By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com
Much like green juice, meditation is undeniably cool right now. However, much like green juice, it can also be super confusing.
Green juice confusion: Should I replace meals with this? Am I supposed to put kale in this, even if it tastes like weed(s)? Does my body actually absorb this shit?
Meditation confusion: Should I replace meals with this? Am I supposed to say "om" even if it feels ridiculous? Does my body actually absorb this shit?
I don't actually drink green juice, but I do meditate twice a day, and I felt utterly confused about what to do at first. I knew it was supposed to be healthy and cool, but how to make it happen was a mystery. If you feel curious but confused about meditation, here are a few popular types, including my technique of choice.
GUIDED MEDITATION: This is when you listen as a soothing voice, live or recorded, guides you through some imagery. You will likely be led through a forest or beach-like scene. For whatever reason, these meditations often involve some sort of "white light." I find them ultimately disappointing because when they're over, so is your mental vacation. They're restful while they're happening, but the effect doesn't last. Might as well take a nap.
FOCUS MEDITATION (just the name sounds like hard work): This is when you choose something specific to focus on for a period of time - a mental image, the smell of incense, or the sound of a metronome. This focus is intended to bring your mind to a quiet, settled state, but achieving this state requires a fair amount of effort.
MINDFULNESS MEDITATION: This type of meditation also involves noticing things while you sit - your thoughts, your breath, etc. - and continually bringing your mind back to the breath when it wanders. Mindfulness also refers to the act of bringing awareness to whatever you're doing (walking, eating, taking a shower). If you're washing dishes, you focus on the feeling of the soap on your hands, the smell of the soap, and the cool rush of water. I believe that mindfulness practices have unique value, but they also require a degree of effort and discipline. Luckily, increased mindfulness is an automatic benefit of my favorite technique, the virtues of which are extolled below.
To be clear, the meditation techniques I have just described may work for you. They can absolutely provide an enjoyable and beneficial experience, but they require you to monitor your mind's activity. This requires mental effort, and it's hard to relax when you're exerting effort. If you're a busy person, you're not going to make time for meditation that feels like work. I personally believe this is why many meditation-curious people don't end up sticking with a practice or, in turn, experiencing real benefits.
Thankfully, VEDIC MEDITATION is a technique that allows you to surrender to wherever your mind takes you and completely transcend thought with zero effort. There is no trying or focusing involved, and your body enjoys rest that is 5 times more powerful than sleep.
I've never stuck with any long-term habits of eating, exercise, or otherwise, but Vedic Meditation is my exception. I will do it twice daily for the rest of my life, and I would not accept ANY amount of money to go back to my pre-VM self. This may sound dogmatic at first, but VM is simply an effortless mental technique that rids your body of a bit more stress each time you do it. It is easy and enjoyable to practice, and it dramatically improves the quality of the 23 hours you spend NOT meditating each day.
Curious? My awesome teacher Ben Turshen describes Vedic Meditation here.