We are going to explore some important points of meditation that can help you chart your path. And remember, instead of focusing on the stages of meditation, as Mahatma Gandhi said, the path is the goal. Developing awareness of the present moment is an effective way to work with this critical inner voice. One of the essential goals of meditation is to be aware of anything that arises in the mental stream and to learn to let go, moment by moment, if mental activity is attractive or objectionable.
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by what seems like a continuous stream of thoughts. In a technique that helps us to let go, we focus on noticing the gap between two successive thoughts. Attentive attention to this silent pause, however small, promotes awareness. If we practice diligently and purposefully, over time, our internal narrative will naturally relax and we can let go of negative self-talk, one space at a time.
A key aspect of meditation is learning to establish your conscious awareness in one thing. This can be your breath, the flame of a candle, a repeated word (song or mantra), physical sensations, or other focal points. Breathing is the most common and widely practiced object of meditation. By focusing on one thing, it's easier to let go of distractions and embrace the present moment.
It's comfortable for your mind to have an anchor, like breathing, to return to. Read more about mindfulness of breathing here. Positive experiences that can accompany this balance of letting go and paying attention include feelings of happiness, peace, and calm. By focusing on a meditation object, your mind can filter out nervous distractions that cause anxiety and stress and rediscover its natural breadth.
As we meditate, we become more familiar with our mental patterns and our psychological makeup. We begin to notice all the spaces, or gaps, between inhalation and exhalation, between one thought and the next, between one mood and another. Awareness of gaps puts us in tune with impermanence and change, and we realize that we can really let go of old views and outdated habits. In fact, we can transform the way we think and act.
We can afford to be genuine and honest in terms of looking at ourselves, our perception of the world and, most importantly, our impact on others. This dawn of awareness brings joy and a powerful motivation to continue practicing. Read more about the benefits of mindfulness and mindfulness meditation here. When you've been practicing meditation for some time, you naturally discover a potential for awareness that you didn't know existed.
Your mind now settles with little effort; distractions have lost much of their power over you. If you're watching your breath, your mind happily follows your wonderful breath. If you are drinking tea, you are fully present while drinking tea. If you drive a car, you are fully present behind the wheel.
Genuine meditation practices nurture our innate potential for happiness and awareness. Clear, progressive instructions are essential for successful practice. Mindworks created its 9-level Journey to Wellness and other inspiring courses so you can enjoy the full potential of a regular meditation practice. Even if you're a novice meditator like me, understanding the ten stages helps you see your current meditation challenges more clearly and helps you prepare for future obstacles as your practice develops.
After overcoming the more general forms of restlessness, a very refined form often occurs in the deeper stages of meditation. When that happens, you're ready to meditate and, naturally, you'll move from concentration to fluency, the third stage of practice. Stages eight to ten: Your intention is simply to continue practicing, using skills that are now completely simple. Refer to the above outline when you need to orient yourself within the context of the Stages as a whole, but look at the outline below whenever working through the individual Stages starts to feel like a struggle.
There are many types of meditation based on the object observed by the observer, and these can evolve through stages, from gross to subtle, to subtler and subtler. Each stage of meditation has its own characteristics, challenges to overcome, and specific techniques to overcome those challenges. In Stage Nine, simply remaining in the state of meditative joy causes deep tranquility and equanimity to emerge. A useful trick at this stage is to break the inner silence for a moment and gently say to yourself “calm down”.
This sixth stage is achieved when one lets go of one's body, thought, and five senses (including breath awareness) so completely that only one beautiful mental sign, a NIMITTA, remains. You'll experience only a superficial facsimile of the later stages, and your practice will hit a dead end. The mind recognizes that this stage is a very peaceful and pleasant place to live, simply being alone with the breath. When you have mastered the final stage of meditation, the many positive mental qualities you experience during meditation are very present even between meditation sessions, so your daily life is imbued with effortlessly stable attention, mindfulness, joy, tranquility and equanimity.
The first milestone is the continuous attention to the object of meditation, which is achieved at the end of the third stage. When you have reached the stage of metta meditation where you radiate an unlimited golden glow of loving kindness throughout the universe, forget about all beings and ignore where power comes from. . .