“THERE’S a whole lot of craziness out there, and I’m just sitting here. Calm.”
Does that mean this man facing awful hurdles in life is apathetic? No.
He’s simply in a state of equanimity which is this deep calmness you get when faced with truly difficult situations. He meditates, and so does Dirty Harry actor Clint Eastwood who has been meditating for almost 40 years.
I do too.
But you don’t have to be a star, a victim of violence or a war veteran to experience overwhelming stress, frustration, hate, anger and jealousy. Enough to make you do drinks or drugs (or think of doing it). It’s simply human to feel the whole range of emotions which sometimes shake us to our very core.
Meditation is but a way to carry us through and make us mentally and spiritually (in the non-religious sense of the word) stronger. And more creative and productive.
Mindfulness meditation,in particular, includes Transcendental Meditation, yoga, tai chi and such. The three things in common among them all are: one-pointedness (such as being guided by a mantra), deep abdominal breathing, and a non-judgmental approach to each session.
The experts say: “there is no good or bad meditation (session).” Oh, really? How do you explain the times when, with all good intentions, you’ve tried to sit through 20 minutes of silence only to find yourself squirming with impatience and boredom after 20 seconds? No Spotify, no latest Apps to titillate your senses, no TRX to pump you up to the max and leave you on a high.
The secret to sticking to any form of mindfulness meditation day in day out is: Don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself “permission to be human” and allow good and bad thoughts to flit through your mind without trying to suppress them or dwell upon them. Just go back to your breath or mantra gently, ever so gently when you can. Just be.
For those used to regular exercise (I use this as a loose term) of any kind – whether it be tai chi, chi kung, pumping iron or 10km runs – you’ll know what I mean by “being in the moment” or “just being”. Time is suspended in moments when your vision, hearing and other senses are heightened; the superfluous chatter and noise around you fades away and you become naturally conscious of your breath. Nothing else matters.
You’ll benefit heaps from exercising and meditating daily. Trust me, I’ve found my best ideas surface either during meditation or after. And I get more done.
This close link between regular physical exercise and regular meditation is backed by solid science. “The mind is known to be a factor in stress and stress-related disorders, and meditation has been shown to positively effect a range of autonomic physiological processes, such as lowering blood pressure and reducing … emotional reactivity.” Read more on Professor of Medicine Emeritus Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.
Here are people of all walks of life and David Lynch, creator of Twin Peaks and other surrealist films, on why and what happens when we meditate on a regular basis.
Should you be unable to engage a qualified instructor (highly recommended so you learn how to meditate well), you can reap loads of benefits learning deep abdominal breathing such as yogic detox breathing mentioned here. This detox breathing, otherwise known as Kapalbhati , should not be practiced by those suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke or epilepsy, in which case you may just breathe deeply as a baby does.
And for those who still think meditation is a girly thing, read this excellent tip by Scott McDowell.
About this Week’s Guestwriter:
Sue Chien Lee is a Malaysian writer based in Barcelona, Spain. Sue teaches legal and general English and writes for The Malaysian Insider and Cikipedia, a compendium on health. Follow her on Twitter: @suechienlee