Calmly observe whatever comes into your awareness--images,
fantasies, emotions, concerns, thoughts or solutions. If it is important,
you will remember it, no effort is necessary. Always return to your
focus and make no demands on your mind. With practice, skeptical
ideas and distracting sensations, like an itch, will fade away. More
frequently you will have thoughts or feelings that reveal more
significant emotions and insights. Your ability to relax will gradually
increase. Don't demand rapid progress; being self-critical or
dissatisfied with meditation only slows your progress.
STEP SIX: Coming back to the real world
After 20 to 30 minutes, stop focusing your awareness on the
candle, breathing or sound and allow yourself to slowly come out of
the deep state of relaxation. Open your eyes. Move slightly. Start
thinking again. This may take two or three minutes but you should
emerge relaxed and with new energy.
STEP SEVEN: Record the experience
You may find it profitable to record the experiences you have while
meditating (like a dream journal--see chapter 14). Or you may want to
rate the relaxation and/or useful insight after each session in order to
measure progress. Do not expect fantastic insights immediately.
Understanding ourselves takes time.
It is ideal to spend several hours reading about meditation, but it
isn't necessary. It will take a few minutes to select something to focus
on but the major time commitment is 30 minutes a day for at least
It is rare but a few people find meditating unpleasant; they may
feel afraid, overwhelmed or bored. In such cases, it is best to stop
meditating. Perhaps one should seek professional help to understand
The biggest problem, as I see it, is the unwarranted promises
made by some meditation-yoga literature. Of course, for some people
the mystical purposes are their major reasons for practicing
meditation. One never knows if the results of meditation are due to (1)
these promises--like astrotravel, curing serious diseases, and spiritual
union with the cosmos--and placebo effects, (2) the philosophy of
acceptance and hope, or (3) the process of meditating. Perhaps it
doesn't matter, except to the researcher.
Another problem is the dedication needed to persist day after day.
Your "mind" may at first resist and try to talk you out of meditating: