Well you CAN tell me that. Many, many people do. And to all of you who think you can’t enjoy the chill calm of meditation… I believe you might be misinformed. 😉
Now for starters, you might be asking so what does an artist know about meditation? To some I’m an artist but to many others I’m a practitioner of alternative therapies, an energy worker and a licensed massage therapist. I learned about meditation when I was 18 and had awful tension headaches. Now it’s 40+ years later and I’ve studied many styles of meditation with a variety of teachers. I have been teaching meditation and leading meditation groups for around 20 years. It’s not something that goes on continually but when the opportunity come up to teach again, I get all excited and refreshed. I look at some new techniques and teachings… I get psyched for the fun. I tell friends and family about the new group/class. And honestly, I’ll bet 90% of the people I talk to tell me they can’t meditate. “I just can’t clear my mind… I just can’t do it.”
Well, there’s 2 responses here. 1- “Well duh… it’s a new skill and you always have a learning curve.” and 2-
MEDITATION IS NOT ABOUT NOT THINKING!
IT IS NOT ABOUT EMPTYING YOUR HEAD OF EVERYTHING!
It is a very common misconception that meditation requires you to empty your mind of all thought. While it is true that an advanced meditator is likely able to not think for periods of time. But that is never the goal of meditation, especially in the beginning.
I like to say that the goal of meditation is to learn how to live in this moment. Just this very moment. And now in this moment. Our lives are a long string of moments- some happier and some not so. Some moments of life are outstanding- weddings, births- and we remember those. Hopefully we are even in the moment enough to savor those moments while they’re happening.
But how many moments of life do you miss? Any time you spend regretting what is past or worrying about what is ahead means you’ve missed the moment that IS. The beauty of staying in this moment is that likely you’re doing just fine in this moment. Hopefully there’s a roof over your head, you’re fed and clothed. You might even be loved. Why miss this groovy, comfortable moment? If you savor this very moment, likely you can be calm. Whenever you’re replaying the past or projecting the future, likely you’re not calm.
Calm is a wonderful place to begin living more of your life. Calm is a close relative to the “no thinking” concept many have about meditation in that when you’re calm you can listen. Listen to what? Well, now we’re getting to the heart of meditation. I and many people believe that your truth, your wisdom and your direction come from within. We don’t need to run here and there to workshops, gurus or order another how-to-fix-myself book. Others can tell you what they think you should do based on their skills and life experiences. But only you know what you should do. And those deeply personal answers come from within.
We don’t resolve these deep lessons with the same part of our brain that is compiling the shopping list and remembering directions to our mother-in-law’s home. I like to believe that the wisdom I seek doesn’t come from the brain at all but more from the heart. And to hear what my heart has to say, I need calm. I need peace. I need quiet and a need a bit of space and time to listen. THAT my friends, is what meditation is about to me. Listening to your own heart/ your own wisdom for direction, answers and even encouragement.
So when I sit to meditate, is my mind totally calm and quiet? Sometimes it’s quiet but I’ve been practicing for a long time. But sometimes my mind is spinning around in circles, nearly frantic with stuff. Learning about meditation means you learn skills to begin slowing and quieting the mind. And with these skills, the mind will still distract you from meditation. When it does, you simply need to remember that is normal. You can take the intruding thought and push it over to a dark corner for later (with all the other interruptions that have arrived) then you return to meditation. In time, the interruptions become much less powerful and important. Instead of feeling important, mine have become more like little old aunties muttering about something. I can just mentally nod to them, pat them on the head, give them a imagined cup of tea and get back to what I’m doing.
I heard a wonderful TED talk yesterday from Dr Shawna Shapiro about meditation. She makes some great points, offers helpful suggestions and reminds us that “What you practice grows.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeblJdB2-Vo&app=desktop
So if you sit to meditate and your mind interrupts, you could just get frustrated and give up. That becomes your practice and you might get better and better at not meditating. OR you can acknowledge that, “Oh yes, that’s my busy brain again… later, later” and get back to meditating and your. practice of meditation will grow.
If you’re local to Canton and are interested in group meditation, I’ve been invited to start a new group at 6th Street Yoga in the downtown Canton Arts District. Our first gathering will be April 2, 1:30pm where we can all meet, you can learn a bit about me. We can talk about meditation styles and we’re going to decide on a time that might work for the most people to begin a regular meditation group practice. You’re welcome to join us, 6th Street Yoga is at 214 6th Street NW, Canton, OH 44702
The Facebook event page is https://www.facebook.com/events/137832616741021/