Sep 2 2011

Minute Meditation – One baby step on discovering a Spiritual Path

I am like many of you: very busy. We can forget the things that are important to us. Sometimes this means forgetting to pursue our spiritual path. At these times t is important just to remind ourselves to take a step back and do something little, the equivalent of one step down our potential spiritual path. It may be that you are like me too busy or it may be that you are starting off and need something concrete but simple. This is an opportunity to try meditation without doing some heavy thing in a formal setting. Do this at home. I do it in my living room.

I do something I call the Minute Meditation. It usually take a little longer than a minute, but the idea is the same. It is a version of a zen meditation, not original to me at all. But I suspect most valuable spiritual ideas aren’t original but simply rediscovered.

Sit comfortably. I usually sit with my lower legs folded underneath my upper legs, with my body erect, eyes closed. I close my eyes because I often have little kids running around me and I find it less distracting to my practice not to see them. If you are naturally stiff like me, this will take some practice, but I find it to be a very comfortable and centering position to sit. Next I simply breath in. Breathing in as deep and slowly as I can. Focusing only on my breathing. Then, when I cannot breathe in any more, I breathe out, just as slowly and just as evenly as I inhaled. One full breath takes me about 20-25 seconds. I do this ten times, incorporating the counting as part of the concentration process. The object is to focus your mind completely on your breathing and counting and let go of all other thoughts. To quiet the mind.

Sounds easy, right. What could be easier than breathing in and out and counting to ten. Nothing.

It is really hard even for this short period not to have thoughts drift into your mind. To notice my kids laughing  or yelling or whatever other distractions you have. That is normal. When the distractions be they thought of work, the dog barking or your own discomfort with the posture, you recognize the distraction and let it go. Refocus on your breath. Continue with your breathing and counting. When more distractions come, say hello to them and let them go. And Breathe.

You can do this mediation anywhere. Any time. You don’t need a lot of time. You simply need to act.

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Apr 29 2009

The Smiling Meditation

In this article I haven’t yet jumped into the pool of effective spiritual practices. There are many. But I will dip my toe in the water with a simple meditation that I learned in the Excellent book Essential Spirituality.  I am going to suggest this meditation before I explain why I think meditation in its different forms is powerful and important spiritual  practice. I am doing this because not everything that works or is good, begins with the mind or our rational thought process. Maybe it can be explained by it later, but often we adopt things in life because it works. This is a meditation you can do anywhere. It is simple and satisfying.  This introduction takes longer than the meditation itself. It is like meditation lite.  For the skeptics (good for you), its success has its basis in our own human physiology. If you are inclined to dismiss the spiritual side of it, that is up to you. It will still feel good and be good for you!

How to do the Smiling Meditation

Ready? Wherever you are simple take a deep inhalation saying to yourself “This breathe I take is relaxing.  And as you begin to exhale smile and say to yourself, “This breathe makes me happy.” It should take a few seconds. Now, do it again.

It is important that you smile.

It is not important if you feel like smiling or not. What is important is that you smile and breathe. We have power in simple things. By smiling it tells our body we are happy, even if we are currently less than ecstatic. This is a simple act.

But involves taking action. This is not passive Spirituality, waiting for someone or something to do something to us. I will not tell you how you will feel, after doing this only a few times.

There are physiological reasons why this simple exercise done repeatedly will transform your mindset. But the fact that it can be explained scientifically does not negate either its power or spiritual impact. Finding spirituality without religion does not need to defy logic.

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