Fluctuations of the Mind in Meditation

When I hear the soothing sound of the pelvic bowl alerting me that 20 minutes have passed I pull myself out of a whirlwind of thoughts. A state that should invoke tranquility instead feels like a scattered brain. This is meditation on a ‘bad’ day. But what is the benefit of meditation actually?

Similar to how we keep our bodies in shape, we can also train our minds to stay fit. Patanjali’s book Yoga Sutras identifies dharana as one of the 8 components of yoga. Dharana is translated as the ability to direct the mind. On ‘good’ days we are able to find a state of internal calm and peace, positively impacting our behavior and attitude towards others and ourselves.

How to meditate 

Is it really that simple as closing the eyes and sitting down? The answer is yes! This is a great starting point to get into a routine. Find a comfortable and quiet spot in the house. Make sure that you are sitting upright so that the spine, neck and head is in one line. That way the energy residing in the base of the spine can freely flow towards the head.

Once seated, the challenge of directing the mind begins. Finding one focal point is one way to keep the minds attention. You can think of a candle or any object to you that has a relative neutral meaning. One can also bring the attention to a positive emotion such as gratitude, loving-kindness or contentment.

Another way of meditating is to observe the breath and to allow of whatever is coming up to just let be. The difficulty here is to avoid reacting to feelings or emotions. In other words, to not to get caught up in the drama of the day. This manner of meditation brings awareness to certain habits and patterns which occupy us and zap our energy. In this more Buddhist manner the meditator gains more self-reflectivity while observing the breath.

Finally there is also transcendental meditation. Here you direct your attention to a particular mantra. A mantra is being repeated over and over so that eventually the meditator can reach a different state of consciousness. More information can be found in Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental meditation, a book that one of my yoga students brought to my attention.

No matter which form of meditation you practice, finding a daily routine is essential to reaching a state of attention that guides our minds towards deep relaxation. According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras only ‘by constant and uninterrupted practice the mind can remain in a state of attention for a long time’. As soon as we let go of this state, then the ‘state of distraction takes over’ (Yoga Sutra 3.10).

Remember that there are going to be ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days with distraction and attention living beside one another but with regular practice ultimately one state will prevail.

Start with only 5 min. per day and slowly work your way up to 20 min. a day. Don’t wait till next week, start today!