Ha, you thought this would be a post filled with philosophical musings din't you?
Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with my metaphysical insights, I ain’t no philosopher king (yet).
Instead, this post will actually just be about meditation.
Meditation is a very tricky topic, and can be incredibly confusing for those who don’t understand it or who are just starting out. You may have read a thousand different articles and posts claiming to explain meditation and still not get it. Everyone has their own different way of describing it, and they can be very contradictory and confusing. When I began to meditate I honestly didn’t know what the fuck I was doing and had a hard time for a while; eventually I stumbled on how to do it properly and I think I have the technique down, so would like to explain how I do it, in ways that really would have helped me had I read them as a noob.
But first, why meditate?
Every culture in history has had some form of meditation encouraged as a practice. It is a central part of Buddhism and Hinduism, Christians meditate in the morning and before bed, also sometimes before meals. Muslims meditate five times a day… why? Why is it that this practice has been evolutionarily conserved memetically throughout history? Why are we all encouraged to do it, and why has the western world dropped the practice entirely?
Now meditation has a lot of different purposes, I would not be able to write out an exhaustive list, but the main focuses and goals of meditation are:
• To improve the sense of self
• To raise mindfulness
Thoughts vs Self
An important point to internalise:
Your thoughts are not you.
Now this may be tricky to understand at first, but once it clicks it becomes very clear.
We are not our thoughts. A thought that you may have, for example “I need to study today” or “Leftists are deluded traitors” or “Lifting is good for your health” exists as its own entity. It is not a part of your consciousness, instead, it is an entity, a meme, a concept, that is held by your consciousness. Whenever you think a thing, you are bringing the thought into view and focusing on it, but that thought is not you, that thought is a thought.
Who are you then?
You are the thing experiencing the thought.
Imagine your mind as a web browser, your homepage blank, or a search engine. A thought would be a website that you open in a new tab. Each tab you open holds a different thought, and you can only focus on one tab at a time, you flip between them.
But your websites are not the browser, the browser is the software that displays the websites. Your consciousness is the software that experiences the thoughts, they are not the same thing.
Now I have a really bad habit of never closing tabs and leaving them all open until I have a stream of them at the top of my page; I realise now that this is analogous to and stems from my tendency to keep all my thoughts floating about my head and flipping between them endlessly, even if they’re not important in that moment.
So what is meditation? Meditation is the act of closing all the tabs and returning to the home page…. So that you continue the day/browsing session in a cleaner and clearer browser.
You shut them all off one by one until you are left with the base software, just you. A good meditator has achieved the ability to just be themselves, without thoughts controlling or taking up their mindspace.
Once you are able to just be you, your consciousness, as a blank slate, focusing on nothing entirely, well then we can achieve the next step: mindfulness.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is described in many different places and literature, this is just the name we have for it at the moment: it used to be known as “being in the moment”, Aurelius called it “the directing mind”.
Mindfulness is the ability to experience the here and now without any kind of distraction, a mode of complete concentration and focus, a “flow” state.
You will achieve mindfulness sometimes without realising it; if you are flowing with something, like writing or making music or driving or even just washing the dishes and zoning out, what you’re doing is letting all your other thoughts die and focusing entirely on the task at hand.
Now this is vitally important, because men who can do this, and switch it on when required, achieve their tasks with 100% ability and effectiveness. If you are writing with nothing else taking up your mindspace, all of your creative ability and brain processing power can be directed at this task. This simply makes you better at it.
In fact mindfulness is more important in our current era than it ever was; people 100 years ago did not have so many distractions and vices and apps and social media competing for their time and attention. Our attention spans are weak and fragmented, we are unable to focus on anything for more than a few seconds… ever find yourself unable to watch a 10 minute youtube video without checking the comments below? Or scrolling through reddit post replies to get the TLDR of an article because you can’t be bothered to read the full thing?
Well it’s because you have no ability to focus on any one thing without having your attention stolen by a more stimulating thought (only to get bored of it very quickly too). You’re scrolling through the porn tabs in your browser trying to find the best one, never being satisfied with any of them. Every video has to be as good or better than your previous best, every article needs to be more eye-opening and life-changing than the ones before. We need perfection, we need large doses, big hits. We can't deal with just good-enough, or "a moderate dose".
