The Difficulty with Simplicity

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The trouble when something becomes a 'buzzword' is that we start to lose or complicate it's meaning. 'Meditation' has been buzzing around for a while now and it seems to be attracting more attention than ever. But if meditation has been around for hundreds of years, why now?

My hunch is that meditation is something we're talking about more than ever because our world's become more complex than ever.  Our days are spent navigating our way through a bombardment of information. Waking up to the call of our phone’s notifications, our mind multitasks it’s way through to do list’s, facebook posts and news filled political scandal. The hum of Trump, Brexit, tragedy or technology complicates even our quietest days.

Meditation helps us come into a state of relaxation and awareness. It relieves stress, lowers anxiety and enhances our self-awareness. Yet, meditation can also be challenging. In fact, one of the biggest hurdles for beginners is often its simplicity. The more complex our world becomes, the more we come to expect complexity.

If you meditate yourself, you’ve probably realised there’s hundreds of different techniques you can use. Yet, at the root of the practice you’ll find the same principles and it’s these principles that can often seem too uncomplicated to our sophisticated minds. For anybody beginning the practice here are 4 simple values at the heart of meditation and really they’re all you need to begin:

1.     Breathe

Your breath is always with you, which is why it’s the ideal focus in meditation. Listen to your breath rather than your mind for a moment. Try closing your eyes and notice how your breath is moving, where in your body you can feel it? Connecting with your breath helps you to relax and brings you into the here and now.

2.     The Present Moment

How much of your time is spent thinking about what you’re about to do next or what happened earlier? How often are you actually living right now? Try focusing your attention on what's happening right now in this moment. Notice your breath. Notice your thoughts. Notice the sensations in your body. The sounds your can hear. Notice that the present moment is all that's ever really happening. 

3.     Observation

One of meditation’s myths is that we have to empty our mind of thought. Considering the average person has over 50,000 thoughts each day, that’s a pretty high expectation. Instead, try taking a few minutes to simply observe your thoughts. Use your breath to center you whilst you do this. Notice your thoughts and see if you can watch them, almost as though they’re passing by like clouds in the sky. By practicing this, you’ll notice how you can be in a place of stillness rather than consumed by thought. By observing your thoughts as they pass, you can start to recognise that you’re more than just your thoughts.

4.     Non-judgment

It’s easy to judge the thoughts that come into your mind, to judge the things around you, including yourself. We use our judgment to keep up with the world, but in doing so we can over-judge, over-complicate. During meditation, try observing your thoughts just as they are. See what you can let go of in doing so.

We live in a time and culture that reward ‘getting things done’ and multitasking…to the extent that we’re not fully present as we live our life, a good portion of our life passes away unlived
— Steve Hagen, Meditation now or never