“Speak good words in abundance.”
Many people know the power of meditation, but don’t do practice it regularly because of a few misconceptions, (all of which I’m guilty of reverting to when weeks go by without meditating). Many believe that because they aren’t Buddhist monks in a mountaintop monestary that they almost don’t have the right to meditate. “I can’t get to that same place of solitude and silence.”
Well, first of all, these monks don’t have all the distractions. Take away your distractions. Turn your phone off, or better yet, allow the battery to die so you couldn’t even check it if you wanted to. Then, it’s not enough to turn off your TV and computer. Unplug them. Release them from the humming and nearly unrecognizable waves of energy they pull into the rooms. If we have more than one TV, phones, computers, lights on, security cameras, and even lamps, microwaves, and refrigerators, we are subject to their constant pull of energy and wave emissions that affect us. Have you ever been in the woods without your electronic devices? You feel different, don’t you? It’s partially the woods, but the first change is that there aren’t the electromagnetic radiations blasting your body.
Don’t get me wrong: I like my smartphone. I use I all the time. I like my TV, my fridge, and have some interesting lamps I like to turn on to set the mood, but I am very aware of their pulsing into my body. So unplug what you can and get far away from what you can’t, (no need to sit in the kitchen by the fridge).
Secondly, people believe that meditation is supposed to bring you enlightenment and say, “I just think a lot and my mind goes off. I’m not reaching enlightenment.” That’s because Heaven isn’t reached by holding on, is it? Heaven is reached by letting go. We don’t find the rope of enlightenment through meditation, and then we hold on and pull the boat of Nirvana to us. No, we let go; so much of why we think so much and get carried away is that we’re looking to obtain something, as opposed to chipping away the mess that is the unbalance of our lives to find the Great Nothing within us that the Taoist concepts challenge us to unveil. The idea behind meditation is to let the thoughts go.
Thirdly, people say, “I don’t know how to start.” They think you need to be seated on a hardwood floor, back perfectly straight. Well, most of us spend long periods of time sitting at desks, and our bodies like that posture (even though it’s not a healthy one) more than sitting cross-legged on the ground. So stand and meditate. Lay your body on something comfortable. I have a bad back so I like to sit against a wall or sofa to help prop me up and give me a little stretch. Also, meditation doesn’t have to be still. Sure, it’s about finding the stillness, but that’s the practice part. You don’t practice making the game-winning basket in basketball; you practice how to dribble and pass and make shots at the net. Practice the other parts of meditation and then you start making baskets more frequently. The idea is to be comfortable. If you’re achy, forget it. You won’t last long.
Which brings up another good point. You don’t need to meditate for hours upon hours. You can meditate for five minutes, if that’s all that you’re comfortable with. Nothing about this has to be absolutely consistent. Meditation may seem rigid, but it’s very point is to understand the fluid nature of what Is, so you can lie down one day, sit in a chair the next, and then yoga and thai chi, and even gardening and exercising are all calm, elegant ways of integrating movement into meditation.
Bringing about the fundemental prescription for meditation. Enjoy your breath. We breathe without having to think about it, but on autopilot we tend to breathe shallowly and harshly. To start meditation, all that I do is “find” my breath, and then, what I’m working on now, is not controlling that breath for the sake of letting go, for the concentration. Now I focus on my breath because it’s amazing! Miguel Ruiz said it great: “Notice the connection of love between the air and your lungs.” (The Voice of Knowledge, pg. 229).
We are usually caught up in what’s wrong with our bodies. They’re so complex and have to be with us for decades upon decades, so I’m never surprised they break down, get deformed, and aren’t flawless. That’s okay. So many bodies are beautiful because they move with grace and conduct energy so nicely. If you practice enjoying your body, it will look better to you and to others. But just understanding the love of touch, sight, sound, taste, and breath- I mean, come on! How amazing to sense the world like we get to! When you meditate, feel free to caress something soft, smooth, or whatever texture you love. I listen to quiet music in other languages because to me they sound sweet. Enjoy the love of being.
This sounds really New Age, but it’s actually ancient. The real idea is to take the meditation you set time aside for and integrate it into what Buddhism calls “Walking Mediation,” which is exactly what it sounds like: enjoying that love during all activities of the day.
I can’t often pull this off, (I’m still practicing), but when I do I’m not depressed. The most mundane tasks can feel blissful. Beyond that, things go my way. I’m luckier. I’m happier. We think going with the flow means to just pass along mindlessly, but that’s not it. The river is in love with each rock, stick, and patch of mud. It moves because that’s its nature, void of thought but wholly engaged with what it’s doing at that moment. To truly go with the flow you must meet every rock, stick, and patch of mud with love and humor.
At some point, you will reach the Great Ocean.