Beginner's Guide an article by Benjamin Dean

 How to Meditate, Article – May 3, 2017


With My Brother in New York City, Early 80's


How to Meditate (for Beginners)

Sitting and Doing Nothing seems Ridiculous

The single largest obstacle we must overcome, when learning meditation, is a resistance to stillness. What I am referring to is the challenge that meditation brings to adopted patterns of being constantly "on the go" and the habit of busying oneself. This is all due to the overwhelming urge to do things. We convince ourselves that there are much more important things to do than meditate. We need only step back and look around for a moment to see how frantic we all have become, running around desperately trying to get ahead.

As counter-intuitive as it feels, running around will not help us to "get a life" and meditation actually will. Life expresses itself outward from within, just as light radiates out from its source. Getting in touch with life (and, in particular, our own individual and distinct life) requires that we approach the problem vertically instead of horizontally. We must learn to stop and be still in order to witness life as it occurs within us. This allows us to understand more of what is going on. After practicing meditation for a time, our actions will naturally become more effortless and have greater precision.

Sitting Still will make us more Responsible

Not only does sitting still in one place for a prolonged period of time feel oppressive and useless, the benefits from meditation are subtle, deep and slow to become apparent. Boredom and frustration can easily drive the beginner out of meditation and back into being a "responsible" and "useful" person. The term "responsible" is an interesting one for it essentially refers to the ability to respond. This ability to respond (response ability) is a measure of responsiveness in one's being and meditation greatly improves this ability.

Real meditation involves being still for at least thirty minutes three or four times a week. Any less than this will not have a noticeable enough impact to be encouraging. Finding a place where we can remain absolutely undisturbed for half an hour is essential. There will be plenty to cope with in one's thought processes once the body is still. Having unnecessary distractions can prevent this essential part from unfolding. Once the external distractions are out of the way, we must successfully navigate beyond the initial boredom. This means experiencing our thoughts in regard to everything in our life while being resolved, during meditation, to do nothing about it.

Life is Much Deeper than Our Thoughts

While meditating, aside from being still and witnessing one's internal process, there is nothing to do. The goal is to allow for stillness. Let no thought of how well or badly it might be going to pull you out of your commitment to stillness. Your mind will object. Your thoughts will be resistant to meditation. Your mind is heavily invested in running your life. You are not your mind. Your mind is something you utilize, not the other way around. Just know that the thinking, deciding, deliberating, planning and general "problem-solving" workings of the mind is the part of you that most wishes you to stop meditating.

Sitting still sounds very easy. After all, you only need to sit there. The problem, however, is the self-reflection that naturally follows the stillness. You may not like what you begin to think about. Unfortunately, if you wish to achieve deeper relaxation, greater health and personal fulfillment through meditation, you must cross this bridge. Allow all thoughts to occur. Accept them in yourself, regardless of what they are. Generating awful thoughts is a trick that the mind plays in an attempt to push you back out of the driver's seat.

Witness, Allow, Accept and Love Self

You will encounter the trolls of your own thoughts. Just watch them. Witness them. Trust me when I tell you that you are much bigger and stronger than they are. If you can get this stillness bit going, you will prove yourself master and can learn to root out these annoying thought patterns and unravel them by simply seeing them clearly. Thoughts often come in trains, one linking to another, building up a story that will convince you to behave a particular way in order to prevent this or avoid that. In this way, trains of thoughts can block, distort or re-route what would otherwise be natural behavioral patterns. These new patterns of life and energy can be different from our natural path of expression, undermining the inherent integrity of our bodies.

Meditation, however, puts us back on the path of positivity. As the thought trains are derailed or slowed to a stop, we discover a deeper sense of self that can see things clearly. We begin to feel lighter, weightless, less tense and more capable and trusting. It all begins with the courage to be still and do nothing.