Meditation: Am I doing it right?
The short answer is, probably. Unless you use your time on the cushion to plan out your day, worry about everything you can think of or aimlessly daydream, then you are probably doing just fine.
The main point of meditation is to develop mindfulness. Now, these days, mindfulness is used in reference to all sorts of things — many of those things are not what I would consider mindfulness. For the purposes of most meditators, I consider mindfulness to be noticing when your mind has wandered from your chosen object of concentration and bringing your attention back to that object.
If you daydream for most of a 10-minute session, but notice and refocus your attention just one time, then that is better than never noticing that your attention was wandering.
Actually, that is great — that means maybe next time you can catch your mind wandering twice and bring it back twice. Even that small amount of mindfulness can be very helpful in your daily life.
Outside of certain visualization practices, when you close your eyes, you are basically seeing the same thing as a master meditator would see: Nothing. Knowing this can be very important to sustaining a practice and is unfortunately not something that new meditators are likely to hear often. Meditation is not something that only a few special people can do — it is something that anyone can learn to do. There is no secret practice that you have to find. Try a few different practices and see what works for you. Personally, I use a few different practices that I switch back and forth to when I feel like it.
My favorite object of concentration is the breath. Your breath is always there, and once you can develop
mindfulness of breath, you can practice mindfulness anywhere, while meditating or just concentrating on your breath throughout the day. Try closing your eyes and silently saying “in” when you breathe in and “out” when you breathe out. Try to feel your breath. Find where you feel your breath most and concentrate on it. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes. When you notice your attention wandering from your breath, just refocus it back to the feeling of your breath. That’s it, and as long as you are keeping your focus or refocusing, you are doing it right in my book.
Travis Lemon Is a certified herbalist and co-owner of the soon-to-open Tulsl at The Market in Huntington. He has worked in the natural health and wellness industry for more than 14 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.