A lot of us live our lives on autopilot mode; we let our thoughts and common habits dictate our actions and never think much about what we’re actually doing. We get up and brush our teeth and make breakfast in a kind of zombie mode, all while musing and mulling over stupid sit that isn’t important at that very moment, stressing about future events or re-living past ones.
Meditation takes this autopilot mode and switches it off. It flips the switch and gives you the wheel and says, “now drive, focus on nothing else”.
This gives you an immense source of power and ability, it puts you “in the moment” and your browser, your software, is able to experience emotions and tasks at a much deeper and effective level.
Things that never really mattered to you before or you didn’t even notice suddenly get amplified and you experience them so much better and joyfully. With no other dopamine sinks or distractions, you start to downregulate your dose of happiness and find meaning in simpler and smaller things.
You leave the house and have nothing to think about, nothing occupying your mindspace, so you actually notice the sun warming your face and the breeze on your skin; shit, this actually feels kind of nice, a small burst of nostalgia for summer days in the park as a kid… it makes you feel slightly better about the day.
You’re driving your car and you feel this sudden one-ness with the vehicle, like you’re the same entity, the way you can manipulate it and swerve and glide with the slightest touch… wow, this is incredible…. I have so much power in my control…
You’re with your plate, and you’re thinking about nothing else, not work, no other girls, not whether you’re going to have sex later or not, just being with her. Suddenly her eyes seem brighter, her laugh, that you’ve heard a thousand times before, much more endearing and energising, her skin softer, the feminine aura around her nurturing and warm. She hasn’t done anything different, hasn’t changed… you’re just experiencing her better. Loving her more.
Imagine going throughout your whole day like this, with simple, easy interactions impressing and astounding you, that you wouldn’t have even bothered with before. Like a child, the whole world takes on a magical wonder, and you find happiness and meaning in everything.
These are known as “peak experiences”. Moments in your day that just make you feel on top of the world, make you feel so happy for being born and existing, make the world feel much less cruel and more welcoming.
You see those Buddhists with enigmatic smiles on their face, utterly at peace, or those damn hippies rolling around in the grass giggling like children; well now we know what they’re feeling….it would be nice to feel this way too right? …
So how do you do it then? How do you become more mindful? How do you achieve more peak experiences?
Because up until now, I’ve told you why people meditate, I’ve told you what it can achieve, and I’ve made you aware of the experiences of people who can do it, but I haven’t actually taught you how. Here, I’ll show you. This is my method; I’ve taken the things I’ve been taught, from literature and reddit posts and the Headspace app, and developed my own method, tweaked from experience.
Firstly, you have to do it twice a day.
Some people say once a day is enough but I don’t think so. I think you need to do it once in the morning and once in the evening. Why? Because your first one, at the start anyway, will almost always be a “fail” meditation, and your second will be the “proper” one, or sometimes vice versa. You will fail a lot in your first few tries, maybe even your first few weeks. This is to be expected. No one turns up at the gym and squats 100kg first go. You will be doing it wrong at the beginning, you just gotta push through this in order to get to the real meditation.
After you’ve actually started doing it properly, you will continue to do it twice a day. The morning meditation will be your “get ready for the day” meditation; closing all your tabs from the day before or you opened while asleep, and clearing out for a fresh new browsing session. Your evening meditation will be your “wrapping up the day” meditation; closing all your tabs you opened during the day, and preparing your browser for a good sleep session.
You will meditate for 20 minutes, or 15 minutes minimum. Some people say 10 minutes but I don’t think that’s enough… for beginners 10 minutes is the amount of time it takes just to settle down into the start of something effective, the warm up.
If doing nothing for 20 minutes seems terrifying for you, because you cannot even make it through a 20 minute TV show without checking facebook/reddit…. Then you definitely need to start meditating. You may feel like you’re wasting a bunch of time and that’s really what’s putting you off… you could be doing something better after all… but 20 minutes is nothing compared to the rest of the day, you spend more time jerking off. Force yourself to do 20 minutes, even if it seems scary at first. Eventually, 20 minutes will feel like absolutely nothing, and you’ll start wanting to spend more time.
