Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Some Help For The Holidays

I’ve read many books about meditation and have spent many hours practicing it.  The practice involves trying to spend time each day just being quiet and still.  Way back in the 70’s I studied Transcendental Meditation.  It was introduced into the United States by a Hindu monk named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  Later in the 80’s I learned a Christian version of meditation called “Centering Prayer”.  Both of these types of meditation are very similar in their technique.  They basically involve the use of a mantra or prayer word in coordination with your breath.  They don’t require total silence or isolation but it is best to not be disturbed while you are doing them.  I have done them on airplanes.  Typically these types of meditation would be done for about 20 minutes twice a day.  It is more challenging than you probably imagine finding 20 minutes twice a day to be quiet and to be still.  The biggest obstacle to meditation is your own mind.  Most of us have over active minds.  We have what the Buddhists call “monkey minds”.  Imagine a tree full of monkeys.  They’re making all kinds of noise and chatter while jumping from limb to limb.  Our minds are often like a tree full of monkey’s.  No one can turn off their mind.  However, certain types of meditation, especially one’s that use a mantra or prayer word, can help us control our thoughts somewhat or at least learn to let them go.  These types of meditation also help us to feel a sense of calm in our bodies.  The mantra or prayer word acts like an anchor.  In addition to the tree full of monkeys, our minds could be compared to a busy river where there is lots of activity.  When we let our thoughts run rampant it’s like we are on the surface of the river and we feel the wake caused by all the movement of the many boats around us as they go about their business.  A mantra or prayer word acts like an anchor that pulls us down to the bottom of the river where everything is calm.  When we realize that we are thinking and floating back to the top of the river, our mantra or prayer word can anchor us and bring us back to our inner stillness at the bottom of the river.  By the way, there are apps out there to facilitate meditation sessions.  If you are interested, send me an email and I will point you in the right direction.  When you can live your life with this inner stillness, you are what some would call “a centered person”.  In the midst of all the Christmas hustle and bustle may you experience a quiet mind and inner stillness.  If nothing else, when you feel frazzled or stressed, just breathe.  Stop what you are doing and spend a few moments paying attention your breathe.  This is a very simple and a very effective technique.  

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