We Know We Should Meditate

Over the last several years we’ve all heard so much about meditation and its benefits. How it reduces stress, brings peace into our lives, helps with medical conditions, not to even mention the spiritual side of it. Yet I am not alone in putting it off like a distasteful part of my to-do list.

The Boston Globe just had an article about people who want to meditate but haven’t gotten around to it. And the stress that not doing something we feel like we should do creates!

Unfortunately I can’t link to the article since it’s for Boston Globe subscribers only, but I can speak from my own experience.

For me part of the struggle is that word “should.” It makes meditation take the same place in my mind as flossing my teeth and eating five servings of veggies a day. Ugh. Yet, when I’m actually doing it, I feel great!

It’s hard in our hectic modern life to find twenty or thirty minutes to do this. There’s Facebook to check, friends to call, snuggling on the couch with a spouse to do. So here’s what we’re going to do: we are going to start with just ONE MINUTE per day. And we’ll build up from there. Just for this week.

Simple enough, right?

I want you to join me. Today I am going to meditate for just one minute. Tuesday I am going to meditate for two minutes. Wednesday I am going to mediate for three minutes. Thursday I am going to meditate for four minutes. Friday I am going to meditate for five minutes. That’s it.

I am going to try attaching this to one of my other habits, like doing it right after brushing my teeth in the morning, maybe.

I will post on Twitter and Facebook when I do mine and I want you to reply in either place (or here) and tell me that you did yours!

 ***

What kind of meditation should you do? There are a bunch of different options. Pick from one of these…

Mantra Meditation

Select a word of phrase that reflects for you the feelings you want to have such as:

  • Peace
  • All is good
  • Om
  • Om Namah Shivaya (I bow to Shiva)
  • Any kind of affirmational phrase

Sit still with your back straight and close your eyes. Repeat the word or phrase over and over. Don’t think about what it means. Repeat it as quickly or slowly as you like. If you start thinking about something, notice it happening and bring your attention back to your mantra.

Mindfulness Meditation

You can do this one either sitting or walking. Allow yourself to become aware of your senses. Without thinking about what you are seeing, smelling, hearing, or feeling, become aware of all the sensory input that is surrounding you. Let yourself soak in it. Focus your attention on the sensations of your body. Pay attention to your breath as it naturally flows in and out of your body. Observe the sensations of your body, the sounds and feels around you. Allow yourself to just be. As thoughts flit across your mind, just watch them without engaging in them.

Guided Meditation

There are countless guided meditations to be found on YouTube. Of course there are also classes that you could take for this, but for now sit in front of your computer and pick the one you want and make it full screen. It will give you instructions. Sometimes you are meant to close your eyes, other times to watch the visuals. These are often closely related to hypnosis.

Here are a couple you could try (if you want to stick to the one minute, two minute, etc. guidelines, pick a video that is as close to that length as you can. Better not to disrupt yourself in the middle of these longer guided meditations):

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

Breath Awareness

Instructions from MeditationOasis.com

Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take a few moments to “simply be”. Notice whatever is being experienced in the moment — sounds, physical sensations, thoughts, feelings — without trying to do anything about it. Continue like this a little while, allowing yourself to settle down.

Now bring the attention to the breath. Simply notice the breath as it moves in and out as the body inhales and exhales. Notice how the breath moves in and out automatically, effortlessly. Don’t try to manipulate it in any way. Notice all the details of the experience of breathing — the feeling of the air moving in and out of the nose, the way the body moves as it breathes, etc.

The mind will wander away from the breath — that’s fine, it doesn’t matter. That’s a part of the meditation! When you notice that you are no longer observing the breath, easily bring your attention back to it.

Let all of your experiences — thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations — come and go in the background of your awareness of the breath. Notice how all of your experiences — thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, awareness of sounds and smells — come automatically and effortlessly like the breath.

…When you are settled into the process of observing the breath, become aware of the point at which the breath turns the corner from the inhalation to the exhalation, and from the exhalation to the inhalation. Notice what is there. It is not a thing — it is a gap between the breaths, nevertheless there can be awareness of it. It is a kind of “still point”.

