Our motivation is what determines whether our meditation practice is a superficial patch to relieve some stress and relax us, or if it is a deeper practice that can lead us to completely free ourselves from dissatisfaction, pain, fear and discover genuine happiness. Moreover, our motivation may be so great that it leads us to practice meditation not only for our own benefit but also for that of others.
I recommend reading the article where I talk about how to structure your meditation session. Thus, when we sit down to meditate we spend the first 1 to 5 minutes of our practice reflecting on the motivation for which we meditate, trying to be honest with ourselves. We reflect on how important it is to train our minds to change habits, to cultivate attention and concentration and to free ourselves from mental afflictions. Think of the benefits of training your mind in attention and wisdom and cultivating emotional and mental balance. Think that your formal sessions are equivalent to going to the gym but in this case what you are training is the mind. And reflect on the positive effects of practicing daily. Thus we are motivated to practice properly.
Reflect on how valuable it is to have health, free time and desire to train your mind, and appreciate every moment in which you can sit and meditate, because you don't know when disease, old age and death will come. Determine to take advantage of every moment, living in the present with a calm and attentive mind, cultivating a good heart and developing your wisdom.
At the end of our meditation, we commit to continue to be attentive to the motivations that move us to think, speak and act in a certain way. As we become more aware of why we do everything we do, we will realize what the motivations behind our actions are, and gradually we will realize that when we have selfish and self-centered motivations, we will be generating problems and suffering for ourselves and others. So little by little our main motivation will be to make ourselves and others happy.
The word meditation is sometimes used to refer to the act of reflection or relaxation. But in the context of contemplative traditions meditation involves habituating the mind, training it to cultivate specific mental states, habituating it to think or to visualize in a certain way or simply let the mind observe itself. There are also analytical meditations where you begin by reflecting on a topic but once the understanding is reached, you let the mind dwell in that understanding. So, meditation involves staying or arriving through a method to a non-conceptual experience.
Every day you meditate unconsciously, as you repeat and become used to certain thoughts, moods and reaffirm emotions and behaviors. Some of us are experts in meditating on anger, others on visualizing our enemies, self-criticism, and so on. There are also those who have trained to respond with patience and tranquility in any circumstance. But we all know that it is much easier to cultivate a negative habit than a positive one, because we tend to blame others and justify ourselves. Without realizing it, every day we are reinforcing habits and behaviors that cause us dissatisfaction and suffering.
Meditation is also called contemplation. Since it lead us to a state of contemplative or non-conceptual consciousness. This is not something from other world, we have all experienced it, for example when we are concentrated in an activity that does not require much analysis and reasoning, allowing us to enter a state of flux, we lose notion of time because we are totally present and relaxed. Like when we go out on the road and after some time of monotony in which we relax because there is not much to do, the driving is done almost automatically and there are few changes, we enter that state of relaxation that at the same time is very alert, but it doesn't require a great intellectual process. Some authors speak of the left and right hemispheres, they say that when the left one doesn't have a logical task to solve, it allows the right hemisphere to take control and this allows a more panoramic perception that includes all details and the relationships between them.
In many spiritual, philosophical, and contemplative traditions this ability of the mind to train itself has been valued greatly, and methods for consciously performing this training have been developed.
However, each tradition has given a different flavor to the contemplative practice, some have made it more devotional to produce certain exalted mental states, others have made it more technical for people who need to follow a technique step by step, others have developed analytical meditations to help people who are very rational to come to a conclusion through analysis and then to let go of the analysis while they rest to the mind allowing the acquired knowledge to settle, so to speak.
Thus, an endless number of different forms of meditation have been invented or discovered, with different aims and conditions.
Here are some of them
Meditation is to relax our mind, but at the same time to keep it alert, present, awake and clear. There are many methods for meditation, some rely on visualizations, others on recitations of mantras, etc. But there are many misunderstandings about what meditation is. In the West it is commonly thought that meditation is to stop thinking, or relax until we fall asleep. This is a mistake.
Through meditation we can familiarize the mind with positive mental states, we can also develop attention and concentration and we can develop wisdom. We can become more aware of our negative thoughts, actions and habits and train our minds to become more kind, patient and generous people.
The meditations that I will share with you have different goals but we can group them into three big groups: ethics, attention and wisdom.
In the group of ethics meditations help us to cultivate a good heart, to become less selfish, and to think more about others. So how to work with negative emotions like anger, attachment, jealousy, arrogance, etc. And transform them into patience, generosity, kindness, compassion and equanimity.
In the attention group we have meditations that help us live in the present, freeing ourselves from recurring thoughts about the past and future concerns. They also help us find a balance between concentration and relaxation so that we can live fully without stress.
