Meditation (July 6th)

Meditation is a tricky topic full of so many excuses, misconceptions and false beliefs that it may be best to start this conversation with a quick five-question quiz!  But before we start, shall we discuss my credentials?  First, I have none.  Second, if you appreciate titles and certificates, if degrees and diplomas equate to credibility, than I will fall dismally short of your expectations.  But, if many hundreds of hours meditating account for credibility, than you may find that I have a word or two of credibility, certainly not more than three! 😉  Good luck!


QUESTION ONE ~ Meditation is for people who have calm, quiet minds.

meditating-monk

FALSE!  I have personally met hundreds of meditators and not a-one-of-them had a calm, quiet mind when they began practicing meditation.  Not-a-one!  What wonderful news for beginners!  Just imagine for a moment, how many hours that artists, athletes, scientists & musicians practice <<and practice and practice>> their art, before they begin to see quality work or improvement.  The practice of meditation is no different than any other endeavor we set upon; it takes time and practice to calm and quiet the mind.  The irony is that people will often cringe at the thought of spending hours meditating in order to discover their inner tranquility, but think nothing of spending an entire lifetime in restless agitation and/or misery. <<we humans are not known for our rationale 😉 >> 


QUESTION TWO ~ Meditation is for people who seek spiritual enlightenment.

enlighten-entitle

FALSE!  I have personally met many meditators who have been practicing the art of meditation for years and are no more spiritually enlightened than those who do not meditate.  Yet, experienced meditators have cultivated the ability to be present within each moment while offering grounded-kindness.  Grounded-kindness?  Say huh?  Kindness can often be confusing because it easily becomes an act of placating-to-others or giving-too-much of oneself. Grounded-kindness comes from the solidity of being present within each moment and simultaneously choosing responses which are most helpful and healthful for all involved.  Some of us can do this some of the time, but it is the rare person who consistently offers the gift of presence-within-each-moment & thoughtful-responses-to-all-beings; this is grounded-kindness, this is the ultimate goal of meditation: the creation of a decent human being in all situations, harming none.


QUESTION THREE ~ Meditation is for people who enjoy sitting still and do not have pain/etc in their bodies.

cat-in-bandage

FALSE!  As someone with ADHD I understand how body jitters become sheer torture when asked to sit still…but I learned through my own practice that jitters are transformed into tranquility when I choose to remain present to each moment and remember this too shall pass. I have also experienced moments of pain in my body.  There were times when I was so engrossed with my pain that I wallowed in misery…but I spent enough time practicing that I eventually recalled my teacher’s instructions and realized there was a more beneficial way to meditate: remain present and remember this too shall pass.  Sometimes, it took only a few moments for my smaller discomforts to pass, other times it took years: such as the magnificent hip pain that finally resolved into nothingness.  With time, I experienced the most powerful truth of Life; this too shall pass


QUESTION FOUR ~ Meditation is for people who have TIME.

clock-gears-wooden

FALSE!  I meditate for two hours every day and I often work very long shifts…this makes for very long (exhausting!) days.  <two hours is not necessary, i am simply sharing so you know what is possible!>>  When I began meditating regularly I found it very difficult to carve out the time to be with myself in stillness, especially because there was very little stillness to be found within my mind and body!  🙂  But with time, I found that what I “sacrificed” in order to meditate every day, was actually of very little importance to me.  I do not own/watch TV, I do not engage in social media, I engage very little with digital screens (other than writing this blog), and I do not have a robust social life!  <<ok, I have no social life! 🙂 >>  Yet, I have never once felt I have lost or sacrificed anything by giving up these experiences, in fact, I now wish to share the marvelous benefits of meditation.

Through meditation, I have experienced the peace that passeth all understanding, I have experienced inner dimensions more wondrous than any movie/book, I have experienced the falling away of suicidal desires, of depression, of unbearable grief, of exceeding loneliness.  How can I say that I have sacrificed when I have experienced such gains? I have been truly blessed by every moment of meditation, especially the difficult moments, the moments in which I found the courage and tenacity to remain presentthis too shall pass.  Each day I choose to spend two hours engaging with that mysterious self that lies beneath layers of familial & societal baggage.  The meditation style I practice is called Vipassana.  


QUESTION FIVE ~ Meditation is for other people, I can’t do it.