Continue to bring your attention to that still point, bringing your attention back to the gaps in the breath whenever it has wandered away. As you continue practicing this meditation, you may find that the stillness is no longer experienced as discrete gaps between the breaths, but is a more continuous experience. This cultivates the awareness of the stillness that is present in the midst of activity, and can create a profound experience of peace.

 

Mandala Meditation

This meditation uses beautiful pictures to focus the mind. For some people a visual focus is easier to meditate on than a sound or a word in the mind. All you need to do is look at the mandala without staring and without thinking about it. If you start to daydream, bring your attention back to the image. If your eyes tire, allow them to close and keep picturing the mandala in your mind. Once you’ve rested a little, open your eyes to keep looking at it.

Here are some mandalas you could use. Pick one and make it as full screen as you can or print it out (I find that meditation is better away from electronics!)

 

 

***

 An article about the distinctions between meditation, mindfulness, and mindfulness meditation:

So the intention of Basic Meditation is to trick the mind into releasing itself, trick the mind into giving the thinking apparatus a rest, so that we can realize our Higher Selves, our essential oneness with whatever we consider to be divine. On the other hand, the intention of Mindfulness Meditation is secular; namely, to train the mind, in the same way that we would lift weights to strengthen a muscle, to be able to concentrate — and avoid weakly wandering around on autopilot — for longer and longer periods of time.

 

 

This week is meditation week, check out the rest of the posts:

We Know We Should Meditate

What Gurus Say About Meditation

How Meditation Helps Us Deal With Stress Later

Why is Presence So Hard?

The One Simple Trick To Meditation

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Ambaa

    I did my one minute of meditation! Have you?

    • http://florforhillary.blogspot.com/ Eddie Bryan

      I have company right now, but I did watch myself chant Kundalini Stavah on YouTube, a video I made last week or so. I try to repeat the mantra to myself often, when shopping, walking or making my dinner. Sometimes it is difficult. There are mental distractions. Sitting is difficult though. For decades I have made attempts at it but I am not particularly active and sitting is so mundane. I am always sitting. Meditation though is a state of mind and I’m not sure sitting is everything about it.
      http://tinyurl.com/msx6vpg

      • Ambaa

        Is the link to your video? I wasn’t able to follow it, got a blank page.

        I’ve seen people talk about doing walking meditations and I do think that ideally you are constantly or near constantly in a meditative frame of mind. I think it’s like that Christian idea of praying without cease.

        • http://florforhillary.blogspot.com/ Eddie Bryan

          Thanks I appreciate your thoughts. I wonder what you might have to say about r this article on rights of employers. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/06/17/why-we-must-reject-special-treatment-for-religious-employees/#comment-934218158

          • Ambaa

            I just read that this morning. I’m a big fan of the Friendly Atheist blog. I agree with the post. I think that if people have religious beliefs that potentially clash with a job, they should find a different job that supports their convictions. The job market is tough, but it isn’t fair to employers and coworkers for you to get special treatment.

          • http://florforhillary.blogspot.com/ Eddie Bryan

            I disagree with you.

          • Ambaa

            Yes, I read your comments there. You are certainly allowed to disagree.

    • http://hindusthan.disqus.com/ Arjun

      Jai Sri Ram.where did you learn abt hindu religion.

      • Ambaa

        It’s a little bit complicated, but I started out knowing a lot about the philosophy from how I was raised and picked up more and more as I went. More of an explanation here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu/2013/01/where-does-a-white-hindu-start/

        • http://hindusthan.disqus.com/ Arjun

          దైవానికి చేసే షోడశోపచారపూజలలోని అంతరార్థం ఏమిటి ?

