we are wanting into our life…overall I’ve found this practice to be tremendously more beneficial, in regards to it actually changing my life, when coming from a place of focusing on letting go, rather than getting anything.
Just really letting that ego unravel.
Through this approach, you begin to bring awareness to what repetitive thought cycles and stories you tell yourself that are not serving you. You learn which thoughts are worth continuously engaging and feeding energy in and which are not. This is the natural result of going inwards and having no choice but to face all your shit. It’s easier to have toxic thoughts when you are eating pizza, watching the news, or talking to a friend, because you have an external distraction. Something outside of yourself to keep you from really having to experience what is going on inwardly.
Meditation forces you to face your shit. And with time, once your practice builds, you eventually come to a place of oneness, of stillness, of inner peace. Of pure presence that is indescribable…Uninterrupted beingness. A place that I really do feel we are all striving to get back to.
Meditation changed my entire world and I know is an integral part of healing this planet. Let’s utilize and continue to progress this ancient practice into a form that we need today.
Don’t bring your neurosis into meditation.
Interested in forming or deepening your meditation practice to reach unimaginable levels of inner peace and contentment?
Email or DM me on IG, would love to help. (:
Love and Light,
P.S. Honored for this article to be published in Elephant Journal!!
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