Peace of Mind Meditation!
Updated: February 27, 2010
This is a great article written by one of our resident guest authors, astrologist Shelley von Strunckel. There is no astrology here, but lots of peace of mind. And to accompany this article I’ve pulled one of my meditations from my I Am Grace CD called Deep to help you relax into it.
The first time I saw anybody meditating, I was in my late teens. It was at the Vedanta Society Temple in Hollywood, a lovely if tiny refuge from the excesses of that city located, bizarrely, by the Hollywood Freeway, on which eight lanes of cars zipped by, day and night. Yet inside there was a profound stillness. There resident monks would meditate before evening talks or Sunday morning lectures. Although I had no concept what they were doing, I tried to emulate that stillness – outer and inner.
Since then, I’ve not only become somebody who meditates regularly, I often recommend it to friends and private clients. While there is no zodiac sign that could be said to favour meditation, the individual chart reveals an inclination for it. Doing meditation is by no means a requirement for an astrologer. For this one, however, it’s both a need, especially when life is trying or deadlines are pressing, and it is a source of increasing pleasure.
Yet frequently, the mere mention of meditation triggers a response that’s the reverse of the calm centredness it’s meant to engender. The most frequent remark is a concerned, “I couldn’t empty my mind.” Which makes me think that while the practice is rewarding in countless ways, meditation itself has a bit of an image problem. It’s seen as worthwhile – but beyond the reach of ordinary mortals, particularly those with untamed thoughts.
While it’s true that over time meditation begins to quiet the inner chatter that keeps so many awake at night and feeling jangled during the day, that isn’t its purpose. It’s about aligning with the Ultimate Stillness and, with that, discovering a strong, resilient core that remains solid whatever challenges life doles out. And the great news is, there are all kinds of ways to do it – all kinds of meditation.
Put simply, meditation is defined as a state of relaxed attention. This occurs naturally when we’re lost in a particular activity, from gardening to playing music or even when cooking. These aren’t about emptying the mind. It’s about calming it. Effortless focus. It’s like the difference between a calm ocean and a stormy one, with furiously lashing waves.
When it comes to doing it, the range of techniques is huge. There’s focusing on the breath, concentrating on an object, a candle perhaps, or a sacred image, or perhaps chanting, silently or aloud. Most religions have some variety of beads, so prayers can be repeated without actually counting them, thus creating a meditative state. And there are lots of teachers offering techniques, some religious, some distinctly not.
In every case, the objective is achieving a stillness so powerful that it alters even life’s greatest challenges. The worry and angst are replaced by a still power that reduces the size of those challenges. At first, temporarily. The benefits of meditation are cumulative. The more it’s done, the longer those blissful feelings last, and the easier it is to recall them even when not actually officially meditating. Over the years I’ve learned to access that state in a taxi – and sometimes even when I’m in the midst of urban chaos.
Not only is there no single way to meditate, the way that suits a single individual can change as their life evolves. While some involves sitting, others are done walking. And many religious communities encourage meditation while cooking meals.
Whatever the method or teacher, the benefits are the same. First and foremost, calm. Serenity when actually doing it, and a wonderful after effect, one that lasts longer the more it’s done. There’s stress reduction and lower blood pressure (in fact, according to tests done by TM, Transcendental Meditation, meditators age more slowly than those who don’t). Sleep comes more swiftly and is deeper and more nourishing.
Like so many of life’s greatest joys, from sex to Haagan Dasz Ice Cream, experiencing it is infinitely better than describing it. You don’t need a teacher to try it. Next time you’re driving yourself crazy, instead of worrying more about what you think is the source of your problems, choose to turn your attention to something else. That simple choice is the beginning of altering your state. Anything will do – a flower, the sun, the moon, a cloud. Dwell gently on it and sense the stillness that comes as the mental storm is calmed.
There. You’ve done it. Meditation.