Five Minutes in the John. Chapter Six. Final Thoughts

 "The act of meditation is being spacious.”– Sogyal Rinpoche

Let's review. We are invited to sit in meditation for 15-20 minutes a day for a committed period of time like a month. We are keeping it simple with the 1-2-3 method. Sit. Breathe. Stay. We have reviewed the benefits and the obstacles. All is in order.

Maybe I am the only one, but I wonder how meditating started. When did people first sit and why? What were they hoping for? It is speculated that meditation practice may be as old as humanity itself. I imagine early man staring into a fire or up at the stars in the sky. No internet. No TV. No books. So contemplation was basically part of life. You hunted, foraged, ate and sat around the fire until you slept. As life became more organized and less nomadic, spiritual thought and practices developed. India has the oldest written information about meditation, followed by China. No one really knows for sure when it started or why, but we do know this: it offers something significant to humanity.

Meditation is a spiritual practice and for those of you who are having a reaction to that, let's clear up what I mean. Spirituality is not religion or a religious practice. Spiritual by definition is anything that is not material. Meditation requires no dogma, rules, or beliefs. If you have been hurt by religion, please do not let that discourage you from launching a meditation practice.

If you continue to meditate, you may be surprised when your awareness expands spiritually. Yoga originated as a spiritual practice, and modern day practices often focus on physical exercise benefits. We could say the same for meditation. It started as a spiritual practice helping people discover they were more than physical bodies, connecting them to an expanded awareness and sometimes enlightenment. Modern practices in our secular world focus more on stress reduction and health benefits. But it is not an either/or. It is both. As you meditate to lower your blood pressure, you will expand spiritually. What does that mean? I might mean that we become more intuitive and creative and have a broader acceptance of all aspects of life, death and beyond. It may mean we are no longer afraid, can surrender and let go of needing to fix and control things around us. It can mean we are able to stop suffering. As they say, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. In a meditation recently I had a sense that my hurts, wounds, pain and defenses were like a dirty old overcoat that I could just shrug off as I stepped forward into clarity and comfort. It might be difficult to hold onto that feeling, but I will not forget what I now know.

Most of us are too busy to look more deeply into who we are until we meditate. As Jon Kabat-Zin says, "everywhere we go, there we are". For some of us, that can be a pretty surprising thought. Who is the person I call ME? The being you discover, the witness, the watcher, the You that is YOU, minus all the accumulated crud of life, is a courageous person willing to be present and make adjustments. Have you ever thought, as you go through life, day after day, "is this all there is?". Meditation feeds that part of us that seeks greater meaning and helps answer that question. What you do with all of that is completely up to you.

I have shared with you my simple 1-2-3 method for meditating. I also encourage everyone to try different methods until one clicks. My 28 Day Meditation Challenge includes tastes of different methods. However, here comes the but, if you use guided imagery, music, chanting, walking, prayer, or contemplation, include at least a few moments of silence. Chant your heart out. Sweat your prayers. Then sit quietly in the magic sweet spot. I consider all the methods as a way to grease the wheels so we can slip gently into a silent space of deep communion. I like meditating after chanting or exercise. Experiment and see what works for you.

I encourage everyone to start a meditation journal. Jot down date, time, and what you experienced. It was great. It was terrible. I fell asleep. Whatever you experienced, make a note. It will reassure you when you feel discouraged and show you how you have progressed.

Meditation groups are a wonderful way to get started if you can find one. Group energy supports us in going deeper. There are also lots of meditations online that you can try. My 28 Day Meditation Challenge is available for free. Each day includes information and directions for a 20 minute meditation. Commit to just 28 days and see what happens.

That's it. Simple. Keep going.

Copyright 2022 by Hillary Gauvreau Oat


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