“What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us” Henry David Thoreau
“If every 8 year old is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation” Dalai Lama
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour” Old Zen adage
“MEDITATION, because some questions can’t be answered by Google” Purehappylife.com
There is still significant prejudice towards meditation. It’s regarded as being very woo-woo and not a tangible exercise. I was one such, so I decided to change my opinion with curiosity. The material I’ve been reading, but mostly my experimentations, have changed my mind.
I don’t know how or why, but meditation has been helping me tackle stress and put my life into much needed perspective. It has brought me serenity; I am calmer and making clearer choices.
So far, my exploitations have shown me that, meditation revolves around Breathing and Awareness – simply put, being aware of breathing.
I consider breathing to be a good habit – I have been addicted to it for a few decades now and it’s something I don’t want to let go. I’m so good at it that I do it 24/7 without even noticing it. It was my first experience as a human being and it was so good that I cried. However, there’s a very distinct line between the unconscious and the attentive, thoughtful breathing.
The first advice I get in guided meditation is to find a comfortable position, relax my body and get rid of any tensions (Dropping the shoulders works wonders). The second part is to concentrate on my breathing. Take long, slow, deep in-breaths, hold them for a moment and breathe out slowly but continuously.
Intentional breathing makes me concentrate on it, hence relieving my mind of other thoughts. Inevitably, my mind will wonder. That’s ok. When I become aware of it, I simply accept it and turn my focus back to the breath.
My personal breathing exercise consists of imagining I’m out on a surf break, with only my head standing out of the water. When I’m breathing in, the wave is forming and I’m slowly rising to its top, once I get there I hold my breath for a moment and watch the distant ripples coming to form the next waves. Finally, I let my breath go while descending the back of the formed but unbroken wave. I rest before the next one.
This is the place I get back to, when my mind decides to wonder. Occasionally my mind produces a surf board that takes me for a ride all the way to the shore while many other waves have formed, risen and fallen behind me.
Body – Some sessions, I’m guided through a body scan. From head to toes, it invites me to focus on each body part and become aware of any sensations there (heat, coolness, tension, soreness, pain, itchiness, discomfort, etc.). I don’t take any action to address them, I’m just aware they’re there.
Breathing (again and always) – I follow the air coming in from my nostrils all the way to my lungs and from there flowing everywhere in my body; a fluid, spreading sensation.
Surroundings – The breeze in my face; human sounds; nature sounds; smells; the awareness of my body being in contact with the surface I’m sitting on.
Now – Not the past nor the future, but this moment alone. I’ve been seated on a boat, right in the middle of a river, slowly cruising from one shore the other. The shore behind representing the past, where I left it, unchangeable. The one in front of me displays a wide-ranging future, my mooring unknown and never closer. Unavoidably, I wonder and the current takes me. That’s ok. Becoming aware of it, I come back to enjoying the tranquillity of the now, right in the middle of the river.
Meditation is a simple practice, but by no means an easy one. Keep focused, keep breathing.