What is meditation?
I will attempt to descibe what meditation is in this short piece. Some will say taking a cigarette or a cup of coffee or a space in the day in allowing their mind to drift, or taking a rest from the turbulence of life, is a form of meditation. Others will say being totally absorbed in an activity that allows them to transcend their reality in such activities as creative expression like music, dance, art, or being engaged in mountain climbing, surfing or jogging is a form of meditation. Many like to stare at a leaf or tree or be in a nature. All of these appear to transcend the body in the moment of the experience.
Others choose guided meditations in allowing themselves to be taken off on a journey of vision, peace, beauty or inspiration through a story, movement or music, where perhaps they meet or experience themselves in different ways or simply escape reality.
Yes I believe there are many forms of meditation.
The field of psychology has taken on Mindfulness from the Buddhist tradition of training the mind to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment, to help people with a range of psychological problems. From a Buddhist perspective the aim of Mindfulness is to create a state of “bare awareness” and to maintain it through each task and moment of the day.
In former times we lived life in a different way, in that people were usually much more physical in their daily life, more social in their interactions with family and community and had more time to contemplate, as they rose and slept according to natural light and darkness.
Presently we live in times of intense busy-ness and distraction. So much so, it is affecting the way our brains are wired, in setting us up to be constantly hyper-aroused, mentally over-occupied and over alert at all times and frequently exhausted. We fill our time, (our lives) with tasks and spend a lot of what’s left in cyberspace. It’s as if many of us are cut-off from the neck and totally unaware of our bodily, creature states and our need for connection, talking, laughing and taking time to be together in doing nothing, other than enjoying being alive. And most of all being with ourselves, uninterrupted.
Interestingly at the same time there is an increase in anxiety and depression and the need for medication in our society. Anything that can help in the reduction of this stress arousing trend more naturally has to be welcomed.
I was introduced to meditation in my twenties through yoga and enjoyed it at that time, particularly in groups. Years went by as I let it slide into the background and got on with creating a busy life. Many years later, I was going through a tense time in my life that was full of confusion, as family pressures and expectation mounted and my body responded with low energy and chronic fatigue. I noticed a local Buddhist group that offered classes in meditation and signed up for a short course.
The first class was peaceful and I had a sense of coming home. This was a meditation of reflection and stillness in quieting the mind and noticing the breath. I went home in a peaceful state and as my family arrived home they commented on how quiet the house was, because prior to this, I had always had the radio on for background noise, but at this time was happily preparing food in silence.
On reflection I realised I had experienced a buzz of low grade anxiety that I’d been unaware of, until it had gone. Hence the need for background noise. This marked a shift in my life. I have been meditating ever since for more than twenty years now and it has become a central part of my life.
I also stare into space at times, enjoy dancing or other physical activities as valuable forms of expression and meditation too.
I appreciate the value of guided meditation for those who require this, in being able to change state through visionary or sensory prompts, that also provide avenues to escape reality. This provides a way of starting the process of training the mind to let go of thoughts, feelings and attachments to what hooks us into our goals and desires of daily life.
For me the deep, peace and nurturing I receive in my daily, silent, internally focussed meditations cannot be surpassed. This is about being with myself, my breath and ultimately my soul. It starts with sitting, shutting my eyes, allowing my mind to settle and my breath to slow, as my mind throws up thoughts and feelings until it rests. as I descend into the quietness within. A space that is different each time I go there. Sometimes flashing lights, or deep emotions or realizations shoot through, but mostly it’s a soft, quiet, nurturing space that feeds and holds me.
Such meditation reminds me of what is important. Of my Beingness and the fact that I came in with my soul and it will come with me when I go. Everything else is temporary and yet to be appreciated and enjoyed, especially the people who touch my life, while I’m here. It also allows the quiet, space inside to expand and deepen, in helping me to hold steady through life’s rough and tumble and through my work in holding space for the unfolding of my clients within the web of energy between, us as our souls touch.
Please don’t forget to find ways to nurture and hold yourself and not just for that moment, but to take the deep silence and focus with you through-out your day, so that when you are engaged in tasks, it is fully, and when you engage with others you look into their face, fully, in really being present. In this way enjoying what you have in your life to its fullest extent, as it’s all so precious.
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