Filling the Mind to Empty the Mind
When you first start meditating and read the ancient literature, time and time again you find the suggestion or direction to empty your mind. Almost all the FDG's (Famous Dead Gurus) indicate this is virtually mandatory to achieve success in meditation. Then you try to do it and find that it is easier said than done. But, as they say in the song, "don't worry, be happy" because there are solutions to this non-problem.
One of the best techniques to use when you find it impossible to clear your mind is to fill it to the max. Focus on any object or concept - like an egg or peace - (it is usually considered much easier to focus on an object, by the way). Let's assume you are using an egg as the object; now think of everything you can that relates to an egg. For example, an egg is oval; it comes in brown or white. It has a fragile shell. It comes from a mother, etc. Now extrapolate on how these characteristics relate to you.
For instance, people are sort of oval shaped, come in brown and white colors, our skin is a fragile shell, etc. Whatever you do, keep referring back to the object of your concentration (in this case, the egg). You can also work on how the egg relates to any/everything in the universe. As Einstein tells us, everything in the universe is relative to everything else. So, what eventually has to happen is that you will find that everything you can think about relates to an egg. Long before you get through the first billion things that relate, your mind will surrender, or sort of turn off from fatigue. Once empty, you can and will then fill with the essence of the egg, which is the same essence as you and everything else in the universe.
You may not even need to fill terribly much with a lot of thought. It sometimes happens that you will realize that essence quite quickly. For instance, you may realize that the egg is made of atomic and subatomic substances that have no difference than those that make you up. And so is the entire universe. You are literally star energy and united with all the atomic particles everywhere.
There is a wisdom and consciousness that allows the atoms to know enough to merge into molecular compositions and the molecules to unite into more and more complex compositions. The ultimate intelligent composition is the human, for we are blessed with the ability to ponder this holy, miraculous process and unite with the source and maintainer of it.
There are many other methods to fill the mind. One is to answer Zen koans (or parables) such as, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or "What was your face before you were born." These imponderables are unanswerable by mere intellect, body, or emotions, and have been used for hundreds of years as a way to master one's mind. Similarly, Sufi tales, particularly those featuring Mullah Nasrudin, as well as Hindu teaching stories, Talmudic tales, etc., offer level after level of understanding that your mind will never be able to fathom.
Another method is to do visualizations, filling your mind with what you choose. For instance, visualize yourself as the person you want to be. A "you" with perfect health, tranquility, wisdom, and self control. And complete mastery of your mind.
Meditation Station and other Web sites offer dozens of techniques and concepts that are appropriate to use for more than just clearing your mind. Try a few methods, find one (or possibly even a few) that feel right, and persevere until your mind becomes a useful tool, just like your hand or computer or car. And you will live happily ever after.
Courtesy of The Meditation Society of America
Prepare the Body
Try to meditate at the same time every day. The best time to meditate is at dawn (or just after waking), dusk (or just before going to bed), high noon, and midnight. It is helpful to get a moderate amount of exercise before you meditate, but choose something that will relax you, such as Yoga postures, Yogananda's Energization Exercises, basic stretching, or a walk outside to somewhere beautiful.