Meditation Techniques: How to Meditate by Entering the Silence
By Jeri Noble
The primary goal of self and guided meditation is to quiet the mind. For many of those beginning a meditation practice, this can seem like a daunting task. The effort to simply sit there and not have your mind go chattering away can be like trying not to think of a pink elephant. The more you try, the more that the mind comes up with distractions.
Unfortunately, this can cause many people to give up. They may decide that they simply can't do it, and are therefore a failure at the practice. But you see, that's the point. Meditation is a practice and it takes intention to develop meditation techniques. If we repeat our efforts daily, preferably at the same time, in the same place, we will begin to see results. It may only seem "impossible" because we haven't given it enough of a chance.
Also, there are different types of meditations which can help to still the mind. Transcendental Meditation (tm) uses the technique of a mantra, a sound which may have a spiritual meaning, but a distinct sound that can be repeated over and over again, leaving no room for vagrant thoughts.
There are several oriental forms of meditation that include chanting, which can achieve the same result.
The Sufis employ a highly rhythmic dance, with a beat that sends them into the contemplative zone.
Some forms of prayer, such as with rosary beads, provide a repetitive symbology that can free the mind from ordinary thoughts.
There are many techniques for meditation. The end goal is the same though, to allow an inner silence from which we can directly experience Spirit without distraction.
This inner silence means that we are not being impinged on by worrisome ideas about work, family, health, etc. We are just being there. This is a literal "peace of mind." In this quiet, we have the opportunity to experience a state of pure perception, of sensing the presence of Divinity. This presence is always there of course, but it is subtle. To first connect with It, one must listen very carefully, with full attention.
Beginners in meditation often feel that they must fight off errant thoughts. Although this may work for some, I have seen that this can actually create a greater tension and anxiety. What can be far more constructive is to objectify the thought. For example you're trying to clear your mind and the thought comes up, "Fred at work was telling me..." Instead of trying to force yourself to not think of Fred, back off from this thought and just look at it. Detach from it. It needn't mean anything to you. You don't have to push it away, or force it to do anything. Allow it to be there, but just don't feed it any additional energy. It will run out of steam on its own.
One of the greatest barriers in quieting the mind, in my opinion, is the fear of being alone. In our modern society, solitude is not a desirable condition and many of us are simply unfamiliar with it. It can be helpful to recognize this possibility and begin your practice of meditation with simply being alone and sitting still for a specified period of time. Often, that is all that is needed to find the silence.
One minute of being in the silence during a 10 minute practice, is progress. Our civilized minds are accustomed to a great deal of stimulation, through the pressures of modern business and the impact of the media. As one continues the effort of finding inner peace, a calm and serenity can descend, making each successive endeavor more successful. A minute of silence is surely a step in developing skilled meditation techniques.