Photo by: Jared Rice
You might be noticing that I've been writing more about meditation and mindfulness lately. It started a few months ago when I had a new appreciation for something I'd been doing for a long time. I've described how over the years my curiosity for and exposure to meditation led me to various teachers. As time goes on, I've developed a practice that deepens and continues to evolve.
Around twenty years ago, mindfulness meditation looked like it hit mainstream America. Major magazines had cover stories and there was a lot of buzz about it. Little by little it became old news and even though there were a lot of us still using it in our day-to-day lives and even teaching, it felt like it was fading into the background. I even found myself talking less and less about it.
Recently, however, I've a renewed appreciation for what I "do", every day. As this has increased, I've also noticed that mindfulness and meditation is back in the news, again. My theory is that we "need" it more than ever and so, it is rising to the surface, once again. I love seeing all the articles in magazines, watching shows on television and hearing radio programs that feature speakers like one of my mentors, Jon Kabat-Zinn as well as others.
One question that I'm asked is, "What happens when you're meditating?" I think some people believe one enters into a state of Nirvana or bliss or some other altered state. This gets in the way of them really giving meditation a try. Either they don't even begin, perhaps because they're a little nervous about what will happen, or, when they do sit and close their eyes, they're terribly disappointed that nothing happens. Full disclosure -- it really can feel like nothing.
Let me give you some perspective on this ... how often do you get a chance for some real, quiet time where nothing is expected of you and you are simply able to live in the moment, aware of your breathing? Not very often, I would venture to guess. In fact, one of the most common complaints I have from students is how hard it is to just "be". At the same time, most people, after I've led even a short 5-minute meditation, say that they feel calmer and at least a little more relaxed.
We've become used to living with our "on" button activated all the time and even though we might complain how hectic our lives feel, it's become what we know, what's familiar. Do you know the story of the "frog in the beaker"? The idea is that if a frog were in water in a beaker and the temperature were raised just one degree, every hour, even though at some point the frog might become uncomfortable, he would not jump out of the beaker until it was too late. This is what our lives are like. Every time a new stressor enters our lives, even though it feels like it's almost too much, we feel like we somehow adapt. But, we don't really. In fact, eventually we become sick or feel like we have a breakdown. There's only so much we can take.
When we meditate we slow things down. We allow our bodies to fully rest. We start to retrain our systems to begin to accept that these "down" times are what's normal and even necessary. While it might feel like there's not much going on during the five, ten, or twenty minutes of our meditation, we're actually giving ourselves a much-needed rest and restoration. Then, when we're back out in the relentless world, we find the reserves we need to cope better with the rise in tensions and challenges.
My Monday Quote was this:
"The benefits of meditation do not necessarily show up
while your tush is on the cush. Instead, they appear
when you least expect them, but really need them."
Whether you sit on a cushion or in a chair; whether you stay for 5, 10, 20, or 60 minutes, if you develop a practice and show up for it regularly, you will notice changes and benefits in your life. I can totally recommend it and this is what I wish for you.
I will be spending this winter in Florida, beginning in December. I will be offering meditation classes, mindfulness gatherings, VIP days for groups of four and I currently have two openings for anyone that would like to work with me via email and a monthly telephone session. Please contact me if you'd like to have a conversation with me about this. Simply click on the button below to contact me via email.