The practice of meditation is simply to rest the mind in the present moment of experience. If we are not captured by our thoughts, we can discover tranquility within our mind and gain insight into who we truly are. If we stay fully present in the here and now — and relax — we can open to the incredible goodness and spaciousness that is our true heart, our true home.
Meditation is fostering a familiarity with our minds — becoming familiar with a way of being that is free of anxiety and personal storylines. In practicing meditation, we simply place our awareness on our normal breathing — the in-and-out breaths — and as thoughts arise and pass away we simply let them be. When we become distracted, we gently bring our awareness back to the breath.
Many different things, besides the breath, can be used as objects for meditation. We can use any physical sensations that we may have. We can use sights, such as gazing at a flower or a sacred picture. We can use sounds, such as natural occurring sounds or sounds that we produce. We can use smells; we can use tastes; we can use anything really.
We can also meditate without using an object of meditation. To do this, we just let our awareness rest in the freshness of the present moment.
Keep in mind that we are not trying to get rid of thoughts, for they are natural to the mind. Thoughts are like the waves on an ocean in that they rise up and dissolve back into the ocean without any trouble. The nature of the waves is no different from the nature of the ocean. One is not “good” and the other “bad.”
If you have few thoughts and a sense of peace, that’s meditation. If you have many thoughts and a scattered mind, but you maintain an ongoing, non-judgmental awareness of that, that’s also meditation! Whatever happens, just cultivate your awareness and go easy on yourself. In fact, you can get rid of the idea of meditation altogether and simply be. As long as you don’t get lost in your thoughts, and you don’t try to change, try to improve, or try to do anything special with your mind — that’s an excellent practice.