Direct experience is the only “Real” experience.
Twenty-second hugs are so healthy.
Twenty-second hugs make you strong.
Twenty-second hugs are so healthy.
They make you flourish all day long.
Clementine Hurt (age 5)
Hugs and kisses are good for us. They trigger the parasympathetic nervous system and make us feel safe and loved. So, does meditation. Think of it as kissing and hugging yourself!
OK, if you’re not already convinced that a regular meditation practice is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow upon yourself–I’ll try to bait you with a little evidentiary support.
I am writing this semi-sarcastically because the Yogis understood the profound effects their sadhana (practices) had on their body, breath, mind, conscience continuum without doing experiments on others. They were the laboratory.
But, my Master’s degree is in Public Health; so, I appreciate a good peer-reviewed journal.
Benefits of meditation include (each one is linked to a recent peer-reviewed article):
- Increased gray matter in the brain.
- Decreased age-related cognitive decline.
- Decreased resting blood pressure.
- Lowered blood glucose levels (as well as appetite control).
- Improved digestive function.
- Better sleep.
- Improved sex drive.
- Decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Increased feelings of well-being and compassion.
However, these (as I’ve posted previously) are the fringe benefits.
I love teaching meditation in hospital environment. I am supremely grateful for my job. But, our focus is on the aforementioned benefits and mindfulness.
But, this benefit, as valuable as it may be (and as well-promoted as it is, right now) is also a fringe benefit (that does not diminish its value!).
The teachings of the Himalayan Master’s (the convergence of the three streams of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra) reveal, through repeatedly corroborated direct experiences, that there are many stages of unfolding during meditation. The physiological responses (although pleasant) are merely a threshold to cross. Mindfulness (although extremely beneficial) is a result of another doorway. But, the final stage is absorption (samadhi) with the Center of Consciousness… Which is True Inner Peace.
Part 5: 30 Days of Peace
Why is it difficult to simply sit and meditate?
The practice should not be seen as daunting–it is your right and privilege.
Yet, so many people plan on beginning to meditate for years…
First of all, I speculate, when we sit in the silence uncomfortable feelings, thoughts, memories, and emotions come forward. It can be a stark contrast to the idealized bliss we associate with the image of a meditator on the beach.
In order to meditate successfully, you must develop a different understanding of your how your mind works (you don’t try to stop thinking or suppress the thoughts) you learn to look at them as an experience–consider their transience. In a sense, you have thoughts; but, you are not your thoughts.
The problem is, at the beginning (and maybe for a long time afterwards), you identify with them– I think therefore I am (not)!
If you wanted to learn to speak a new language or learn calligraphy, you start with small steps. Instead of expecting to sit for 30 minutes and experience nirvana, just hang out with your mind. But, do this with a playful attitude– be amused and amazed at your inner workings– 1,2,3 minutes in a quiet room, just watching the stream of thought is amazing.
The other reason people do not meditate is lack of discipline.
I know it sounds judgmental; but, I am speaking from experience. There were many years when I liked the idea of meditation more than I really wanted to do it. It was a great leap forward when I acknowledged that I really would rather do something else. When I was honest with myself I could see there is greater value in getting up a few minutes earlier or turning of the TV and getting off my couch. Believe me, I have to recommit regularly.
If you really want to go further, just begin to work with the breath. Don’t over complicate it, deep breathing, awareness at the diaphragm (below the breastbone, above the navel) 1,2,3 minutes. Just focus on the breath and let the thoughts come… But, you have to get up and do it.
But, if you begin a sincere practice, I can promise the world unfolds to aid you in coming to the Center of Consciousness.
You are what you are looking for… You are the Inner Peace.
There you go, you’re on your way.
Every moment is the only moment. In the midst of tragedy you can choose to go into the Self and find the Eternal Truth. This is untainted by the transient, and often troubled, world. Despite what appears to be chaos, there is a substratum where we all are One. Through meditation on silence and affirmative prayer we connect with this Divine Matrix. Then you realize, like in the movie, that you don’t have to try to bend spoons.
There are always atrocities on the news. Anyone of average intelligence knows that sensationalism sells. But, for me, it feels so close to home right now. This body I have incarnated in is Black and I am raising children how have incarnated as mixed-race people. Yes, I deeply believe (and in moments of samadhi I have known) that and we are all One. Yet, when I open my eyes and engage in the world I, temporarily, forget.
I become angry and I fear for my son–who is the sweetest young man I know. He is 6′ 2″ at age fourteen. I plead with him to not wear his hood, to be polite, and not to cut through the neighbor’s yard–because he may be murdered. Yes, I am deeply committed to my spiritual practices and I know that no one dies. But, our karmic bond is deeper than philosophical conjecture.
I’m playing multiple roles on the stage we call “life”. Some of the roles seem to contradict each other. As a mother, I am a wildcat backed into a corner who is desperately trying to care for her cubs. As a an aspirant, I uphold the tenet that all life is equal and valuable. I also strive to remember that those who inciting violence are in pain. But, sometimes it easier said than done.
Two wise teachers told me, there are two things we always must remember. First:
Everything is the opposite of what it appears to be and nothing is the opposite of what it appears to be.
Anything you do everything you experience will either bring you closer to or farther from the Truth (Center of Consciousness, perception of God, Yoga, Unity, Christ Consciousness, and numerous names for Supreme Oneness).
