“Even the most exalted states and the most exceptional spiritual accomplishments are unimportant if we cannot be happy in the most basic and ordinary ways. If we cannot touch one another and the life we have been given with our hearts” ~Jack Kornfield
For more than 6,000 years Meditation, which means “To Ponder” has given us the keys to unlock the closed doors of our consciousness to explore our inner space to better know how we function, how we desire, the effects our thoughts have on our body and how to overcome our limitations to reach deep peace and freedom.
Meditation is the science of knowing oneself… it is a quest of the human experience for thousands of years.
Meditation is a path of inner illumination or inner light that is a tool we may use to explore the depths of our mind and heart leading to greater insight and wisdom. It is a path of knowledge one acquires from experiences of silence, breathing, stillness, mantras, mindfulness, among others… to explore the recesses of our minds. Through this practice it allows us to cultivate loving-kindness, to heal anger and hurt, and feel the deeper currents of the world around us. This enables us to experience a type of transcendence…to transcend the outer world and fall into a consciousness of inner expansion and connection to everything in the Universe. We realize we are so much more than the intellectual components of our minds.
Meditation may create an opening in our minds which enable us to move from being trapped in not knowing who we truly are and due to that state, not manifesting our most loving and happiest life… to an ability to push away the unwanted clutter in our minds and see life in a new way, to unshackle our minds and spirits from the conditioning of our societal life, and move into an expansive transformational awareness. Meditation is a KEY to a deeper truth that lies within our experience of being human. It is a truth that will set each of us free. Meditation leads to knowledge that creates more power to live our best life…it is a path of exploration and a process of becoming and growing into a deeper experience of life that unfolds with time and practice.
One way meditation works is that it reverses the process of our thoughts controlling us, as we begin to realize that our minds are innate organs of harmony and our moods overcome that harmony to create tension, stress, and illness in our bodies. Once we are aware of this, we can then understand how to artfully work with our emotional feelings. Being aware of our emotional states and healing of these states create complete acceptance and harmony of our emotional states…empowering us to have control and compassion over our life and future. We can embrace beautiful states of love and peace, we can handle conflict with respect, insight, and compassion, we can reduce physical pain and stress on our bodies, and experience deep states of bliss of connection to life and existence. A regular meditation practice helps restructure the synaptic firing of the impulses of our minds…and guides us to believe in ourselves helping us to succeed in our lives with greater wisdom and creativity. Once we taste a glimpse of what meditation can bring we want more and more of this amazing practice. The benefits are transformational.
My 5-year-old nephew said to me one day: ‘ Auntie Leah, I can feel so much more when I am quiet and not moving’ Our children have an innate knowing of what feels good and makes them happy. However, as we begin to grow up, and are conditioned by our education and expectations, criticized, judged, prized for our outer achievements…which are all important elements in helping us be successful in the outer world and are necessary… we may lose our wings that allowed us to fly as a child. Meditation helps us to explore the treasures of our inner life that are hidden within us…unearthing the innate knowing of a child. We become joyful, complete, and feel whole with the excitement and vulnerability, innate wisdom and creativity of our inner child.
How to Meditate
Basically, Meditation can be defined as a set of techniques intended to encourage focused attention and a heightened state of awareness. It is also a consciousness-changing practice that has been shown scientifically to alter brain chemistry and has a wide range of benefits from relaxation and peace to psychological well-being and healing of depression and bi-polar disorder.
In this reflective practice, an individual uses specific techniques such as mindfulness awareness of the represent moment, of sounds, of breath, of touch…and focusing thoughts on particular objects, activities, prayers, reflections, breath…which begins to train attention and awareness creating a type of mental clarity and stable emotional state.
Finding a wonderful meditation teacher is a great way to begin this practice. The Cambridge Insight and Meditation center in Cambridge MA provides online and in-person retreats and classes with well-known excellent teachers. There are many types of meditation ranging from Zen techniques to Mindfulness with John Kabbat Zin, Insight Meditation with Jack Kornfield, Tibetan Bhuddist Meditation, and Loving Kindness Meditation with Sharon Salzberg to name a few well-known styles.
The easiest way to begin is to sit quietly and focus on your breath. An old Zen saying suggests, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”
All kidding aside, it’s best to start in small moments of time, even 5 or 10 minutes, and grow from there.
“Sit consistently for 20 minutes a day and do this for 100 days straight,” recommends Pedram Shojai, author of the Urban Monk. Couple that with an additional 2 to 5 minutes of meditation throughout the day to break up the chaos, and you will soon be feeling the benefits.”