Meditation is a practice that opens a window onto the view, into and upon the whole being, during the experience of that being. It’s a vast subject because there is so much to consider, so much history, creativity, cultural and personal variety imbues it. For our purpose here today meditation is an exercise that benefits us, body and mind. This benefit impacts not just the person practicing meditation but everyone around them. Physicists explain this with quantum theory. I call it the ripple effect.
The benefits of meditation are as infinite as we are. Google it, and you'll discover so many ways meditation helps people physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. There are almost as many ways to meditate as there are benefits from it. Taking two minutes between clients to breathe deeply is as valid a meditation form as sitting with one pointedness for hours on end. Equally valid but different in the results. Meditation should be part of your life, but the discipline of meditation can be harmful if not flexible and replete with kindness toward yourself. Let the experience be the motivator rather than trying to force yourself into it.
Trying to meditate is not meditating.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind when beginning a meditation practice:
Loosen up, be aware, check in and be sure you are creating happiness.
Be kind to yourself, this is essential.
Reward yourself with a sense of accomplishment each time you check in.
Every aspect of meditating can be placed somewhere on a scale from not at all helpful to extremely beneficial. Set an intention and choose a time each day to set aside for your meditation practice. If this does not work for your schedule, then meditate for a few minutes when the opportunity arises. It is wonderful to sit in a quiet place but it may be even more beneficial for you to cultivate the skill to meditate in a busy noisy place. Different beings require different spaces to meditate, it is important to explore what is right for you and your lifestyle.
Two Examples of Meditation Forms
There are different forms of meditation that can be used to accomplish different things. For example, if you feel your mind becoming toxic and you simply need to take a moment and unplug the body from the mind, a simple distraction technique like thinking of three fruits or vegetables that start with A, that start with B, etc. until that toxic feeling begins to subside and the mind begins to calm.
Another form is compassion meditation. What is compassion anyway? Compassion is one of the three elixirs of life, the others being Generosity and Wisdom. These three are interdependent. It should not be confused with pity or sympathy, it is much deeper. Compassion is caring but respectful. It knows that change is the only constant and that can be painful or liberating. Compassion meditation is one of the most beneficial forms of meditation.
Compassion Meditation Practice
So how do you do Compassion Meditation? It has to start with the self. Just like the air mask in an airplane you have to treat yourself before you can help others.
Begin to form the thought of compassion and direct it toward yourself. It may be helpful to recall a time that you felt compassion for another being. Reconnect with that feeling, find it and nurture it and then apply it with your imagination like soaking or wrapping yourself up in it. When this feels complete you can move on to others, starting with someone easy, someone you like, sending compassion towards them. When you are flowing with it, you can move on towards focusing on someone around whom you feel grief or aggravation towards and replace that feeling with the compassion you harnessed earlier. This is where the most benefits might be realized. End the meditation with compassion for all beings.
Over the next couple of months we will dive into various meditation types and techniques. Stay tuned.