These are my notes from leading group meditation today. I realize that it might serve as a good reminder to those who attended or just a nice synopsis of Meditation 101 in my experience. Enjoy!
It’s fun to teach meditation in my own community. In years gone by, I used to teach at conferences or corporate gatherings. I could slide on in there, looking all chill, and people would see me as somehow different from them. Perhaps they thought I had something they didn’t. And that is a pitfall for me as a instructor and for the class. When I teach at home, there are people here who know me… they see me fall down and need picked up. They have seen the whole gamut of my human frailties and misbehaviors from time to time. I am no enlightened being… at least not all the time and likely neither are you. We’re all pretty much in the same boat… we’re beans, just human beans.
I came to meditation as a teenager with a mind that never shut up and horrible headaches. I learned to relax my body and in time, I learned how to relax my mind. With more time I learned that my mind isn’t me… but a tool to serve me. And then things got more fun. But that’s just my path. Yours will be different and equally fun to watch.
So what brings you here? Do you meditate? Do you think you should meditate? Why do you think you should? What’s your goal in joining me here today? Let’s take a few minutes and go around the room and share a bit of you, if you want to.
What style of meditation do I teach?
I have studied many styles of meditation with many teachers. I bring you a handy-dandy assortment pack of meditation tools that I hope will serve you well. You may resonate with one and choose to play with that one. Or you might do as I do and explore lots of different ways to say calmer and experience your life. There are innumerable meditation styles and often they are marketed as “THE” way to go. My job is to be sure you understand that studying with one “guru” in India is fine if that’s what you want to do… but it’s not necessary. Equally… you may want to spend a $1000 to attend a meditation training weekend but it’s not any magic solution either. There is no secret mantra that someone will give you that has more power than a special phrase that you come up with that resonates with your soul. You will learn about meditation by… you guessed it… by meditating. It’s a practice and with practice you will go deeper, or further, or who knows what. It’s really up to you.
I hope to put you in touch with your “happy place” today, some place that feels calmer and a bit more peaceful than your usual. Then I help you find several paths to that place.
It starts with the breath
In order to keep things simple, let’s start with this assumption– there are 2 emotions you can have in life. You can have fear or love. If you’re not in a loving space, you’re likely in a fear based space. You might think anger should be in there but anger has its roots in fear. You fear someone is taking your stuff, your rights, your power. It’s not a point to prove right now… just a point to ponder. So our goal is to stay more in love than in fear. It’s good for us and those around us. It’s good for our health, our mental well-being and even good for the world.
Someone taught me that it’s very hard to hang on to your fear-anger when you’re breathing. So the number one step in any meditative practice is to breathe. So for a moment, I want you to take a quick inventory of yourself- mentally, emotionally and physically. Now take a deep breath in, pause for a moment and exhale. As you complete your exhale, try a small pause before your next inhale. Repeat for several breaths.
Now, check that inventory again. Feel a bit better? Yeah, probably. Hopefully there’s even a bit of, “Now what was I so cranked off about?” in there.
Breathing, while of course, being essential to staying alive is also my best tool to get myself into this moment. And this moment, my friends, is what it’s all about.
This very moment
You see, in life, you have bunches of moments. Some moments like births and weddings are pretty memorable. I hope you actually get to experience those moments fully by being really present for them and not being preoccupied. But most of life’s moments aren’t so legendary. They’re just moments and as such are the most important things in your life.
What? Yes! This moment is really what it’s all about as– this moment is all you really have in your life. It’s the only time you can experience. This very now-ish time… this, my friends, is life. In this moment you can love, you can breathe, you can smile. In the present moment is the only time you can take action. In the present moment is a wonderful place to be because if you get right down to it, in most of life’s moments you are fine. Look at this moment we’re sharing right now. In this moment, you’re good. You are sheltered, safe. Hopefully you are fed and clothed. Right now, in this moment you are fine. So enjoy the moment.
