MEDITATION: THE ART OF THE MIND
In today’s day and age, with technology racing by at the speed of light, our conscious and subconscious mind has been programmed to overachieve. Our inner mind chatter has manifested into this constant dialogue that never ceases to end. How many thoughts are racing through your mind while you’re driving in the car, and how many negative thoughts are you having about the other people on the road? We’ve been so wrapped up in our heads that our best friend has become the ego, who is happily manning the ship!
Meditation is something that I practice on a daily basis, even if it’s only for 5 or 10 minutes. It doesn’t have to be so difficult either. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph. D., founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center is a wonderful person and advocate of meditation. I’ve listened to his tapes and read his books, and in his messages, he explains that the fastest way to quiet the mind is simply to concentrate on the breath. It’s true! One of the best ways I’ve found to begin and learn to meditate is to relax, and concentrate on your breathing. Carmen Harra, who wrote the book “Everyday Karma,” is a wonderful person, true friend, and an inspiration. She talks about the breath:
“The breath is a powerful tool…it creates a bridge between the subconscious and conscious mind, and connects the mind and the body. When you sit and breathe deeply, your physiology will change, and both your mind and your body will relax and become open. Breathing helps clear your head of the thoughts of the emotions and ego, and it allows you to get closer to your true self.”2
As a beginner, there are some great CD’s that will help facilitate the process, and get you into a state of stillness and centeredness. I often go to bed with Liquid Mind by Chuck Wild playing. Any of the Liquid Mind CD’s are great, and with new age music getting more popular, there are many others available.
As an alternative, there are numerous meditation audio tapes and podcasts out there to help guide you through the process as well. I’ve listened to many of them out there, and the one thing that I’ve learned is that the person’s voice mustn’t get in the way of your concentration. For me that is a big obstacle and a big reason why I recommend you start by simply concentrating on your breath…in a quiet setting, with no distractions, and discover that space within by yourself.
As with health and fitness, meditation is something that you’ve got to be consistent with. For some people it’s very difficult to quiet the mind and have the patience it takes to relax completely. It’s for this reason that I say to begin with only 5 minutes of breathing the first few times you attempt meditation. Over time, you can build up to 15 minutes, and eventually longer. You’ll find that when in a state of deep meditation, time flies.
A VERY BASIC BREATHING METHOD
Find A Place
First, find yourself a comfortable place to sit or lay down. I don’t always recommend laying down as you may tend to fall asleep. Therefore you can sit in a comfortable chair with your hands resting comfortably on your legs, and feet flat on the floor. Find a place that’s void of distractions, and one that has a nice calming energy within the room.
Make The Time
You want to pick an opportune time that feels most relaxing for you. I wake up every morning before my family rolls out of bed and take a few minutes to meditate and center myself. The first thing I do is sit on the edge of the bed and give gratitude for something in my life. It can be as simple as being thankful for your health. It is awesome how doing something as simple as this will help set the tone for the entire day. You may find that mornings are also good for you, but any time during the day is fine.
Take 10 Breaths
Start by taking several deep breaths. I count ten breaths with my hand on my chest. This forces my attention on the rising and falling of my chest, along with focusing on the breath. It will begin the process of quieting your mind and centering you. As you do this you’ll immediately feel a wave of warm energy flowing throughout your body and find yourself in a state of total relaxation. During this time, it’s not unusual for thoughts to come into your consciousness. Simply acknowledge whatever thoughts may arise, then release them by bringing your attention back to your breathing and your chest. Kabat-Zinn tells you to “be the mountain,” while your thoughts are clouds passing by. Don’t fight them, but allow them to be there without judgment…then let them go and quietly bring yourself back to stillness.
Continue To Breathe
At this point, you should be very relaxed and centered. Now take your hands from your chest and comfortably place them on your legs, either palms up, or palms facing down. Palms up helps you draw universal energy, while palms down helps circulate the energy within. You can try both over several sessions, find which feels more comfortable, or simply alternate between meditations. At this point, continue to breathe, but without controlling the breath…just let it happen. Concentrate on your chest rising and falling, then shift your attention to your belly rising and falling, and again shift your attention to the air coming in through your nose and leaving through your mouth. Let the thoughts come and go, enjoy the stillness, and before you know it, 5 minutes have turned into 10.
