By Lisa Akesson
The first time I really understood what meditation is, I was at a 10-day silent meditation course in Sweden.
I was at a crossroads in my life, not really sure how to move forward. Tired of having advice thrown at me from all directions, my motivation to go was to have these 10 days in silence alone. It seemed like a brilliant idea to retreat away and make space for my own guidance to come to me. It was one of the best things I have ever done.
The Vipassana course I attended is founded on the original teachings of Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. It teaches one of the many meditation techniques that allow you to experience your higher self. The course has a strong structure with regular meal times. Everyone participating is expected to follow the code of conduct. The meditators observe noble silence, which entails silence not only vocally, but also with your body language. You stay in your space, as if you were isolated and alone. With no books to read and nothing to scribble on, you’re slowly shedding away all that you know, away from your daily stimulation. What is then left? That’s for you to find out.
For me it was simply a deep insight of peace. I learned that everything is all right just as it is. The so-called problems that seemed so huge in my life suddenly were not that important. I learned that we are so much more then we usually realize. We’re above those things we let take up so much space in our everyday lives.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a practice done sitting or lying down, in which you are observing your mind and body. Not judging, controlling, forcing or changing anything. Just allowing your thoughts and sensations to come and pass, and see you as you are, beyond the superficial mind.
A common description that is used to teach meditation is of thoughts and emotions as clouds on a blue sky. If you can just let the clouds pass by, can you then focus on the blue sky behind them?
When we meditate regularly, we come to understand that everything is changing. Everything. When this is your reality, there will be no point in holding on to anything. It might seem like you go to the same job every day, meet the same people and perform the same tasks. But in reality, every millisecond is brand new. Every thought, emotion, sensation, object and situation will change. Meditation develops the concentration and patience to watch the transformation happen.
It’s a part of my daily routine now, one I can’t live without. It gives me clarity and lays the foundation for my day. Without meditation and reflection I get scattered and unfocused. It’s a simple tool available for all of us.
If you would like to start a meditation practice on your own, here are my tips: