Thank you, and an idea or two
Thank you to the Lawrence YWCA for hosting a short series of meditation classes! Thank you for allowing me to teach there. It’s always interesting and exciting to see people take an interest in meditation, and to see meditation actually happen with people who have not meditated before. Always inspiring.
I thought I’d post a thought or two that might be relevant to the group at the YWCA.
In the two classes so far, we’ve spent some time doing mindfulness-awareness meditation, and discussing. A little review:
in the first class, there was a question about journaling after practice (I don’t recommend it, don’t do it personally, but it could be good- it’s up to the individual, but I’d be careful about adding extras to the practice)
in the first class, there was a question about integrating practice in daily routine (this has come up a number of times, and I’ll address it below)
in the second class, someone mentioned not being able to sleep at night (I’m afraid I forgot to address this in class, some thoughts on that below as well)
overall, I’ve tried to emphasize gentle practice, “noticing,” the physicality of practice, and that trying to do meditation is success/there is no bad meditator, there is no failed practice
All right. That’s actually quite a lot to start with.
As far as not being able to sleep, due to stress, anxiety, or “thinking too much,” here are some thoughts. A lot of them are not especially Buddhist or spiritual.
-Look at caffeine intake. Limiting it could be good, especially nearing bedtime.
- Exercise and physical practice, even walking, can sometimes “balance things out” if you’re feeling stressed or overly heady. Are you exercising at all, or enough?
- Maybe the not being able to relax at night is due to some real issues- what can’t you stop thinking about? Is there something real that needs to be addressed?
- There’s a kind of meditation called the “body scan” in which you become mindful, slowly and systematically, of every part of your body, from the top down. You could try that, and see if it helps. I’ve found it very helpful, not necessarily for sleeplessness, but it is done eyes closed, and seems like it might be conducive to relaxation, and sleep. I won’t offer detailed instructions here, but if you’d like more info on it, ask during a class, or email me. It’s not difficult to learn, but learning to meditate is always easier offline.
So that’s the sleep problem. I have a bunch more thoughts on that, but this is a start. Of course, there are lots of articles online about this issue, with some probably good suggestions, too.
The bigger question would be about integrating everyday life and meditation.
This is actually THE big question (for a meditator, really for a human being, in my opinion).
I could talk FOREVER about this one. Really. It’s endlessly fascinating. In a very real way, the question is itself the thing to look at, and any musing that ferment up are the answers, or the pointers to the answer. This is to say, I think the path of being a spiritual, practicing person is all about finding ways to practice as you go about your business, to fully integrate meditation with every aspect of your life. Certainly, having a time to sit every day, and be mindful, away from life (it would seem), is very valuable.
For me, and I hope this is relevant for others, it was, and is all about immersion.
It’s about immersing yourself in the practice. Of course, before that can happen, you have to want to do this, to find something fascinating or meaningful about meditation. (Most folks don’t, sadly, but this is how it is.)
Why would you find it meaningful? Why would it be fascinating? That’s really up to you to answer, especially the second part. The first has something to do with seeing that life is short, and we shouldn’t waste it. If you feel that spiritual practice, this path of getting to know yourself, your world, fully, is valuable, then good. Otherwise, you’ll probably do whatever else it is that seems meaningful.
Assuming there is something valuable about practice, look into it. You can sit a little every day. This is the main thing. But you don’t have to stop there. If it seems good, read a book. read ten. You don’t have to buy them. The library and internet are amazing resources (or you can just sit in a bookstore and read there, I’ve spent some time doing that). There are thousands of online videos of amazing teachers teaching, thousands of hours of audio of teachers expounding. You could even visit a meditation or yoga center. What does it feel like? What do the people seem like? You can talk to someone who’s been on the path for a while, and ask those questions you’ve been mulling over- everyone has them, I think, those big questions about life.
In general, immerse yourself, if you find yourself so inclined. That’s the main way to begin integrating life and meditation. Don’t waste too much time. We’ve all spent countless hours watching TV, procrastinating, walking around, driving around. If you’ve gotten to the tipping point of considering meditation and wanting to integrate it into your life, dive right in.
- Just say “Om!” Is meditation right for you? (massageenvy.com)
- One Minute To Meditate On God (oneminute4jesus.com)
- Meditation Health Benefits – Harness the Soothing Power of Meditation (massageenvy.com)
- Using “The Power of Habit” to Establish a Meditation Routine. (elephantjournal.com)
- Meditation is Simple (zenflash.wordpress.com)
- Mindfulness Meditation: Dr. Joe Parsi’s Introductory Exercise For Stress Relief (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)