Have you ever heard someone say, “I meditate for an hour each day”? You may think to yourself, “Wow! I wish I could do that!” or “Hmm, that sounds boring.” But you’re most likely thinking, “How can they do that?”
Emptying the mind isn’t easy. Attaining a true state of meditation necessitates significant preparation so that the mind can shift gradually and develop over time. That is, if one is to find an authentic meditative state.
The pathway to meditation begins with pratyahara or sense withdrawal. There are two types of pratyahara:
First, is the withdrawal from external stimulation. Like a turtle that retracts inside of its shell, your practice of pratyahara will teach you to go inside yourself and retreat from the external “noises” that exist around you: the opinions, the interruptions, the distractions, the associations, the influences.
Step #1: The first type of pratyahara can be practiced each time you find a quiet location. When you focus on your breathing, you are tuning inward and detaching from all outside stimuli. The key here is to practice regularly so that you can access this state of “external” sense withdrawal whenever you want to.
Once you are able to remove all external commotion, you can be free to choose the sensations that you wish to bring into your field of awareness. In order to accomplish this, you will need to detach from the internal noise going on in your own mind. This is the second form of pratyahara.
Step #2: After quieting yourself (see last week’s post), begin practicing a deeper level of pratyahara by closing the eyes and observing your mind. Refrain from judging, analyzing or connecting with the mind, merely be an observer. See what surfaces.
Following this quiet period, spend some time journaling about the patterns and topics that arose during your practice.
Overtime, this detachment from your external and internal senses will begin to quiet the commotion of your mind; so that you can truly see what lies within. Like a body of water that gradually settles after a wind or object has influenced it, your mind will eventually learn to calm and become clearer.
Take shelter in your stillness.