“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”
Although I practice a particular type of meditation, I honor all schools of meditation.
The gentle drifting from outside ourselves to inside and then back out again is one of the most magnificent processes a human can experience.
As your thoughts, your breath, and your physiology slow and progressively quiet to more subtle expressions, your awareness will expand—at first during meditation and then in your life outside of meditation—which will awaken a world of infinite possibilities in every moment.
The physical, emotional, and spiritual value of meditation has been well documented for thousands of years. Scientists, philosophers, spiritualists, and religious leaders have heralded the power of witnessing awareness. They may refer to it as deep reflection, being present, contemplation, prayer, meditation, or simply relaxing, but it’s all the same thing—disconnecting from the activity in our moment-to-moment life and drifting to the space between our thoughts. In the Yoga Sutras, written some time between 200 b.c. and a.d. 200, the sage Patanjali (who created a common thread for all yoga to follow) defines meditation in four Sanskrit words: yoga chitta vritti narodha, which means “one-ness is the progressive quieting of the fluctuations of the mind.”
Over the first few days, weeks, and months of daily meditation, the quieting impact that this simple practice has on your bodymind begins to be expressed in each choice you make (your shift may be so subtle that even you don’t see it at first). Your thoughts, selections, decisions, and daily actions become more conscious, leading to more intuitively conscious behaviors. Then one day, you realize you have a broader perspective, a deeper sense of calm, and heightened clarity. Yes, greater creativity, expanded grace, greater ease. You realize you are making more spontaneous right choices. You realize you are being more authentic; there is greater alignment between what you think, what you say, and what you do. The world is still turning—and sometimes faster than ever—but to you, that swirl is in slower motion, like texts coming into your cell phone with a really faint hum rather than a blasting ringtone.
Over time, moving from activity to stillness during meditation translates into more conscious behaviors during non-meditation (the other twenty-three or so hours of your day).
Your interactions with the world shift more effortlessly from reactivity to responding, from reflexiveness to reflectiveness, from defensiveness to openness, and from drama to calmer.
And there’s a big bonus on top of all these other nourishing aspects of having a practice. Over time, meditation quiets you to a state where you experience life with a deeper understanding of your true Self, which can open the door to spiritual exploration, connection, discovery, and fulfillment. It is along the so-called spiritual path that you truly can experience your unbounded Self, your unconditioned Self, the infinite you that rests at the core of who you are underneath your body and beneath this worldly garb of titles, roles, masks, ego, and the complexities of this life.
If you’ve never really meditated, innocently following your breath in and out for five minutes—that’s right, ONLY five minutes—can begin to deliver a subtle shift throughout your day.
Let’s try it just for a bit right now:
Take a long, slow, deep breath in through your nostrils. Slowly. To the count of four. Feel your breath as it comes in through the edge of your nostrils and moves into your sinuses, then your throat, then your chest, then your heart, then your belly. Then witness the turnaround as you shift from inhale to exhale. Slowly observe the breath in your belly and then gently release it out up through your heart and then your chest, into your throat, then your sinuses, and then back out through your nostrils. Now close your eyes and continue this for just one minute. I’ll wait.
How do you feel? Did you notice that you were neither in the past nor the future but fully present? If you can extend that to five minutes in the morning, before lunch, mid afternoon, and early evening, you will have integrated twenty minutes of present moment awareness into your life.
Do this for a few days and, very quickly, you’ll start to observe magnificent, tangible changes in your physiology, emotional state, sense of Self, and sense of life. Your earthly body will be more aligned with your cosmic body. Maybe you feel it now from the short meditation we just practiced. It will continue. And maybe you have never felt it.
Regardless of the depth of your spiritual nature, you will become more imbued with the ability to open to greater possibilities in each moment instead of the one or ones you were fixed on. This creates a more universal trajectory for your life with an expanded point of view. By seeing yourself as more universal and less personal, you’ll realize more options in each moment, instead of seeing only the limited ones you thought you had before. Everything in your life becomes richer when you see there are lots of ways that things can play out and your previously constricted viewpoint only made you feel more helpless as life unfolded. But this tool called meditation can give you the edge you need to feel strong each day, to gain clarity, and to finally regain your peace of mind.
The purpose of a spiritual journey isn’t to change your mind; it’s to expand your mind to understand the true potential in each moment in your life—to discover a Self who has the ability to see more possibilities and expanded points of view (even the ones opposing yours) and then to choose creatively, intuitively, sacredly.
I am not a monk or an evangelist of any particular religion. I live in the real world, and my meditation training occurred under real-world circumstances. I wrote Secrets of Meditation: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace & Personal Transformation to share my journey to wholeness, which I found through meditation. Wholeness is available to anyone who desires to tap into the stillness and silence that rests within. I am humbled by the thought that more than a million seekers throughout the world have joined me in this voyage of profound reconnection. I invite you to join the celebration with those who have found greater purpose, clarity, compassion, fulfillment, healing, flexibility, love, dharma, positivity, creativity, peace, abundance, oneness, transformation, and joy through the daily practice of sitting in stillness and silence and with those who are taking their first step right now.
davidji is an internationally recognized life guide, author, meditation recording artist, motivational speaker, and meditation instructor. Often referred to as “The Meditation Maestro” and “The Velvet Voice of Stillness,” he travels the world sharing timeless wisdom on cultivating a spiritual practice, modern-day stress management, emotional healing techniques, work/life balance, and finding deeper fulfillment through conscious choice-making. He was the Lead Educator of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing and was appointed the first Dean of Chopra Center University. He is a Chopra Center Certified Vedic Master, certified to teach Primordial Sound Meditation, Perfect Health Ayurvedic Lifestyle Wisdom, and Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga. In addition, he has a highly acclaimed CD Guided Meditations: Fill What is Empty; Empty What is Full, hosts “LIVE from the Sweetspot with davidji” on Hay House Radio every Wednesday, and recently published Secrets of Meditation: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace & Personal Transformation. To join the davidji SweetSpot Meditation Community, visit davidji.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
*Photo by eljoja.
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