But we don’t do that often. Most of the time, we miss out on living our life because we miss this moment by worrying about some other moment that is either passed or coming up. We can miss this moment by replaying some past moment. It might be a great past moment, something that made you really happy and those sorts of replays are nice sometimes. More often we’re replaying something we feel is dumb that we did and we’re fussing, “How could I have been so weird as to do THAT!!” Equally as pointless is the moments missed by worrying about something that is coming. You may have a doctor’s appointment next week and want to worry if the news won’t be pleasant. But that moment isn’t now. That appointment is next week. Right now, you’re fine, so enjoy the nowness, the fineness.
So breathe in with me again, and savor the fineness… the nowness… the okay-ed-ness. Savor this moment, savor your life. Breathe again when you’re ready- inhale, pause, exhale, pause. And savor this new moment. This is your life… ALL of it. This moment by moment presence is good and glorious if you get in the habit of enjoying it. Some call this mindfulness. Being mindful of what you are actually experiencing at this moment.
There, that makes two important lessons you’ve already learned about meditation. “What? Learned what?” So we learned that we feel better when we breathe. We also learned that life happens moment by moment and we can live more fully by staying in this moment than we can replaying past moments or projecting fear into future moments.
So am I meditating yet?
Yes, now you are fully trained in the basics of meditation. The only thing left is to practice. Remember how many scales you played as a child learning to play piano… or imagine that if you need to. Were the scales, the basics, as thrilling as playing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata?” Uh, no. So practice is in order. The good news is you can practice meditation moment by moment as your life unfolds itself.
- You can breathe deeply when someone pulls out in front of you in traffic. You can let go of the fear that surprise gave you and send the other driver off with a wish that they remain safe.
- You might focus during your daily walk on how many different birds you hear singing or how many shades of green are in the foliage. You might just breathe while walking and allow yourself to enjoy the walk.
- You might try to catch yourself replaying something dumb you did in public recently and choose instead to take a deep breath and get your attention back into this moment so you don’t miss another moment of your often perfectly satisfactory and sometimes stellar life.
Our meditation practice
Today we’re sitting together in a group. That’s an especially nice way to meditate as the good energy fills the room AND you have already scheduled yourself to be here for an hour so you have nothing else nagging at you. Today, you have me to “lead” you thru practice but some of these basic ideas can help you make a practice for yourself at home.
- Find a bit of time and space where there’s a chance you won’t be interrupted. This is more challenging for some than for others. I meditate when I go to bed before falling asleep.Some people like to get up early before the rest of their household to start their day peacefully. The time and space you may have to do this might change. Just take the opportunities as they present themselves.
- Sit comfortably. Some sit cross-legged on the floor, some in chairs… and some don’t sit. Do whatever works for you to be comfortable. Generally it’s good to have your feet or your butt on the floor and your spine upright, but again, adapt as needed. Imagine your body being rooted deeply to the earth, the floor or the ground supporting and even anchoring you. Your head is reaching for something higher. I say higher more metaphorically than physically. All your answers, your depth, your truth is found within. So we are reaching for higher thinking but not necessarily reaching for something that is outside ourselves.
- Sometimes it’s best to imagine popping your brain out of your skull and setting it on a shelf somewhere. You might still be able to hear it chattering away but a bit of distance can help us not focus on its chattering. I suppose now is a good time to break the news to you that you are not your brain. WHAT?! Yes, that chatterbox in your skull is not who you are. That is your brain, a very amazing and useful tool… but not who you are. You can pop your brain out (in our imaginations, folks) set it aside, then settle back into our comfortable sit and listen. Now that the brain is distanced a bit, you have the chance to develop a bit of a relationship with what else you can find within you. Think a minute… what is in there? I’m hinting about spirit, soul, higher self, universal consciousness… that sort of thing. There is actually a lot of research studying the fact that the real energy source in our body is not in our head but lower. The love, the heartfelt decisions, the wise choices come from lower… the heart or the guts seem to be the location of the real power in our bodies.* So if the brain is quieted, can you connect with something deeper? Yes. Especially with a bit of practice. Sometimes I tap into all the answers and sometimes I just get to enjoy quiet. Either result of meditation is fine for me.
