Beginners and seasoned meditators alike wonder what deep meditation should feel like.
In their quest for deep meditation, some meditators who think they are not progressing fast enough may be tempted to switch techniques. But this may not be the best option. Know that it takes patience, time and training to master meditation, “deep” or otherwise. Mindfulness is an integral part of any meditation practice. Through mindfulness we explore the connection between body and mind. We learn to be aware of what we’re experiencing without being swept away by thoughts and feelings, including the pleasurable feelings that accompany deep meditation—or by expectations for results that don’t come fast enough!
How to improve your deep meditation experiences
In our busy world, we often feel that time is moving extremely fast – we need to do so much in such a short period. While these feelings are completely normal, they habitually lead to anxiety and stress. Taking time to practice deep meditation can help us cope with today’s frenzied pace.
Lama Jampa Thaye, an eminent British meditation master, describes meditation as a “refreshing undertaking that helps us become present in the here and now.” During deep meditation, not only are we present, we’re perfectly relaxed and there’s nowhere we’d rather be and nothing we’d rather be doing. This is in stark contrast to what we feel most other times – which is why it’s so significant. Feeling completely at peace with reality during deep breathing meditation sessions is a sign that our meditation is becoming more anchored.
Note that there are two main kinds of deep meditation. The primary focus of the first is relaxation. During deep relaxation meditation, the scene is usually set: there may be a soundtrack that provides a soothing, somewhat hypnotic background; candles or dim lights; aromatic fragrances, etc. The meditator may be sitting or lying down.
The primary focus of the second is mindful awareness. The meditator is usually seated. A natural result of advanced mindfulness training, deep awareness meditation is experienced when the meditator has settled into a comfortable balance between vigilance and letting go. Awareness of the breath (or sound, sensations, thoughts, etc.) continues unimpeded; the mind may notice other stimuli or perceptions but there’s no impulse to cling to them. They just drift on by, like autumn leaves on a babbling brook.
4 Deep Meditation Pointers
- Calm the body and the mind
Here’s a simple tip that helps calm the body and mind before meditation: breathe. Before you start meditating, sit down, give yourself a minute to remember the purpose of your practice, and take several deep, full breaths. On the exhale, deliberately let go of any pressures or worries. As you breathe, plant yourself in the present. Take stock of any physical tensions and relax the different stress-accumulating parts of your body, including your shoulders, jaw and forehead.
- Find contentment
The brain is designed to seek pleasure and reject pain. Before you start practicing deep breathing meditation, try finding a place of contentment and joy within yourself. Once your brain has picked up the message that you are safe and all is well, restlessness and anxiety naturally decrease. Here are a few ideas to cheer the mind:
- Repeat a positive affirmation, such as “Right here, right now, I feel happy and content.”
- Recall some of the things you’re grateful for. Imagine that you are able to thank all those who made it possible for you to experience them.
- Remember that you’re taking some YOU time to grow – not just for yourself, but also so that you can be more available to others.
- Remind yourself of your purpose and the gladness you’ve already experienced thanks to meditation.
- (Re)discover focus
Meditation trains the mind to fully appreciate what’s happening in the moment. To experience this appreciation, there must be some mental stability as we practice. As we progress, the mind will be able to focus better, and with less effort. Trungram Gyalwa explains that meditation helps us discover the natural joys of the present moment. Rather than remaining fixated in the past or worrying about the future, by focusing on the breath and going deeper and deeper into mindful awareness, we enjoy every gift and experience that’s availed to us right now.
- Peaceful transition
When your timer indicates the end of your meditation session, exit gently rather than hastily. Whether you’ve had “deep meditation” experiences or not is secondary to the fact that you’ve just trained in mindfulness and given your mind space to settle and become self-aware. Try to extend your calm state of mind. Move your neck, fingers and arms gently, open your eyes wider, and stretch. Bring your well-being with you as you continue with your other activities.