In our community house we had a meditation room. We had boards that fitted the window to keep the light and noise out. We burned Nag Champa incense. We opened with Aum’s and we closed with an Om Shanti song. I had a square pillow I sat cross legged on leaning against the wall and that’s where I meditated in the house for 12 years.
I used a mixture of focuses to still my mind. I still use them. I used a mantra, Hare Om. I concentrated on my breathing. I watched my thoughts. Through these methods I connected with that calm, still part of me that observes my dreams. In a dream, part of you is in the action, feeling emotions, part of the dream and there is this other part that is just watching and recording and staying calm.
I can drop into that connection any time I choose now. I can feel it as I write. It feels like my heart is open and I am breathing from it. It feels like releasing tension and emotion. This is not my normal state. I can be tense, anxious, grumpy, annoying, sanctimonious, judgemental, etc. And I can drop into a peaceful state in a heartbeat when I become aware and choose. When I am teaching and healing I can sit in that calm internal space and people tell Susan how wonderful I am. She knows better!
In the community my role was to monitor and close the meditation. It is still my role, staying in the calm state and sensing how others are feeling and starting the Om Shanti song to end the meditation.
Meditation helps me release stress and become relaxed. It helps slow my thoughts, sometimes to a stop, which helped me through two periods of anxiety and depression, both caused by trying to look after everyone else around me and spreading myself so thin that I broke.
Meditation creates a gap between Feel, Think, Act. This is normally an unconscious process in the background. When I was depressed I felt awful, my thinking was going a hundred miles an hour, trying to work out what was wrong with me, worrying about things in the past, predicting dire things in the future. The meditation helped me differentiate the feelings. Often, I was tired or had hay fever rather than depression and I could treat those. It helped me see my thoughts and choose to change them to something more positive. I remember the breakthrough as I learned to accept the outcomes of my thoughts rather than fear or fight them. Fuck it! is a great therapy.
I now use different methods to meditate, that I have picked up over the years. I use mindful walking with wide angle vision to meditate while walking in Nature. I use a sense meditation, where I tune into each sense at a time before tuning into all of them. I use mindfulness, really being present in the now, noticing my body and my environment. Listening to bird language with my eyes closed. I also use visualisation, something I have done since I was 6.
Now, when we facilitate a meditation group, we start with a grounding visualisation to bring everybody out of their hectic day into the room. We follow with another visualisation, usually a journey with some sort of a message for them. Then, we sit in silent meditation for 20 to 30 minutes. Some like visualising best, some like silent meditation.
The meditation techniques are common, but everybody has a different experience with meditation. Its personal. I have taken part in meditation marathons where for most of the time my sore knees and dead legs were demanding my attention. It is quality that counts. One of the best ways I have found to drop into a meditative state is six long, deep, breaths focussing on the breath. It doesn’t take long and it brings instant physical and mental relief. It was particularly useful in business meetings which had turned into heated discussion aka argument. I would sit back quietly and do my breaths to release my mental turmoil, often to realise that we had got carried off the main subject and were arguing about trivia.
I’m not perfect. Perfect is part of most religions but I don’t find it a helpful concept. I find that the ideas of perfect come from other people or comparison with other people and that these ideas form a cloud which can rain on our parade for all our whole lifetime, if we let it. I think becoming conscious is a better concept, the idea that we are on a journey to improve our awareness of ourselves, our behaviours and our communication so that we grow into better relationship with God, Nature and each other.
To be continued…. Community