To Meditate or Not

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?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????When considering meditation, many of us conjure a visual image of a person sitting upright in a cross-legged position, eyes closed and entirely still, with the goal of attaining perfect mental and emotional peace. Also conjured are images of highly formalized and ritualized practices, with specific behaviors, and environmental structures.

I have much respect for all forms of meditation practice. But if you do not come from a cultural background that immersed you naturally in a specific meditation style, or if your physical abilities, pain, temperament, or traumatic life experiences make it difficult to meditate, I want to suggest you consider a broader picture of what meditation could look like for you.

What is your goal for meditating? If it is relaxation or ease of mind, then meditating in a way that brings more physical pain or very traumatic feelings to the surface, may be counterproductive for you.

Feel free to employ some tools: If sitting upright is hard, make yourself comfortable in other positions. Lean back on pillows, lie down, close your eyes or focus your eyes softly on a specific object. Use a sound (mantra) music or a word, hold meditation rods, use beads or other objects that help move attention away from your automatic stressed mind. Another method of practice is to simply watch your automatic thoughts arise without judging or trying to change them. Experiment and see what happens.

Most life enhancing activities that move us out of habitual thinking, stressing, planning and worrying can be meditative. So, for you, if walking, swimming, yoga or another activity can be done without the usual thinking, planning and worrying, consider perhaps that these are your meditations. Practice.

I would love to hear back from you. I am curious; what is your meditation?

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11 Replies to “To Meditate or Not”

  1. What a great article — very practical and supportive recommendations! For me, one of my practices that is meditative, but I don’t think about it as meditative, is prayer. It definitely effectively provides me with what many people seek in meditation. I also like “walking meditation”. I focus sometimes on breathing, other times on posture, and other times on which muscle groups are being recruited in the motion. Thank you!

  2. I love the metaphor of the photo! For me it symbolizes the times when I try to sit and meditate, but my thoughts and worries are right there waiting to crash in on my practice. At these times I get up and move with intention. Rather than wrestle with my monkey mind, I seek stillness in action like taking a walk or cleaning my house. These activities allow me to drop into my body without force. I love that I can match the pace of my mind with the pace of the activity. For example, I can choose to walk slowly or work up a sweat, I can simply tidy up or perform a deep cleaning- all depending on my energy. I work it out!!

    Afterwards I almost always feel better and more meditative. I sleep good too. So thank you, Deborah for being expansive in your thinking. The least productive thing we can do is accumulate more worry or shame that we are not “doing” something right. And as you point out we all have different body expressions and abilities.

    • Rachel, so well put, thanks for the description of how you make meditation personal and really useful. I loved hearing that. Deborah

  3. Thanks for this Deborah. I have been meditating recently as part of my morning routine. Simply sitting on the edge of the bed, closing my eyes, and paying attention to my breathing. Also when I walk on the cliffs in the morning, it is quite a meditation!

  4. I like the image you posted. Your writing reminded me that I am not finding time to meditate …. Good reminder. Thank you.

  5. Great blog Deb. While I meditate every morning sitting or lying down, I also find that walking in nature or working in my garden are also very meditative for me. I have taught my Mom to meditate and it really helps her to be calm and centered. She says Hi!

    • Freda, great hearing from you. please say hi to your mom and family from me. yes. walking is my favorite meditation….the natural world calms me down..

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