The first principle is that we really never know what is going on beneath the surface level of appearances. I mentioned, perpetrators of violence are victims, as well. Karma is intertwined at every level. What we are seeing is a ripple on the surface of the ocean of cause and effect. It’s not judgement by an anthropomorphic paternal deity– we are seeing the ripples from infinite stones being thrown into the lake of eternity.
The second principle is to cease throwing stones which cloud the lake and obscure the Truth. The second principle is supreme compassion for ourselves–at any given moment we can choose to love everyone. At any moment we can look at someone and choose to remember there is no
other. These are choices made in a nanosecond.
Then we bend, we grow, we advance and we can be a beacon to bring those who are still perceiving separation toward Our Collective Center of Consciousness.
Part 1 of 30 Days of Peace…
Can you ever have too much gratitude? I doubt it?
This is a repost from 2014; however, I was reminded, through a cascade of`teachable moments, to be eternally gratefully–for every moment. There is no need to anticipate, and this does take effort, the next moment will get here!
Prayer is an interesting activity. Like meditation, it is an opportunity to go inside and merge with stillness. However, so many people pray their power away–they ask for assistance, intervention, and blessings; but, they do not, simply, offer gratitude for what is going well.
Recently, I was challenged by a dear friend to post 3 statements of gratitude, for a week, on my Facebook page. Over, the years I have done several exercises in gratitude– which is something I continue to work on cultivating. Whenever, I make a conscious attempt to find something to be grateful for, the gratitude flows in abundance. One positive thought, attending to one gift, becoming aware of an inkling of Prasad becomes a river of plenty.
Many people mistakenly believe that prayer is not part of the Yoga tradition. Conversely, this tradition has consists of four pillars: meditation, contemplation, mantra, and prayer. However, it is taught, prayer begins as a dialogue and converges into a unification.
Prayer instills us with bhava, the strong emotion of devotion–but, we don’t have to pray our power away. Offer gratitude for what is working. You and the Divine Source are one and the same– therefore, nothing can be against you. Sit with the blessings before asking for intervention. You may discover that you are all the resources you need.
When the modifications of the mind have become weakened, the mind becomes a transparent crystal…
I originally posted this a year ago. This posting is extremely close to my heart. I’m always seeking a friendship with my heart and mind.
The last few weeks have been fairly hectic: I am planning a meditation intensive retreat, I am taking some continuing education classes, my work schedule is changing, the children have a bunch of activities, and I am a little over-extended. So working on a blog post has been demoted on my list of obligations.
But, despite all the busyness, my mind-state has been fairly steady, or ekagra. I attribute this to regularity in my practice.
In the Yoga Tradition, the mind is viewed as an instrument through which we receive information about the sensory world (manas), where we store memories and formulate opinions (chitta), it is where our sense of individuality arises (ahamkara), and where our conscience resides (buddhi)–but, not our consciousness.
The four aforementioned aspects of the mind are collectively called the antahkarana–or the inner instrument. The word “instrument” is so profound. Yoga science expounds, the mind is not who we are; but, mind is a tool, which can be sharpened to glean clearer understanding of who we are and what needs to be done to Realize our True Nature.
According to Yoga science, our minds becomes colored by our experiences— think of it as a dusty layer on a window. Therefore, they do not allow the truth to diffuse through. We are colored by perceptions of race, social status, gender, etc. Reflect for a moment on a baby who lacks these associations.
Through meditation we wipe off the layers of dust and eventually the clear mind allows the truth to shine through.
But, the mind is only capable of becoming crystalline…
What is the light that shines through the crystalline mind?
Eventually, the mind, like all good tools must be set down. Would you walk around in the house you built clutching the hammer?
Over time, with dedication, consistency, and faith, the mind is set down and total awareness of the Self will shine through.
Until then, tell your mind “thank-you” for all that it does. Do not be angry with your mind for thinking any more than you would be angry with your hand for grasping or your ear for hearing. Ask your mind to be your friend, so that you can dust the lens, and see the world as it truly is.
As always, click the links!
Marvel at what happens when a collection of beautiful souls agrees it will!
Recently, I was at Unity North Atlanta for an interfaith service where the presenter was Tom Blue Wolf, a Native American Elder from North Georgia. He discussed numerous amazing subjects, artfully linking them together in an intricate lattice-like experience. During his talk he spoke about bees. He’s a beekeeper, he sells honey and bee pollen. He shared how perfect they are in their creation. He articulated, how they had evolved so little over millions of years. Unlike other species, who keep getting upgraded or deleted.
I am not an entomologist. However, the concept of the bee colony captivated my imagination. I began to think about the bees as über-collective consciousness. Their whole life dedicated to the survival of the whole. We can learn so much from them. The Earth is the whole, we all have the opportunity to be steward worker bees.
But in many societies, the image of a worker bee is a negative metaphor. We think of a mindless drone buzzing about in the mundane. Images come to mind of “sheeple” lined up twisting wingnuts on a conveyor belt.
However, a life of complete service is nothing to scoff at. If we really subscribe to the philosophy that we are all one, we all are here to serve each other.
This does not denote that individual hopes and dreams are invaluable. If we are aligned in our center and engage in introspective practices (such as affirmative prayer, internal dialogue, gratitude and meditation) we realize that these same hopes and dreams pervade all of human consciousness. To quote the practice of loving-kindess meditation, we all want to be “happy, well, safe, peaceful and at ease”.
The Sanskrit word seva is “is a service which is performed without any expectation of result or award for performing it. Such services can be performed to benefit other human beings or society“. All of our work can be done with this held in our heart. Nothing is really ours, we are on borrowed time–so give it all away.