I’ve been meditating now twice day for six consecutive days. So, you know … I’m an expert.
I kid, I kid. But I can report that, in just six days of twice-daily meditation, I’m already seeing positive results.
I’m using the process for deep meditation outlined by Yogani in his book, Deep Meditation. Unlike other how-to books I’ve read on the subject, Deep Meditation presents an appealing, straightforward process:
“Here is the procedure of deep meditation: While sitting comfortably with eyes closed, we’ll just relax. We will notice thoughts, streams of thoughts. That is fine. We just let them go by without minding them.”
Can getting started really be that simple? Yep. You sit. You close your eyes. You relax. In the same way a man on a hill might watch clouds passing by, you just and watch as thoughts, memories, ideas, and emotions drift past. You don’t hold on to them. You don’t push them away. You just notice them … and let them go.
The other component of deep meditation is the repetition of the mantra. Don’t let the use of that word make you think I’m going all hooky-spooky on you. As Yogani notes, a mantra is just a particular thought used in a particular way. Or, as I’d define it, a mantra is a short phrase you repeat over and over in your head: a lifeline to come back to, very gently, whenever a thought or feeling distracts you.
Some people pay gurus a lot of money to provide them with a personal mantra, or favor mantras in a language they consider magical or mystical. “Guard your mantra!” warned the author of another meditation book. “Never reveal it to anyone, or it will lose its power!”
But Yogani doesn’t get all caught up in that; instead, he provides you with a simple mantra you can use in your very first session: the words “I Am.”
At this point, someone out there will say, “Now, Mark. Do you mean to tell me that all you’re doing when you’re sitting there meditating is repeating the words ‘I Am” over and over in your head?”
Yep. From a certain point of view, that’s all I’m doing.
Now, more *is* going on. I’m noticing, for example, that my nose is itching. I’m detecting a minor twinge in my back. I’m hearing a commode flushing in the room next door. I am feeling the need to cough. And I catch myself thinking about breakfast, or a problem at work, or a conversation with Clyde.
These things used to bother me, because I associated them with a failure to attain super-human level of meditative focus. (Because, you know, I should have that, especially after six whole days of practice.) But, as Yogani points out, fierce focus is not the point of meditation. Instead, you embrace the fact that the mind wanders … and when you notice that your mind has wandered, you very gently and easily return to the mantra.
Do this enough, and something magical happens. In meditation, you learn to acknowledge distracting thoughts, remain outside them, and gently dismiss them. Do that enough, and in real life, when distractions and distress pop up, you discover you can do exactly the same thing: acknowledge the distraction, remain outside it, and gently let it go.
Long story short: the book provides step-by-step instructions in plain English — everything the beginner needs to get started with a sound, practical meditation practice. Later chapters outline the short-term and long-term benefits of a daily practice … and, for the first time that I can recall, there’s even a frank discussion of the changes you can expect in your personality and outlook after months and years of habitual meditation. Recommended.