Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Meditation - All Day, Every Day?


One of the concepts I used to struggle with concerning meditation was "am I doing it properly"? Meaning, am I sitting correctly, perfect posture, is my mind completely blank, sitting, waiting, oops-there goes a thought-ok, blank mind, GO!, no wait, that was a thought! WAIT! That was another thought! NOOOO! I'll never get this!!! Enter what my Shifu likes to refer to as "the Monkey Mind".

It can be a tough thing to grasp-but wait! There's that word-grasp. If we grasp, are we searching? And if we are searching are we being still, empty, and free? Why is this stuff so hard! Then it hit me - it doesn't have to be.

Meditation is as simple as just being. Being present. That's all. I mean think about it (wait! Don't think!!! Take no thought!) if all there is, is the present-the now-we should really be in meditation all the time, right?

That's it! How many of us truly live in the now-right here-in the present? Do you? Ask yourself this question-how many times today did you dwell on past events or worry about future events? How many times were you daydreaming about your weekend plans, or your trip next month? What about when you took that water break this afternoon, were you completely present and aware as you took that sip of water? I believe this is a perfect illustration of all the opportunities we have every day to be present, and all the opportunities we miss.

I think we pass meditation off as sitting in the Lotus position with a completely blank mind, zoned out. While seated meditation (or zazen as it is referred to) is extremely important, and should become a daily practice, that is not the only time meditation should occur.

You see, meditation is not a "zoning out". Meditation is the supreme state of awareness, with a mind like glass, or better yet-perfectly still water offering nothing but reflection, peace, and stillness. It is in this stillness, with a completely quiet mind, that the "now" the "present" may be totally realized.

If meditation is a supreme state of awareness, where we are totally present and totally in the moment, why can't we meditate each and every day of our lives? Forgetting the past, not living in the future, just being now-we've already established that now is all there is, correct?

I address this idea in my book "Abundant Health: Fitness for the Mind, Body, and Spirit" that there is only now, there only was now, and there will only ever be now. Think about it, the past is what? A series of now moments that have already occurred kept alive by your memory. The future is nothing but a series of now moments that have yet to happen-and when they do happen it will be now.

If we agree that from an experiential standpoint there can only be now, doesn't it make sense why people become addicted to things like adventure sports? Consider the rock climber hanging off the face of a share cliff by his or her fingertips-I promise you (as I have been in that very position myself) the only thing you are focused on is the right now! That test next week, or the stack of papers on your desk waiting for you Monday morning is not occupying any space in your mind at that point in time.

I'm happy to tell you that you don't have to be an adrenaline junkie to experience the now-do this, take a deep breath into your belly, focus on your Dantien (your energy center about 1-2" below your navel), now breath into that point. Do it 10 more times, counting backward from 10 to 1, and on that final breath just be. Clear your mind and sit. Don't worry about for how long. Just stay clear and allow your mind to relax, if a thought comes into your mind, notice it and let it pass, but do not hang on to it.

This is much easier said than done! The first time you try this you may only be able to maintain this state for a minute or two-ugh but wait! We've just assigned meditation to the world of time and space taking it out of the now!

NOW-do you see what I am trying to get at here? All day, just be present, in everything you do! Don't neglect your seated meditation practice, there is no finer way to gain control of your mind, but when you aren't sitting on your cushion in the Lotus position battling your monkey mind for supremacy of your being, bring your attention fully into the present. Whether you are exercising, walking up the stairs, or having a conversation with a family member or co-worker, take the time to meditate all day, every day.

If you do this I'm sure you will discover that you will be able to speed up, and calm down, and you will be well on your way to a happier, healthier and more enjoyable life-and after all-isn't that what we are truly here for?

Be well!


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