Meditation is a tough word. It’s had bad marketing. People think of it as something hard, something unattainable. People judge themselves on their ability to do it or not do it. Often even meditators judge themselves because they don’t meditate regularly, often enough or long enough. That’s a shame.
Do you know why I teach meditation? Because I want you to learn how to feel better. I want you to learn how to love yourself more and perhaps in turn how to love your world more. We’re not here to set ourselves apart, “Oh… we’re meditators… we’re so infinitely cool…la de dah.”
Meditation has given me a way to heal and comfort myself. In time, it showed me my connection to a greater energy, power, good. As a teacher, I seek to share those skills in healing and comforting yourself so that you too can feel whole-er, happier, maybe a bit more peaceful and calm. As we help the people, animals, plants of the world to feel happier, healthier, more peaceful, we will create a new world that is sustainable and lovely.
So if meditation isn’t hard… why do we think it is? Perhaps it’s about being taught by those who are different from us. It came to the US from gurus from India in the 1920’s. At that time, those men in long robes looked and sounded strange to us. They had devoted their lives to spiritual development. Families in their country would meditate together daily. Those families had a guru. The gurus were used to teaching that sort of student. They met a different sort of student in our country. Our families didn’t meditate together, we watched tv. Spiritual practice was generally an hour or so of church on Sunday.
I’m not saying anything at all is wrong with the traditional presentation of meditation but over the years, some details have gotten lost in the translation to beginners and too many people think meditation means they must not think. New meditators sit down, try not to think, and of course, their brains simply think about so much more. Since they can’t “not think,” the newbie meditators think that they “can’t do it” and they give up on meditation, feeling they have somehow failed. This is a shame, because I don’t know of one person who doesn’t need some of the skills that meditation helps develop and I’ve never met someone who can’t do it. You already do it anytime you are lost in the moment. Ever get sucked into a movie or a book so much that it feels like you are there in that place with the characters in the story? Ever get so involved in a sporting event, watching or participating that you totally lose track of time? That’s being in the moment and that’s all meditation is.
Meditation calls us to be in this moment… and now in this moment… and now in this one. Being in this moment is really the only place we have to live. It’s the only place we can take action, communicate, express love. Living is all about savoring the moments of our lives. But so often our minds keep themselves so busy with things that happened in the past, or events that are coming up that we miss the precious moments in the now. Meditation is just calling us back into a place where we can enjoy the present moment fully.
One of the other beauties of being in this moment is that generally, we are just fine right now. You may have done something embarrassing yesterday but right now, you’re okay. You may have some worry about something coming down the road but right now, you’re good. Meditation calls us to relax into our okay-ed-ness. I’m okay right now… and I’m still okay right now… and right now, still good. Rather than miss all these “I’m good moments” by worrying about some possible future time when I’m not good… meditation just asks you to enjoy what you have right now.
So let’s try to explore this moment together.
Close your eyes, or choose a neutral spot on the floor in front of you to gaze gently at. Find a comfy seat. Breathe in, pause, then release. Scan your body for areas that are uncomfortable and try to relax them. Continue breathing, enjoying the feeling of expanding lungs and belly, knowing that with each breath we are telling our body, you are safe, you can relax.
Ask your mind to focus in this moment… following the breath gently in and out. We focus on this moment, because we’re okay in this moment. (Pause… ) and here’s another moment and see, I was right, we’re still okay. Continuing to breathe and relax. And when you observe that your mind has wandered off, gently call it back as you would call a 3 year old child you adore back to the task at hand. The mind is used to wandering… wandering is its norm. Don’t expect anything different from it at first. It will wander. Just notice what it wanders to, then lovingly call it back, like you might reel back an adorable puppy who wants to go sniff your rose bushes. Gently, lovingly call it back to this moment. (I let them sit a about 5 minutes and then call them back to awakeness.)
I ask you to notice that you can observe your mind. You are the observer of the mind. We know the mind is in the head. Where do you think the observer is? No right answer here, just pondering it. Some feel it’s more in the heart area, some more in the gut. I think perhaps both apply. Mankind is classified as homo sapien sapien from Latin homo (“man”) + sapiens (“wise”). I was taught that the second sapiens, our sub species meant that we are the creatures who can observe our thoughts and perhaps other species can’t. Our neocortex is developed beyond other mammals to have conscious awareness of the environment, deliberate decision making and aspects of self-awareness. Recent studies are continually showing more species that have more of these abilities but homo sapien sapien are still the ones best documented.
What is it that observes your thoughts? What part of you is the observer? Ideas? Perhaps soul or spirit. Perhaps the observer is our subconscious, our part of the universal consciousness. Maybe it’s the spirit of god that is the observer. Whatever is the observer… think about that observer. It’s much calmer than my mind. That observer is where I go to get answers, calmness or direction. I think the observer is wise.
If the observer is spirit or soul, a tiny piece of god within… is it possible that my observer isn’t mine alone? Could the observers in our room be connected? Could they be part of a loving whole, the oneness that some seek?
No answers, just food for thought. I enjoy pondering our connectedness as too often, we spend time discussing our differences. Different nations, races, genders and choices. Difference languages, customs, religions or lack of religion. Often in a fearful world, we might be quick to draw lines to separate those who are different. However, if we can begin to grasp that our similarities are so much greater than our small differences, perhaps we can begin to overcome fear. Someone of a different religion may have different terms, practices and stories. But the basis of all great religions is “love one another.” If these ones who may sound or look different than you are deeply trying to live the “love one another” directive, are they that different than you?
I like to believe that at the energetic, spirit, soul level, we are all connected. We are all part of something that is calm, loving, wise and creative. As we sit and meditate, I like to imagine this spirit/soul energy rises abouve our little brains and communes together somewhere up there towards the ceiling. Almost like releasing our wiser, beautiful, peaceful, true selves from a bit of a busy cage… allowing them to float free to connect, remember, create.
(Lead a nice, long, guided meditation, filled with calm and loving thoughts. )
ps. The group gathering was very sweet. We had more than 12 people ( I always forget to count and if I don’t take a picture… I guess.) Each individual brought a different level of experience yet we found all are capable of meditating together and creating a very sweet experience. We found afterward we were calmer, more relaxed and yes, in some way, there was some gentle, very nice connection. I hope you can join us sometime.
pps. I’m available to bring a group meditation to your group- club, business, gathering of friends. Contact me to discuss the possibilities. We all could use a bit more chill in our worlds. ?