I recently attended a lecture/class by Max Strom at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis. He was a very inspiring man with a calm and gentle demeanor. This is from his website.
Becoming the Object You Seek
A few suggestions for beginners at meditation.
By: Max Strom
Sometimes when we first attempt meditating, we can feel
like a young child sitting in a lonely room with our eyes
closed. It can feel boring, stifling, and ultimately pointless.
And then we read in meditation books to, “Quiet the mind!
Quiet the mind!” Well, that sounds good – but HOW do you
do it? No matter how hard we try our mind can keep
hounding us like a demon, plaguing us with negative
thoughts and worries and resentments. How do we make it
stop? I have a few suggestions. First suggestion: Use the
mind to trick itself into stillness. Why don’t we use the mind
itself to solve the problem? Instead of corralling the wild
animal, we will ride the animal. The enemy will become our
ally. For instance, if when meditating, your mind keeps
lurching into the future and you keep thinking about your
job - let’s say you’re fixated on a problem with your boss. In
your imagination, allow your mind to go to your workplace.
Walk into your office, and in front of your boss and all your
co-workers, sit on the floor and begin meditating. See the
expressions on their faces. Then if your mind travels
somewhere else, the second you realize it, sit down in this
particular dream world and meditate there. Continue this
process and eventually the mind will give up and allow you
to sit in peace for a while. Second suggestion: Use your
emotions For those of you who are more emotionally based,
you may find it a more powerful experience to use your
higher emotions for a heart-centered practice. Instead of
focusing on clearing the mind, and trying to be still, and
trying to see God, or Spirit, focus on the Heart Center as if it
were the center of our being, and not the intellect, which
thinks it is the center of the universe. And inhale into
that. Then slowly exhale. Now, focus on the Source, the core
of the core of your heart, the Source of your kindness, the
place from where it springs forth. Allow this kindness to
radiate outward into the room. And now imagine that this
source is the Source of kindness for the entire world. The
wellspring of kindness and compassion, for the entire earth,
the whole planet, for every creature. All kindness, all gentle
wisdom springs forth from your heart. Radiate this healing
energy out to heal the world. And breath. This meditation
can be very revolutionary, because often if we focus on the
darkness and hope light comes in, our true focus is on the
darkness and so that is what we continue to see. In other
words the mind is busy trying not to be busy! The mind is so
literal. But if you focus on your heart, what have you just
located? It could be said that you locate the God within your
own heart. So, you’re not searching for it anymore, you’ve
become, in essence, the resting place, the temple of God.
Does this practice make you still? Of course it does. Does it
help you heal? Of course it does. Does it make your mind
quiet? Yes. And all of these powerful benefits occur as side
effects. You have become the object you seek. Afterwards,
be in no hurry to leave your meditation and reenter the
material world. Try not to rush away from your feelings.
Instead, feel the energy you've collected in your heart
center and cultivate it. When you do finally go back out into
the world, keep the calmness, so as you meet others they
may become calm as a result of contact with you, instead of
you becoming stressed from contact with them. In this
simple way we can affect the world. In our own hearts we
reach out to heal the world and by doing so, heal ourselves.
– Max Strom
(copyright Max Strom 2003)