How do I meditate? When do I meditate? How do I silence my mind? What do I do with the thoughts? These are some questions I have pondered during the last year. In it's most basic sense, mediation is sitting in stillness. Physical and mental stillness. One would think that sitting quietly would not have so much mystery around it, but it does. I want to know the "right" way to meditate. I want to know what to expect, how do I know that it's working, what's the proper way to sit, and again, what do I do with those incessant thoughts that poke up like an infinite supply of pink elephants the minute I start trying not to think of them?
This weekend, at a retreat lead by the Chopra Center, Renewal Weekend, I had some of those questions answered. They practice a type of mediation called "primordial sound meditation," where you meditate by repeating a mantra over and over again as a way to quite your mind chatter and allow you to go deeper within yourself. The three-party mantra starts with "om" and ends with "namah" (pronounced nemah), and has a sound in between that is your "seed," the vibration that the universe was making at the time of your birth. The Chopra Center has a computer that figures out your seed; without the computer program I'm not sure how to find out your seed, but I don't really think it's important. The important thing is to have a mantra, any mantra, but one that's a sound, not words with meaning that will create, rather, than still your thoughts.
In terms of how to mediate, the Chopra Center is big on comfort. There should be no discomfort or "trying" in mediation, according to Deepak. You are to sit comfortably and repeat your mantra. When thoughts come and you slip away from the mantra, gently drift back to repeating the mantra. The idea is to be gentle with yourself. There is no berating, no judging, no punishment. Just the mantra and gentle drifting back to the mantra when thoughts come.
In terms of when, one of the teachers, David Gi, gave us "RPM" as a meditation tool. RPM stands for: Rise, Pee, Meditate. Everyone rises in the morning, many of us pee, so we are 2/3rds of the way there. The third part is sitting down, even before you've brushed your teeth or gotten your caffeine kick of the day, and meditating for a half hour. Because a half hour is a lot, it might be too much at first. I made a commitment to try RPM for 20 days - until June 14th - and have done it for the past 2 days for about 15 minutes each. The idea is to create a stillness and silence within that you can take with you for the rest of the day into your relationships. So far, I think it's working today. I feel calm and well. It's nice.
For the afternoon meditation, David Gi gave us "RAW" - "Right After Work." Because I'm being gentle with myself and starting with baby steps, I'm not putting pressure on myself to do two meditations a day, but for the future it's something to think about. For now, I'm sticking with the RPMs. I have 18 more days to go. It's an experiment to see how I'll feel after 20 days of this. Anyone else want to try?