There was a point in my life when I groaned, out loud, whenever someone told me that I should try mediation or even heard the word. I can’t sit still. There was/is no appeal for my active mind and body to sit still and focus for an extended period of time—certainly not everyday. But we’ve all heard of the benefits touted about meditation (borrowed in random summary from Huffington Post and Art of Living):
- Lowers stress and gives tools to handle difficult situations
- Increases mental focus and improves memory
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers pain levels
- Makes you feel happier (serotonin)
- Greater self awareness
- Improved sleep
- Boosts immune system
- Increases and balances energy levels
- Offers opportunity for personal transformation
Perhaps you’ve felt the inkling to try it but haven’t had success because 1) you don’t fully understand what mediation is—it is elusive or mysterious or confusing or 2) you haven’t connected with the idea of sitting on a pillow in silence, alone.
My response to the later can be helped by my explanation of meditation.
If I don’t enjoy something it’s hard to stick with it. The more I learned about body/mind/spirit health the more things I noticed I was doing that was already meditation.
Meditation does not have to be associated with any religion or belief system—anyone can meditate. But meditation has not, it seems, been living up to its potential. It has become the basic act if sitting and finding quiet/stillness, which is purely relaxation. But it is so much more than that.
Meditation is the practice of LISTENING to the PRESENT and becoming comfortable with, or ACCEPTING, what ever the listener hears, or what ever arises, be it physical pain, emotional twinge, thought strings or silence—letting go of control and reaction, and replacing it with LOVE.
On a more complex level it is directly welcoming love to the pain you feel come up, and watching negativity rather than following it, or offering positivity in its stead. One can do this because in that moment it is easy to see that those things ARE NOT THE PRESENT. It is not sushing, stuffing or forcing, it is NOT necessarily quiet or always peaceful. WHY? Because wellness involves stirring the pot. And when you finally quiet your external activities to listen to what is really going on, all of the pain your spirit has that demands loving attention speaks—sometimes all at once. But simply coming into the NOW and listening attentively, as a good friend or parent, builds pure self-connection, deep and useful insight, and profound healing. All those earlier mentioned beliefs occur. Relaxation accomplishes some of these, but not nearly as many as whole mediation.
The good news is that this opens up a whole bunch of ways to achieve this!
Anything that encourages you to become present – to what is happening right now inside and out – can be an opportunity for meditation. I found that movement improvisation was meditation, journaling can be meditation, singing can be, walking can be, playing with your children can be, prayer, reading, sewing, gardening—as long as you are fully listening, following, cultivating love, and returning to the present. They are certainly good places to start until you can sit quietly and just BE in right now.
The key is knowing that you are worth listening to, that what your spirit feels is valid, and you want wellness enough that you are brave enough to look and grow.
Mediation is not an easy thing, it can be immediately rewarding (like relaxation) but its goals are more long term. Finding meditation through something you enjoy makes it much more welcoming!
Though mediation is not easy, it is SIMPLE! Listening with love may not seem like it will give you much benefit, but simplicity usually does. There is nothing wrong with a relaxation habit—it’s one of the prime routines in my classes, but going a bit deeper, which I’m happy to guide you through, is so much more worth it. It is what will get you all those benefits. It allows you to meet yourself, become vulnerable and stronger, become more peaceful.
The next time you engage in an enjoyable, quiet, simple hobby—LISTEN, drop your expectations (it’s ok if it isn’t perfect, if it isn’t peaceful) and let God’s love fill what ever happens. Movement Improvisation is where I feel most alive, connected, peaceful. It is active prayer, and I was delighted to experience that is is meditation in motion. Come join an expressive movement class, or attend the Body/Mind/Spirit workshop and experience that a little bit of enjoyable deep meditation can go a long way in your health.
Chickadee teaches us that small things can have a great impact. Deer teaches us to be gentle. I recall their teachings regularly, and share them with you for your own meditation journey.