Time to unplug and tune in. Give yourself the Gift of Meditation. It is healing, liberating, energizing, and a powerful way to transform your daily life.
I started discovering the art of meditation in my younger, ‘hippy’ days and I must admit that I was on quite a journey to better ‘find myself’. I was a self-proclaimed ‘seeker of truth’ and was constantly ‘shopping’ for enlightenment. It was great at the time. I learned to meditate with crystals, with full moons, with mantras, with healers in groups and alone. I followed yogis and gurus and even had a spiritual guide who reminded me of Yoda. She was wonderful and yet she left me…she actually had a heart attack during a full moon meditation at a volcano in Hawaii. Yes, this sounds crazy but true. The truth is that in all my spiritual wanderings, life happened and reality set in. I married and had three children and became the busy mom, homemaker and entrepreneur, struggling to find creative ways to earn money at home and be there for my family at the same time. Was there room for meditation in all of this? Not really. So I lost touch with the art of meditating and stayed stuck in the art of over doing. If any of this sounds familiar to any of you, please feel free to chime in so I don’t feel like a complete crazy!!
Anyway, as I have come full circle and reconnected with the path towards finding a little “piece of peace” in my day, my dear friend ‘Meditation’ has revisited my life, (perhaps in a less ‘cosmic’ version) and I must say that it is helping me find ‘me’ again and that’s a beautiful thing.
So, why meditate? There are a lot of reasons that everyone hears: It’s relaxing. It reduces Stress. It helps with anxiety, depression, anger, frustration. It is healing and balancing and enhances your loving relationships. This is all true, but there is more to it than that. If you can learn to control your thoughts, you can control the experience and emotions of life. The best antidote to negativity is learning the art of meditation. Meditation is more than just relaxation; it is a change in consciousness. We move from the limited perspective of our mind and discover an inner source of happiness and I know that we can all use a bit more happiness from within. I believe that will lead us to even more happiness from external sources. I believe that when we look inward to learn, grow and flourish we heal from the inside out.
So, what is Meditation and how do I do it?
Deepak Chopra says that although most people think the purpose of meditation is to get away from it all, the truth is that it is quite the opposite. He teaches that meditation is a way to get more in touch, more in tune with it all, defining it as a “way to get into the space between your thoughts” and to “find that peace within, the peace that spiritual traditions talk about that passes all understanding.” His 21 Day Meditation has been a part of my daily ritual and it is a wonderful way to start the process of meditation for anyone who wants to begin. The following is Deepak’s description of meditation and a simple way of going about it:
According to wisdom traditions, this space between the thought is the window, is the corridor, is the vortex to the infinite mind – the mystery that some people call the spirit or God. We don’t have to use those terms, but it’s your core consciousness. And the more we learn about this space between thoughts, we find certain things to be true of it:
- It’s a field of infinite possibilities – infinite possibilities, pure potentiality.
- Everything is connected to everything else.
- It’s a space of infinite creativity, infinite imagination.
- It is a place where there is something called observer effect, or the power of intention, which means intention is very powerful when brought to this space and it orchestrates its own fulfillment – what people call the law of attraction – so those are wonderful qualities of your own spirit.
- In meditation, we get into this space so we find ourselves infinite possibilities, infinite correlation, infinite creativity, infinite imagination, and infinite power of intention. That’s what meditation is really about.
- Where to Meditate
- You can plug in, close your eyes, and go within in any safe place you choose where you will not be disturbed.
- When to Meditate
- Morning and evening coincide with our body’s quieter rhythms. Our body knows how to be still; we just have to give it opportunity. Studies show that routines begun in the morning last the longest, but any time you look forward to meditating is the right time.
- Body Position
- Being comfortable is most important. It is preferable to sit up straight on the floor or on a chair to help cultivate alertness, but if you are ill or need to lie down, that is fine. The mind has been conditioned to sleep when the body is lying down so you may feel sleepier. Your hands can relax on your lap, palms up or any way that you feel most open.
- Thoughts will inevitably drift in and dance around your mind, but that’s normal. Don’t try to do anything with them – let them be. If you find yourself thinking about what’s passing through your mind, just return to focusing your awareness on the mantra or your breath – you will soon slip into the space between thoughts.
- When we pay attention to our breath, we are in the present moment. In an unforced, natural rhythm, allow your breath to flow in and out, easily and effortlessly.
- Meditation Length
- The effects of meditation are cumulative, and setting aside as little as 15 minutes a day to retreat and rejuvenate is beneficial. Many schools of meditation prescribe 30 minutes of meditation twice a day, and as your meditation practice evolves, you can extend your time. It’s better to spend just a few minutes meditating every day rather than meditating for an hour a week.
- The Five Things That Can Happen During Meditation
During meditation, five things can happen:
- We can experience thoughts.
- We can mentally repeat the mantra.
- We can have thoughts and repeat the mantra at the same time. If this happens to you, place greater attention on the mantra.
- Our thoughts and the mantra can cancel each other out, and we can slip into that place of stillness between our thoughts, the “gap.”
- We can fall asleep. If you fall asleep, when you awaken and if time permits, allow yourself about five or ten minutes to complete your meditation.
How does Meditation help our health and our daily lives?
Recent groundbreaking studies concluded that meditating positively impacts gene expression in the body, promotes longevity, protects against stroke and heart disease and drastically reduces visits to the doctor. Researchers at Harvard found that meditating for just eight weeks dramatically alters gene expression, “turning off” hundreds of genes conducive to the onset of disease while “turning on” hundreds of genes conducive to health. Long-term meditators evinced even more powerful gene changes. “Any condition that’s caused or worsened by stress can be alleviated through meditation”, says cardiologist Herbert Benson, MD, well known for three decades of research into the health effects of meditation. He is the founder of the Mind/Body Institute at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Meditation is now becoming the new buzz word in the corporate world as companies are looking to Health and Wellness programs to combat unhealthy, stressed out employees and increase motivation, productivity and decrease absenteeism due to health issues and burn out. A recent article in the LA Times Business section says that “companies are embracing meditation to train better leaders” Using meditation to “tap into the power of mindfulness”, companies like Google are training their employees to “calm their minds on demand and build inner joy while succeeding at work”.
Most meditation practices include breathing techniques. Breathing is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself…yes BREATHING! We know that we all breathe, but often, we hold back. When we are stressed or anxious we unconsciously stop our breathing for a bit. Being mindful of that is the first step to letting go of tension and stress on a daily basis.