Enjoying the quiet can be the goal in meditation. If this is all you get, realize that it really is all you want. You wanted to relax. You wanted to release stress. You want to just enjoy life. Sitting here peacefully, calmly can be the goal… and if you can touch this place… you win. No need to go further– unless you want to.
- This step is just interesting to me. It made me progress dramatically in my meditation practice as it gave me something I could focus on that really worked for me. It might not be your thing but I add it here in case. So once you’re sitting… now what? Breathe and keep the mind calmly off playing in the corner. It is enough to sit there calmly and savor the peace. I’ve always been taught to listen… but then that seems like an invitation for my brain to start rattling on. So, I give you this idea to try it and see if it’s fun for you. I learned this in Quantum Entrainment, an energy healing practice **. Introduce this question into your quiet space, “I wonder where the next thought will come from?” Then careful watch and pay attention to that small quiet space that is there before the thought shows up. That space is the gift to me. That little bit of silence is your connection. As you practice meditation, you may find that the length of the bit of silence grows longer. To me, it has become a glorious opening that I let myself fall into and float on the emptiness. Sometimes, I still only get a glimpse. But at other times, there’s a vast pool to dive into and drift. I don’t know how else to explain it, but it’s been really fun and fascinating for me.
- Breathing in the light. Once you’re comfy, sitting and feeling in a nice space but don’t see yourself journeying into the great unknown, here’s a fun and fruitful practice that you’ll find you can apply a lot. As you breathe in, imagine you’re breathing in light… a nice bright white light will do but if you’re more in the mood for blue or purple, go with it. If you breathed in light with air, your lungs will fill up with the bright light. In quantum physics they have discovered a biophoton*** which is a unit of light, but it’s easier to me to think of it as life force energy. Eastern traditions call this energy Chi or Ki or Prana (so you know I didn’t just invent this idea from too much breathing? Grin) So breathe in life force energy and breathe out whatever worry and gunk you don’t need. On your next breath, in comes more energy to add to that first breath. Now imagine or visualize that you can breathe this light into other areas of your body. Does your knee ache, breathe this bright light into your knee. Tight muscles in your shoulders? Breathe this light into the shoulders and breathe out the tension you don’t want. Keep breathing in light and allow your whole body to fill with light, energizing and healing. Have worries about a friend? Send this light to them. Something coming up that is worrying you? Send this light to whatever dark shadow you might think is lurking on the horizon. Imagine your whole body surrounded by this light. This light isn’t visible to normal human vision but some see it as your aura. It is boosted by eating good healthy food, drinking pure water, getting rejuvenating rest and (you probably guessed) by breathing.
So there you have it, meditation 101. Here are plenty of ideas and simple practices to help you explore the calming and healing benefits of meditation. Your mission is to apply it. The more you practice, the more comfortable you become with the practice. Even if all you ever do is take a deep breath, and release some rapidly rising anger, you’re doing great. Perhaps you’re walking into a new situation and are feeling a bit nervous. Take a deep breathe and imagine you are ready to savor this moment. The light and calmness that comes from your choosing to be present in the moment is perceivable by others. Mind racing as you lay down to sleep? Remember our practice of setting our brain over on a shelf so we are distanced from the chatter, and settle into some nice calming breathing.
Join us for group meditation on the first Sunday of each month at 1:30pm at 6th Street Yoga, 214 6th St, Canton OH. Check in for details about the gathering on their or my Facebook pages.
* http://www.HeartMath.org is a wonderful resource for info in this regard.
** Dr Kinslow- Quantum Entrainment http://www.kinslowsystem.com
*** A nice article from Dr. Mercola that might serve as an overview about biophotons http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/08/27/the-power-of-biological-light-in-healing.aspx
©2017, Su Nimon, JourneyStudios.com