Your eyes are closed. You have stopped “doing.” You may think, “Is this it? Am I doing this right?”
The answer is YES. Your intention to meditate is 2/3 the battle. Now, as taught to me by Deepak Chopra, this is what happens next.
In one of his meditation videos, Chopra calls the next stage after sitting/lying “restful alertness.” You are still practicing nondoing, but you are very much aware. You’re aware of sounds. Tensions or discomforts in the body. Sensations. Make sure you fix any major discomfort before continuing on.
FAVOR THE BREATH
Then, we start to notice our breath. And we add the mantra, “I am.” Perhaps you think “I” on the inhale, and “am” on the exhale. The Sanskrit words for “I am” are “So hum;” you can use those, instead. But, as Chopra says, we don’t kill ourselves focusing on the breath or mantra, but rather, we favor them over our thoughts and emotions.
BACK AND FORTH aka MINDFULNESS
Chopra says you will likely go back and forth from thinking, to favoring the breath, from feeling an emotion, to saying the mantra, back to thinking. And that’s OK. The goal is to always return to the breath when you notice yourself getting caught up in thinking and emotions. That’s mindfulness.
Then, at some point – “especially if you’re not trying,” Chopra says – all the thoughts, emotions, sensations will be cleared away, and you’re left with you. What exists now, in his words: is “your pure spirit.”
It gives me goosebumps – that state is pure freedom. Connection. Nonself. Peace. But, though we are grateful when we get to “be” in this way, sometimes we don’t get there. I have plenty of meditations like this. We may simply stay in restful alertness, and that’s still awesome, instructs Chopra, because we are still getting all the benefits of meditation…learning to always return to peace.