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Meditation: What It Is and How to Do it

This article was written by Stephanie Clement
posted under Meditation

We all begin any new activity from the beginning. Even when we are fifty-five years old, we still have to begin at the beginning. It is no different with meditation. Or is it?

Actually, most of us have engaged in a wide variety of mental states during our lives. As children, we were able to immerse ourselves completely in an activity and stay with it as long as our short attention spans would allow. Sometimes we found we could stay with a project for a relatively long period—even an hour, which is a long time for a small child. In our work, we now find we can really get into a project and are sometimes amazed at how time has flown by.

Meditation, by definition, is simply a different state of mind from the sort we engage in most of the time. Yet when we meditate, we find the state of mind is familiar. Usually, it is the posture and surroundings that are different from our usual daily activities.

Meditation is sometimes called "mindfulness training." This training is designed to help the mind relax, to help us focus our attention, and to accomplish certain defined tasks. Through meditation, we learn to pay attention to the one thing that is uniquely ours—our mind. This may seem like a strange goal. After all, each of us experiences our own mind all the time. However, you will very likely find that you have not been paying much attention to your mind. You are generally too busy with family, kids, school, work, friends, paying the bills, or whatever else you do all day, every day. Most of us have very little time to call our own, and even that time is spent actively engaged in something outside ourselves. Meditation is about going inward.

Try This Simple Meditation:

  • Sitting comfortably with your hands in your lap, or standing in a quiet spot, look at the cover of a book.
  • Relax your eyes and simply look.
  • Allow your attention to examine the details of the cover.
  • Continue doing this until you "see" something that catches your attention.
  • You did not notice it before. Think about why it caught your attention. Was it the color, the shape, the texture?
  • Re-focus on the book cover and continue for a few minutes.
  • Does something else arise to take your attention?
Notice any connections you make between the cover and your personal experience as you do this exercise. Whatever arises for you is a bit of insight. It may not be the most profound insight you will ever experience, but it is insight. In the moments when we are not totally focused on the outer environment, when we have a gap in our thought process, we allow insight to pop into our minds. You don't need a huge gap—just a relaxed state and attention to the meditation process.

Why Meditate?
Perhaps you are not convinced that meditation is a good use of your time. There are many good reasons to meditate. Altering the state of your mind for five to ten minutes a day can have remarkable results. Here are a few things you may experience through meditation:
  • Muscles relax.
  • Your blood pressure decreases.
  • Your pulse rate declines.
  • Your breathing slows.
  • Your emotional state becomes more calm.
  • Your eyes relax and focus a different way.
  • You become aware of sounds in your environment that you didn't hear before.
These are outcomes you can experience almost immediately. No waiting ten years for something to happen. You may experience change on the very first day, and certainly within a few days.

Then there are the things you experience after meditation:
  • Colors may seem more vivid.
  • Your surroundings have deeper texture.
  • You pay attention to what you are doing more easily.
  • What you are doing actually is easier.
  • You have insights into the meaning of your life and activities.
Some of these outcomes may not seem very practical. However, with practice, you will find that all your activities take on the calmer quality that you find during meditation.

Stephanie ClementStephanie Clement
A professional astrologer for over twenty-five years, Stephanie Jean Clement, Ph.D., is a board member of the American Federation of Astrologers and a faculty member of Kepler College and NORWAC. Her Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology has prepared her to...  Read more

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