In the wisdom group we have meditations that help us understand how the world and ourselves exist and to relate wisely to experiences, people and objects around us. Without generating attachment or rejection towards these and without demanding of these a happiness that they can't give us.
These meditations have their origins in the Buddhist tradition but are universal in the sense that they can benefit us all regardless of our beliefs, race or gender. All these practices have a benefit that we can experience for ourselves and do not require faith.
I recommend you start with the following meditations:
5 Practices to transform your mind
Contemplative practices can be summarized in the "Three Trainings":
1. Ethics: We cultivate Loving Kindness and Compassion to benefit those around us and we try to avoid damaging people, animals and the environment. Developing generosity, patience, discipline, empathy and enthusiasm are other important ways to cultivate Genuine Happiness, this is a happiness that relies on a balanced mind and not on external stimuli.
2. Concentration: Developing an attentive mind, present, able to focus without distraction, but relaxed and without inner dialogue. To be able to focus on positive thoughts and emotions and turn our attention away from negative thoughts and ideas.
3. Wisdom: Analyzing the reality of how we exist ourselves and everything around us. Accepting that everything is impermanent, interdependent and that everything lacks a concrete identity.
Within these three trainings we have many meditations that can help us transform our lives and relationships and live a more meaningful life.
Do not let your days go by while you are only doing what is urgent or what others expect of you.
Start by defining what you would like to achieve and receive from the world.
Then reflect on how you would use these things or qualities to become the best version of yourself. What kind of person would you like to be? What qualities and talents would you like to develop?
Now reflect on how this new version of yourself could help others and how it could impact the world for good.
Define the direction you want to give your life and start walking in that direction today.
Do not let anything distract you, stop doing what is not important, stop checking your email every 5 minutes and reading all the gossip on Facebook.
Use every minute to transform your mind into a happy, peaceful mind and to help other beings.
Take the time to walk in the nature while you reflect on whether you are going in the right direction or you have deviated and it is time to return to the path.
Do this meditation on loving-kindness for yourself
Remember what you did last Monday. Do you remember what you ate? The clothes you wore, the people you met, the things you said?
Does it take a little work to remember? Perhaps it is because we constantly receive so much information and when we want to concentrate on what happens in the present there are so many distractions!
Our attention jumps from side to side, trying to multi-function on various tasks. When we decide to focus on a thing we can stay focused 3 to 10 seconds, before our mind begins to distract ourselves with thoughts, after 10 minutes of performing an activity, there is something that interrupts the flow of our attention and distracts us.
There are two practices in which we want to train our mind, the first is mental presence, through which we have an open attention to all the senses, aware of everything that is happening at the moment, without focusing on one thing in particular, but without leaving unnoticed something that is happening in the present.
The second practice is focused attention, we choose to focus and concentrate on something that is happening or we are doing in the present. We leave everything else in the periphery of our attention and as we concentrate more, we enter the state of flux where we no longer notice anything other than our object of attention. We lose track of time and what surrounds us. When we are so concentrated, joy arises and we enjoy what we are doing. But many times when we concentrate we become tense, so it is important to be aware of our body and mind and learn to relax them.
Both practices require mindfulness which is the ability to pay attention but also to remember to bring our attention back to the object.
The first thing to do is to recognize what it is important for us, and to give our attention to it, we need stop wasting our time by attending to thoughts and fantasies that have no relevance to our goals, and to focus here and now on what is truly important.
As we train more and more our attention, we become more efficient and we are able to make progress in what is important, so it is important to strengthen our attention through constant practice.
I recommend the following articles to continue learning about the training of this wonderful faculty of care:
Transform your mind
How to focus on your goals
Share your experience with these practices in the comments section below!
Our mind constantly pursues all kinds of desires, from the moment we wake up until we go to bed we compulsively pursue what we believe will bring us pleasure, well-being or happiness, and we try to avoid pain, discomfort and suffering.
The problem is that we want to achieve many things but we do not have the time to do all of them. At the end of the day we end up with a feeling that we have not progressed enough.
The first thing to ask ourselves is what is our motivation, why do you want to get what you are after? It all comes down to wanting more pleasure, recognition, success, stability, security, control or being loved and respected.
Now try to think if the achievement of your goals will benefit other beings. How would you feel if you succeeded in one of these goals, where you not only benefit yourself, but also those around you? A selfish motivation will bring you a brief pleasure while an altruistic motivation will bring you great lasting satisfaction.
To achieve any goal, you need effort and dedication, but above all a FOCUSED MIND and a CLEAR MOTIVATION.
