Take a moment right now to quietly sit and observe what’s happening in your mind. If you’re like most people, there’s a lot going on. You’re thinking of that report you have to finish, the food you have to buy, some show you want to see, that conversation you need to have… There are emotions attached to these thoughts: anxiety, pleasure, fear, anger. You create real emotional responses, complete with racing heart and clenched teeth, simply by a passing thought of something that may have happened days, weeks, or years ago! Your mind is full of clutter, and you may think that you don’t have much say over which thoughts arise, and when, and how they affect you.
Meditation is a way of developing that control. Put simply, meditation is a way of stilling the mind, so that instead of random and often harmful thoughts of sorrow, anxiety, fear, and even hatred, you can put your awareness in the driver’s seat, and tame and focus your mind to develop a sense of peace, tranquility, and creativity.
Meditation is simple. If you can sit quietly and focus your mind on one object of concentration – your breath, for example – gently letting other thoughts pass as they (inevitably!) try to grab your attention, and bringing your focus back to your breath, you’re meditating. It takes practice and guidance to sustain this meditative state for longer than a few seconds, and to fully reap the benefits of meditation, but to start, all you have to do is sit, focus, and breathe.