There are many, many types of meditation, and aside from what may be classed as meditation, there are also such practices as mindfulness or positive thinking. To simplify, what I am going to include in this section are mental exercises that I have practised and which have helped me at some point.
Different exercises work for different people. Some of the most spiritually mature people I know have told me that they have given up trying Transcendental Meditation as they just don’t get it. Please don’t worry if you can’t get the hang of one of these exercises - you can keep practising, or you can try something else, and either come back or just spend your time on what works for you. Very often I will start with one exercise and move on to another.
The key word here is practice. Just as a physical exercise benefits you with repetition, so does a mental exercise (although both have a value as a tool that you can count on when you need.) I have been asked by people before, “why, when I have done so much work, do I still feel so icky sometimes.” The answer is that like physical exercise, or brushing your teeth, mental exercises don’t stay done. The good news though is that I find meditation far more forgiving than going back to the gym, even if you’re out of practice. When you sit down and meditate good things can happen.
Why should you meditate? Well, some would say that we are meditating all the time. If we are worrying about a particular situation we are meditating on it, some even say that worrying about a problem is like praying for it - if you take that position you can see why you would want to meditate on only good things! I don’t wholly subscribe to that, but I do know that I worry a lot less and I am a lot happier when I do meditate. By strengthening my ability to choose my own thoughts, rather than letting my thoughts run my life I can live my life less in fear and more guided by love. (And I sleep a lot better too.)
Meditation is also a great accompaniment to massages and spa treatments. Some people have told me that they don’t enjoy massages because when they slow down so many thoughts start racing round in their heads. By taking control of your thoughts you can choose to take the time to think during your massage, or let go of thoughts and deeply relax - meditation gives you that choice.
So how often should you meditate? Some say you should meditate several times a day, one person even said you should give the same priority to meditation as you would to diarrhoea. What can I say to that?
Despite saying that in meditation you should be able to choose your own thoughts, recently I found that when meditating, clearing away the day to day thoughts, that I found huge swells of sadness coming up and I would end my meditating crying. As I recently suffered a bereavement I think that I had been avoiding mourning. I’m not sure, but each time this happens I feel that I am letting go, releasing some of that stored up sadness, so I think it is a good thing. Whatever happens for you when you meditate please be kind to yourself.
I would highly recommend meditation to anyone and everyone, if you can do it on a busy bus or train you can do it anywhere and it really can make seemingly stressful situations much easier to handle. I can really feel when I have let it slide, because then when I approach my next meditation I feel that I really need it – and it has definitely improved my life, pretty much every single day.
I am also happy to teach meditation, to individuals or groups - please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to find out more.
The exercises here have come from many sources; yoga classes, Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power Of Now”, Gurmukh’s yoga DVD, my therapist, Susan Jeffers, the Dalai Lama and also Thich Nhat Hanh. I am sure that many other authors and practitioners have influenced me, so please accept my apologies if I have forgotten the exact sources of some of these ideas.
These meditations have been taught by many people of many different faiths - Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish etc. The only meditation in which I have talked quite personally about my own faith is Meditation For Enlightenment, but please feel free to ignore this if you’re not interested - the only reason I talk about deeper issues in this one is that it’s very hard not to when talking about enlightenment!
Email me at email@example.com
© Pearl Howie 2014. All rights reserved.