Here are some thoughts about meditation, inspired by Phil Watt's article "We All Meditate, Whether We Know it or Not" at Waking Times:
The meditative states are natural states of consciousness that we experience automatically in everyday life experience - between being awake and sleeping. These states are connected with brainwave frequencies: our standard brain operating state when awake is around 13-30 Hz (cycles per second), known as the beta range. When we relax, or get absorbed on something - in exercise, listening to music, preparing food, reading a book, even watching TV or havig sex - the noise or chatter of the brain ceases, as our brain frequency slows down to the alpha range of 7-13 Hz. We are now in the initial meditative state, without necessarily making any conscious effort to get there.
As the brain frequency slows down, we become increasingly aware of the contents of our normally-unconscious mind. The deeper we go, the better we get to know ourselves, and the more we become able to heal ourselves. We become more aware of our emotions and psychology, and we can start facing our "inner demons", and processing them. This is the basis of emotional and psychological healing. By thinking less, and by ceasing to worry, we give the mind an opportunity to balance itself. The brain and body are natural healers - we just need to stay out of their way. As the mind calms down, we increasingly experience inner peace and contentment. As we go deeper still we can learn to heal ourselves physically also.
However, to go deeper than the alpha range, we generally have to deliberately meditate. Meditation is all about mental focus. Just like with physical exercise: the more effort and time we put into the mental exercise of meditation, the greater the benefits we will receive.
The point is to stop thinking so much and just focus our attention onto one thing. That’s why many meditation teachers advise us to focus on our breathing - this helps to stop the chatter of our mind, and to maintain our focused attention. But other techniques can be just as effective or even more so. Some chant mantras or affirmations. Some adopt particular physical postures. Many find peaceful music to be a help, whilst others prefer silence. Try creating a comfortable environment, with candlelight and incense. Personally, I find visualisation of light within me to be a very powerful technique. There is no one technique that suits all - you should experiment with different methods until you find what works best for you.
Once we are in the alpha range, we can go further by intensifyig our focus. Beyond the alpha range, the next stage of consciousness is the theta range, around 4-7 hz. This takes us into a realm of vivid visualisations and abstractions. Our sensory perceptions fade, and we start to feel bodiless. Deeper still lies the delta range, at less than 4hz, where we lose all consciousness of thought and our environment - we lose all sense of self and start to experience the universal oneness of pure divine consciousness. Do not expect to achieve these levels immediately. Be patient and persistent.
In my experience, the deeper states are most easily achieved lying down, as the physical body then ceases to make any complaints - however it is easier to stay awake when sitting up straight, and the lotus position is very effective if your body can manage it. However, posture and position are just aids to meditation - what really matters is mental focus - and this takes practice.
We habitually enter the deeper ranges in our sleep and dreams, but with meditation we can experience them whilst remaining awake, and we are able to really begin to heal ourselves. By remaining awake, we can observe and influence our own natural healing processes - we can amplify and direct them.
By simply relying on our natural sleep to heal us, any dysfunctionality in our unconscious can get in the way. However, in conscious states of deep meditation, we can observe and tackle these normally-unconscious dysfunctions. Over time, with effort, we can thus make ourselves whole again, so that our thoughts and emotions become processed in a healthy way, whether we are awake or asleep.
We cannot escape meditation! Meditation is natural for us, and we all meditate every day and night - whether or not we realise it. Our brainwave state often changes to alpha whilst we go about our everyday activities, and we enter the deeper states when we are asleep. However, when we consciously take control of our meditation, we become able to meditate with direction and purpose, at will. Then we can really liberate ourselves from the unconscious mindsets that have been holding us back, and even making us physically ill. We can take control of our own healing. This is a wonderfully liberating and elevating experience, well worth the initial effort.
So if you have never learned to meditate, or if you have given up, try giving it another go. There is no more beneficial way to spend your time.
Practically, we change our habits most easily by focusing on the present. So aim to live in the awareness of the present moment, and do not dwell on the past or the future. Realise that intention right now. Start right now, at this moment.
Do not make resolutions for the future. Don't say " I will begin tomorrow". Do it now - make the change now. It should be the same with every task you feel is necessary, with every change you wish to make in yourself. At themore...