Let’s not call it Meditation any more.
There’s a perception shared by many: meditation is boring, we hate it, it’s dull. Blank the mind? Impossible. Dwell in peace and stillness … yes that bit sounds lovely, but how?
The particular words used to describe something can have a huge impact on whether we ‘get it’ or not. They can immediately alienate or immediately resonate. Instead of asking you to meditate, how with it go for you if I asked you do the following?
1, Focus your attention.
Can you concentrate for a few seconds on one thing? Of course you can. Composing an email, tying your lace, chatting to a loved one and being suddenly struck by their beauty. All perfect examples of moments of complete participation of the mind … simple, beautiful moments. In your practice you will try that - focusing your attention on one thing. Maybe the breath in your nostrils. Maybe just for a few breaths, one, three or a drifting-on number that runs into a few minutes. Interesting to note when we reside in this state of focused attention, of complete participation of the mind, we loose awareness of time. How cool. Often we can naturally drift on to number two …
2, Day dream.
Picture yourself on holidays. Visualise the moment after a delicious, relaxed, lunch when you are drawn to notice the beauty of your surroundings. Something about the sounds, smells, taste and sensations cause you to become very aware of the present moment and you find yourself residing in a moment of sheer bliss. We can practice this. We can practice ‘drifting’ our attention as our naturally curious minds fluctuate and explore. The only “rule” is we can’t get caught up in negative drama. No obsessing over the past, no worrying about the future. Thoughts, feelings, sensations, emotions are all allowed to flow.
It is said, as humans, when we reside in simple awareness of the present moment we naturally dwell in a state of bliss.
3. Be nice.
A fundamental aspect of our practice is not passing judgement or criticism of the thoughts, feelings, sensations or emotions we experience. As humans we are programmed to judge, to self-evaluate. In our practice we try to dwell in the role of the passive observer. This makes us less critical of ourselves and others, more open to change as we create new neural pathways. alter brain function, improve well-being, and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. We can practice a focused loving-kindness meditation; this has been scientifically proven to boost brain structure and function in the area that makes us more empathetic and therefore better humans.
Science is backing what we have always known and even more exciting, nuanced results are emerging. A new study from the Max Planck Institute, published in Science Advances, finds that three different types of meditation training are linked to changes in specific brain regions.
The results offer an even more detailed look at how meditation can change the brain, and in a relatively short amount of time. Lots of research has found that experienced meditators have significantly altered brain structure and function, but a growing number of studies has also found that relatively brief meditation training in beginners can also shift brain function and improve well-being,
The rules are relaxing, you do what suits you, but one thing is for sure - there are no excuses left not to have a practice; your practice of focusing your attention and happily drifting in awareness of the present moment.
Follow me on YouTube for two minute practices to help you along. Ironically I call them Meditation.