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OTHER ITA SITES:
A Look at Meditation
I've counseled many people from every background and led workshops and lectures about self-empowering topics for about 25 years. Over that time, I saw a need. Everyone was searching. What they were looking for was unclear, many times. But the search was on. While I could meet many of their immediate needs, through counseling, they still needed a source, or connection with who they really were.
This was not a religious pursuit, per se, but a spiritual one. We all need to know our inner self. And the best way for us to get there is through meditation: a quiet time of some sort---contemplation. So out of that need, I saw an answer. Spreading information about basic meditation became my mission.
Almost all of the information I received about meditation over the years was through personal experience—trial and error. I did not read any books on the subject. They all seemed too deep and philosophical. And many times, the books included a whole cultural exploration. This is good for someone looking into historical information, or perhaps a religious belief. But just to know the basics of what meditation is and how to do it, there wasn't anything.
I've been able to connect very well with the groups I've spoken to because I've been in their shoes. I had first hand experience looking for my own inner self. And so, the column you see here will explore for you, the personal experiences of the proverbial searcher.
I had just graduated from high school, and was looking for some kind of personal project for the summer. Since I lived in a very small town, and it was in the 1960's, I was very surprised to find a yoga class being offered at the nearby middle school. I was always open for the new and different, and this fit the bill.
I joined the class as soon as I could and found myself in some very strange positions. But there was one position that I kept going back to. It was sitting cross-legged with my hands resting on my knees, palms up. It immediately made me sit straight, and my spine was relaxed.
While practicing this position at home, a strange thing happened. I began to feel unusual. There wasn't any way I could describe it. But it was a kind of light-headed feeling---almost like dropping off to sleep—--but I was awake.
I asked the instructor about it on the very next session. She assured me it was fine. But I had my reservations. So I stopped. I didn't go back to the class. And I didn't continue with the yoga practice.
I found out much later that I was beginning meditation. The instructor must have been concerned about giving too much information about yoga philosophy and the spiritual traditions of Eastern India. Our community was extremely slow about accepting new ideas. She was probably reluctant to introduce something new that could cause problems. So the yoga positions were only taught as an exercise.
I imagine many new or different ideas were stifled in the beginning. Some hesitate to share information for fear of being rejected or ostracized. And some of us hesitate to look at new information because we're afraid of rocking the boat.
As you explore the concept of meditation, you will learn about the varied benefits that can be brought about by meditation, including health, emotional release, and self- empowerment. You will realize that meditation is about ease. Moving one step at a time.
The Purpose of Meditation
Meditation is a way to connect with the inner self, or what some believe is the Divine Spark of God that we all are. It is to become quiet: to allow all outside disturbances to fade away, to be comfortable with the quiet. That quiet, or silence, which is allowed in, can calm the mind, restore the body, and define a spiritual path. Let's take this opportunity to try a sample meditation on for size. Remember that this is a sample. It gives us the chance to practice. And in practicing, we learn.
Bringing In A Quiet Moment
Take a moment out of your busy day. Go for a five-minute walk by yourself. Pay attention to the sound of your footsteps. Let it become even with your heartbeat. When this rhythm within you overrides the sounds of the day, take a deep cleansing breath. Look at the sky. Watch the clouds. Just enjoy the moment. This is the skill of meditation. It is nothing harder than that: just taking a moment, and relaxing into it. Allow your mind to relax into it.
This is just a very quick way for everyone to get some idea of what meditation is like. There are plenty of different types of meditations, as many as there are people. It requires a few undisturbed minutes, dedication and a desire. It will open up a whole new world for you. Just give it a try.
Copyright 2003, Melissa Leath
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