“One reason I practice meditation is to maintain my own balance and clarity of mind in the face of such huge challenges, and to be able to stay more or less on course through all the weather changes that, as a parent, I encounter day in and day out on this journey.”
Meditation is always important, but especially when we find ourselves going up against fear. Many of these tools I will talk about are things we need to grow and cultivate so they will become a natural part of our lives, available when we need them. Fear, desperation and turmoil certainly can drive us to these practices There is never a bad time to start learning, but we cannot expect to have full knowledge of or the ability to use these tools immediately. It all takes time, so be patient. It will be worth it.
Meditation means different things to different people and there are many different methods and techniques available. Perhaps the easiest way to begin is simply by following the breath as it goes in and out. This is sometimes called “mindfulness of breathing” and will slow down and calm both the body and mind.
Meditation is something that can be practiced by people of any or no religious tradition. My meditation practice is a part of my religious practice, where we enter into the silence and experience the presence of God, but yours might be quite different.
There is such a thing as “guided meditation.” This is another tool and it is one that I sometimes use. These are often scripted and read. It is easy to become dependent on these words and the tone and delivery style of the teacher. So, if you use these be sure you are also practicing meditation on your own. The teacher, video or podcast might not be there in time of crisis.
In the crazy world we live in, we all need to stop, be still and remember who we are. Start developing your meditation practice now and it will be there for you when you need it.
Silence can be hard to come by in our hectic, fast paced and often LOUD world. Sometimes is seems that everywhere we go we are bombarded with sound and often it is just too loud to ignore. As someone who is very sensitive to sound, if it is too loud it sends shock waves through my entire body. I am very aware of the potential harm in prolonged exposure to my own body, but I believe constant exposure to noise is harmful to every one. Once while leaving a church service with especially loud music a dear older man who was a church usher said to me, “We’re going to need to have a healing service for all the people who go deaf from the music.”
But aside from the pain and discomfort caused by loud sounds, they also disrupt our spiritual connection to the divine. We need that connection. We actually need time alone in the silence to clear our minds, reconnect and remember who we are. If you think you are too busy to find time for silent reflection, don’t worry, sooner or later you body will make time. This may not be the most pleasant of experiences as it may involve a physical injury or illness requiring you to stop and just be still.
Find time in your day to sit in the stillness and just be. You can start with just a few minutes. If you live a busy life it may take time to get used to the quiet. It may feel bad at first. I believe that is why we work so hard to fill our lives up with busyness and noise, to avoid the discomfort we feel in silence. We may even do this in church. Give it time.
I like to spend time in nature. Sitting in a beautiful setting naturally calms me. Focusing on your breath is another way to ease into silence. You may meditate if you wish. A spiritual path I follow calls the place of stillness where we meet God in meditation The Silence. You will hear more about this aspect of silence later this month.
Our bodies, minds and spirits need times of quiet. Find or create the time to sit and listen to the silence.
“Meditation is the only royal road to the attainment of freedom. It is a mysterious ladder which reaches from earth to heaven, from error to truth, from darkness to light, from pain to bliss, from restlessness to abiding peace, from ignorance to knowledge. From mortality to immortality.”
Just as the body becomes exhausted and overloaded with activity, so does the mind. If we don’t take time to clear out some of the clutter, big problems will develop. Sleep is one way to do this. Meditation is another.
Meditation is not a one size fits all type of thing. There are many different forms of meditation practice.
Many Christians have been warned of the evils of meditation. There are a variety of forms of Christian meditation and centering prayer available. A mantra is simply used to help you focus, it does not have to be OM. I begin by surrounding myself with the white light of God’s love and protection, focus on my breath going in and out and silently repeat a favorite scripture, or “God is love, God is Joy, God is peace.” You will also get benefit from progressive relaxation exercises if that is more comfortable for you. If you want scriptures supporting meditation look up Psalm 1:2, 46:10, 91:1, I Kings 19:11-12.
Find a practice that is a good fit for you and get started. It doesn’t take long to see benefits, but can be a little overwhelming for a beginner. Seek out a teacher or meditation group for help if needed.
“To commune daily with God in deep meditation, and to carry His love and guidance with you into all your daily activities, is the way that leads to permanent peace and happiness.” — Paramahansa Yogananda [Source: Self Realization Fellowship]