Many of us fear the idea of meditation, while others seek to find ways to learn it. We all know that it requires time, and of course, the ability to become comfortable with ourselves. When I talk about ourselves, I am emphasizing the notion of who we truly are, and not who our mind perceives us to be. Our mind has the capability to create an illusion of who we are and this is the biggest barrier that we must overcome. In the following, I will explain the stages of meditation and how it's possible fight the fear around it.
Planting the Seed (Stage 1)
In the very early stages, you will feel inclined or curious to learn about meditation. Perhaps, a friend or therapist mentioned it. You will begin to look for ways to learn how to meditate through the Internet, books, and/or possibly attend several meditation meetings. You may give up and say that you don't understand it, there is too much on your plate, and/or you are not fit or patient enough to meditate. Here is the catch: your mind is the one giving you these reasons.
Wait, what?? Why the heck would I do that to myself?
Well, when you finally get meditation, your mind will have to surrender a.k.a. shut up once and for all. That's basically like asking a dictator to come down his throne and give away his power. Why would your mind allow that to happen? Be aware of all the excuses your mind gives you.
Sitting with Yourself (Stage 2)
Cool, you got past stage one. Guess what? It doesn't get better.
Your mind is going to keep sending you thoughts as you try to meditate. The chatter is going to be so useless and loud that you may have a difficult concentrating on your breath. Possibly the longest you can go without listening to your mind's chatter is a minute or maybe thirty seconds (let's be realistic). What do you do? How do you keep going?
Buddy, you just keep going.
How can I keep going? I'm frustrated and I even bought a pillow to meditate on.
Then, you have to get your ROI for the pillow you purchased. ;-)
Jokes apart, what happened to me is that I got very tired of my mind's chatter. It was making me anxious and stressed out for no reason. What you need to do is to find a reason to silence your mind. When you become tired of the master (the mind), only then will you be able to rebel (silence it).
When you find a reason, you can start with thirty seconds of silence, then everyday, add thirty more seconds of silence to it. After a while, you will be able to meditate for an hour or so.
Shikha, Sitting with Myself Got Weird (Stage 3)
Dude, it's normal that it gets weird. You have to become friends with yourself all over again.
Strange memories are going to come forward as you sit on your pillow. Emotions might come to hang out with you as well. You might need to mourn your break up from seven years ago or you might see yourself as a child running through the playground. Whatever it is, meditation (after stages 1 and 2) is all about healing especially at the beginning.
Human beings carry a lot of baggage within them and they hide it in the closets of their mind. This causes them to disassociate from their memories. Meditation forces you to see yourself for who you truly are.
Many people are afraid to sit with themselves, because they fear who they are. I couldn't meditate for years, because I thought it was so pointless and I had a certain amount of self-loathing established. Finally, I surrendered and said that i would do anything to feel better, because I was fed up. I needed to be happy. I learnt that when the mind takes control, it creates unnecessary stress and anxiety. The only way to regain control of the mind is to silence it, and that is what meditation is all about.