Monday, September 20, 2010

More on Meditation

by Diane Reid Stewart, March 6, 2009
I recently commented to a friend…”I’d love to be able to get into people’s heads, you know read their minds, know what they’re thinking.” He said, “Not me!” “Really, why?” I asked. He chuckled.
“What?” I was dying to know what he was thinking. “Oh, nothing,” he said, making me ever more curious. “No, tell me,” I begged. “Well, it’s kind of like wanting to know what’s inside a hotdog. I really don’t want to know.” I just had to laugh. Thinking about what goes through my mind each day and comparing it to a hot dog…maybe not all that dissimilar. Scary thought! I do hope my mind is healthier than a hot dog, though sometimes I do wonder.

I have one of those minds that is constantly going, hard to turn off. “Monkey brain”, my meditation master calls it. That incessant chatter that plays as if it’s on auto-pilot. Ranjit tells me I have an overactive mind. Highly creative. Lacking focus. I remember my first meditation with Ranjit. As I closed my eyes I immediately became aware of the incessant flow of traffic on a nearby highway. In contrast, I heard birds just outside the window quietly chirping. I commented to Ranjit, “My mind is like that traffic… constantly going. I want my mind to be more like the birds…a peaceful, sweet song.”

“Relax….your….mind. Relax….your…. body,” I hear his voice in my head as I breathe in and breathe out. With each breath I begin to focus less on what’s going through my head and more on my breath and my breathing. I chant my mantra in my head in rhythm to the inhale and exhale of my lungs. My mantra…that Ranjit gave me in exchange for a piece of fruit. What does a banana have to do with these words I say silently to myself? I don’t know, but my mantra was exactly what I needed. The words mean exactly what I was hoping to achieve through meditation. Peace.

As I slip into that peaceful place, it’s as if I let go of my mind and body. There is a rising sensation, and I feel as if I’m floating somewhere above my body…aware but removed from the restraints of my own skin. My mind feels as if it opens up, my sinuses clear. All is quiet. A sense of inner peace washes over me. I bask in this sensation, losing track of time and space. Connecting to a universal energy I feel “at one” with the world and all of life.

I open my eyes and hope this peace will sustain me throughout the day. I try to hold onto it, as I’m growing impatient with my daughter slowly gathering her things to get out the door in the morning, or as I’m sitting in traffic that doesn’t seem to move as fast as I’d like. I try to bring it back, as I am bombarded with phone calls and people showing up at my office door…everyone wanting something from me. Sometimes I just have to shut my door and take a few breaths. I’ve trained my mind…to let go with just a few breaths. It amazes me how quickly I can calm the chatter now, after months of daily meditation. Like anything, once practiced enough it becomes more automatic, second nature.

As I’ve come to find this peace within myself, I find I’m responding more and reacting less. I’m calmer and less emotional. I’m clearer in knowing what I want, how I feel, and what my intuition is telling me.
When I have an important decision to make, I might mediate on it and and find I know just what I need to do. If there is a question I want answered, I meditate on it, and I discover I have the answer by the time I open my eyes. A concern, and I give it to the universe in a meditative prayer, knowing it’ll be taken care of and I no longer need to carry it.

Ranjit advised that I mediate 5 out of 7 days a week. He warned me not to stop practicing, and told me I’d lose all that I had gained if I did. So, I deligently got up at 5:45 a.m. every morning to meditate before beginning my day. I was consistent in my practice for many months. Until, I slowly slipped out of my routine. Perhaps it was my daughter waking me regularly in the middle of the night and disturbing my sleep. It became harder to get out of bed in the morning and easier to just hit that snooze button. This went on for a month or two, and I slowly felt the anxiety creeping back in, the negative thinking, the reactivity to external events. I wasn’t liking myself again and how I was feeling inside. I knew what I had to do. I went to see Ranjit.

It didn’t take me long to regain my sense of peace. I was grateful. I didn’t beat myself up for falling out of practice, but knew what I needed to do to get back on track. It was an important lesson for me to realize just how helpful the meditation is and what a difference it has made in my life. Sometimes we need to be reminded of where we’ve come from in order to keep from going back.

So, on those weary mornings when I want to roll over and go back to sleep, I think of the peace I’ll feel if I just sleep-walk to my living room where I meditate. When I think of hitting that snooze, I remember my “aha moment” when I first realized that our world would be so much more peaceful if everyone meditated before starting their day. I remember the commitment I made to myself, to bring peace into the world by first finding it within myself. And, I slowly slip out of my warm, comfy bed out into the crisp morning air, take my seat on the couch, close my eyes and breathe….

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