Pick a place where you won’t be distracted by anything.
So no TV on in the background or people talking in another room. It can get really annoying. I’m a big fan of spots with an air con humming away, or even a washing machine, it can be really soothing; some people like to use white noise while meditating, or binaural beats, which I’ve found to be really useful as well, or 432/528hz tones. Don’t ask me why they work but they do, at least for me anyway. There’s just something about them that puts me at ease.
Okay, now for the actual process itself.
Sit in a chair or on your sofa, hands wherever, it doesn’t really matter. Some say keep palms facing up, but ideally just sit in a way that’s comfortable enough that it’s not distracting, and you don’t constantly think about how uncomfortable it is. No need to do a crazy lotus posture or anything, that’s too advanced for you at the moment. Some people lie down while meditating, but I find when I do that I just end up falling half asleep. You need to be focused for this.
Next, close your eyes, and take some really deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Deep enough so that you can actually hear yourself breathing, and someone else near you could too. Your abdomen should fill with every breath in, and you should imagine, when you breath out, you’re breathing out all the bad shit from the day; in a physical and spiritual sense. Imagine all the smoke and particulates and dust that’s entered your lungs being expelled, and also all the worries and anxieties and anger being blown out with it. Eventually you’ll settle into normal nose breathing, but slightly deeper than you’re used to.
Your mind should be racing at the moment, that’s normal. You’re probably thinking about a lot of random bullshit. Most meditation guides will move on from this point and tell you to begin focus, but what I’ve been doing is taking around 2-3 mins to actually just think about the things that are bothering me. I find if I get all this thinking out of the way first, it doesn’t nag at me later on during the focus. I allow the thoughts to do their dance in my head for a while and then I start.
Now what you want to do is pick one thing and focus on it entirely, think about nothing else except that one thing. You’re training your concentration after all, just like a muscle. This won’t be easy, especially if you’re new to it. Some people pick a chant or phrase or prayer, and repeat it over and over, some people count to 10 and loop that; 1 on the in breath, 2 on the out breath and so on. Some people make a sound and zone in on it (this is where you hear the Buddhist “om”). If you’re playing a binaural beat or frequency, you can try and get lost in it entirely. But the most common focus that most people will use and is probably the easiest is to focus on the breath.
Direct your mind entirely on the breath and…. become the breath. Be nothing else except the rise and fall, the expansion of the body, the feeling of the air travelling in and out, the small pause in between. Don’t think about it… be it.
At first, your mind will still be full of thoughts, each time you catch yourself thinking about something… tell it to fuck off. Silence it.
This really won’t be easy at first, especially if you’re new. You’ll be thinking about everything and anything, and most commonly you’ll be thinking:
“Am I doing this right?”
“Shit I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing”
“How do people do this?”
“I’m just an imposter”
“Maybe I’m just not the kind of person who can do this”
“I don’t get it”
This is very normal. Just actively remove these thoughts from your head. Some people say allow them to glide in and out, don’t be forceful. I find that I do better if I’m strict with them and zap them as soon as I notice they’re there.
You want to try and achieve periods of nothingness for as long as possible; at first it may only be 1 second each time, maybe you’re a natural and get 3 or 4, but really at the beginning your silent periods will be very short. As you get better at it you will have longer and longer silences, and each time they will probably be broken by “shit I’m actually doing it properly… aww fuck”.
At points you may accidentally zone out and end up on a train of thought that lasts for a few minutes, and you’ll catch yourself eventually and think “oh shit I just fucked up for ages”. That’s fine, just go back to the breath. Each time you catch a thought, just go back to the breath. Remember, you are you, not your thoughts. Your thoughts are just imposters in your head, your goal is to remove them until you’re back to base blank slate.
Continue doing this until your 20 minute alarm goes off.
That’s it really. Not too crazy right?