          నిత్యము భక్తి శ్రద్దలతో ఆలయ దర్శనం చేస్తూ ఇంటివద్ద నిత్యానుష్ఠానం ,పూజ పారాయణం చేస్తూఉంటే క్రమంగా మన లౌకిక మైన విధులన్నింటినీ నిమిత్తమాత్రంగాను,భగవంతుడు మనకప్పగించిన బాధ్యతలన్న దైవీభావనతోనూ చెయ్యగలుగుతాము. అనివార్యమని భగవద్గీతాదులు చెప్పిన కష్ట సుఖాదులను సమభావం తో ఓర్పుతో ఎదుర్కొనటం అలవడుతుంది. క్రమంగా మన దేహము మనస్సు వాక్కు భగవత్సేవకంకితమైన పనిముట్లుగా ,పాత్రలుగా భక్తుడు తలుస్తాడు. బాహ్యంగా మందిరాన్ని శరీరమెలా దర్శిస్తుందో అలానే అంత:కరణ మన దేహాన్ని దేవాలయంగా భావించి పవిత్రంగా ఉంచుకోవడం నేర్చుకుం టుంది. అలా నడుచుకోగలిగితేనే మనం దేవాలయన్ని దర్శించినట్లు. ఆలయం లోని ఇంటిలోని పూజాపాత్రలను స్వంతమైనవిగా భావించిలౌకికమైన అవసరాలకెలా వాడుకోలేమో ! అలానే మన త్రికరణాలను – అంటే దేహంమనస్సు వాక్కులను అయోగ్యమైన రీతిన అంటే దైవీభావం తో మేళం గాని విధంగా వాడుకోలేము. అది మన భక్తి వాస్తవమవడానికి గుర్తు. మనం సాధనవాస్తవంగాచేస్తున్నమనడానికి గుర్తు.ఇలా పరిశుధ్ధమొనర్చబడిన త్రికరణాల రూపమైన సుక్షేత్రం లోనే భగవన్నామ స్మరణ ,ధ్యానము,పూజ అనబడు ఉత్తమ బీజాలు మొలకెత్తి వృద్ధిపొందుతాయి.

          ఈభావాన్ని మన మనస్సులమీద నిత్యము బలంగా ముద్రించుకోవడానికనువుగా మనపెద్దలు కొన్ని ఆచారాలనందించారు ,వాటి అంతరార్ధం దేహాన్ని దేవాలయంగా ,అవయవాలను,త్రికరణాలను పవిత్రమైన పూజాసామాగ్రిగా రూపొందించుకొనమని ,అయోగ్యమైన రీతిలో వాటినుపయోగించి అపవిత్రం చేసుకొనవద్దని సందేశం. దీనిని కొంచెం వివరిస్తాను.

          ఇంట్లో పూజగదిలోకి గాని.దేవాలయం లోకిగాని ప్రీతితో ఈ దేహాన్ని దానితోపాటు భక్తియుక్తమైన మనస్సును ఎలాప్రవేశ పెడతామో ! అలానే పూజలో ఇష్టదైవాన్నీ ఆహ్వానం [ఆవాహన] చేస్తాము. దైవం సర్వగతుడుకదా ! ఆయన వెరే ఎక్కడో ఉంటేగదా మనం ఆవాహన చేయగలిగేది ! సర్వగతుడైన ఆయన ప్రత్యక్ష సాన్నిధ్యంలో ఉన్నామన్న గుర్తును బలంగా హృదయంలో ప్రతిష్టించుకోవడమే ఆవాహన. ఆసన సమర్పణ. అలాగే మనశరీరం గూడా మన ఇష్టదైవం ఎదుటకూర్చుంటుంది. పూజారంభం లో ఆచమనం చేసి, అలానే తరువాత దైవానికీ ఆచమనీయం సమర్పిస్తాము. దైవానికి సమర్పించిన పాద్యం [పాదాలు నీటితో కడగటం] వలెనే మనం కూడా మొదట ఇంట్లోకిరాగానే కాళ్ళు కడుక్కుంటాము .-అక్కడక్కడ లౌకిక కార్యాలకోసం సంచరించి రజోగుణాత్మకమైన భావాలతో [రజస్సు అంటే ధూళి అనికూడా అర్ధం దేహానికన్వయించుకుంటే] మలినమైన మనస్సును భక్తి భావనతో క్షాళనం చేసుకున్నట్లే ! ఇష్టదైవానికి ఆత్మసమర్పణ చేసినట్లే , మన జీవితము, సాధనలను మన హృదయస్థమైన ఆత్మకొరకే అర్పణ చేస్తాము. భక్తుడు స్నాన,తిలక,గంధ ధారణాదులన్నీ తనదేహాన్ని దైవభావంతో చూడటమేనని గుర్తించాలి .కేవలం అలంకార ప్రాయంకాదు.