- Start by focusing on only 1 to 3 goals, which are really meaningful and complement each other.
- Determine yourself to let go of all those little goals that only distract you and focus only on your main goal.
- Practice mental training in attention to develop a focused and clear mind.
Do you find it easy to focus your mind?
I am interested in knowing if you have practiced some technique to improve your attention and concentration. How long have you practiced? Do you have any advice for someone just beginning? Do you have any advice to share? Or any questions about the methods I share here?
Please leave a comment. Your experience could really benefit someone else.
When we are depressed, we perceive everything in a negative way, we feel defeated, without the intention of undertaking any activity, we do not see sense in striving to achieve something, we feel unmotivated.
On the one hand we can reflect that there is a certain wisdom in those moments, that of knowing that no matter how hard we try to get satisfactory stimuli, fame, money, power, knowledge, etc., none of these things will bring us lasting happiness, since everything we accumulate we will lose over time, besides striving is not a guarantee that we will succeed, surely we will have failures and disappointments, then why even make effort to get out of bed, and undertake new activities?
All these thoughts combined with the thoughts that arise from the losses and failures that we have already had in the past, and the present thoughts about what we lack, what we want to be and aren't, etc., can cause sadness, disappointment and frustration to arise.
We all want to feel happy without having to make a tremendous effort to get, fight, acquire, protect, pretend, etc., and we can do it if we just stop doing what has us trapped in depression: believing our thoughts, feeding them , and obsessively review them until they generate destructive emotions.
The only thing we have to do is to stop struggling with that inner dialogue that tells us what we should be, do, or constantly judge us for not being good enough, successful, intelligent and so on. Stop listening, ignore it and let our minds rest in the stillness of being aware here and now.
At first that voice will intensify by wanting to be heard, only thoughts that arise out of habit, but as we ignore them these will become less frequent.
Instead of paying attention to them, we direct our mind to the sounds that surround us or to our breathing. Whatever is happening in the present, here and now, is an anchor for our mind to rest.
Stop identifying with depression and the thoughts that produce it, is the way to find peace of mind.
Sometimes it is very difficult not to let ourselves be carried away by thoughts and emotions, so a useful method is to focus our attention on the beneficial things and actions that other people are carrying out in the world, and to rejoice in the help they are giving to other humans or animals. Feeling empathy for others makes us feel good. Let's try to focus on helping those around us.
Our society overestimates productivity, and many people live unhappy by the demand to have to be productive, the consequence of this system is people who get carried away to the extreme of work and stress. Although occupational therapy has its benefits, if we thoroughly analyze the purpose of it, it is to distract the mind with activities and entertainments. On the one hand fulfills its function of removing painful stimuli and focus attention on another activity, but on the other hand it does not allow us to observe the mind and discover its potential to heal, balance and find a happiness that is not based on external stimuli.
Everything in our society is oriented to distract us and entertain us, television, the internet, social gatherings, etc. The consequence of this is that when the human being is alone and without activity that distracts him he begins to become aware of the anxiety, fear, loneliness, depression and other emotions that have been outside the threshold of consciousness while he was distracted. Many can not stand it and run for activities, people and anything that entertains them and distracts them from their great fear: being with themselves, without a stimulus. We have become addicted to activity and this has mental and physical consequences.
As Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) put it: "When I have sometimes set myself to consider the different agitations of men, and the perils and the pains to which they expose themselves in the court, in war, whence arise so many complaints, passions, rash and often wicked enterprises, I have often said that all the misery of man arises from one source, which is, that he cannot remain at rest in a room."
I invite you to learn to be in control of your thoughts and emotions regardless of the circumstance you are in, to train your mind so that you can find peace of mind both in solitude and in company, to become independent. For this I suggest exercises based on mental training and the cultivation of emotional balance. It is to help you direct your attention in a voluntary and sustained way, to teach you to differentiate between reality and the ideas you project about yourself, others and situations, as well as to train your mind to be aware when a destructive emotion begins to emerge, and to be able to release it before entering into the refractory period and have an impulse reaction like that of hurting yourself or others, to help you to cultivate motivations and intentions that guide your life in a constructive direction, as well as the cultivation of empathy for the suffering of others and cultivate equanimity when difficult situations arise in your life, and finally to help you discover that in solitude you can also find peace of mind, clarity and happiness if you learn to observe the flow of thoughts, emotions and mental events that arise, dwell and fade, without clinging to, or identifying with them. Cognitive fusion is the root of the problem and one can be free of it, if one learns to distance oneself from destructive thoughts and emotions.
Our mind is like a waterfall, if we learn to relax in the present we can see it more clearly. That's meditation.