Meditation 101

iStock_000014906169LargeI have always ignored the idea of meditation. Since starting yoga, it seemed the next logical step and worth consideration. At the very least, I wanted to see if it could help me steady my frenetic mind and better handle the stress of work and life. After briefly considering the role meditation could play in my life, I came across Rod Stryker’s book entitled  The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom. Not long ago, I had the opportunity to hear Stryker speak. At the end of the hour long overview of the book, he led a 10 minute guided meditation. When it was over, I looked at a friend sitting next to me. His initial response was, “You look so much more relaxed!” I don’t know if the change in my appearance was real or imagined, but I do know that I was surprised by how eager I was to try meditating again and how much I wanted to gain greater control of my thinking.  I also noticed that I felt more relaxed and at ease. I felt centered. It wasn’t relaxed in a lazy Saturday kind of way. It was a purposeful relaxation that seemed to embody the principle of mindfulness that I have been struggling to integrate for years.

I have tried two guided meditations at home since this first experience, and both revealed the need for much practice.

  • I can sit still for approximately 10 minutes, then I really want to get up and walk around. I’m thirsty. The room gets too hot. I need to stretch. The list is endless.
  • My mind fixates on tasks. For example, the night before I tried meditating I told a friend I would let her borrow a couple of books. Moments after I closed my eyes it seemed like my mind wanted to work out the details of this mundane task: When should I drop off the books? How I should package them?  Should I text her before the delivery or after? Was she expecting them today or just some day? This has to be some level of psychic work avoidance. I’m intrigued.
  • It’s easier to meditate when I have something to focus on especially an image that accompanies my breathing. In Stryker’s Bliss Meditation Practice he says: “Allow your awareness to connect your breath to the point between your eyebrows. Now, when you notice the body breathing in, your awareness moves from the point between your eyebrows to the midbrain, which is sometimes called the third eye. The midbrain is a point in the middle of your brain, roughly between your temples. When you notice your body breathing out, sense your awareness moving from that point back to the point between your eyebrows” (100).

I don’t know if meditation is here to stay. For now, I am gaining a few insights about my mind, my body, and hopefully my place in the world.

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