Most of us live hectic lives. We live in an age of deadlines, rapid technology, and fast-moving everything. The thought of being able to still our minds amid the chaos of twitter and Facebook updates sounds like a great idea, but a more like a far off dream. Meditation is powerful in bringing clarity, which is vital to those of us faced with rapid decision-making, tough decision, or just the daily pressures of a fast paced life. Here is a little test to see where you are in your understanding of what mediation is–
There are no right or wrong answers:
1) How long should you meditate for?
2) What tools should you use to meditate?
3) What is the proper way to sit to meditate?
4) What is the right way to breathe for meditation?
Many people feel separated from the action of meditating because of questions like these. What if I told you that you are meditating right now? Would you belive me? WE are the ones that get to decide what meditation is and is not. Right now you are focusing in on the words on the screen in front of you. You are breathing deeply as your eyes move across the screen. YOu mind is still as you absorb the information. You are sitting, completely focused on whats right in front of you. That is mediating. The first goal is to make meditation accessible. It has to be something that happens easily, and with as little work as possible.
Rule number 1: DO NOT LET OTHERS DEFINE THE EXPERIENCE FOR YOU.
If sitting and chanting “Ommmmm” is not your thing, create your own outlet towards mediation. There are as many ways to mediate as there are stars in the sky, and there really is no wrong way to do it. Here are just a few that I have found effective for myself and some of my clients living in hectic vibrations:
A) Tactile Meditation: This is an action oriented meditation. Tactile experiences engage the senses, primarily beginning with touch. Holding a stone, doing japa mala, moving your hands under running water, touching the petals of a rose, etc. Be creative. It is hard for the brain to engage in multiple places at one time. While you are holding the object, try to engage it fully through touch, notice everything about it. In this space you are fully engaged by what is right in front of you. The little worries in our mind take a back seat and you are able to detach for a few moments.
B) Movement Meditation: This is simply being mindful while you are moving. Yoga, dance, walking, workout out– all can be forms of meditation. It simply requires you to be fully engaged in the action. I know personally that when I go out dancing there are times when I get “lost in the dance”. The music, the people, the moving all build into a disconnection from one plane of reality and allow us to transcend into another. The Sufi spin, yogis will flow through asana, and Buddhists walk. THe next time you are out for a walk take a moment to focus fully on one single step. Feel the heel touch, and then each part of the foot engage the earth. Notice everything around you fully, hear each sound, smell the air, listen to the trees, be part of the experience–even if it is just one single step.
c) Visual Meditation: Staring at a picture, a statue, a flower, or even focusing in on a video can also be forms of meditation. To take it a step further, allow yourself to draw, paint, or to doodle (combining movement/tactile/and visual). Find something uplifting to carry in your pocket–a photo of a guru, a deity, or just a funny picture of a cute cat will do.
Rule Number 2: MEDITATION NEED TO BE SOMETHING YOU CAN ACCESS ANYWHERE AT ANYTIME
I would love nothing more than to sit in front of my altar with nag champa melting me into oblivion, but I seem to find myself on the go more and more often. Meditation is something you must be able to access anywhere. Sometimes we need instant access to clarity, and being able to shift away from the world around us allows us that access.
Rule Number 3: NO TIME LIMITS
What is the appropriate time limit for meditation? 30 seconds. If you can’t do 30 seconds, you won’t reach 30 min. You have to allow yourself to go to the smallest level possible. Do not time your meditation. Just start, and stop. For some, just knowing there is a ticking clock adds to the stress of the experience. Allowing yourself to just go into meditation and then to come right out of it when you “feel” done is more than enough. Do not let someone else tell you that it has to be 15 min, 30 min or even a few hours to be effective. We have to give what we can, and be happy with that.
Rule Number 4: JUST DO IT!
Just start. Don’t put a lot between you and the action of just meditating. Some people when they want to start meditating they first will buy a book, then feel they need to take a class, then they have to find the perfect incense, then the right music, and in all that time they could have just sat down and meditated. You just need to do it. Stop waiting around for an invitation from the universe, and be present.
There are mechanics that can help you to engage in a deeper meditative experience, and I will cover those in a later post. For now just allow yourself to start adding meditation.
In these crazy times it is important for each of us to find balance, and to create sacred space even in our chaos. We owe it to ourselves to disconnect into a happier place even if for just a few breaths.
Mahayogi Das CFT CSN MAT PAT