Alternate and Warm-Up Meditations
Now this isn’t the only way to meditate, but it’s the most common one people use. There are a lot more you can do, and in fact, I’ll give you some things to try that might help you get into the right mindset required for proper meditation, and warm you up.
1) Book Meditation
Sit outside in a crowded public place, like a train station, bench in a park, or supermarket. Grab a book. Read the book. You’ll find quickly you’re getting distracted by the stimulating things around you. When someone walks too close you’ll instinctively look up to see them, your dick radar will hone in on all the pretty girls, people may have loud conversations around you.
Ignore it all, try and focus on the book. Get lost in the book. Zone out of everything around you and create your own little bubble, you should focus entirely on the words on the page and get absorbed in the writing. It’s not easy, especially with the stimulation around you, but try and practice this 10 minutes every day. I was really bad at this at first, I couldn’t read unless I had silence and comfort. Some might be naturals, see what you can do.
2) Music Meditation
I used to listen to music wherever I went. If I was commuting I’d have my headphones on rap, if I was at the gym I’d blast heavy metal, during study time, Lofi hip hop mix - Beats to Relax/Study to.
If I forgot my headphones sometimes I’d get really anxious and crave the music. This is when I began to realise I was hooked onto the comfort music provided, and was using it as a cheap dopamine sink. Miraculously at around the same time as that realisation, I lost my headphones entirely. They were nice headphones too. I considered buying a new pair, but then got the message and decided I would try and just go about my life, walking, eating, travelling, studying, lifting, without any music. Like NoFap, but NoMusic.
It was hard at first, and I got the withdrawal symptoms, but after downregulating those receptors I found myself going about my day much more mindfully, as I was actually just “in the moment” more and not lost in the music.
Now when I actually listen to music, I make music the TASK, instead of a background accompaniment. I lay down and put the song on and really focus on the song, no browsing or texting during. I try to get lost in the song and let it envelope me, actively listening to it. This not only helped me appreciate the music more, but allowed me to fall for genres that required more concentration to “get”, that didn’t need to overload me with dopamine hooks and bridges and drops to keep me invested, and I otherwise would not have given a chance to before.
3) Lifting Meditation
On that note, once I stopped listening to music at the gym, I found I lifted better. I started focusing much more on the actual act of lifting itself, and the movements, my form, my muscles, how the blood travelled in my body. If you “get into the zone” while you lift, and don’t use music as a pump-up, but instead focus on your body and its intricacies and the way it works while you perform your music, you may find you’re able to push through a harder workout than you did before.
So put away the song or the podcast. Put your phone in your locker and don’t scroll Instagram in between sets. Really just focus on the weights. If you find you can’t drown out the chart garbage your gym sadly pumps out, use your headphones and try white noise or ambient tones to drown it out. Don’t fragment your attention.
So how do I know if I’m actually doing it properly?
The first few times, in fact for some people the first few days or weeks, you will pretty much fail each time.
Do not give up. It is normal and important to not be very good at it to begin with. In fact, you’re actually making background progress without realising. Just like lifting, keep going twice a day every day, learn the movements and proper form, and then eventually you’ll actually begin lifting heavy.
Now, there are a few things that will happen that will clue you into the fact you’re getting somewhere, and actually astound you at first, most people are amazed they can achieve this shit without drugs, I call them, headaches, layers, the buzz, and fractals. Bear in mind a few things before I explain this though:
These are identifiers that you’ve hit a kind of “advanced mode”. For some people, this will never happen. I don’t know why, because this happened to me very quickly once I started meditating. I have some suspicions as to why, and will discuss them later.
If you don’t get any of these phenomena, that doesn’t mean you’re not doing the meditation properly or you’re not seeing benefits. There are those that never get these yet still reap massive benefits. I can only speak from experience though, meditation is a deeply personal thing, and this is what I’ve noticed.
Do not go into the meditation with the purpose of reaching these states. You must enter each meditation with no expectations, go in completely blank, expecting nothing. If you force yourself to try and feel a certain way, you will block yourself off indefinitely.
