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Question: What would you say to someone who’s learning to meditate for the first time?

Devean: Before you get into meditation you have to understand what it actually is. A lot of people don’t understand it because it’s talked about all the time and not by experts. So when you try to meditate you end up not enjoying it or just wasting your time.

First, you should understand what meditation isn’t. People usually focus on what they should do. But the action isn’t the mediation. You could be doing anything while you meditate. What you do isn’t the meditation. Meditation happens automatically when your mind finally drops itself. It’s what happens when you stop thinking.

For example, transcendental meditation has gotten popular over the years and people spend a lot of money buying a mantra from an expert who chooses one for them. Then they repeat the mantra, thinking that it’s meditation, but it’s not. It’s a tool that a person with an overactive mind can use to reign in their thoughts, to put themselves in a trance. But it’s only when the mantra disappears that you’re in meditation. A lot of people don’t understand that and confuse the trance-like state of repetition with meditation.

The other misconception is that it’s something you’ll achieve. You’re so distracted by wanting to achieve the outcome that you can’t experience it. All it is is your natural state that isn’t clouded by your mind. Once your mind finally stops moving you can feel it.

It’s your natural state but you’ve been trained to overuse your mind so much that you don’t know how to access it anymore. Society makes you prioritize rushing and accomplishing things constantly. It doesn’t understand being present or doing nothing, that’s just equated with laziness. So to access this state you have to unlearn a lot of behavior. You have to be still and quiet for maybe the first time in your life.

When you sit down to meditate you’re creating an atmosphere that makes it easier for you to stop thinking and stop doing. Your mind is a part of your body, so when you stop the body for long enough, eventually your mind will have to follow. The problem is that in the meantime you have to witness your thoughts that are still racing without getting attached to them. Without engaging in the inner dialogue.

A lot of people find it too uncomfortable to do that because their thoughts are too negative or annoying and relentless, so you don’t want to sit quietly with them. You want to be pulled away and distracted by something else. People will say that it’s not for them because they haven’t given enough time for their thoughts to stop. For some people, it can take a while but once you have even a second of quiet from your mind, you’ll feel it, and you’ll want more of it. You’ll want to practice.

Eventually, with enough practice, you can access that state anytime. Instead of feeling like you’re a slave to your mind, you can turn it on when you need it and off when you don’t.

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