“In meditation, we work with breath and posture as expressions of our state of being. By assuming a dignified and upright posture and identifying with the outgoing breath, we begin to make friends with ourselves in a fundamental sense. Through practice, one begins to see the simplicity of one’s original state of mind and to see how confusion, speed, and aggression are generated by ignoring the peacefulness of our being.”
~ Chogyam Trungpa
Meditation is both simple and complex. Sitting quietly, focusing on the breath, being fully aware of The Now .. how simple an activity. But when one sits quietly, focusing on the breath, one becomes aware that thoughts are in control, swirling around inside the mind, one after another, and The Now becomes elusive. This is the first step ~ becoming aware of our thoughts and training our mind to calm and quiet.
The practice of meditation is not so much technique as it is mindset. It’s a way of life, a lifestyle. It’s awareness, clarity, consciousness ~ acknowledging thoughts without becoming attached to them. It’s serenity and peace from within, regardless of any chaos in the environment. The health benefits of this practice are being discovered with increasing frequency as more scientific studies discover the mechanisms in the brain before, during and after meditation.
Studies are finding that meditation lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, decreases anxiety, increases creativity, improves memory, even strengthens the immune system. Daily practice can reduce heart disease, reduce the effects of fibromyalgia, and can actually increase optimism and compassion. MRIs detecting the activity in the brain have shown that meditation decreases beta waves, which are indicators of information processing, meaning our brains slow down and rest.
There are many meditation styles and types to try, but an effective method for beginners is guided meditation, via podcasts, apps, videos or classes. They can focus on specific topics, such as energy or clarity; focus on the body and sensations; or direct the meditator to focus on an object and chant or direct the breath. As one becomes more accustomed to the practice, the guiding becomes less necessary and can even become distracting, so simply starting a timer and closing the eyes can be enough.
If you’re a beginner or a seasoned meditator, share your experiences in the comments below. Over the coming weeks, the resource pages will be updated to include those books, podcasts and websites that I like to use ~ and I would love to learn about yours, as well.
“Simply let experience take place very freely, so that your open heart is suffused with the tenderness of true compassion.”
~ Tsoknyi Rinpoche