Getting started in meditation

Naval has interesting ideas about various aspects of life. His observations are insightful and concise. Recently on Twitter he posted a thread on meditation.

He advocates a consecutive 60 day 60 min meditation. You sit quietly, uninterrupted for an hour and do nothing. You don’t force yourself to focus, just let the thoughts manifest and fade away.

Meditation is not you going through thoughts - it’s letting thoughts go through you.— Naval (@naval)

This is somewhat difficult to fully grasp. Thoughts are always there. By letting thoughts run through has a fine line between being aware of them and worrying about them. Although subtle and simple, this needs guidance. It’s easy for some one to get lost in their thoughts and not find their way back. That would be a slippery slope to anxiety and depression.

Meditation isn’t holy or spiritual or magical. It’s literally nothing… — Naval (@naval)

The baggage of spirituality and religion is holding back the adoption of meditation. It is a practice that could improve the lives of many and society at large. Imagine physical exercise being strongly associated with a religion. Only difference is that meditation is the exercise for the mind, where we can’t physically see it growing. Mind is what shapes the way we see the world and the decider of our actions. Shouldn’t that be as fit as the rest of our body?

It is difficult to accurately tell someone how to meditate. When you receive a simple instruction like just sit quietly for an hour. There are a lot of questions arising from it. Main ones are:

Is that it?
What preparation do I need?
What do I think about?
Should I be focusing on something?
How do I know if I’m doing it correctly?

When there’s no structure, it feels uncomfortable. It is too daunting for someone to start.

Meditation’s association to religion and spirituality is because of this reason. It seems to provide the structure.

We are attuned to observe and imitate actions from a very young age. That’s how we learn (1a,b). We observe others. We try and we observe ourselves how we performed. Then adjust and try again.

This learning method is universal. But when it comes to instructing some one to meditate, there’s no physical aspects that you can observe. The rituals, the poses, the chanting are the tools they use to meditate, not meditation itself.

These tools were created at a stage when teaching was tedious. But the times have changed, we have substantially good ways to teach and learn, through the advancement of technology.

Ultimate goal of meditation is to grow our awareness, grow the muscle in our mind to free ourselves from the shackles of automatic reactionary programs that run our consciousness.

It takes considerable effort to fully be awakened, but there are simple tools available to get started. Most benefit comes from consistent practice. Some might think, if I have to put this much time in to meditation, then what if I fail? will it all be for nothing. As Naval says,

You cannot fail at meditation.

Any effort to bring focus in to your mind has benefits that are lasting. Also, if you meditate before sleep, even if you failed at meditating, at least you’d have good sleep.

It’s not a scary concept only the gurus who live in a forest do. It is for everyone and it is easy to get started.