“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”
– Ram Dass
What is this thing called meditation?
Meditation is first and foremost a practice that trains your mind for peace and clarity. It’s a totally learnable skill that can lead to heightened awareness throughout all aspects of your life.
Awareness takes many forms. You may find yourself more present. That alone will change your life.
Being present simply means getting out of your head and being fully in the moment.
Feel it. Experience it. Be there, for yourself and for others.
Think of a time you were fully present. Have you ever watched the grass in the field wave in the wind? Have you ever felt that perfect connection with someone? It’s as if time stands still. You’re out of your mind and into the moment. You are aware.
Awareness leads to observation. When you are no longer caught up in your mind, when you experience peace, you have the space to actively observe your thoughts as they arise. What do they say to you?
You’re smart or not so smart; you’re thin or fat; you’re kind or mean. Most of us are living the story that has been told to us. The beauty of learning to observe your thoughts is that you can question those stories. What does that voice in your head say to you? Where does it come from? Is it true?
With that questioning, comes the power of conscious choice. You have the power to deconstruct your beliefs if you feel they don’t serve you and find a personal truth that does.
Finally, meditation is experiential. And that’s how we really learn. You can memorize facts ’til the cows come home and still know nothing. But when you experience something, that event leaves an emotional awareness, You know, because it’s part of your experience. Think about the difference between reading about chocolate or feeling the sweetness spread across your tongue as you savor the texture and flavor. You know the experience of chocolate.
Just as chocolate is experiential, so is meditation. It’s an experience of expansive peace, connection and oneness beyond one’s body and mind. You just know and you bring that knowing into your everyday life.
Meditation is so accessible. It’s really anything that brings you fully into the present. A walk, a hobby, knitting or gardening.
Meditation is a discipline that can change your life.
Discipline is not a popular word in our our instant gratification society. In a quest for the experience of greater consciousness, many people are using Psilocybin. Could it be a quick fix? I asked Jill Bolte Taylor about this. In cases of PTSD, she agreed, it has been helpful. But she also remarks on the absolute wonder of our body and brains. How could one find a greater confluence of perfection?
Types of Meditation
There are an infinite number of ways to meditate. There’s no right or wrong. Many people who practice yoga have experienced a body scan which is a type of meditation. At the end of a yoga class, is Shavasana, that period where you close your eyes and simply rest. Both are meditations. And you can have that peace be a part of your every day existence.
Meditation comes in many forms. Here are some common practices, but don’t let your perspective of meditation be limited to this list!
- Mindfulness Meditation: This involves paying non-judgmental attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they arise in the present moment. It helps you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions without being overwhelmed by them.
- Focused or Concentration Meditation: In this type of meditation, you focus your attention on a single point, such as your breath, a mantra (a word or phrase repeated mentally), a visual object, or a sound. The goal is to train your mind to remain focused on this chosen point, thereby quieting the mental chatter.
- Loving-kindness Meditation (Metta): This practice involves generating feelings of compassion, love, and goodwill toward yourself and others. It helps cultivate positive emotions and a sense of interconnectedness.
- Transcendental Meditation (TM): TM involves silently repeating a specific mantra in a prescribed manner. It aims to achieve a state of restful awareness and promote relaxation.
- Guided Meditation: In this type, a teacher or a recorded audio guide leads you through a series of images and visualizations to help you relax and explore your thoughts and feelings.
- Body Scan Meditation: This practice involves bringing attention to each part of your body, often starting from your toes and moving up to your head. It promotes relaxation and body awareness.
- Zen Meditation (Zazen): Derived from Zen Buddhism, this practice involves sitting in a specific posture, focusing on the breath, and observing thoughts and sensations without attachment or judgment.
Meditation is associated with numerous benefits, including reduced stress, improved emotional well-being, increased self-awareness, enhanced concentration, better sleep, and even physical health benefits such as lowered blood pressure and improved immune function. In short, it’s good for you! Consider starting with just a few minutes. You can grow from there. A terrific book to help you establish a meditation practice is Victor Davich’s Eight Minute Meditation.
Peace be with you! Namaste.