“Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb.”
~ Pythagoras (580 B.C. – 500 B.C.)
Sitting still is one of the hardest things for many of us to do. The fast pace set by modern technology leaves no room and no time for “just being”. In fact, society seems to promote that our
value depends on the amount of tasks we check off our to-do list. John Bradshaw, author of Healing the Shame that Binds Us, suggested that we have become “human doings” instead of “human beings”.
In addition to keeping ourselves overly busy, we also try to keep a lid on our emotions. As we learned in the segment Feel Your Feelings, we don’t deal with our feelings and give them opportunity to be. We push them down and resist them with all our energy. We fear that if we start to relax our control, then our emotions will explode.
Meditation is a safe way to slow things down and release energy. It helps us feel emotionally balanced and in control. It connects us to the authentic self–a place of inner knowing and strength.
Near my home is a trail that runs alongside a beautiful river. I have spent many hours over the years jogging this path. Following my workouts, I like to sit quietly by the edge of the water. I am still. I became mesmerized by the river’s music. Once I am fully present with the river, there comes a space between the sound of the water and the thoughts of my mind. The space is still and quiet. I find this space deeply satisfying and sustaining.
While in college, I was introduced to the idea of meditation. At first the idea seemed so foreign to me–like it was only meant for monks, experts in Eastern wisdom who have dedicated their life to such self-introspection. From my Western perspective, I couldn’t see how to bring this inner strength into my own life. One day, however, it occurred to me that I had been meditating regularly for a very long time as I sat quietly by the edge of the river. Consequently, I found that meditation was not mysterious or foreign afterall, but an experience that was both as familiar and comfortable as an old shoe. Even without formal training, I could still enjoy a deep sense of aliveness.
Meditation brings inner peace and power
Meditation has taught me truths that feels sweet to my soul. In spaces of silence I have learned of my own inherent value as a human being. I have felt assured that even with all of my weaknesses and imperfections, with all the times I have hurt others, and with nothing more to offer than being human–even with all of those things–I am still acceptable to God. This is overwhelming and humbling. If God loves me, then he loves all mankind. Understanding this, I feel a deep sense of connection to all people of the world. I feel of the commonality of our lives, our desires, our struggles. Meditation has given me this gift.
“And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake: but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire a still small voice.”
~ 1 Kings 19: 11-12
The importance of meditation is explained well by spiritual teacher, Echart Tolle. He said, “When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world. Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. This is the I Am that is deeper than name and form.” (Eckhart Tolle , Stillness Speaks pg 3) Stillness is the tool that opens the door to awareness of our inner strength. Growth, truth, and peace are offered to all who give them life through stillness.
Meditation can be practiced religiously or philosophically. There are many forms of meditation and one form is not necessarily better than another. Each offers a different path to the same desired end– a connection to the authentic self. One may practice Transcendental Meditation or Buddhist Mindfulness. The Zen tradition is to be present in the moment with full acceptance of what “is”, while the Native American tradition is to “follow the spirit quest”. Prayer, mindfulness, silence, art, dance, music, and communing with nature are also effective forms of meditation. Meditation is simply an experience that frees the mind from concentrated thought and brings oneness with life.
I personally enjoy meditation with the aid of a mantra (a repeated sound, word, or phrase). The mantra gives my mind a grounding pathway to the stillness within. Mantra meditation is taught in Empowered Life Solutions Healthy Living, but the Empowered Life Solutions’s homepage offers a free downloadable breathing meditation technique.
In conclusion, meditation is not some mysterious practice reserved for different cultures or full-time spiritual seekers. Although formal training can deepen the experience, mediation does not require specialized training. The benefits of meditation come from discovering your strengths and weaknesses with a greater awareness from within. Being still is within anyone’s grasp.