When I was younger, I marveled at pictures of monks meditating in groups, sitting in awkward positions for long periods of time. What discipline it takes to do this day after day for years. Clearing their minds of all thought and being in the stillness of no mind. This is how you meditate. At least that was my belief. I have no idea where this belief came from. However much I wanted to be like these monks and achieve no mind while meditating in lotus position for impossible hours on end, I lacked the discipline and in reality I had a life, a busy one at that.
As years passed, some knowledge and wisdom have crept in. Over time I have learned you don’t have to spend hours meditating in an uncomfortable position gently noticing thoughts drift into and out of the mind to achieve peace of mind. Meditation is much easier than most people think. Consider a task you really enjoy doing. One that sucks you right in and you are totally absorbed in this task, whether it’s reading a book, fixing your dream car, sewing, or playing with the kids. You notice how time disappears and hours have passed before you know it. This is meditation. Any activity that totally absorbs you and time flies by is a form of meditation.
There are as many ways to meditate, as there are people. It is a personal thing. There are no rules or fixed positions that ensure you reach the meditative state. If you wish to, there are many disciplines you can practice meditation in. However it isn’t necessary if you wish to achieve the benefits of meditation. No one discipline is better or more effective than another. It is merely finding what works for you. I suggest trying several ways of meditating to see what really fits. Over the years I have used many forms and mix them up depending on what is going on in my life. If life is stressful and my mind is too busy, I might do guided meditation from a CD I bought at any new age store. If I can focus more easily I might do a breathing meditation, or visualization. The point is for me, I need to change it up now and then. Some people are content meditating the same way every day for years. Others wish to be included in a discipline and participate with group meditations that have strict protocols.
One of my favorite meditations is derived from the institute of Heart Math. I use a form of their meditation for many things, from simply feeling better to changing life situations. You can find out more about institute of Heart Math online at www.heartmath.org. They have compiled years of scientific research behind meditation with an open heart and have created tools you can use to actually measure your progress.
The following is an example of what I do in my meditation.
Ensure your environment is quiet and you won’t be disturbed. Turn off the phone and eliminate any other possible distractions.
Sit or lay in a comfortable position. First notice your breathing, and take a few deep breaths in and out, then let your breath do what it needs to do. Bring your attention to the area surrounding your heart. Continue to breath normally. Think of something or someone you love deeply at this moment in time. Feel this love in your heart. As you breath, notice the breath expanding your heart when you inhale, and contracting when you exhale. Allow the love to expand with each breath. Feel your heart get bigger and bigger as this love expands. Let this expansive loving feeling grow as big as you wish, the bigger the better. When you are ready think of a situation you wish to resolve, or a goal you wish to achieve, and see it in it’s best possible outcome while feeling this loving feeling in your heart. Hold this feeling for as long as you can. Take your time with this process don’t rush. Relax. I recommend taking about 10 minutes and building up to 20 minutes for this meditation, and longer if you wish.
When you are complete, gently bring yourself back and slowly become aware of your surroundings. Notice how you feel. Try and stay with this feeling as long as you can in your day. It takes practice.
Over time you will notice a decrease in your stress level. Your body will respond with a lower blood pressure, respiratory and heart rate. Your sleep will improve. Anxiety and pain will decrease. Chronic diseases are eased, and immune systems strengthen as you practice meditation. Your relationships will respond with miraculous healings. There are many more benefits to meditation, as you will discover. Meditation can be life changing if practiced daily. Remember, the meditation that is right, is the right one for you.
Shannon McFadden is an artist, energy healer, writer, and designer. You can find out more on her website www.drumbagsforhealing.com
photo credit: by pshutterbug