Meditation is a name given to the many techniques that turn your attention inward. There are different styles of meditation, and each one asks us to engage or focus our attention. You may have heard of some of these styles, including visualization, contemplation, walking, chanting, watching your breath, and silent mantra meditation. There are still others.
Meditation techniques have been practiced for thousands of years—originally to allow one to deepen their understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. Though meditation may still be spiritual for some, the practice is not necessarily religious in nature.
Meditation is now becoming mainstream, probably due to the high amounts of stress our modern lives can create. It is practiced by millions of people around the world. The meditations you will learn with the McLean Meditation Institute are secular in nature. And you don’t have to change your beliefs, diet, clothes, or religion to practice them.
The power of your attention
Meditation is not about forcing your mind to be quiet.
It is a process that allows one to rediscover the quietness that is already there and ever present. Behind the constant dialogue of our mind, there is a silence, a pure awareness which is not disturbed by thoughts of the past or concerns of the future. This field of silence is what we access when we meditate.
If you turn your attention to the one who is reading this, you’ll notice a presence. That presence or awareness is the real you. It is not your body. It is not your mind. It is you. With a regular practice of meditation you can live with more “awareness of your awareness,” and this will cultivate a sense of inner peace and balance in your life.
Meditation is easy if you are taught correctly. It is not about stopping thought—that’s nearly impossible. Meditation is a technique that takes you beyond thought, transcending thought, to find the quiet that is already there.
Whichever type of meditation you choose, when done correctly, allows your body to reach a naturally-occurring state of rest. According to research, this rest is different from sleep. This rest is much deeper, and at the same time, you are more alert. It is sometimes called the state of restful alertness.
Why do people learn to meditate?
The reasons one chooses to meditate are as unique as that individual. Some of the reasons people decide to incorporation meditation into their daily life are:
- To find their purpose in life.
- To find happiness.
- To be healthier, and to feel better.
- To get through a tough transition (a job change, divorce, death of a loved one, health challenge, etc.).
- To be clearer, and to improve their ability to focus and make better decisions.
- To find that something that is missing from their life, sometimes even when they have everything that they thought they wanted.
- To increase their creativity.
- To increase their level of relaxation and confidence.
- To decrease or prevent stress.
- To treat a physical or emotional disease, which activates a healing response.
- To prevent disease.
- To treat depression.
- To feel more connected to everyone and everything.
- To escape a sense of suffering.
- As a response to the calling of their own spirit.
- To become more intuitive or sensitive.
- To discover other aspects of themselves.
- To find a connection to God or a higher power.
- To improve their relationships.
- To activate the law of intention and attraction.
- To be more attractive.
Why should I meditate?
- When you set aside time each day to meditate the benefits of meditation will unfold naturally. Even a few minutes of meditation here and there can help your day to be more harmonious. You’ll find your life is better, your relationships, and your work seem more fulfilling. You might find you are getting to know yourself better, feel better, and make better choices.
- Many people meditate to experience inner peace and to find meaning and purpose in their lives. For a growing number of people—perfectly healthy people—meditation is used as a means of stress reduction and prevention. With a regular meditation practice you will cultivate a sense of inner peace and balance. It is a proven tool that allows each person to fully experience the life that they were meant to live. And while you are at it, you are helping to create world peace, one person at a time.
Can anyone learn how to meditate?
- Anyone can learn to meditate. Professional athletes, teens, executives, retirees, doctors, engineers, musicians, and people from many other walks of life have taken our meditation courses. We even have success teaching those who are just curious, or who are coerced into taking the course by their spouse or parent. We find that everyone enjoys their experience learning to meditate, and can easily meditate after they learn.
What if I am not getting it after several tries? Can I still learn to meditate?
- We can teach you how to meditate even if you don’t think you can do it. We have taught many “Type-A” personalities, and those with very active minds. We have even taught people who have read books on meditation and listened to meditation tapes and still can’t seem to do it.
- In the beginning of meditation practice, some feel they encounter a huge amount of mind chatter. This can be experienced as scattered thoughts, worrying, to-do lists, feelings, planning, and daydreams. But a common misconception about meditation is that you have to clear these thoughts from your mind. It is nearly impossible to willfully stop the mind from thinking. The nature of your mind is to think, just like the nature of your eyes is to see. Thinking is one of the many experiences you can have in meditation, and it is not a barrier to meditating correctly. That being said, you will eventually experience a state of “no thought,” but it is a natural experience, not one that you force.
- Thoughts are actually a part of meditation, and can be a sign that stress is being released. Over time, as you practice meditation correctly, you’ll find that you can easily access more and more subtle levels of thinking, and more and more silence. Meditation is not about trying to control or eliminate our thoughts, feelings, or urges. Meditation is a practice, much like practicing a musical instrument. At first it may or may not be easy or enjoyable; with dedicated practice it will be.