In Koi Fresco’s most recent book The Meditation Manuel he quickly explains what meditation is and how to start your own practice. I really enjoyed the way this book portrayed the different aspects of meditation including why we meditate, the science behind it, and the nature of self. As I had the fortunate opportunity to meet Koi he is a well-respected, educated, and peaceful soul that most beautifully gives us an introduction to the realm of mediation. He emphasizes on the simplicity and power of meditation which I think is crucial because far to many of us think meditation is this difficult and overwhelming task when in reality it is as Koi states, “Simple.” Which this approach I think we can be more motivated and empowered to sit down and start meditating! I will highlight some insights of the book I found profound and give a brief intro to the different types of meditation so you can start today!
The book is short and simple which makes it an easy read. Koi mentions that the purpose of meditation is to, “To harness the ability to discern between the world of material illusions/delusions known as Maya, where we are tricked into seeing our attachments as unchangeable, and our problems as everlasting.” (17) And shows the importance of connecting back to our universal whole. By talking about the nature of the self I started building an idea of what we really are outside of the illusion for we must understand that, “The ego self is everything we currently think we are or will ever be as an individual.” Yet as we are soon to understand the ego is an illusion and is NOT who or what we really are and, “Only after ingesting psychedelic experiences, studying with a guru, or in our case learning how to mediate from a transcendental space can one begin to awaken and realize the actual nature of what we all are.” This raised many questions for me as I started to ask well then, “who am I?” One of the best questions we can all ask and through mediation we can find an answer.
So how do we meditate?
First off we need to understand that, “You already are a master of mediation.” Say whaa? I know you may be asking how am I master if I have never even meditated. Well most of us who meditate face mental blocks and hope to clear them, “If I can control/quiet my mind I will be better.”(35) Yet we forget that mediation is not something you can master for ,“We fail to see the continuation of our path in every moment and instead see each situation as separate from one before.” (36) He is weary to add that we must not make meditation an achievement for there is nothing to achieve. Everyone and anyone can meditate and it is a simple practice to help clear our thoughts.
Having a hard time with your breath?
A lot of my students ask me how do I breath the right way? As RUMI states, “There is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted. Then there’s another way; a breathe of love that takes you all the way to infinity.” and Koi adds, “The problem with making a task of breathing is just that, adding an unnecessary task to our practice.”(40) So literally just breath natural and avoid thinking about it too much 🙂
The actual mediation
As you dive into your practice it may seem like a challenge to you for it is a new task you are taking on. This is totally normal when I first started meditating 5 minutes felt like 5 hours in my mind and I was like, “Am I supposed to have these many thoughts?” I was worried I would never be able to clear my mind and each meditation I was a little nervous to face my thoughts. This is normal so just breath and know there are thousands of people alike in this situation. Just keep in mind that mediation is real simple and important. As Koi mentions, “What we think has the power not just to liberate us from suffering and lead one in full control of his mind into a state of enlightenment, but also in the opposite end of the spectrum I it can very easily lead us into a downward spirits of ghosts and insurmountable depression.”(52)
Here are some Key things to remember from Koi
“Meditation Commonalities in this Manuel
- The ideal for these meditation practices are either in the early morning or right before bed
- Wherever you meditate, attempt to do so in an area with a great amount of silence, except for the scanning meditation. In this case a slightly noisy area is ideal.
- Sit however suits you best! A common posture would be in a half lotus, with our hands sitting in our lap, or resting on our knees in the mudra you prefer. Just find one that feels right.
- While sitting, the head should be slightly tilted to face the ground, but not looking straight down. A great indicator is our line of sight ending about three feet of us if our eyes were to be open
- Stretch before beginning. This is so the body can be less reactive during extended period of sitting. The less focus on pain, the easier we can return to intense isolated awareness.
- Try not to use an alarm! Meditation when ended abruptly can easily hurt what progress we have made while in a meditative state due to the abrasive nature of most alarms. Use one with soft softs.”
See it is super easy and there are also different mediations you can explore! I won’t go into detail on each of them in this blog but you can check out Koi’s book for more information and tips on all of this information!
Here are the different meditations you can try!
Also known as Vipassana this is one of the greatest mediations that usually yields prolific results. “Insight is one’s ability to cultivate a comprehensive and true to form understanding.”(57) So building this skill can give you a better understanding of yourself. I used insight when I was outside in a quiet place (very few birds) and just allowed myself to dive deep into my mind.
One of my favorite meditations it is basically just being aware of your thoughts and noting them. You can think of it as watching clouds pass through the sky, your thoughts being the clouds you watch them come and go. You can use this technique anywhere, even at Disneyland!
Scanning is cool it builds a better connection with mind and body as Koi says, “We simply scan the body and scan our senses with a vantage of pure awareness, reading each sensory experience from an unidentified perspective.”(69) I laid down in the sun and noticed how the sun felt from the top to the bottom of my body.
I practice mantra meditation daily on my own and with my mantra homies and it is a very powerful tool to have. ‘Man’ means mind and ‘tra’ means vehicle or instrument. Using mantra can help maneuver through all those thoughts in your mind and it, “Allows the mind to enter into transcendental bliss or supreme realization.”(75) Here is one of my favorite Mantra chants I use to focus on gratitude and devotion. Very powerful tool. If you live in the Los Angeles area check out Mantra House for a group meditation!
The Japanese know whats-up, this is one of the easiest mediations ever. All you have to do is sit and observe, Literally. It is known as “sitting meditation” and emphasizes on the here and now. “Zen exists for the purpose of dropping our roles and sinking into the same awareness we held before taking up the human form. Silence.”(84) I like Zazen meditation outside to hear nature and using the Zazen Mudra (hand sign).