See The Room With Fresh Eyes
When you’re winding down your meditation, say to yourself, “I am fully present. I am my best life.” Open your eyes slowly without any thoughts of the future or past, just of this very moment. You’ll find that everything is much more vibrant and new. If you walk outside in this state of mind, you’ll feel the vibrancy in nature and the world around you like never before. That’s a state of “Being in the Now.” Eckhart Tolle says:
“With practice, the sense of stillness and peace will deepen. In fact, there is no end to its depth. You will also feel a subtle emanation of joy arising from deep within: the joy of Being.”3
This is the first step toward a regular meditation practice for yourself. Remember, just as in health and fitness, the more consistent you practice meditation, the easier and more rewarding it will be. Give it some time and see how you approach situations that you used to get stressed about. You will see how much centered and happier you will be, you will sleep much more sound and live life with a freshness and awareness that each moment is just as it should be.
OTHER TYPES OF MEDITATION
This is where CD’s, MP3 downloads or podcasts come in handy. There are tons of audio’s available that will take you on a meditative journey. As I stated earlier, it’s easy to become distracted by the moderators voice or music that doesn’t resonate with you, so you’ve got to go through a sort of trial and error sampling yourself. I enjoy the free Meditation Oasis podcasts by Mary Maddux on iTunes and Salle Merrill-Redfield’s The Joy of Meditating: A beginner’s Guide to the Art of Meditation, which can also be found in the iTunes store.
This is similar to the guided imagery I stated above, but the difference is that you’re doing it on your own, without a moderator. My meditations often evolve from basic breathing to get centered and then progress to going someplace that I create in my minds eye. This can be an imaginary setting, or a tangible place from your memory. Shakti Gawain, author of Creative Visualization, calls this “Creating Your Sanctuary,” and it is a powerful tool.
Yoga is awesome! I highly recommend yoga to anyone wanting to get into great shape, mentally and physically. When you’re doing yoga and performing the poses, your brain automatically shifts its attention away from the strain on your muscles and into a state of calm. You just can’t help it because if you try to power through it with thoughts about “holding the pose,” you’ll never make it. That’s why yoga is so fascinating to me, with its connection to meditation.
If you’re a beginner to yoga and want a nice basic program to try, I recommend the GIAM DVD of “A.M. Yoga For Your Week” by Rodney Yee. Rodney Yee takes you through a basic stretching and centering 20 minute yoga programs that are truly calming, and a great way to begin your day. You can use it anytime of the day. There are several other yoga DVD’s offered by GIAM, with many of the same instructors that progress to powerful yoga workouts for the more advanced.
This is what a lot of people do on a daily basis without even realizing it. You could be in a busy city like New York, walk into Central Park, close you eyes, feel the wind brushing across your face, take a deep breath, and become totally relaxed and centered. At those times, profound thoughts enter your mind, and you get out of your own way for just a moment. When doing yard work it often happens, or planting flowers, a garden, or doing a hobby, whether it is art related or sports related. These are all different forms of meditation. If you have a basic understanding of meditation you can imagine the possibilities available to take advantage and center yourself. From driving a car, to playing golf to simply walking down the street.
MEDITATION FOR MANIFESTING
There are many teachers out there who advocate the power of thought. Rhonda Byrne’s international bestseller (book and DVD) The Secret is one of the most popular manifestation guides of its kind. Esther and Jerry Hicks The Law of Attraction is another international bestseller that has been extremely popular across the globe. It’s true – if you believe, it certainly can happen. Meditating and manifesting go hand in hand. You visualize positive situations and things coming into your life and they can begin to take form. Dr. Wayne Dyer has a CD dedicated to manifesting as well called Meditations for Manifesting.Live with Integrity, Gregg FOOTNOTES 1. Quote by Marci Shimoff, co-author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series. 2. Quote by Carmen Harra from her book “Everyday Karma.” 3. Quote by Eckhart Tolle from his book, “The Power Of Now.”
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