*where the zen at*

Meditation…

A girlfriend and I went to the Buddhist meditation center in my college town in the states. It was our first time and we thought, yeah, let’s try this (I think those are the exact same thoughts the first time I tried tequila).  We showed up a little late to a dark room where there were people lined up, sitting knees bend, on brown pillows, staring at the wall. Unsure of ourselves we slipped our shoes off as quite as we could and looked for empty pillows to sit on, and begin this foreign practice. I found a place and began the attempt which was counting 1,2,3 and breathing my girlfriend found herself a spot only to be ushered to a new, less sacred brown pillow, that didn’t belong to the head monk. At the end of the meditation there was a time period of learning, we gathered around as the head monk guy told us stories and read some quotes from a book. The only thing I remember was him talking about some television show he was watching and the utter strangeness of the monk talking about television made me question everything I knew about reality up to that point.

As of lately I have been meditating and have found tremendous results. When I was younger I was rather mystified with meditation I would read books about zen Buddhism, meditation and watch hours of educational video’s on the topic then, I would attempt to meditate and “fail.” It was so convoluted and confusing to me-the idea of being zen is when you give up the attempt of being zen, or clearing my mind of all thoughts seemed unrealistic. There are all these different ways of meditating that confused me, as well, because none seemed to be able to give me any result, other than frustration. Now, according to the literature these feelings of failure and frustration are missing the boat entirely, they would tell me, ‘girl that is your ego-sit for a bit and eventually at some point you will break through to the other side.’ That doesn’t really work for me but I found something that has. My previous attempts at meditation were me sitting, closing my eyes and attempting to focus on something-my breathing, an intention…there are easier ways to ease into meditation that I will discuss later.

First why is meditation cool?

1. rejuvenates you

I believe in doing things daily that just make you feel good. This can be vegging out in front of the boob tube, dancing, playing, napping, reading, writing, hula hooping :), dinner parties. My brother believes in a 5 minute party, everyday, so he would come over beer in hand and we would rock to music for five minutes-whatever it is, enjoy yourself. The most important aspect of  what ever you do is that during and after it, you feel better, not worse. For me, among other things, my mini party is meditation, after I feel more energetic, centered and focused-it is like a super super power nap.

2. Relaxes you

Here is what you do during meditation-focus on relaxing. Needless to say the act of, is relaxing. I can’t tell you how many times I have been meditating only to wake up 30 minutes later, oops.

3. Clarity

Our minds are active monsters. Sometimes they feed us information that is helpful, useful, and of value and other times they are like a baby throwing up everything they have just eaten in the past 8 hours. Through meditation the impulses and waves of thoughts can be filtered through and cleared out and the deeper values, needs and wants-shine like little suns.

4. Awareness

I have found that through meditation I have actually learned things about myself. In the silence and calm of my mind I find the most interesting story and have true light bulb moments. The rational that I have is that our actions hold intentions which aren’t always clear to us and as we clear away the stuff-it is like taking a flashlight into the deeper parts of our brain and occasionally the light catches on something that we didn’t even know was there and then-those actions make sense and our intentions are revealed.

5. The here and now

I love to freak out. I love it-I love thinking about the past and worrying about the future. I get going in my brain and I just go, go, go, go like a crazy roller coaster that a toothless carny is controlling and I am just doomed. Ok, maybe that was the me of the past and now I really like nizow. Meditation brings you to the present moment. I have found that it can literally bring me back to the present, aids in me staying there longer and exposes me to the joy of living in the now.

6. Increases your do

I have found that when I am able to fully relax and fully rejuvenate I have more energy and am able to do more. It might seem a little counter intuitive, that doing nothing increases your do, but really it does. Just do it.

7. Connection

Ok, I am going to talk about it. Meditation can connect you to something outside of yourself. I don’t think that it takes a string and tethers you to people in your community and the world at large, but I think that it helps to bring about a greater internal sense of unity which transcribes to connection.

8. Dr. meditation

I have found that meditation has incredible healing capabilities. I am not talking about making you healthy if you have the flu but bear with me for a moment. How often do you find tell yourself thinking negative things about yourself, your not good enough, lazy, ugly, un-lovable…these statements might not be on the surface of your thoughts but perhaps if you look closer you will hear the tone of your thoughts or see that they hold these beliefs. Through meditation you can begin to hear the quality of your thoughts and because you are the master mind you can give them a little bit of attention, love and then change them. The cool thing is you can change them to whatever you want-get it, get it.


9. It makes it all sweeter

I think that through meditation I have found that life is much sweeter. I have the ability to chill out, refresh, change my thoughts, and connect to myself and the world-those pesky little stresses don’t seem as powerful in the face of all of that.

Now lets looks at the how to…

I think that people are straight up ridiculous when it comes to meditation. I am not going to go into a conversation about Alpha, Beta or Gama rays or talk about chakra’s or levels on consciousness-lets keep it easy and we will just be talking about mindful meditation.

1. Designate the time

This is pretty obvious but take the time to meditate. If you are first starting and want to make this a habit, why not set a time each day-wake up a little early or before you go to bed (be careful you might just fall asleep though), after a walk outside or a bath. Make this a time dedicated to you; turn off your phone, lock the kids in the basement, turn off your computer and get all relaxed. I sometimes will set an alarm because when I am meditating the last thing I want to think about is the time.

2. get comfortable

There are a lot of people who suggest creating a sanctuary or a calming room, whatever- the room doesn’t matter that much, you can be outside, in your living room, or in your bed room, who cares. The main thing is get comfortable sit anyway you like or lie anyway you like. I like to just lie on the floor in my living room or on a couch-it doesn’t matter cause baby, this is a journey of the mind.

3. Get help

Some people can meditate in silence when they first begin, I couldn’t (I can now) but I needed a little momma bird to help this baby bird out. I found that listening to guided meditations was the best for me and I also really enjoy listening to soft music. If there is a really emotionally charged issue I do a guided meditation to bring peace and I really like some of the meditations that are featured on that site and here are some free meditations, I haven’t worked through all of these because I have this great iphone app by Deepak Chopra (I know) that I use pretty often, it has music and guided meditations and they are each maybe 10 minutes long or so.

4. relax, observe, and let go man

I have found what works best for me, is I begin with a deep breath, inviting myself to relax, then I settle into the floor and close my eyes. As thoughts come to me I picture them like clouds floating by-I notice them and then let them go. I disconnect myself from my thoughts and become the person viewing them, this part was always such a challenge to comprehend but once you do it, it is pretty simple. Often people will think their thoughts are them and begin to judge them, or start asking questions to themselves. For a few minutes, believe that they are just thoughts, and they are coming to you from all areas, some are yours, some might be your families, society, the media, your culture. They are things that are told to you to believe, to do, to want… just observe them, and as you become comfortable with the thoughts being separate from you, it will become easy to just let them go. As you are able to let these thoughts go with ease your mind will become calm and quite-it is really cool. Meditation is a personal process so you can meditate for as long as your heart desires-from a few minutes to a hour or more.

5. wake up

As I end my meditation I like to slowly bring myself back. I can do this through mentally coming back then slowly moving my fingers or toes and then finally opening my eyes. After I open my eyes I like to take a few seconds and re-focus, I take a deep breath and feel gratitude for being able to feel so stinking good doing nothing.

notes: If there is uncomfortableness that arises during meditation such as physical pain or anxiety, don’t ignore it! Notice it and use your breath to bring comfort and just relax. You can’t meditate wrong and no one cares if you do anyways.

So for this month of yogi I will meditate everyday for the rest of the month.

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