Did you know that there
are 20 million Americans who practice daily meditation and experience its gifts
of health improvement, inner peace, spiritual inspiration, and an overall sense
of well being? I am one of them and I
can attest to the role that meditation can play in helping you tune into your
intuition, and strengthen your other healthy living practices.
Meditation is not new; in fact, it’s been
practiced for thousands of years and was originally meant to help deepen
understanding of the sacred and the mystical forces of life. These days meditation is more commonly
associated with relaxation and reducing stress and is considered a part of
complementary medicine, like yoga, acupuncture and massage.
As with prayer, anyone can
practice meditation; it’s simple, inexpensive and doesn’t require any special
equipment. You can practice it wherever
you are – while out for a walk, waiting in a doctor’s office, or at home
alone. Meditation can wipe away a day’s
stress and bring you a sense of calmness, even if you practice it only 5
minutes a day. You can aim to build up
to 20 minutes, half an hour, or longer, and many people find a morning
meditation an ideal way to start the day.
If you are thinking of including meditation in your daily routine, here
are some tips:
Put your expectations aside – Don’t get trapped into thinking that something is
“supposed to happen” when you meditate.
Just accept what does happen because even when it seems nothing much is
going on, meditation is bringing positive changes on a deeper level than you
may be aware of in your body and before long, you will notice these inner changes
becoming more visible in your outer life.
Thoughts are not your enemy – Allow your thoughts to arise and dissolve. Don’t expend efforts to focus on them, trying to rid yourself of them. They are the natural products of your mind;
as stress is released during meditation, and as you practice over time, thoughts will naturally subside on their own
without any added effort.
Sit with your spine straight – A straight spine not only prevents a sore back from developing
during or after meditation, but it also helps the energy in your body
flow. You can imagine that the base of your
spine is connected deeply into the earth’s core – like a tree’s roots going down
into the ground – and the energy running straight up your back to the top of your head,
and then continuously looping back down the spine to the base and so on. There are also small round pillows you can
buy at yoga centers to help keep your spine straight, or you can stretch out on the floor with a small pillow under your knees to help keep your spine straight.
Set an intention of love and compassion – This gently focuses your mind on two positive
emotions that are uplifting and inspiring.
You may experience a sense of bliss for a few seconds or longer during
your meditation as a result. Do not
become attached to the feeling; just allow it to arise and dissolve, the same
as random thoughts.
Don’t feel badly if you fall asleep – You can always start over or you can stop. With practice, you will be able to meditate deeply without falling asleep while in a state of full relaxation.
End your meditation with a beautiful thought or
inspiring phrase – Dedicating your
session in this way brings a soul resonance to your practice. A simple dedication from Tibetan Buddhist
tradition is “May all beings be happy.”
One of my personal favorites is “May the sanctuary of my devotion bring
love and healing to the earth, air, water and universe, so that the Highest
Good of all may be served.”