Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Meditate on This

Dearest Readers,

Just over a year ago I joined Toastmasters in order to hone my skills as a professional speaker. At the meeting this morning our theme was "Meditation" and it got me thinking about my own practice.

There are all kinds of ways to meditate. Meditation does not necessarily mean sitting cross-legged on a cushion with eyes closed and index finger and thumb gently touching in chin mudra. One can meditate upon a passage of words, or while walking in the woods, or standing in line at the post office.

Meditating is really the practice of focusing deeply, whether it's on your breath, a piece of text, the forest sounds or the man's bald pate in front of you. When we meditate we are seeking the experience of being present in the here and now.

Many people say, "I can't meditate. My mind is too busy!" This is the point of meditation. To practice quieting the thinking mind. The nature of the mind is to think. Even great yogis have a mind that thinks thoughts all the time. With meditation, we are learning to let go of thinking and experience being.

I know people who meditate for hours. This is not me. I once heard Goldie Hawn (of all people) say she meditated for five minutes a day and I thought, "I can do that."

Each morning upon waking and each evening before getting into bed I sit on a cushion and close my eyes and breathe, quieting the mind to the best of my ability. Sometimes I am there for five minutes, other times longer. But knowing I only have to be there for five minutes is what gets me to do it.

Whenever I feel resistance or just too tired, I say, "It's five minutes, Celia." This makes it do-able. It makes it easy. I can't argue with five minutes.

So I sit and my mind races and it doesn't. I am thinking the whole time or I'm not. I'm absolutely present or I'm miles away. It's never the same. But it's all beneficial.

Committing to the practice has changed me for the better. Those five minutes have taught me to bring that kind of deep focus into my being at many different times during the day. It's like a switch I can turn on anywhere, anytime.

Like the new saying goes, "Practice makes progress."

Inspiring Message of the Day: The five-minute rule is a fantastic tool for motivating me to do the thing I think I cannot do. Regarding meditation, committing to just five minutes of quiet time a day improves my quality of life.

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