Meditation can have many different definitions . However, a conventional meditation practice usually means sitting in silence and clearing the mind.
Many students come to my classes and tell me they find it impossible to clear their mind, or that they cannot meditate because their head is too consumed with thoughts and noise. It is these people who actually need it the most, the ones who cannot shut off or shut down the constant whining chitter chatter. As for the part about completely clearing the mind, well it is almost impossible to just sit down, close your eyes and seize the thoughts; and that is not the point anyway.
Clear the mind…
The whole point of meditation is to initially sit down in silence, gently close your eyes, connect to the breath, witness and observe your thoughts just as though you were watching a movie. This in itself is a form of meditation and a starting point to having awareness of what is coming up for you. When your thoughts come up, try not to get attached or engaged with them. Simply acknowledge them and let them go. This will help the mind to focus and concentrate on being in the present moment. This is the first part to clearing the mind.
The second part is to breathe deeply so that every cell in your body will get a fresh supply of oxygenated rich air; hence the calming effect on the mind. The deep breathing, (opposed to shallow breath) will also get rid of any stagnant air from the bottom of your lungs, therefore cleansing the respiratory system and calming the nervous system.
Once the body and mind starts to calm down, then you will eventually find that you will have gaps and spaces between your thinking. This is a sign that the body has gone into a deeper, much calmer state. If you associate a certain smell with this state, i.e. using incense or burning a candle/oil, then you will find that your body will naturally adapt to this mind state a lot quicker. Also having a routine of when you do your practice i.e. first thing in the morning and sitting in the same place, will also help get you into that serene peaceful state as your body will become more and more familiar.To really reap the benefits of meditation, aim to give yourself ideally 20 minutes, twice a day.
For those of you who find it really hard to switch off, I suggest you listen to a guided meditation like the one I have here on my own channel or on fitness tv, sky channel 282 every night at 10pm. Another way is to have a mantra, for example, breathing in ”let” and breathing out ”go” so that you can bring the focus into something more internal and help to withdraw your senses deeply within and connect to the self. Usually, I encourage my class to bring their internal gaze up to the point between their eyebrows known as the ”third eye” centre. This will activate the pineal gland which is the doorway to cosmic consciousness and creativity. Many people know this gland (apart from the physiological reasons) to be connected to mysticism and psychic awareness.
Like anything, the more you practice, the better your meditation will become. Remember, when you first sit and close your eyes, dedicate yourself to being still and let whatever needs to come up! Sometimes you will be surprised at what you are witnessing but these are things that have manifested themselves and have come up for a reason.
Good luck with your practice and let me know how you are getting on.