How to begin meditating?
Start with total alertness. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Tell yourself, “I want to be alert and active throughout this process. My aim is not to relax, but to observe the disturbance.”
You will see that both the body and the mind are disturbed, and you are simply observing this. Observe the discomfort of sitting, the effort involved, the pain of the body, and the sensations of the body – Observe it all. Meanwhile, notice how your mind is constantly trying to have a conversation with you: “What are you doing? What is this? Do you want me to think or keep quiet? What should I think about now?” And you say, “Don’t think about anything. This is the time for relaxation.”
The mind says, “Then why are you not sleeping? Why is your body in this weird sleeping position?” You respond, “This is meditation.” The mind says, “Okay, fine. So what do I do now?” You get irritated and say, “Can you please shut up for a moment so that I can concentrate on my breath?” The mind says, “Ok. Are you watching the breath properly? What are you doing with the breath? Who has tricked you into doing this? You’re supposed to be doing something else.” You say, “I don’t want to think about anything. Let me get back to the breath.” And then slowly the voice softens. The mind softly questions, “What are you doing with the breath?” Even softer, “Why are you still observing the breath?”
Just because your mind is becoming quiet, doesn’t mean that you are relaxing and becoming peaceful. It can also mean that you are falling asleep. A quiet mind is not always a peaceful mind. A sleepy mind can also be quiet. This is where your effort to stay awake comes in. When you begin to notice that your mind is becoming quiet and you are not being disturbed, you have to become more alert and aware.
The mind becomes quiet when it begins to drift in thoughts. Do not confuse the quiet mind with a meditative mind. The mind appears to be silent because now it is drifting away in thoughts and you are slowly beginning to fall asleep. As long as you are hearing your mind and observing its continuous disturbance, you are in meditation. Meditation is difficult because you have to observe all the nonsense that your mind is generating, without escaping into sleep. Mind is like a nonstop radio in your head. It was turned on at your birth and will continue to be on for the rest of your life, until you find the off switch. The purpose of meditation is finding that off switch of the mind.