A step-by-step introduction to meditation.
Meditation without action can simply become another way to check out, to absolve oneself of one's responsibilities within the world, leaving us "blissed out" with no particular orbit within the "reality" that is our lives.
As a Registered Nurse, working at the bedside, I’ve found countless opportunities to check-in using my meditation practice, instead of disappearing. Sogyal Rinpoche, as well as other teachers, refer to this checking-in as “integration.”
So much of our consumerist society’s ability to sell us things is based on how easy it is to capture our attention. We are almost trained to be easily distracted. Speaking to this point is part one of an interview I did with Dan Goleman from the Wisdom of Awareness retreat in June. Here he describes what meditation really is: Attentional Retraining System.
Recently, while doing a meditation practice based on compassion, I found - much to my dismay - that my focus was anywhere but on my practice. What made it even worse (and even embarrassing) was that I was doing the practice for a friend of mine who had experienced a significant medical emergency.
What happens when we find ourselves so caught up in the habitual patterns of our distractions that our most sincere intention of focusing on another is thwarted by our tendency to get locked into our claustrophobic habit of thinking of ourselves?
What do coconuts have to do with meditation? Good question! Here's the story.
One day, I was quietly walking along. Minding my own business, but not especially brilliantly awake.
Suddenly, in the blink of an eye and with a thunderous roar, a slew of coconut bombs pummeled the asphalt. Less than 30 feet in front of me.
Needless to say, this brought me back to the present moment with a jerk.
We all know how difficult it is to crack open a coconut. There's the hammer, nail and towel method, but this is still not a piece of cake.
But due to the force of gravity, the falling velocity of a coconut accelerates. These puppies - 15 or more - literally exploded splashing a big stretch of the road with coconut milk and littering it with cracked nuts, white meat, and gigantic branches.
Recently, I've been writing a lot on using meditation within the field of nursing and healthcare. Really, besides the setting, which is important since as a nurse I am interacting with people who are suffering and really need my attention and compassion, there is no time like the present moment - wherever we find ourselves - to work with our mind.
Minding the bedside mindfully, aware, and compassionately comes from realizing the changing nature of our thoughts and from turning and returning the mind inward, transforming the stormy arisings of thoughts, emotions, and feelings and recognizing them to be impermanent phenomena like passing clouds in the sky.
Action for Happiness http://www.actionforhappiness.org is a new mass movement to create a happier society, based in the UK that already attracts 15,000 supporters in 115 countries.
Earlier this year, Action for Happiness partnered with BBC Breakfast in the UK to encourage members of the public to try out these simple actions to improve their happiness, based on the latest scientific research.
According to an article by Thomas Roth, PhD in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine titled, Insomnia: Definition, Prevalence, Etiology, and Consequences, up to 30% of the adult population in the United States suffer from some form of insomnia or sleep disturbance. That's 90-million people just in our country who don't sleep well!
A common question that seems to come up in conversation a lot these days is whether meditation can cure insomnia. As an avid practitioner of meditation – and insomnia! – I can attest to the fact that meditation and mindfulness practices can help to alleviate insomnia. I'm not sure about cure, since underlying factors are usually to blame for sleeplessness.
While there are many reasons to practice meditation, one of the main reasons that I have found to practice meditation is to be less distracted and more present, to be more aware of what is going on within my mind and to be more aware of those around me. With an increased awareness of what goes on in my environment, there’s also the potential to become more aware of what is happening to those around me and to attend to those who need my help or assistance. This “compassionate impulse” is a benefit that is not always found in discussions on meditation.
At its heart, a primary reason to practice meditation is to become more of who we inherently are; compassionate, present and aware. The state of non-distraction, which we gradually achieve as we progress in our meditation practice, brings us a mind that is aware of our moment-to-moment life, that in turn brings about a natural state of compassion, recognizing others as being equally as distracted and in need of awareness within their mind.