I never said meditation was easy! Easy and simple are not the same thing. Just like any skill, getting there takes practice and practice might take time...but that doesn't mean that underneath, it is still a simple skill. Ironically it is the simplest thing that you can possibly do. It takes a total lack of effort, in contrast the the enormous effort that most of us associate it with.
The number of people i talk to that have 'tried' meditation and discovered it isn't for them is even greater than the number that don't go to yoga because they aren't very stretchy! Haha. Maybe what they thought was meditation wasn't meditation at all is my greatest suspicion!
Equally the number of people that i talk to who want to discuss the difference between meditation and mindfulness, or the pros and cons of all the different techniques, far outweigh those who stop procrastinating and just get on with the job of finding out. We can talk about meditation and mindfulness for weeks, do degrees on the subject and write papers on the merits and differences - it gets us no closer to walking our path-we are just delaying walking the path by looking at the map over and over again.
What is 'meditation'?
Try it and find out!
Ask me what is 'tea' and you'd get a similar answer - you have to drink it to know it - i could talk to you about tea all day but until you have had a great cup (tea before milk of course!) you will never 'know tea'.
I often say it is just a study of a strange creature, that creature being your mind. 'Know thyself' as Socrates declared. no-one else can know your mind except you, however many pieces of paper and certificates they have. But it is much more than that. It enfolds every moment of your existence.
Tibetan Buddhism calls meditation 'Gom' - literally to 'become familiar with' - with what? With yourself, with your mind and all of its peculiarities.
'How should i meditate?' is the next most common question.
How do you want to meditate ? Is my normal answer
Sit, walk, wash the car, drink tea, have a disagreement with a neighbour. They all offer perfect opportunities to practice Gom, to become familiar with yourself, your reactions, your habit patterns.
Let's take the example of sitting because most people associate meditation with crossed legs, bums on mats.
To practice sitting meditation, what you really want to practise is the art of sitting, nothing more and nothing less. To do nothing but sit. What else is there to do?
I can play all sorts of distracting games with myself that i might call or mistake as 'meditation': blocking thoughts, reciting mantras, getting tied up in thoughts, getting frustrated at my lack of 'progress', my lack of 'meditation'. All of this time i am ignoring the sitting, I have departed even from sitting. Im not sitting anymore, i'm somewhere else in my head, in the future or the past. My bum may be on the floor but i'm not aware of it, my awareness is elsewhere.
How complicated and pointless!!
However simply to sit and do nothing but sit, to be fully aware of sitting and totally immersed in sitting, to be distracted by nothing but sitting, that is a pleasure and it requires not the slightest bit of effort. Simply let go of everything but sitting.
Q-How long should i sit for?
A-Until it is time to not sit!
Q How do i know when that is?
A You wont know unless you practise sitting :)
Im afraid you just have to sit, or walk, or drink tea or wash the car, and you just need to practice doing 'it'.
That is to say, practise it and nothing else - to know you are doing it, to feel you are doing it, to be thoroughly saturated by doing it.
Then your meditation becomes everything that you do, in every second, and then you answer the question for yourself and laugh:
'What is meditation?
'There is no such thing as meditation, just doing'
And maybe eventually you'll realise
'There isn't even any doing, because there is no doer'
But thats a topic for another blog :)