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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mindfulness - Meditation

Moyan Brenn, Flickr

"In practicing meditation, we're not trying to live up 
to some kind of ideal - quite the opposite. 
We're just being with our experience, whatever it is."
(Pema Chodron)

Practicing mindfulness, welcoming awareness, slowing down, finding stillness... all prepare you for the practice of meditation.

Imagine a simple, free habit that brings about clarity, focus, lowered levels of stress, and an improved physical health - those are all proven benefits of meditation. 

Meditation is only one letter away from medication and in some cases, it has at least as much power, minus the side effects.

Meditation is a tool that makes it possible, or at least easier, to be in the moment, centered, grounded, which in turn helps you feel and tackle life with more lucidity and serenity. 

Meditation is almost magical in that it allows you to experience a rare luxury, the pause between two thoughts (usually referred to as "the gap"). For most of us with minds working overtime, this constitutes a welcome break.

All that with the bonus of the occasional "epiphany" or blissful moment.

More importantly, meditation is accessible to all.

Contrary to what Madeleine Somerville thinks, meditation is not akin to "sleeping upright". In the beginning, especially, meditating can actually feel like a lot of work. Sitting still, allowing sensations to arise and welcoming them without any judgement, letting your thoughts drift instead of holding on to them, isn't something we are used to do. It's uncomfortable.

The body resists: you feel tense, restless, itchy. You readjust your position many times.

The mind resists: no matter how much you try to just "let them drift away", your thoughts come back circling over your head, insistent, discursive. You might also feel drowsy, which can be another way for your mind to resist the peaceful alertness of meditation.

It takes time. Getting the most out of meditation is similar to getting the most out of a healthy diet or an active lifestyle: it requires dedication and consistency. 

Eventually, the discomfort diminishes and makes way for the wonderful benefits of meditation. 

The daily recommendation for beginners is to meditate for twenty minutes. You might dislike the idea that "nothing gets done" during those twenty minutes or so. But I think that a lot gets done during the time spent in stillness. I even like to say that everything gets done during meditation, since it sets the tone for the rest of your day.

Will you try it?

Mindfulness this Week

This week, you could sit for a few minutes every day, close your eyes, and see what happens.

For more on meditation, click here.  

Be part of the process: 

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  1. Yes, I agree that meditation is a good thing that adds richness to our lives.

    I've done traditional meditation, and I believe that running can be a moving meditation. I would suggest that for the beginner, doing guided meditation with either a leader or tape can be very helpful.

  2. Always being a nonconformist, I mediate on the shower floor, in the dark, and with warm water falling on me. It's magic, and I do it daily.

    1. I sometimes do it in the bathtub! Sitting on the shore is not bad either. Or on a covered deck when it's raining. Something about water...

  3. Oh I adore this so much.

  4. Love this post! Meditation is such a powerful tool and I love that you described it as 'like magic'. Sitting for a few minutes in mindful silence makes everything better.