It has been some time since I last talked about meditation. For me, it is all about mindfulness. Now, how do I explain that in a way that makes sense. Typically, people assume that meditation is about drifting into a state of non-being, a trance, or simply going blank. Meditation doesn’t do any of that.
Meditation is about clearing out the chatter and noise that typically dominates, especially in quiet times. Thoughts fragment, scatter, and we are typically left with annoying bits and pieces of inner sounds and images that defy being corralled and tamed. By sitting still, one focuses on either a mantra or better yet, one’s breath. The mind follows the in breath as it fills our lungs, and feels that fullness. And as though there is no pause, the breath begins to flow out. And then, an empty pause between one breath and the next.
Mindfulness begins in first being present with your breath, a focused attention. Only then can the chatter of your mind be stilled enough to become more aware of where you are. You don’t disappear into an inner nothingness. You get to be present to the sounds, smells, auras, and presences in your environment. Close your eyes? In my opinion, no. However, it might be wise to not be wide-eyed. Leave your eyes open a bit so that you are there and not drifting into the sleepy region of inner spaces. It’s too easy to fall asleep.
One good practice is to follow all of these instructions while walking. Walking meditation is real. In the not so distant past, religious leaders walked while praying, while meditating. Typically the cloister would frame an inner garden space and the clerics would walk the circuit repeatedly in silence. I also engage in walking meditation, walks that take me into the countryside away from neighbours and traffic. As I slip into the needed personal silence, I get to hear the birds, the breezes, the insects, and perhaps more importantly, any car approaching. Awareness is the key.
So you meditate?