          • Ambaa

            I’ve mentioned before that I cannot read Telugu. I can read Hindi and English and that’s it. I would prefer that comments be left in a language that I can understand! Google translate is not doing you any favors here ;)

          • http://hindusthan.disqus.com/ Arjun

            Adi Sankaracharya’s
            VIVEKACHUDAMANI
            Translated by Swami Madhavananda
            Published by Advaita Ashram, Kolkatta
            1. I bow to Govinda, whose nature is Bliss Supreme, who is the Sadguru,
            who can be
            known only from the import of all Vedanta, and who is beyond the reach
            of speech and
            mind.
            2. For all beings a human birth is difficult to obtain, more so is a
            male body; rarer than
            that is Brahmanahood; rarer still is the attachment to the path of Vedic
            religion; higher
            than this is erudition in the scriptures; discrimination between the
            Self and not-Self,
            Realisation, and continuing in a state of identity with Brahman – these
            come next in
            order. (This kind of) Mukti (Liberation) is not to be attained except
            through the wellearned merits of a hundred crore of births.
            3. These are three things which are rare indeed and are due to the grace
            of God –
            namely, a human birth, the longing for Liberation, and the protecting
            care of a perfected
            sage.
            4. The man who, having by some means obtained a human birth, with a male
            body and
            mastery of the Vedas to boot, is foolish enough not to exert himself for
            self-liberation,
            verily commits suicide, for he kills himself by clinging to things
            unreal.
            5. What greater fool is there than the man who having obtained a rare
            human body, and
            a masculine body too, neglects to achieve the real end of this life ?
            6. Let people quote the Scriptures and sacrifice to the gods, let them
            perform rituals and
            worship the deities, but there is no Liberation without the realisation
            of one’s identity
            with the Atman, no, not even in the lifetime of a hundred Brahmas put
            together.
            7. There is no hope of immortality by means of riches – such indeed is
            the declaration of
            the Vedas. Hence it is clear that works cannot be the cause of
            Liberation.
            8. Therefore the man of learning should strive his best for Liberation,
            having renounced
            his desire for pleasures from external objects, duly approaching a good
            and generous
            preceptor, and fixing his mind on the truth inculcated by him.
            9. Having attained the Yogarudha state, one should recover oneself,
            immersed in the sea
            of birth and death by means of devotion to right discrimination.
            10. Let the wise and erudite man, having commenced the practice of the
            realisation of
            the Atman give up all works and try to cut loose the bonds of birth and
            death.
            11. Work leads to purification of the mind, not to perception of the
            Reality. Therealisation of Truth is brought about by discrimination and
            not in the least by ten million
            of acts.
            12. By adequate reasoning the conviction of the reality about the rope
            is gained, which
            puts an end to the great fear and misery caused by the snake worked up
            in the deluded
            mind.
            13. The conviction of the Truth is seen to proceed from reasoning upon
            the salutary
            counsel of the wise, and not by bathing in the sacred waters, nor by
            gifts, nor by a
            hundred Pranayamas (control of the vital force).
            14. Success depends essentially on a qualified aspirant; time, place and
            other such
            means are but auxiliaries in this regard.
            15. Hence the seeker after the Reality of the Atman should take to
            reasoning, after duly
            approaching the Guru – who should be the best of the knowers of Brahman,
            and an
            ocean of mercy.
            16. An intelligent and learned man skilled in arguing in favour of the
            Scriptures and in
            refuting counter-arguments against them – one who has got the above
            characteristics is
            the fit recipient of the knowledge of the Atman.

  • http://florforhillary.blogspot.com/ Eddie Bryan

    So what about chanting? Namasankirtana. I like to chant the texts like Shri Guru Gita, Kundalini Stavah, Mahalakshmyastakam Stotram, Jyota se Jyota and others. Are we going to meditate silently and diss the chants? Is that what up?

    • Ambaa

      Oh, great suggestion! I just put the meditations that I could think of, but of course there are many more types. Chanting is an excellent idea!


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