Meditation can be an enjoyable and natural part of your life. It doesn’t have to be an exotic activity with cushions, mats, postures, and strange words---unless that is your preference. It doesn’t have to come with “should’s,” “have-to’s,” or any rigid requirements that make it a chore.

What is Meditation, Really?

To me, meditation is a state of mental clarity, openness, and curiosity; emotional balance, flow, and aliveness; and physical relaxation, ease, and comfort. The meditative state gives rise to many different experiences, from simply feeling peaceful and rested to being inspired and joyful. Occasionally, nothing seems to happen, yet the world looks a bit brighter and more orderly when we come back from a quiet time.

Definitions of meditation vary widely and may even seem to contradict each other. You might read that meditation is: “tuning out the world,” “being fully present,” “moving into an altered state of consciousness,” “seeing the world clearly,” “being neutral,” “experiencing oneness with all life,” “being detached and unemotional,” “knowing joy,” “not having any thoughts,” “not reacting to feelings,” “being nonjudgmental or compassionate,” “moving into a higher state,” “knowing emptiness,” “going within,” “expanding consciousness,” “relaxing and not thinking of anything,” or “transcending thought.” Any of these definitions or states might be true for a meditator.

The Process of Meditation

There are hundreds of different meditation techniques, but the process of meditation is the same for all of them. It is three-fold and consists of: 1. choosing a focus, 2. directing the attention, and 3. maintaining a focus. That’s it.

For example: “I direct my attention to my chosen focus [my breath/an internal image/the feeling of compassion/a mantra or statement/an external image/a sensation, as preferred], and when I discover that my mind is wandering, I bring my attention back to my chosen focus.”

Choosing a Meditation Technique

You will learn how to meditate most easily if, first, you really want to learn how. This is true for anything. Second, you will need to explore different systems and choose a technique that appeals to you. You might enjoy a traditional, rigid approach of sitting motionless, or you might like moving meditation such as tai chi. Know yourself, your characteristics and inclinations, to help you choose the technique that is best for you. Also, examine your hopes, fears, and ideas about meditation.
You might even prefer to call your practice “having a quiet time.” The word “meditation” is not necessary to actually meditate. Discover your own definition of meditation.

The Easy Three-Step Meditation

Step One: Be in the present.
Step Two: Be present.
Step Three: Be presence.

With each step, you come closer to being, which is the essence of meditation. Being is the alpha and omega, the zero point, the point of power, the access portal, the source of all, and the center of everything.

In the first step, there is still a separation between you and being. “You” are in the “present,” which implies that there are two things: you and the present. This is where you start.

In the second step, as you become present, the space around you opens up. You are not “in” the present; rather, you are present; this is your state of being. Please note that you have to actually do this exercise to notice the shift in your experience between “being in the present” and “being present.”

In the third step, you become presence. As presence, you are the space in which reality and existence occurs. You become the container and the contained, without any sense of boundaries, yet with no loss of awareness or identity. This step is easier to experience than it is to write about in words, but you will know it when it happens. You will feel very, very good.

Try these three steps, not rushing through the first two. Give yourself plenty of time to just sit, being in the present. Being in the present means maintaining your focus in the here and now (through some meditation technique, such as watching the breath, or allowing your senses to ground you in the body) without getting lost in fantasy, worries, complaints, regrets, judgments, and the like. You stay in immediate contact with your actual experience.

This first step is the most difficult step for most of us. We find it extremely difficult to just be in the present without going off on a mental tangent or getting up and doing something. We cannot enjoy the present because we cannot even live in it long enough to experience it for more than a fleeting moment or two. (Please note that in the present, you can plan for the future and learn from the past; this is very different from living in the future or the past. Many people wrongly assume that “being in the present” means they can’t decide what to cook for supper.)

The second step, being present, is easy once you have learned the first step. It is an intensification of the first step.

The third step is not easy for many people because it involves letting go and allowing consciousness to expand beyond the egoic self. At the same time, it requires maintaining one’s focus in the center and being in observation with full attention. It is a state of great freedom, joy, and calm. From this state, the mind can be fully and properly used because it is not full of emotional entanglement and static. It is not living in the past or the future or imagined ills. It is not in denial of what is actually present. Instead, it is in direct experience with reality at all levels. What needs to be done is clear in this state. Acknowledgement of what is real and present makes appropriate and effective action possible.

Meditation is to the mind what a shower is to the body. Just as the computer has to defrag, so does the mind. It is supposed to defrag during sleep, but sleep is not enough in our time of accelerated evolution. Even in earlier, simpler times, some form of meditation was important for those who wished to excel in using their minds and bodies. You can practice the 3-Step anywhere, anytime, eyes open or closed, walking or sitting. The more you practice it, the better you will get.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Rae Reneau of Monroe, Louisiana, born in Borger, Texas in 1948, began her spiritual journey as a student of Raja Yoga in 1969, studying the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali with Sri Nirvananda Deva at the Temple of Silence in New Orleans. In 1973 she traveled to Shasta Abbey in California to study soto zen with Houn Jiyu-Kennett Roshi. For a decade, she sat "Practicing the Presence" on Sundays with the Silent Quakers in Fairbanks, Alaska. Since 1991 she has been an advanced light body student of Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer of LuminEssence Productions. For five years in the 1990s to 2001 she studied with several elders of different Native American tribes in Arizona, attending weekly ceremony. Other special studies include remote viewing (see News), including scientific and controlled remote viewing. Currently she teaches meditation at the Natural Wellness Center in Monroe, Louisiana.