Meditation for Dummies

First – just let me say that no one who is embarking on an effort to meditate and change their life is a dummy. You are a good person who needs to be encouraged by anyone that might help.

I’m sure someone has already published a book with this title, but I’m up for the challenge of writing a blog post named the same to help those who think they just don’t know what they are doing when they first try meditation.

Many years ago, before I found a qualified teacher, I used to try and meditate – I was such a novice, and never took a class, listened to others about their experiences. But I always wanted to see myself as someone who could be so cool as to know how to meditate- happily I seem to past those egotistical motivations.  But literally everyone said it was good for you, and I definitely needed to find something I was looking for…..meditation for dummies. So I set out to do meditation daily to see what would happen. I set it all up.

1. A little altar with crystals, a candle, and even a statue of Shiva (I wasn’t a Buddhist yet). All the things that inspired me at the time
2. A pillow to sit on with a fancy rug under it
3. Music – I found a CD with bell chimes that were recorded and enhanced to help meditation

I’d get all ready, make sure I was dressed right (baggy pants and top) and that no one would disturb me. Light my candle and incense, open the window for good ions, turn on the music and then I’d sit.

I’d stop in intervals to look at my mind to see if I was meditating. Was I quiet? Pretty quiet. I’d try to be present in the moment, because I’d heard many people talk about how good that was for meditation. I’m in this room, it’s quiet, music is playing, I can smell the incense, see the candles light. It was peaceful, quiet, calm.

Was it working?

Sometimes my mind would drift and I’d start thinking about buying groceries when I was finished and then realized that probably wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing, and bring my mind back to the moment.

Was it working?

Sometimes I’d just listen to the recording of the bells. They were Himalayan bells that echoed into the distance. I’d start wondering who had recorded them, and wondered if it was just electronic, and why did they choose that pattern. And then I’d bring my mind back to the moment of meditating.

Was it working?

Sometimes I’d be really still in my mind, like a vacation. I gave myself permission to just stop trying to figure out if my meditation was working or not. I’d just let go and stop, enjoy the moment.

Was it working?

Sometimes I’d wonder what I was waiting for. That’s what it felt like, I was waiting. I was sitting there waiting. Would I have visions, would I be transported, would I suddenly be healed or transformed? What was I waiting for?

Was it working? Would I see a difference. Was I different yet.  I wasn’t sure, but it felt like something COULD be happening, but I wasn’t sure. But I knew I looked cool. That I’d be able to say I’d meditated. I knew I was helping myself in some way, I hoped.

One day while doing what I thought was pretend meditation (because after all, I was just sitting, and I was just being there, I wasn’t really having any miracles happening, I wasn’t levitating or anything, so I guess I was just a regular person) I actually experienced a small change – I felt as if my mind had expanded and relaxed, as If I’d just arrived into a new understanding.  My whole body and mind was quiet and completely at peace. I didn’t have to quiet my mind, or try to concentrate – I just was.

I later learned from my teacher that this is one of the things we reach for when meditating. And not only did I have a small accomplishment, but by accident what I had been doing was actually what a beginning meditation session should look like. And if you don’t do it just for a few days, if you keep doing it you really will see a difference in your life.

Read the book “Stabilizing the Mind” by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo. She teaches meditation in a way that makes simple sense – that’s easy to understand for an American. All the things I was doing was what she teaches, don’t beat yourself up, quiet your mind when it drifts off, and feel safe. But what I didn’t know but learned from the book, was that the result goes deeper, and can have much further, far reaching result than anything you can imagine. Read the book and find out.

No dummies exist in the world, only we who are uncertain of our own potential.