This was my view on a recent walk. I was touched by both the beauty of this moment and also by the fact that there was serenity without stillness. I reflected that there is always motion, and change – even the slightest movement is proof of this constant energy.
The world is never still; our minds are never still. It’s a common misconception that meditation should produce a blank slate in our heads; this unrealistic expectation will only lead to disappointment.
Like the water, thoughts will always ripple within us – but we can choose to observe the ebb and flow of these mental waves without being dragged down in their undertow.
Perfect stillness; the perfect mind – they don’t exist. We can cultivate peace and well-being right where we are, just as we are.
When we observe our emotions and thoughts, we see that we are not confined or defined by them. They are real, but they are not true. They are not who we are.
Beneath the tangle of reaction and response; behind the layers we construct of fear and fantasy, our illusions evaporate and we reunite with our foundational core, revealing and reflecting our eternal true Self: brilliant, beautiful, warm, wise, and worthy of belonging and love.
In the depths of meditation, the Self reveals itself. Beholding the Self by means of the Self, an aspirant knows the joy and peace of complete fulfillment.Bhagavad Gita
A common misconception about meditation is that you can only do it seated and still. But that is just one of many ways – you can practice mindfulness while gardening, playing a musical instrument, cycling, swimming, or cooking.
If you are paying attention to your breathing and the world around you, then you are meditating. If you are noticing your emotions and thoughts, observing them from a place of curiosity and non-judgment, then you are meditating. Simple as that.
My favorite method is walking meditation. I breathe slowly and deeply, delighting in the wind and the sun; the trees and the sky; all of the sights and sounds and sensations that nature offers. When I catch my mind wandering, I turn the attention back to my breath and then to my surroundings – awake, aware, alive.
Walking meditation is a path of connection.
We become connected with our bodies during meditation.
Like the ebb and flow of the tide, with each inhale and exhale our cleansing breath centers and soothes us.
As we breathe deeply, our blood is oxygenated and our brains are enriched.
The levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, are reduced, and neurotransmitters in the brain increase the hormone serotonin which calms and relaxes us.
Breath is a koan: both a resting place and enlivening.Anne Lamott
Meditation provides us with the opportunity to discover what’s beneath the surface and how to reckon with what we find. Sitting quietly with ourselves and paying attention brings awareness to our mental activities and their impact on our bodies. We can notice the myriad thoughts that flit through our minds, the ego-stories upon which we fixate and replay in an endless cycle, and the bottled-up emotions causing tension and unease.
The practice of meditation can help us stay in the present moment without ruminating on the past or fretting about the future. We become “unstuck” as we release ourselves from the grip of our thoughts and allow emotions to run their course, freeing us from their control. It strengthens our ability to manage stress in a healthy way, while creating a sense of equanimity to help us courageously and peacefully navigate the challenges of life.
Meditation also brings us in touch with our precious inner nature and connects us with others in the spirit of compassion and hope that we may all be free from suffering.