As I have traveled this spiritual road over the last few years I seem to be hearing the same advice. In order to draw closer to God, there are a few key components: prayer, mediation, study and service.
This has been the advice I’ve gotten from traditional religious settings and from eastern spiritual gurus.
So…..I’m starting to believe there is something to it.
I’m good at studying and praying and service. They all require me to actually DO something. To engage in some form of activity.
I’ve been open about my trials with learning to meditation as I’ve tried to find a spiritual practice that works for me.
So today (after some earnest practice) I’ll talk about how I mediate now, after lots of trial and error.
How I meditate – Rule #1 NO MANTRA (necessarily)
I love yoga so I naturally have gravitated to practicing many of the lifestyle lessons that traditional “yogis” practice. One of the things that the yoga tradition advocates is a mantra meditation.
A mantra is simply a word or short phrase that you repeat over and over again during meditation.
I’ve tried this. It doesn’t work for me.
There is just something about me having to focus on a word or words that makes me feel like I’m, well….. doing something.
And I thought the point to meditation was to do nothing.
So when I meditate. I don’t use a mantra.
I simply sit and let my mind go wherever it goes. There are moments when I notice that I’m thinking something. There are times when I just simply watch the images that run through my mind like little movies on a screen.
I’ve noticed that most of my thoughts are images so it actually is “fun” to watch my mind meander along without my doing anything to it.
The only time I do find a mantra helpful is when my mind is particularly busy. At that point a mantra like “I am peace” or “all is well” is very helpful to still the activity of my mind!
How I meditate Rule # 2 NO LOTUS
The traditional seated posture for practicing meditation is the lotus pose. If you are unfamiliar with this pose it is the one where your legs are basically twisted into a pretzel.
Well I have been able to sit in this pose in the (distant) past, but now?….After about 5 seconds I’m uncomfortable imitating a lotus flower.
So I simply don’t sit that way.
I sit any way I want so long as I’m comfortable. Sometimes I sit on a meditation pillow with my legs crossed. Other times I sit on a chair or lay flat on my back!
How I meditate Rule # 3 NOT IN THE MORNING
Again yoga traditions often recommend that you pray and meditate first thing in the morning. Like before the sun rises in the morning.
I’m not sure if any yogis who have small children have ever tried this, but getting up at 4 in the morning just doesn’t fit for my lifestyle right now.
With three kids who tend to wake up right as the sun rises I’m never certain that I’ll be able to fit it in. I’ve tried and it just has not worked.
I inevitably end up with a child sitting on my criss-cross apple sauce legs right in the middle of my meditation.
The right meditation practice for you is one that you will actually practice. So I meditate in the middle of the day when the big kids are at school and the little one is napping.
The point here is not so much about how I meditate. It’s about how YOU meditate.
If you have been learning that meditation is a tool that will help you go deeper into your spiritual life, then find a way to practice it consistently.
No it doesn’t have to be in any particular way using any particular system.
It’s fine to learn from other people how they do things and what works for them. But ultimately you have to try it for yourself and see how it fits into your life.
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