Over time, as you start achieving longer periods of silence, you feel a slight tension behind your eyes or at your temples that can gradually get almost painful. I initially placed this down as just an anomaly or dehydration, but when it started happening every time I meditated, and when eventually the ache would spread up my temple into the middle of my forehead… well then I couldn’t deny it. As you progress, the pressure will almost certainly focus itself in the middle of your forehead and sometimes deep in the front-centre of your brain, there’s not really much I can say to explain it except… the hippies are probably right, this third eye shit is real.
So as you’re staring at the inside of your eyes you will be looking at a dark reddish/pinkish glow, or black if you’re in the dark. Eventually, during periods of silence, you may find yourself falling into differing layers of darkness. Now this is not easy to explain at all, but you almost definitely will experience it; it feels almost like a wave washes over your vision and you’re staring at a slightly darker shade of red or black, except the colour hasn’t actually changed, you’ve just kind of gone deeper into yourself; in fact it may feel like you’re retreating away from your eyes and falling into your brain. This will happen again and again through multiple layers, slowly at first but then quicker and rapidly as you get better at it. You may only go through layer 1 or 2 at first, and it may be difficult and slow, eventually you can hit multiple rapid layers and going through 1 and 2 is easy and natural and you’ll wonder how you ever had trouble before. The layers will get deeper and deeper, and when you lose focus you may go backwards and have to make the journey back.
The deeper you fall into the layers, the more you’ll feel a low, deep hum, or buzz, wash over your body. You may also feel as if your head or whole body has began to vibrate. It’s the same psychedelic buzz you get when you’ve taken a strong dose of mushrooms, and it can drown out the rest of the noise around you until it’s your everything. I have pretty bad tinnitus and it was very distracting when I began to meditate, until I realised I could incorporate the tinnitus whistle into my focus and it became part of the buzz.
As you fall deeper into the layers they will start to move rapidly, and shapes will begin to form in the darkness. At first they will be blurry and undefined; kind of like when you accidentally stare at the sun and get a blurry pink spot in your eye for a few seconds before it dissipates. Like that, but over and over again in the darkness. These shapes will be shitty concentric circles or squares or pentagons or whatever, just as if they were drawn by a kid, and they will sink away into the distance and shrink into nothingness only to be replaced by bigger ones taking their place and repeating. It will feel as if you are travelling through a tunnel slowly.
Eventually, these shapes will begin to solidify and become more regular and intricate, the tunnel will travel faster and patterns will begin to emerge… and eventually different colours. It’s actually astounding and very beautiful. If you’ve ever done a psychedelic it’s exactly the same as closed eye visuals, it seems the psych just skips the first hundred or so layers and throws you right into astral spacetravel mode. When I used to hear that people could achieve these states through meditation I didn’t believe them, but now I’m totally on board. I’m not able to do it that well yet, and my fractals are still weak and shitty, but the fact that I even can do this, completely sober, is really amazing to me. Sometimes, you’ll get a closed eye vision, like a face or a location, or even hear voices that are almost definitely not yours, sometime gibberish, sometimes snippets of conversation. I imagine this is how remote viewers do their thing. When this started happening I began taking the meditation more and more seriously and am now pretty dedicated to it. If I have the ability to make myself trip twice a day, I totally will.
"But Heathcliff, I’ve been meditating for years and I’ve never experienced this, surely you are wrong?"
Maybe I am. I'm not sure. I definitely experience these things though. I think it may have to do with a few things: 1) I used to do deep dose psychedelic drugs and 2) I use fluoride free toothpaste….
Try meditating while drunk or high one time and see if you can achieve layers or fractals. Also try cutting out fluoride for at least half a year, and, if you’re serious, attempting other pineal decalcification methods. See if your results change then.
So that’s it, my guide on meditation. It’s not hocus pocus bullshit and it genuinely does help; you feel more in control of your life, time gets slower, people become more interesting and the days turn out better. I’d like you to try it, for a week at least. Don’t give up as soon as it gets hard or boring; attempt it properly for a week and see where you get to, you might find that switching off your autopilot twice a day is enough to give you control of your anxiety and procrastination, or you might find yourself blasting off into astral planes and meeting ethereal entities. Who knows.
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