For so many health benefit reasons, I recommend going on a retreat or taking classes at Omega or Kripalu Center or the like whenever you can. Even without meditation retreats, we can, all, treat ourselves to meditation in tiny bits throughout our day and gain the same tremendous benefits.
What are some of the benefits of meditating?
Meditation is stress-relieving and healing:
“It’s been accepted as a useful therapy for anxiety and depression (and) . . . to enhance performance, and… (to help) sufferers of chronic pain, addiction and tinnitus, too. There is even some evidence that mindfulness can help with the symptoms of certain physical conditions, such irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, and HIV.”
There’s more! Meditation is transformative:
“… Brain imaging techniques are revealing that this ancient practice can profoundly change the way different regions of the brain communicate with each other – and therefore how we think – permanently.” — What Does Mindfulness Meditation Do to Your Brain?, Scientific American, Tom Ireland, June 12, 2014.
How to Reach a Meditative State
You can sit still in a comfortable chair or work in your garden or walk by the shore or go for a run or stroke your pet or stroke your lover or listen to music or repeat steps on a dance floor or hum or chant repeatedly or zone out in the shower.
That’s because what we are attempting is simply the “letting go” state of mind that takes us into an altered kind of awareness. Let go. You know that you want to (let go of feeling that you must be in control every minute).
Please take note: Staring at a television or computer screen is not meditative no matter what you are watching. Step away from the bright screens for even a short while as often as you can.
Give yourself a natural respite, a momentary meditation retreat using any and all of these brief ideas.
10 ways to Sneak Meditation into Your Day:
Staring out your window at the natural world.
Observe the plants in your garden, rows of trees, grasses bending in the wind, or taking time to watch falling snow or rain. No window? Keep a mandala, Buddhist or Hindu spiritual symbol (meditation art), to stare into for one minute. If possible, keep fresh flowers or living plants on your desk as your meditative focal point.
Stroking a pet friend.
I do not have pets. I make an effort to visit my friends’ dogs and cats. They are kind and generous beings.
Peaceful repetitious sound can carry you away.
If the real thing isn’t outside your window then recordings of a babbling brook or of the ocean can be very effective. Or, you can become the sound maker by humming or chanting alone, or with others. Mindful sound-making might be your meditative path.
Turn the next long walk to yet another meeting into a walking meditation. Replace worries and concerns with giving your attention to making the next step and the next step as deliberate as possible. Heel to toe. Heel to toe. Slow way down. Relax your shoulders. Notice where you feel a tension in the body and breathe into that area. Slowly shift back into your normal gait. What a release.
Allow yourself to fully appreciate each flavor hitting your taste buds as you eat—the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Savoring the taste of a perfectly ripe, sun-warmed peach is an uplifting experience.
Two to five minutes of a slow, languid stretch into a yoga pose will change you for the good. Try Yoga Journal or YouTube videos.
Repetitive drawing strokes on paper to form an amazing design. It’s great. It is mindful doodling. Sometimes, I Zentangle during meetings.
A repetitive motion will do it, such as washing dishes or vacuuming at home. Polishing your desk or fingering your collection of natural stones at work is good. Yes, allow yourself to zone out for a little while.
Sometimes, it is the “Not Doing” that will be your gateway to peace. Five to ten minutes of sitting still in your very comfortable chair or prone on the floor when you return home from work will reset your spirit. Dinner and responsibilities can wait five minutes. Observe your own breath. Allow yourself to slow down. Observe what thoughts pass by without needing to hold on to them. Practice will give you the meditative state.
I was comfortably seated on a couch deep in conversation one evening when my host’s husband asked if he could give me a foot massage. I nodded and kept talking… until I couldn’t. OMG. Waves of relaxation arrested my attention and I was cross-eyed. I no longer saw the room or heard what the other person was saying. Call it what you will, but I’m calling the experience a meditative state. This one is probably best suited for the end of your day.
Allow meditation to sneak into your day and feel refreshed. It only takes a few minutes for this natural blessing to bless your life.
Meditation blows back your hair and gives you a glimpse, perhaps for the very first time, of your original face, your true identity. — Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith