Meditation is the art of clearing the mind of all mundane thoughts, feelings and the general white noise of day-to-day living. It is a state of relaxation and peace, a state where you can control what you deal with and which thoughts and feelings you allow to pass through your consciousness.
Meditation takes some practice, but an ideal way to get started is to make sure you have a quiet space where you will not be disturbed. Unplug the telephone, switch off the television, close the window if there is a lot of noise outside, make sure the place doesnít smell of food or unpleasant and make sure you are comfortable (and that includes not being hungry or needing the lavatory!).
Clearing your mind isn’t always easy, but a simple technique is to imagine that your mind is a cinema screen and your thoughts are projected onto it – you then have to dispose of the mental clutter, until your cinema screen is clear, white and ready to project what you want on to it. Your mind must be at peace so that you can focus on what you’re trying to accomplish.
When you first start to meditate, it may be challenging to stop all the thoughts of daily life from getting in the way. A really good way of dealing with all the impinging thoughts is to acknowledge them, put them on to a little, fluffy cloud and float them into the distance – so far that they disappear. An alternative is to have a litter-bin wherever your meditation place is – it works well if you’re in a park – and every time a thought intrudes, pick it up, screw it up and put it in the bin. It works.
It takes patience and regular practice, but even if you try clearing and quieting your mind before you go to sleep each night, you’ll find that you get good at it pretty quickly (and probably sleep better too).
When you have finished meditating, it is important that you ground yourself. This can be as simple as wiggling your toes as you come out of the meditation, having a glass of water or a biscuit.
If you are experiencing a difficult time, maybe it’s exam time, or some other situation that’s challenging, here is a suggestion for you to try before you finish your meditation:
When you’re ready to come out, take a little swim in a clear pond and sense how invigorated and happy it makes you feel. Get out of the pool and you will find a huge, white fluffy towel on the bank to dry yourself with. When you have dried off, you could try visualising finding a silky, translucent outfit, and when you hold it up to the light, your inner eye can see that it’s uplifting and protective. Put it on. Before you leave your meditation place, look up and see the sun riding high in the sky, feel the warmth of it on your face, hear the birds singing (or whatever is appropriate for your meditation place) and stand for a moment and know that life is good. When you are warmed by the sun and feeling content, then it’s safe to come out of there.
Follow the path you came into your meditation by to return out of it, so if you entered by crossing a river, cross back over the river: if you went through a gate, go back through the gate to come out of the meditation.
Here are some suggestions for ways to meditate and the visualisation that you could use to aid you:
Visualise going for a walk. Cross a river, or walk round a lake, and then throw in anything that’s likely to weigh you down. Alternatively, cross a bridge over a river to get to the place where you want to meditate. On the bridge stop, and throw all your mental clutter into the flowing water below, one piece at a time. Enjoy watching each item taken by the current, and you can even play ‘pooh sticks’ with them, running to the other side of the bridge to watch your mental baggage vanish downstream.
Then settle down somewhere nice. A good place to start is with familiar things and places, perhaps a park bench, or a visualisation of your own garden or a wood or meadow, whatever feels best for you.
I walk down a path in a lovely forest, dappled with sunlight and with flowers growing everywhere. As I walk, I feel myself growing lighter, as my everyday thoughts fall away. Their energy goes down my arms into the earth, where it’s neutralized and can contribute to the growing cycle of the earth.
At the end of the path is a pool of clear water and a bench, for resting and contemplation. It’s big enough for two, so my spirit guide can come chat with me, if she’s so inclined, or if she needs to tell me something. I’ve also been able to make peace with loved ones who’ve passed over, and say my goodbyes to them.
I’ve noticed over the years that my special mental place has evolved, become more detailed and richer in peace and beauty.
Whenever I need to calm my mind or meditate, I walk up a grassy path to a gate in a walled garden; it’s a very old stone wall and the door is a big, studded oak thing, weathered by age. Before I pass through the gate into the garden, I peel off all my clothes: this represents peeling away all the cares of the day, the ‘noise’ of my conscious mind and babble that I won’t want during a meditation, and then I pass through into the garden.
My garden has a wild corner, filled with cornflowers, poppies and ragged robin and it’s alive with butterflies and bees and all sorts for wildlife; there is also a formal rose garden, with big, scented blooms and a grassy area with daisies in the grass, where it’s wonderful to wiggle your bare toes.
If I need to do more than that, after a while of walking through the garden, I pass through another gate and come to the sea-shore. Here the water is warm, clear and blue and the sun is shining; I get into the sea and just float while looking up at the sky – that is such a tonic.
Have a look at the Visualisation page for more information.