Most of the books, reports, essays and the like focus on step 1. The rest is just keeping your mind quiet, but alert, for as long as you want.
Meditation is an interesting subject. It is as deceptively simple as that tl;dr above, but at the same time for someone who is struggling with it meditation can be frustrating. However, let me assure you it is that easy.
Right now, as you are reading this blogpost, take a deep breath in through your nose (~5 seconds)…and out through your mouth (~5 seconds), repeat this a few times and you will notice a drop in your heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels. Keep doing it for the rest of the time you read this post, it will help you. This is the basis of all meditation, a constant, flowing cycle of breaths in…and out. This cycle gives you predictability and a sense of order. If it helps you, visualize you inhaling peaceful oxygenated air and exhaling the nagging sense of worry that follows you throughout your day.
Peaceful breath in…and all your worries out Peaceful breath in…and all your troubles out Peaceful breath in…and all your anxieties out in a nice, predictable pattern.
Some people have reported that while they are meditating, sometimes worries will pop up seemingly at random, out of nowhere and will try to scare you out of meditation by attempting to pull you back into them. They’ll feel like illogical and stupid things to care about, such as your computer crashing, you thinking about the potential of missing an important message or whatever it is that was on your mind that was the source of stress. Acknowledge them and dismiss them. If it helps you can tell the intrusive thoughts that they have no dominion over you and to begone.
Some people have reported that meditation makes them tired and more easily fall asleep. This is never a bad thing, if anything it points to them getting a lot deeper into meditation than they expected. If this happens for you, just schedule “do not disturb” time for longer than your normal meditation sessions or meditate at night before you go to sleep.
If you have trouble clearing your mind from many things to focus on, there’s a technique I’ve come up with that uses that urge to focus on things to your advantage. If your eyes are closed, open them. Pick a spot on the wall, ceiling or (if you are outside) sky and focus every ounce of attention you have on it. Consider the history of that spot, the materials used to construct the building, if it is painted consider how the person painting the room must have moved their brush or roller to cover that specific part of the wall or ceiling. Listen to how it sounds, imagine how it would feel if you were to go and touch it. (If you are outside, imagine how the wind systems in the stratosphere moved the clouds around to create that specific arrangement, you get the idea) Keep this level of focus for about 30 seconds. After those 30 seconds are up look away from that spot (closing your eyes helps a lot) and banish all thoughts about it for 30 seconds. The more you repeat this in a row the less and less activity your brain should have when you are “idling”.
It may feel tempting to set a timer on your meditation session to “limit” it. This only serves to give you something to worry about while you are trying to not worry about things. The temptation to worry about things will be there, and until you learn to master it, it is a lot easier to just remove as many things as could make you start worrying from the equation as possible.
Don’t be discouraged by what feels like slow progress initially. Your brain is (not exactly) a muscle, and learning to flex it in a new way will always feel slow at first. Keep with it and I promise you will like where you end up.
Remember: breathe easy, clear your mind, keep it clear and hold it clear. That is the heart of all meditation. Everything else is just explanations, techniques that worked for the author of them, anecdotes, stories of others, and generally just rephrasing things so that understanding it is easier.