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Ohm...Ohm...What is meditation?!?

Written by Christina Marcoppido, owner of Mindful Moments Guided Meditation.

If you have never meditated before, you are probably like most people, and think meditation is a Tibetan Monk sitting on a snowy mountain top, cross-legged, eyes closed, hands together and chanting “Ohm”. I give you, exhibit A:

And for most people, this is a familiar image, but not all meditation looks like that.

Meditation is very personal and being in a meditative state looks different from person to person, but for everyone it’s about feeling easy and peaceful. It might be that euphoric feeling of being in love or that serene feeling you get being at one with nature or it might be sitting on a mountain top just like the Tibetan Monk.

So, why is the monk sitting and meditating on the mountain top? What is he trying to achieve? Remember, it’s all about feeling easy and peaceful. By meditating the monk is placing himself in a mental state where he can focus on one thought, emotion or feeling at at time.

It’s really that simple. What mediation does, is help you focus on one thing. It takes practice like any skill and yes it can be learned and taught with someone to guide you.

So that poor monk we all can see in our mind, he’s sitting quietly amid the blowing cold wind of the mountains, cross-legged on hard cold rocks, saying the same word over and over and over again. That doesn’t sound easy and peaceful at all and that is the point of that image.

The monk is at ease and at peace despite the physical and mental distractions going on around him. It’s a metaphor for meditation and life. We all want to achieve that peace the monk has and we all have the distractions of the cold windy mountain in our lives too.

When most people think about meditation, they imagine the structured practice of sitting with crossed legs, eyes closed and hands resting upwards on the knees, just like the monk. Yes, that it is one way of experiencing meditation, but for a lot of people that also isn’t practical or it seems too rigid.

This is a misconception about meditation and a common reaction from people is, “I can’t meditate because I can’t focus. I have too many thoughts. Everything is all a jumble in my head, I can’t relax like that. ” Meditation is not about emptying our minds from all our thoughts. It’s about being able to focus on one thought, one feeling, one emotion, only one thing at a time.

The purpose of our minds is to think. The purpose of your eyes is to see and the purpose of your ears is to hear. You wouldn’t want to change the function of them, so why try to stop the mind from thinking?

The types of thoughts or how many thoughts you have while meditating is not a problem. You don’t need to control these thoughts. Controlling your thoughts and mind is impossible as thoughts seem to appear from nowhere. If I said to you, “Don’t think of cute puppies”, the first thought you will have is of cute puppies. You can’t stop your thoughts from coming by telling yourself not to think them.

Meditation is an opportunity to pull ourselves out of this world and exist in a state of higher consciousness. It’s the practice of removing ourselves from our daily lives and becoming aware of our inner world - thoughts, feelings and emotions. It is about going

into our minds and allowing ourselves to know there is peace in there.

A lot of people are afraid to sit with themselves and explore what they are thinking and feeling. Meditation allows you to learn and practice that skill. Sounds difficult, right? But it’s not. Meditation is actually something we all do without realizing it. It is a part of being human and we call it zoning out. Quite simply, your mental state is only focused on one thing. We say zoned out, but really its zoned in!

Meditation helps you focus and zone in on one thing and it helps give that thing your attention. It doesn’t have to be structured and rigid and that you have to sit a certain way and say a certain word or be in specific place at a specific time. That’s too hard and remember it’s all about easy and peaceful. So how do we get there? How do we climb that mountain and sit beside the monk?

In the beginning, following a guided meditation practice, is very helpful until you develop the skills. Guided mediation is just that, you have a guide to help you through your journey. For some people, over time they can slowly move away from that and practice independently. For others, they will always follow a guided practice and the rest will ebb and flow between the two types of practice, guided and independent.

Just remember that meditation doesn’t have to look like the monk on the mountain. It might be someone standing on the beach listening to the waves crash on the shore, smelling the salty ocean air or walking through a forest and watching the animals and paying attention to trees. Perhaps, it is someone listening to their favourite music and singing every word at the top of their lungs. Maybe for you, it is about sitting in a quiet space by yourself, listening to relaxing music, having a glass of wine and just letting it all go.

That’s one of the wonderful things about meditation. It is personal. It can look however you need it to look. There is no right or wrong way to meditate, you do it your way.

So, to answer the original question: “What is Meditation?” It is taking the time for yourself, to be with yourself and most importantly, tuning into yourself. Zoning in, easy and peaceful.

Book a session with Christina to start feeling peaceful!

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