You can by yourself

FALSE!  I would ask you to deeply consider why you believe you are so inherently different.  Why do you believe your brain and your body will not benefit from sitting quietly and being present?  Have we not all been created with a brain, a body and a unique set of talents and trials?  In my humble opinion, this is the flimsiest of excuses and yet it is the most firmly held belief; this belief is often a way of distancing oneself from looking into the deeper truths about why they choose not to meditate.


The Results Are In…

You passed the quiz!  Now we can discuss five uncommonly-known reasons why you should begin meditating regularly!

NUMBER ONE ~ Regular meditation will NOT help you multi-task any better than you do now!

multitasking

Nope, studies show that meditation does not increase your ability to multi-task…however, studies show that those who meditate daily (over an 8 week period) report lower levels of anxiety/stress when given multiple demanding tasks, and they switch tasks less often which means they focus longer on tasks, completing all the given tasks in less time than those who flit between them.


NUMBER TWO ~ Regular meditation will increase your pain threshold.

painthreshold

Yep! Experienced meditators report less pain than their brain scans reveal, so even though their brains show they are receiving the same amount of pain (heat to an area of the body), they do not experience the same level of pain as non-meditators.  {This is an enormous boon that many overlook…how many times have you run away from physical pain, mental pain, emotional pain?  This is the aspect of meditation which teaches you to stay with the discomfort…and learn how to move through life with fewer chains.)


NUMBER THREE ~ Regular meditation will decrease your need for sleep.

clock-zzzHurrah!! But wait, before you throw away your bed remember that it takes many hours of practice for these effects to become prominent in your life.  As a fairly consistent and experienced meditator, I did not see this change in my life until a few years into the process.  But do not let that stop you from realizing the immediate benefits…at the very minimum you will quickly gain cognitive improvement and a greater ability to focus on tasks until completion. 


NUMBER FOUR ~ Regular meditation is calming for those with ADHD.

ADHD.jpg

Yes, yes, yes…meditation helps ADHD.  It seems odd that sitting still would help someone that finds it excruciatingly painful to sit still, but it does, I need not look at the results because I am one of those with ADHD who experienced this for myself.  The studies on people with ADHD were all self-report, so the participants personally experienced an increased ability to be still: physically, mentally and emotionally.  (ADHD affects all these.)


NUMBER FIVE ~ Regular meditation is beneficial for those with addictions.

addiction-life

Please answer this question for me, “Have you met a human that does not have at least one addition?” My answer? Nope, never, nada.  Humans are addicts, either mental, physical or emotional, you name it, someone is addicted to it: sex, drugs, money, power, fame, love, anger, food, alcohol, depression, elation, worry, etc.  I speak as someone who has found relief from some of my own physical, mental and emotional addictions.  As for believing my experience…well..remember at the beginning when we agreed that my many hours of experience warranted a few words of wisdom?  Well, I remove that agreement because I want you to seek your own sources, find ones that you consider reliable and credible and learn this for yourself.  <<of course, nothing is wisdom until you have personally experienced it, but read about this anyway, it is a good place to start>>  Humans are addicts…Mediation is the cure.


Being Is Free

Here are a few thoughts for you to ponder concerning being with/learning about yourself through the actions of meditation.  (more on the how-to of meditation next week!)

  • If you have never tried meditating, what is your best excuse for why you haven’t? 🙂 Is your excuse more powerful than experiencing your self through the act of being present: a.k.a. meditation?  
  •  If you have meditated in the past and found it to be beneficial, what is your best excuse for not practicing regularly? What do you need to begin again?
  • Have you reached a point in your life where your misery outweighs your joy?  Do you feel meditation could help you find clarity about yourself, in order to make changes such that your joy outweighs your misery?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed or afraid when considering the prospect of sitting quietly with your self?  Can you think of a space in which you could feel safe to sit quietly with your self
  • Would you like to learn who/what is within you?  Are you willing to make temporary sacrifices?backgroundeathers-being-does-not-cost

Meditate!  It’s Free!


Thoughtfulness within Community

July 6th is the first Thursday of the month so we will be fasting as individuals, within community.  We each have our usual Thursday duties, and with any free moments throughout this 24 hour fast, we will be thoughtful about being with/learning about ourselves through the actions of meditation, and what our very best excuses are for why we don’t!  Have fun!  This isn’t serious!grassinnaturelarge

There are a growing number of us participating in the monthly fasting so if you are new to fasting, know that there are others alongside you that you just haven’t met, yet!  There may be a potluck to the end of our fasting next month, if interested, please email your interest using the contact form.  For more on Fasting, please read here.

All luck, all blessings, and a million tinkling bells of honey around your heart!

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