Mexican drug lord "El Chapo" was found guilty…will he bust out of Supermax in Colorado, too? What a movie!...the tunnel…he could tunnel under a Wall…El Chapo’s billions could fund a Trumped-up wall…but the dude did so much evil…and do we really want a big fence…”♪Don’t fence me In ♬”...
Focus Ray! Stick to the point. This is about meditation, remember, about chilling out your discursive thoughts!
Meditation is the latest buzz, popular, like not eating one-pound burgers, becoming a gym rat, and sleeping more (unless you're driving). Meditation is more than a trend, its mind-health.
So why aren’t you doing it?
One reason is fear; we think we can’t sit still. Or its fear of our racing thoughts—“my mind is so messy and busy”. But, millions of people with freaky thoughts and overactive minds that keep them up at night, try meditation.
This article is not about how to meditate, there are great books and teachers for that. Its focus is quick facts; what I learned during 10 years of meditation, the misconceptions, and to encourage you to try it.
I’ll talk about the concept of meditation and the end game. Meditating, (becoming Aware) is a life changer! Also, you don’t have to give up your religion to do it.
More About Mind:
Here's the skinny. The secret truth is—most people have similar thoughts (unless you’re my Uncle Fred) You're not alone in the thought game. We all have self-deprecating thoughts, our minds jump around like a monkey from one worrying thought to another; we think we're going crazy at times—we have pleasant thoughts along with guilt, and shame—and anger (maybe lots of anger!). Life is tough, maybe you got kicked by a horse growing up (or maybe it was your mom or dad). We have funny thoughts, then get depressed. No big deal, it’s all just life.
Also, we have conversations in our heads and distract ourselves. My biggies are an internal battle over going to the gym, rehearsing future conversations obsessively, and my favorite distraction is drifting off into fantasy land.
These are all part of being human. Meditation helps us understand ourselves—to get in touch with our basic goodness. To learn that we’re enough, in spite of what we otherwise think.
Study meditation, learn the rules and then throw out the rigid 'how-tos". I wasted years thinking that a straight back and crossed legs were it, that correct posture was the secret to meditating. As well intended as the different methods and teachers are—they are just methods. Whether you focus on the breath at the tip of your nose or your chest expanding is not essential. Don’t get me wrong you do need to study meditation. I learned it from books, podcasts, videos online and teachers. Find a method that works for you.
Expectations: Forget about it!
Throw out any expectations; like you're going to be calm, relaxed and stress-free, and that meditating will make your life blissful. That’s not real. Meditation is about being curious. Just seeing what comes up.
Have faith that the practice will work in the long run. Expectations or wanting a specific result will hinder progress and make you quit in frustration. Mediation is a long game like baseball, boring at times, but worth the effort. With practice, you’ll make hits and even home runs in the future. So, get over your yogic thoughts and just do it.
Good or bad: I hate dichotomies, but due to conventions, I’ll use the words. In reality there is no good or bad, it’s all just meditation. Some sittings will be focused and the very next day you'll be climbing the walls with boredom or impatience, thinking about yesterdays argument with your partner. This is all part of meditation.
What’s the point? Mindfulness means being aware. The idea is to recognize when your mind drifts off—and return to the present moment. (Simple) You'll get to know how you think and to process that to become the person you want to be; more tender, kind (including to yourself), patient and compassionate, while functioning and at a higher mental level in everyday life.
Sit in a way that is comfortable. The point is to learn how to relax into the meditation, without consciously trying. You’ll get it with practice. In the beginning, you might squirm around; thoughts cause feelings and some feelings make you antsy. You’ll learn to deal with that, too.
Also, meditation is not about stopping thoughts. We need this function. Thinking, our consciousness is how we became advanced mammals (unlike my Uncle Fred) The target for meditation is to let our thoughts drift by without engaging them.
For example, when you run off on a riff while meditating like “What’s for lunch, pizza or a salad? Oh, I could try that new chile enchiladas...no fatso, go with the salad”…When you catch yourself during that cluster of thoughts and gently go back to the breath—you’re meditating! You have to practice and experience it for yourself. And be warned, it’s hard to stick with—but worth the price. It can change your life, buddy.
The end game is non-meditation! Although I still do formal meditation, daily. (Confused?)
Mediation is a tool to uncover a level of consciousness hidden inside all of us. A high functioning state of mind, what Lock Kelly calls, “Open Hearted Awareness” or what Tibetan’s call Dzogchen—athletes taste it when they're in the ”flow state”. It’s concentrated and creative. You function outside of the Self—beyond your ego identity. You shift onto awareness, your open-hearted, compassionate self. This is not new age dreamy theory; I and millions of people experience it every day. Some people learn quickly, others like me, take longer—but anyone can do it.
So why not give it your best shot?
Ray Regan is a grandfather and writer living in Chester County, Pa.