The purpose of meditation is to find the stillness within you. This initially may be a brief experience in which the mind slows noticeably; or it may even stop for a second or two. Either experience is dramatic. And do not think afterwards that you might have imagined it. That will be the mind trying to shake your confidence.

The length of time it takes to achieve either of these moments depends on the individual. Some people will discover they have been meditating in a way for years without realising it. But by going about it deliberately like this they will experience the slowing down of the mind, or the stillness, much more quickly. However, no matter how proficient you seem to become at falling straight into a stillness, do not neglect the technique of going around the body with your inner attention. This requires a deliberate act, an exercise in obedience for the mind. And once you have mastered the technique, you will find it results in a distinct slowing down and quite often a stop.

To ignore the body procedure and fall straight into an imagined stillness is inadvisable. You fall into a half-daze; you are only half-conscious and mistake this pleasant semi-sleep for successful meditation. This is a mind trick. The unfailing test of successful meditation is to be present in your body where your body is; not to be absent in some sort of trance or thought-world.

You are aware of everything that is going on within you as the feeling of yourself. If anything happens outside you that you need to know about, you feel it instantly. Without trying, you are present within and without. It is a state of acute awareness, of maximum consciousness.

Barry Long

© The Barry Long Trust 2009

Extract from Meditation A Foundation Course – A book of ten lessons – lesson 4