Vedantic Meditation, part of the yogic philosophy known as Vedanta, has been described as using the mind to go beyond the mind, through the constantly repeated practice of self-examination and self-remembrance. This is not a particular form or technique, so it defies any generalizations. To practice self-inquiry (the most popular form of Vedantic meditation), simply trace your thoughts back to their source, keeping the question “Who am I?” alive at all times—not merely repeating it to yourself like a mantra but always keeping a probing, questioning attitude. For example, if you find yourself feeling bored at a given moment, you could ask, “Who is it who is feeling bored?” This line of inquiry is aimed at freeing the practitioner from a limited, egocentric identity and engendering a sense of oneness.
Moving Meditation, of which there are many forms (such as hatha yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and walking meditation), can be an appealing way to engage in meditation practice if you’re not eager to sit still for a long period. In walking meditation, you walk slowly back and forth along a path or in a circle, matching your breath with your steps. As the inbreath enters the body, you raise the heel, then the sole, and finally the ball of the foot. Step the foot forward as the breath continues. Then, with the exhalation, place the foot on the ground, shifting your weight onto it, and prepare to lift the other foot with the next inhalation. Remember, this is not an exercise in movement; it’s a practice of mindfulness that uses movement to develop greater awareness.
Ahead: Inner Peace
Many people are turned off by meditation because they start with a practice that either is too difficult for them or doesn’t suit their temperament. Whichever technique you choose, remember that sustained effort is necessary; the mind is wily and resists settling down. (Just knowing that this mental restlessness is normal is a great relief to many who take up meditation and think it’s just their mind that is so crazy!) Start out with five or 10 minutes each day and commit to practicing consistently.
Meditative awareness is not an intellectual exercise, but it brings a clarity that lays bare the workings of your mind. Having cultivated an alert and relaxed mind, you become free from reactive conditioning, more able to respond creatively, and more in harmony with the way things are. You may come to meditation to become free from the harmful effects of stress on your body and mind, and that’s fine. But be prepared for your motivations to change as you grow in self-awareness and inner peace. Meditation doesn’t just change you; it can transform your life. Indeed, what mindfulness practice gradually reveals is that ultimately, your entire life can be meditation in action.