One path on an uncommon journey

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Going Within

The answer lies within. Search your mind. From the great mystics, philosophers and deep thinker to priests, politicians and Gods the answer is the same - salvation lies within - meditation.

It is non-denominational, apolitical and timeless. Catholic priests, Buddhists, Muslims, et al, have been meditating for hundreds to thousands of years. Not to mention Oliver Stone, Howard Stern and The Beatles.  Athletes use it through visualization everyday. It works.

I started meditating around 20 years ago. At first it was a little uncomfortable, as trying something new always is. In what world does any human sit, relax and do nothing. Exactly.

But then something started to happen - I started to relax. I had a much clearer mind, I was calm and life seemed to flow around me. It was actually making me a better person! So what did I do, I stopped. Like exercise for the body, I started finding excuses on why I couldn't find the time or quiet to meditate.

The purpose of this column is to jump start my practice again and get a few of you started. I'm hoping that we can truly do this together and maybe share our successes through email or text messages.

So let's begin. I'm going to refer to the next book we'll add to the bibliography a lot here - that book is The Best Guide to Meditation by Victor N. Davich. Its a terrific beginners guide to mediation. It gives some history, a lot of direction and outlines a variety of meditation practices and how to incorporate it into everyday life. 

As an introduction to meditating, we're going to set up four easy steps. The first step is to set a schedule. If you don't, your'e not going to. I like the schedule they recommend in the book (like physical exercise-it doesn't matter what time you do it, it matters that you do it. Whatever time is convenient is the right time):

- Start with one ten minute period daily.
- After one week, add a second five minute period.
- After four days, add five minutes to the second period. You are now sitting for two ten minute pereiods a day. Follow this schedule for 1 week.
- Next make three minute additions to both periods. After each increase, sit for one week using that schedule.
- Adjust your schedule uip or down, but don't fall below ten minutes a day.
(For a timer use a microwave, an Ipad or a simple kitchen timer)

The 2nd step is to decide how and what to meditate on. I'm going to give you two alternatives, each as easy as the next.

A mantra is the most known and probably the most misunderstand. A mantra is simply a word of your choosing that you repeat over and over during a meditation. Trancendental Meditation charges thousands for a mantra, I'll give you some ideas for free.

Om is the most known of all mantras. Other ideas are peace, love, Amen, Shalom. That's it. Breathe out as you say the mantra and then breathe in. Concentrate solely on that word. Do that for 5 minutes and then take a break. It will help you develop some rhythm. Simple, huh? Wait until you try.

Here's how one of my sessons will go: Peace. Peace. Peace. Peace. Did I leave the oven on. Peace. Peace. Did I let the dogs back in the house. Peace. Peace. Did Al Gore really invent the internet? What's Samia doing? I think Gina told me the name of the baby, what is it? I need to know what the Colonel's secret recipe is.  What was I doing? Oh, yeah meditating. Peace. Peace. Peace.

A second is the method I use, The Bubble Method. This is when you concentrate on your breath and when a thought comes in, acknowledge it, place it in a bubble and send it away. Then concentrate on your breath again. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in breathe out.

Oh and one of the other thing they recommend in the book is a daily schedule:

- Monday. Meditate on work.
-Tuesday. Meditate on your home
- Wednesday. Meditate on your partner or spouse.
-Thursday. Meditate on your children or your parents.
-Friday. Meditate on your speech.
-Saturday. Mediatate on your play.
-Sunday. Meditate on spiritual matters. (Change places with your own Sabbath if it falls on a different day.)

For each days topic you simply close your eyes, say a quick prayer and then think about the topic. There is nothing right or wrong, it's just a thought. Let them come in and don't be judgmental. You'll find some answers to problems, insight and a lot of ridiculous thoughts. Just let them go and move on.

Meditation is not an exact science, but the science of it shows it will relieve stress, lower your blood pressure, help your creativity and re-energize you. i'll be starting tomorrow A.M.. Give it a try and let me know what you think!