(This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “Sick & Tired…and Sexy!”)
“A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work unless it’s open.”
– Frank Zappa
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I don’t like to meditate. I have been trying to do it off-and-on for years, and the best I had managed up until now was to do “moving meditation” that I learned at a weekend meditation retreat years ago. I’d walk a small path with my eyes almost closed, softly focused. Back home, I found it impossible to do without bumping into things. That’s when I realized I could do Trance Dance as my moving meditation, and did so happily for years. When I moved outside of town, the one-hour commute made it impractical to attend, and then the studio closed.
Now I am back to sitting. I’ve even written a haiku about my frustration:
I haven’t had enough consistent experience to be a fan. I’ve only had momentary glimpses of bliss, the ‘gap in between thoughts,’ and those were very cool.
Why do I keep making myself sit still? I’ll tell ya: First, I want to feel inner-peace. Second, I am the kind of woman that will do things JUST because they are good for me.
I eat and drink healthy things that others won’t. I exercise even when I don’t want to, because I know how good exercise makes me feel. I drink at least a liter of water every day. I take vitamins. I floss my teeth (although I hate it) and wash off my make-up before bed. I generally stick to my routines because they keep me looking and feeling well.
So, I park my ass on the floor and assume the position.
To learn what meditation is, let’s see what it’s not:
- Myth #1 – is that it’s hard to do. With a little bit of instruction from a meditation teacher, it’s both easy and fun. It can be as simple as focusing on your breath, or repeating a mantra. Yes, that’s where “OM” comes in. The challenge is that we (I’m talking about myself here) often try too hard to concentrate, get so distracted by our thoughts that we think we aren’t doing it right, or we get attached to getting results.
- Which leads to Myth #2 – we have to quiet our minds if we want to be successful. It’s not about stopping our thoughts, or being successful. When thoughts arise, all we need do is see them as thoughts, not judge, and return to our breath or mantra.
Dr. David Simon from the Chopra Center, tells his students, “The thought I’m having thoughts may be the most important thought you have ever thought. Before that, you probably thought you were your thoughts.”
- Myth # 3 – is that it takes years to become good at it. The Chopra Center says you can begin to experience benefits the first time you sit down to meditate. Science found that meditation has “profound effects” in the parts of the brain dealing with empathy, memory, sense of self, and regulation of stress.
Other benefits that keep me trying: better sleep, improved concentration, decreased blood pressure, and enhanced immune function!
Assorted Myths -Meditation as escapism, but it isn’t intended to tune–out the world, it is intended to tune-in to yourself, so you can be here now.
People think they don’t have time to meditate – you only need a few minutes a day. Skip the news. Take part of your lunch break. If all else fails, do it sitting in bed before going to sleep at night.
It’s a strange religious ritual. No, it’s just a mindfulness practice, which will make you a happier person no matter your religious affiliation, or lack of one.
I know it’s a worthy endeavor which will eventually become easier.
By noticing our thoughts, we are expanding our consciousness, and an open mind is a sexy mind!