Searching for a Zen Kind of Mind to Remedy the Stress of Everyday Life? Meditate!
Unbeknownst to me, what I learned at age 19 in my college world religion class, would become a life-long personal practice. Meditation, the art and science of concentration, quieted my mind, relaxed my body and helped me cope with the stress and pressure of college life. It made such an impact on my mind, body and spirit, 45 years later, I am still meditating, have become an avid student and teacher of mindfulness meditation.
I believe most people have heard about meditation, whether they dipped their toe into the ocean of silence, read an article in a mainstream magazine or have uploaded an app into their I-phone to seize a few moments to zone out from all the commotion of the day. As curiosity has risen, people are registering for meditation classes in droves. If you are searching for a silent meditation retreat, and I am talking a 5-10-day retreat, you will not find one available in the United States and Eastern Europe for at least six months. That’s how popular it has become.
If your interest is perked and you decide to take a meditation class, the teacher usually likes to get a sense of her students and asks,
1. Have you ever mediated before?
Most say – I have tried it once - Some say they never tried - One or two people say they did a long time ago.
2. What has held you back from learning mediation?
The majority say - I can’t sit still – It is boring – I am not sure I will benefit.
3. Why have you decided to take a mediation class?
The majority say - I am stressed out most of the time – I need to learn how to relax – I understand it is good for my health – My (wife) (doctor) (friend) told me to.
I believe meditation is booming because people are “waking up” to a poignant reality: The accelerated pace and constant demands of our everyday life has reached beyond our threshold of normalcy and weakened our ability to keep up and adapt to the daily grind. Sunrise comes, and we are fresh out of the gate, on the move, juggling morning tasks, getting kids ready for school, ourselves ready for work, and checking communication portals with the onslaught of emails, text messages, voice messages and social media posts. The morning rush prevails, leaving many of us tired before we have opened the front door and greeted the new day.
We get caught in the rabbit hole of doing, doing and doing and lose sight of what really matters and how we truly want to live our lives. Maybe, we ponder, meditation will help me de-stress, slow down, exit the race track of life and allow me to return back to myself.
Meditation, the science and art of concentration, is an ancient practice dating back thousands of years. The people of the East realized the health benefits of meditation. It was a philosophical, psycho-physical-spiritual practice. Meditation helped restore physical health, heal from afflictions, tame the unfocused, wandering mind and restore clarity, regulate emotions, cleanse the spirit, open the heart, deepen awareness, strengthen connection with all life and heighten intuition.
Meditation is an excellent antidote to the busyness and stress of modern-day society. It offers us the opportunity to stop, to pause and take refuge in the stillness and quietness of being. All we have to do is sit, breath and be. No external pressure, no demands, no doing - just being. The teacher guides us in emptying our mind, turning inwards and becoming aware of what is in the moment to moment experience of our present existence without judgement. When beginning, the instructions of the teacher may fade in and out as you deepen in stillness. Sometimes you may nod off, a sign of fatigue, or become restless a sign you are get accustomed to sitting. You are a beginner with beginner’s mind, all responses are acceptable, and there is no perfect.
So go for it! Try a class. Download an app. Read a meditation book. Or, schedule a private session with a teacher.