How and why should you meditate?

Why?

Meditation is not only useful for focusing your mind and staying in the present moment, but also for someone with ADHD, social anxiety, emotional problems and for controlling your impulses and noticing your behavior. Also, your corpus callosum thickens, so the communication between your creative and logical hemisphere becomes stronger. Also, musical artists have about 15% thicker corpus callosum.

the thicker Corpus Callosum, the better communication between hemispheres (Henry Gray (1918) Anatomy of the Human Body)

Meditation allows you to do a full day of work or to stay focused on things. Advanced meditators (and buddhistic monks) only need to sleep for about 3 hours a night, because deep meditation states they are able to achieve get their brain into the same frequency (theta waves) as deep sleep.
Meditation is absolutely necessary if you want to build something huge or something successful, because massive amounts of focus are needed for that.

How?

We are going to be talking about Ánapána Sati, or sitting meditation.

First thing — you sit down, in a relaxed position and you can place your feet in a lotus position or just sit on your heels (Witcher style). What is important is to have some kind of support under your butt, like 2 pillows or Zafu pillow.

You should be comfortable, realize that you will be sitting for next 20 to 60 minutes.

You can meditate for how long you want, Samana Atari (monk who taught me) meditates every morning for 45 minutes. Before that he says protective mantras (Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sama sambuddhasa — “I greet and honor the enlightened one”). If you are just starting meditating stick to 15–30 minutes.

Samana Atari; meditation retreat

Observe your thoughts, don’t suppress them!

Close your eyes and try to focus on your breath. Now, you could have read somewhere that you should try to suppress your thoughts, which is not quite right. You should be a watcher, the observer of your thoughts. Think about this — if you are thinking a thought, and you just observe, without attaching to it, judging it… then who is the one observing the one thinking the thought? You want to get into that state.

You can ascend to this detached watcher state for only a few seconds from the 20 minute session when you are just beginning. In that state you have no thoughts.. until your mind realizes that you have no thoughts and whoosh, it’s gone. You want to train yourself through meditation to stay in that elevated state as much as you can.

Meditation is like learning to drive. Once you learn it, you can apply it to your life. Suddenly, you notice your impulses, so you won’t go for that random youtube video or that unhealthy snack. You will also begin to notice your breath more throughout the day and maybe even feel tingling in your angular gyrus (part of the brain).

Suppressing your thoughts would only spawn more thoughts. Don’t think about a pink elephant!.. and now you are thinking about it.
Nice Taoist saying on this matter is that your mind is like water full of dirt. You can observe the water and wait for the dust to settle, so your mind becomes clear, or you can grab the water with your hands and make it all dusty again. That is, trying to get rid of your thoughts with more thoughts.

Focus on your breath

It may sound silly, but just mark your breaths. Mark the in breaths, mark the out breaths. By keeping your mind focused only on the breath, you prevent it from drifting away.
If you notice your are drifting and you are not focused on your breath, just take a note of it, something in the terms off “I am off” — nothing violent, just notice it — and then return to watching your breath.

Major difference between focusing and noticing

You should not control your breath, you should only observe it. If you start to focus on it, you also start to control it.

It is literally like when you are reading this. You are not focused on your breath. It just IS.

For that reason, focus on your belly, not your breath — notice how is the belly getting bigger, that way you will not control the breath, you will only notice it.

Stay in the present moment

It is the same stuff like in conversations — you tell a story, and then you are in another 5 sub-stories which branch into another… and so on. Too late you realize you are not talking about the thing you wanted. Same it is with thoughts. You want to focus on your breath, the one thing to focus on… and then your mind diverges. It starts to jump around, to different branches. Just realize you are off and return to the main thing. It is all about training the internal Manager (or Ruler) part of your personality.

Starve the ego, feed the soul

If you meditate the very first 20 minutes, at the end you will probably have numb legs and during the meditation your face starts to itch. Ignore it. That is your mind, your ego, trying to stop you from focusing.

Lot of people I know say they tried meditation, but it didn’t work so they stopped. They expected to go from zero to a monk in 2 days. But meditation is more like dripping water into a cup. You cannot expect to have the cup full in a week. But after 2 weeks or a month you will start to feel serious advantages.

Everything summed up

Focus on your breath. If you realize you are in your thoughts, focus on your breath. Are you thinking about other things other than your breath? Observe that you are doing so, and return to focusing on your breath. After a few days you will be able to achieve the state of clear mind and you will be way more aware of your impulses, with that difference that you will only observe them and not act on them. In turn you will be able to focus way more and you will be able to stay in the present moment.

INTP, Master’s degree in comp-sci, Creator, indie game developer, director, writer, photographer. I like BJJ, Jungian psychology, mythology and memes.