February 11, 2011

Exactly ten years ago, on February 11, 2001, the non-physical world of spirit broke through to my ‘normal’ world and life changed forever.  To celebrate, I thought I would write about connecting with spirit.  What better way than through meditation.   Here’s how.

To meditate is to simply relax and become conscious of the moment.  There are so many different ways to meditate.  Any number of methods have worked well for me.  The first step is to ‘just do it’.  You don’t have to prepare.  You can simply decide to meditate in that moment.  You can meditate while you are sitting, standing, or walking.

A walking meditation that I did on the way to work turned out to be one of the more powerfully positive experiences in my life.  In that case, I became aware of myself and everything around me.  I became aware of nature, and of the people walking by me.  As I did this,  things began to move in slow motion.  As I became more aware, my heart seemed to open wider until I felt enormous love for every living thing.  My heart reached out to the birds, the trees, and strangers passing by.  It was a beautiful state of mind and remained my reality for quite a few hours.  The goal is to constantly remain in that state of being.

Repeatedly saying a mantra works very well because it fills your mind with an activity that forces the thoughts out of the way.  Also, focusing on breathing can work well too.  Sit on a cushion on the floor, or sit on a chair with your feet touching the floor.  Jon Kabat-Zinn, who brought meditation to the medical world, suggests you sit with your back straight, ‘sit with dignity’.  A straight back has worked well for me.  Sitting straight keeps you awake, although I have meditated many times lying down.  For extended hours of meditation, Monks and Lamas use a meditation stick to hold their chins up, in case they start to drift off.

Put your attention on what you hear, the sounds around you, what you physically feel as you are sitting, and then become aware of your breathing.  The key is not to change how you breathe, or how you do anything, but simply become aware of yourself in the moment.  Observe yourself in this state.  Relax and let go.

Thoughts will come to mind.  This is normal and natural.  Sakyong Jamgon Mipham, author of ‘Turning the Mind Into an Ally’ suggests that you simply recognize you are thinking by saying to yourself, ‘That’s a thought!’  Then immediately turn your attention back to your breathing.  As more thoughts appear, surround them in imaginary soap bubbles and burst them.

Meditation requires no preparation or skill.  It is about doing nothing.  Enjoy!