What about meditation
“The aim of meditation is to help the practitioner arrive at a deep understanding of reality. This insight has the capacity to liberate us from fear, anxiety, and melancholy. It can produce understanding and compassion, raise the quality of life, and bring freedom, peace, and joy to ourselves and to others around us.”
from: The Energy of Prayer, Thich Nhat Hanh
Meditation, and how it so beautifully enriches my life
Sun: As a young child I loved to gaze straight into the Sun. I especially loved to do this sitting in the back seat of a moving car and would always choose whichever was the sunniest side to sit.
Only recently I learned that the Sun meditation, gazing directly into the sun, is an advanced type of meditation practice. I must have intuitively known that this was very beneficial for me because I loved the way it made me feel.
Vipassana : 25 years ago I went to my first official Vipassana meditation retreat. I was a Yoga teacher and recently divorced, young mother at the time, and I figured this was the right thing-or just the next thing for me to do.
That was so hard! Ten days of total silence in a setting where men and women were separated from each other, the endless silence that is called “noble silence,” and plenty of retreat(monk) rules, among them during the 10 days no eye contact with anyone else.
Out of pure nervousness I giggled a lot and even was moved to the back of the room during the meditations (from 4.30 in the morning until 9 at night!). By the end of the course I could hear the owls talk to each other. Seriously!
It took a long time before I was willing to consider participating in such a strict regimen again, 8 years, in fact before I thought I might be ready.
Yet, immediately after that first retreat I was inspired to begin my own modest meditation practice, 20 minutes “sitting” twice a day . This had an almost immediate beneficial effect. I relaxed more, focused better, and feltmore rested.
I did return to those rigorous, silent Vipassana retreats, and yes, they remained somewhat challenging for me, but also I could relax more frequently in them.
Finally, a few years later,I could enjoy and appreciate all that sharing quiet time among my fellow participants, get quality rest, and spent countless hours in that Noble Silence.
Now appreciating the rules of living like a monk during those days. Once home I created my meditation practice-up to a full hour meditation every day for 10 years!
I love it.
In its many forms, meditation has given me healthy beneficial tools to live with for many years.
Today I have a little less rigorous meditation practice in a lovely Thich Nath Hanh Sangha, which soothes my personal style better.
a quiet Mind: My body likes mediation very much. After about 40 minutes my insides feel melted and fluid. Thoughts arrive and pass away like clouds in the sky—and sometimes I’ve periods of no thoughts. (Those experiences of no thoughts shook my world as I had previously held a strong belief that we are made of thoughts and could not live without them. And yet here I still was, even without a thought in my head!)
My mind still sometimes likes to find excuses not to meditate. Even when my long experience tells me how much better I will feel afterwards!
There are many different types of meditation one can do to feel positive changes in one’s health and well-being with a little consistency and practice.
and so many other forms:
focusing on a mantra or a special sound or sentence,
imagining a holy image of a God of your understanding,
listening to guided imagery that brings you deeper into awareness and /or healing
There are sitting meditation and walking meditations. There are dancing meditations–the way Sufis dance themselves into a trance.
One can be in nature, enjoy a small child, or stroke a pet.
One can enjoy being carried away by an incredibly beautiful piece of music in a concert hall. (This is one of my favorite form of mediation!)
These many meditative opportunities awaken meditative states with ourselves.
There is much of great benefit that can happen to us in just 20 minutes of silence, prayer, and contemplation, deep listening, and music.
Of course science has proven how beneficial it is for all of us to take that 20-minute time for ourselves.
We live longer, are happier, healthier, concentrate better, our relationships become more satisfying, our time alone more rewarding.
As important, meditation provides an antidote to stress.