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  • Written by  Jerome Stone
  • // Thursday, 10 January 2013 23:19
Jerome Stone

Wow! Meditation Isn't About the Position of the Body, It's About the Orientation of the Mind!

It was just another busy day in the hospital and I was sitting in front of my W.O.W. (workstation on wheels) trying to catch up on my notes and charting. One of my coworkers ran up to me, and knowing that I'd written a book for nurses on meditation, said, "Help! I really need to learn how to meditate at work. I'm so stressed out here. I need to learn...now!" Without even thinking about it, I said, "I'm meditating right now, while I'm charting. That's what meditation is."

What I'd just shared with my colleague was some of the "magic" that I've found in my meditation practice recently. And through realizing this magic, I came up with the thought that meditation isn't about what position your body is in, it's about the orientation of your mind.

Orientating Your Mind Towards Meditative Awareness is the Magic of Meditation

What happened that day was that I was sitting on a stool with my hands on my computer keyboard and without giving it much thought, I'd entered into the practice of meditation. It wasn't a case of thinking to myself "I'm going to sit cross-legged with my eyes closed (or wide open staring at the sky), recite a mantra, or burn incense." It wasn't me "trying to meditate." It was a natural state that I'd entered into, and the only reason that it had been so natural is because I had practiced orienting my mind towards its "meditative" or aware nature enough to allow it to happen spontaneously while at work.

Sogyal Rinpoche teaches often on the fact that "Meditation isn't about meditating, it's about getting used to." What this means to me is that our goal in meditation is getting used to "just being," non-distracted, not altering our mind with thoughts about thoughts, and relaxing into our the powerful awareness of the meditative mind. And that "getting used to" is about orienting the mind towards a state that it naturally finds when we aren't busy with distractions.

On this particular day at work, I didn't go seeking out some meditative way of being, I wasn't trying to show my peers how great I was while meditating at my computer. I simply took the moment to enjoy the "ahhhh" of the moment, bring my awareness to my charting, and relax in a mind that was free from the distractions of my environment and all of the work that I was going to have to do in a few minutes. It was a mini-vacation at work, a time-out of sorts. 

What's remarkable about this kind of "time-out" is that you don't have to work and sweat like an athlete to learn how to work with your mind and experience this kind of peace and presence. You don't have to position your body in a particular way. What you do is to you orient your mind.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Realizing that meditation is the orientation of my mind towards its true nature made the biggest difference in my being able to just "meditate" wherever I am and whenever I wish to. That's huge! [/quote]

The Practice of Meditation Brings an Ease in Orienting the Mind Towards Awareness

As Ian Ives wrote in a recent post on this site, How Quickly Can You Change Your Mind?, scientists are noticing that with just eight weeks of practice, you can actually rewire your brain! As Ian wrote, "This study seems to suggest that individuals who practice just a little bit of meditation and compassion each day become less fearful, happier people."

Studies like this and others done by Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin and Sarah Lazar at Harvard University have shown that the brain and its structure can be changed for the good through even brief periods of meditation. These studies remind us all that it's the practice of meditation that brings the benefit to one's mind. That means orienting your mind towards the practice.

What I've found is that orienting my mind towards its meditative nature, towards its cognizant nature, is about practicing meditation enough so that I find myself more in the habit of having my mind settle into that "direction." It's more the "getting used to" that Sogyal Rinpoche talks about, learning to allow my mind to settle into its own nature. And that settling doesn't have to do with sitting like a statue, brow furrowed, body tight. That day at the computer, my body was relaxed and natural, and that state of the body was conducive to the relaxed and natural state of my mind.

The Practice of Meditation Is Enhanced by the Position of the Body

What might be confusing about this post is that now I'm going to say that in order to practice meditation, it is important to position your body in a way that's conducive to meditation. For me, that means that when I'm practicing formally, I do position my body in a manner that inspires my meditative awareness and awakeness. That manner of positioning my body facilitates the orientation of my mind.

The "magic" is that once you become accustomed to having your body in a relaxed and natural state, it facilitates the orientation of your mind as well. And, when your mind begins to move in the direction of meditative awareness, your body follows into a natural and relaxed state. The mind and the body facilitate the meditative state for one-another, pretty cool huh!? Cool

How to Mediate

Now that you've read this post about orientating your mind towards its meditative state, you want to know, "Okay, how the hell do I meditate?" Good question. And an easy one to answer, just check out the Dare to Meditate, Steps 1 - 10 on this site, to get yourself on the path. And by all means...practice and enjoy!!