065: I am grateful for meditation

I have tried meditation at various times throughout my life. Good friends of mine have been telling me about it for years. Only since May of 2009 have I made meditation a part of my daily spiritual routine.

My workout is my meditation. ~ Kyle MacLachlan

I am glad I finally listened to all those wise folks. The way I perceive and react to the world has undergone a real shift. I deal with adversity, or at least the appearance of it, much better than I used to. By no means am I some sort of guru or spiritual giant. I’m just a guy who meditates.

What is meditation?

Meditation is “used as a broad term for practices done by a sole practitioner without much, if any, external aid, often for the purpose of self-transformation. Often, though not at all necessarily, meditation is done as part of a religious tradition.” [source]

I am not into organized religion at all. In fact any temple, church or mosque I walk into is pretty sure to instantly either crumble to dust, explode into a million splinters or burst into flames. So it’s best I stay away and make my practice a personal affair. It’s better for everyone that way.

You don’t have to be religious or even spiritual at all to obtain benefits from meditation. It’s great for stress relief and helps with a variety conditions. Some of them are:

  • chronic pain
  • anxiety and panic
  • sleep disturbance & insomnia
  • gastrointestinal distress
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • job or family stress
  • skin disorders
  • high blood pressure
  • stress factors in heart disease
  • [source]

When I had shingles this summer, rather than take any of the super-strong painkillers prescribed by the doctors, I used meditation for pain relief. It worked like a hot damn.

How do you meditate? Here’s what I do:

  • Choose a quiet, comfortable spot to meditate. Sitting on a cushion, on the bed or in a comfy chair.
  • Wear loose clothing. Easy since I do this first thing in the morning and am still wearing PJ’s.
  • Light some incense. I am really into jasmine lately.
  • Set a timer for 20 minutes. I use my iPhone and it tells me my time is up with some tinkly bells.
  • Sit in your spot, back straight, legs crossed and hands clasped in my lap.
  • Without tipping over of course, relax your body completely, from tip to toes. I do spot checks during my session and relax my body parts if I feel any tension.
  • Close your eyes and begin breathing normally paying attention to each breath – in and out.
  • As your mind wanders, as it inevitably will, bring your focus back to your breath. Allow the thoughts that are invading your peaceful time just to pass by. Don’t cling to them.
  • Regaining focus can be difficult at times. I count backwards from 10 to 1 with each breath and once I reach one, if I am refocused I concentrate on my breathing again. If not I count down from 10 again and repeat as required.

Sounds simple enough, but at first it can be very hard. If 20 minutes is too much at first try 3, then 5 to 10 and so on until you make 20 minutes. You will definitely learn a lot about

Meditation is painful in the beginning but it bestows immortal Bliss and supreme joy in the end. ~ Swami Sivananda

Here’s a video that sums up the way I meditate:

I always feel fabulous after a meditation session; very relaxed. It is a great way to into my day.

Sometimes, I listen to some binaural beats or a guided meditation, but typically, the way above is how I usually meditate. I also listen to a guided meditation by Kelly Howell as I drift off to sleep at night.

Of course my way is not the only way to meditate. There are some other great online meditation resources that teach all kind of different methods. Find the one that is right for you:

Without meditation, I’d probably be dead. ~ Mike Love of the Beach Boys

As I saw on a bumper sticker at Banyen Books here in Vancouver, “Don’t just do something, sit there!”

Enjoy your meditation. Namaste!

Photo by adwriter on Flickr