This next post is sent to us by one of our What Meditation Really Is friends down-under. Enjoy!
I have been a meditator for many years now and confess to being quite proud of the fact that I seem to be generally a person of poise and equanimity because of my regular practice.
It is only recently that I took on board the fact that friends and family have pointed out to me how fast I eat any food that is put in front of me – be it a regular meal or a snack or treat – I just wolf it down. Mind you, people have said it for years and generally, I’ve replied that I’ve always been a fast eater and just let it go. That’s the way I thought I was – just quick and kinesthetic and food was needed to replenish my energy. I remember once many years ago, at a Gestalt Therapy marathon weekend, in Canada we were asked to spend time feeding each other fruit and other delicious forms of food slowly and sensuously. I recall that was very hard for me – just wanted to get on with it.
I try my best to do at least two sessions of meditation every day. I start in the morning before my new IPAD 2, email, the news, wife and even my “no I am not addicted” life giving cup of joe begin to stake claim to my day. I usually do another one just before dinner, while there is still enough life left in me that my practice doesn’t become merely an exercise in sleeping while sitting upright.
But what about rest of the day in between? Now we even have studies that say living in the present makes you a happy jack and happy nuns outlive grumpy ones and we aren’t even going to mention the ultimate goal of complete ENLIGHTENMENT! For years, as my session ended, I left my cushion and then my meditation right there next to it. But I started to think that as I go about my day, I should be able to recall the sense of presence, the nowness free of my normal inner tape loop, the state of non-distraction that I discovered through meditation. Even while Andy Fraser watches soccer.
In the beginning I had to be satisfied with simply remembering to remember even though i didn’t actually remember anything. But by continuing to exercise the meditation muscle both on and off the cushion, more and more of the time I found i could have glimpses of the state of non-distraction, pure naked nowness, totally freakin’ aware of the present moment...That’s definitely really amazingly cool. I just remember how it feels, or think “meditation” and most of the time it just comes. At least when I remember to remember.
Gaps fascinate me. They have a great and completely underestimated potential. They separate things, they are the space between. One could even say that it would be really difficult to distinguish anything, to say where one thing ends and another starts, without gaps. And the interesting thing about them is that they do not only separate physical objects, but also mental "objects". And that's where they become really relevant for meditation.
Ahh, meditation. What a luxury to experience, just for a moment, the profound inner peace that may come with a simple practice like watching the breath.
If you’re a parent and reading this, then you are likely to agree that parenting our little ones introduces each of us to the myriad states of mind that are possible in the human condition. It wasn’t until I became a mother, that I experienced the fathomless depth of possible emotions.
Something quantitatively different began to stir in my mind once I began the parenting journey. Psychology tells us that it is the function of the limbic brain, where our survival responses dwell as well as our emotions and our sheer biological function to protect and rear our young. It just happens that we become emotionally activated through parenting. Does meditation help us to manage our emotions? Practicing meditation while on this rollercoaster ride of parenting has most definitely provided me (and continues to do so) with a stable and spacious ground from which to raise a family.
Sogyal Rinpoche explains how we can integrate meditation into our everyday lives
Two of my favourite things in life are meditation and football.
I know what you’re thinking—the two don’t exactly share much common ground. Meditation is all about solitude, stillness and silence, a spiritual odyssey that brings you up close and personal with your own mind, so that you can get to know how it works and emerge a calmer, kinder and more healthy human being.
Football, on the other hand, is about speed, conflict and emotion, a physical test that brings you up close and personal with a group of sweaty, competitive and often aggressive individuals, and where winning is pretty much all that matters.
It´s not any brick wall, it´s the one outside my window. It not only limits the little backyard, it limits my view. And, although I sometimes maybe tend to be a little strange, I would be lying if I would say that this is the most fantastic view I can think of. I would definitely prefer the view on a nice landscape, preferably some nice gentle hills with the ocean or a big lake behind.
Of course, in the beginning my mind told me “what an ugly, limiting wall, what a miserable person you are that you cannot afford a flat with a nicer view!” But then, with time, being confronted with that wall anyway when sitting on my sofa, I made peace with it. And it became a teacher for me.
I was sitting in a café having lunch with a friend I had not seen for a long time. By the time our desserts arrived we had updated each other on all the usual facts of our lives. He knew that I had been practicing meditation for a few years and suddenly, just as we received a warm fondant au chocolat he sprung on me the big ‘WHY?
Some facts, statistics and scientific research on meditation
Scientific research into the positive effects of even a few minutes of daily meditation is burgeoning and the results are clear—meditation is good for you. Even Oprah says so!
So, what does the science actually say? And how does meditation help people? Here is a small selection of facts and statistics coming out of some of the scientific research. The list is very far from complete so please share any other findings you might know of on our Community forum page.
Speaking from my own experience meditation is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself in your life. It gives me the stability and confidence to cope with the daily necessities and the many challenges of modern life.
At the same time, we all hear so many different things about meditation that it can sometimes be hard to know where and how to begin: "What does it actually mean to meditate? Do I have to sit up straight? How can I deal with the avalanche of thoughts that pop up in my mind as soon as I try to be calm? Is it the goal to be calm?"
Our 10-step guide to meditation aims to answer some of the questions you might have, and to explain why meditation can have such a powerful and beneficial effect on every aspect of your lives.
Most importantly, you will get the chance to experience meditation for yourself.