Update – check out my kids meditation collection of videos.
Well Meditation March is over and I’ve come to the conclusion that if meditation is great for a month, then it’s wonderful every single day of our lives. I’ve road-tested all kinds of meditation and have also concluded it’s worth it – even when you only have a minute (you can skip to the bottom and watch my one-minute video).
But, om (he, he), I still haven’t quite nailed a genuine daily practice.
From an hour to 10 minutes, 3 minutes, 1 minute, a moment to catch your breath – meditation offers us that connection to the universe that is inside all of us, even if it is fleeting.
From Zen meditation to Qi Gong, Chakra meditation, Mindfulness, finding your inner smile, laughing meditation, primordial sound meditation, binaural sound meditation, seated, standing, walking, Yoga Nidra, Tongren meditation, meditation with mantras (chants) and mudras (hand postures) or with the visual aid of a Mandela (a plan, chart or geometric pattern which represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically, a microcosm of the universe from the human perspective) it can seem like a whole-lot of mumbo jumbo.
But in my novice way, I reckon it’s a simple as being still in the present.
Or in the case of laughter meditation, chuckling, as the Daily Om said.
“The physical act of laughing is one of the few actions involving the body, emotions, and the soul. When we laugh, we give ourselves over to the immediacy of the present moment. We also are able to momentarily transcend minor physical and mental stresses. Practiced in the morning, laughing meditation can lend a joyful quality to the entire day. Practiced in the evening, laughing meditation is a potent relaxant that has been known to inspire pleasant dreams.”
I know people for whom laughing or fishing seems to be enough to bring them fully into the present and perhaps towards enlightenment in the course of normal daily life – for me I need the space and the focus.
Deepak Chopra is amongst those to endorse laughter meditation – check out this video – it’s infectious.
Throughout March I followed along to a free program of daily meditation offered by Oprah and Deepak, whose velvety voice washes over you like an ocean of waves. Their message of perfect health through awareness, connection, balance and attitude made for 21 days of powerful meditation, which involved Oprah delivering an introduction, Deepak providing the lesson, then quiet time to focus on the mantra and its message.
Having done a lot of Hatha yoga over the years, I’m familiar with the Yoga Nidra form of guided deep relaxation leading to meditation at the end of a class or as a stand-alone practice. It always leaves me feeling powerfully refreshed (although on occasions I have fallen asleep). This ABC News article offers a good explanation of its basis.
“The theory behind yoga nidra is that it works on something called our body of energy or life force. In India this energy is known as prana, and in China it is called chi.
Nearly all spiritual traditions acknowledge the existence of a body of energy that permeates the physical body and is responsible for our health and well being. Yoga nidra aims to enhance and balance this energy. Moreover, it does so in an enjoyable and effortless way that involves no costly equipment or training. Some practitioners describe yoga nidra as a form of self-administered acupuncture.”
Mmm…acupuncture without the needles sounds good.
In my research, I came across a form of meditation that actually involves taking on pain (without acupuncture) – called Tonglen meditation. It’s meditation to build up your ‘compassion’ muscle!
It effectively involves ‘breathing in pain’, so it is very much a healing practice. The suffering of others is taken in, the burden is shared in a sense of common humanity and then compassion and happiness is exhaled. In this way difficult circumstances, suffering becomes the very path to awakening.
One of the fundamental meditations of Shambhala form of Buddhism, as taught by Chogyam Trunpa Rinpoche, it is widely espoused by one of American’s most well-known Tibetan Buddhists Pema Chodron.
This is my visual representation of Tonglen meditation.
I’ve also investigated Qi Gong in a more detail – not that I’m any kind of expert or practitioner. I will post more on this ancient Chinese practice in the future.
There are all sorts of guided meditations available on the internet or as mobile apps, many of them free to download. You can meditate just for the sense of calm and peace, or apply it to any area you want to focus on in your life, or to the process of letting go. This is a good example (only four minutes).
But if you only have a mere minute, a few moments, then as the famous jingle for iconic Aussie lollie (candy) goes: ‘It’s moments like these you need Minties’ – or perhaps, meditation.
So I made up my little minute meditation in ode to ‘moments like these’.
I’ve called it ‘Wait a Moment’ and I might just make a series of these little ‘circuit breaker’ meditations.
When you ‘wait a moment’ – stop to collect yourself in moving meditation (not necessarily actually moving but not sitting down all zen like either, just pausing briefly in the rush of life), you can snap out of your bad mood, stop yourself yelling at the kids, find clarity to make a decision, remind yourself of how good you are, focus on your intentions for the future, or dwell on people you love for a moment when you might not like them all that much.
You can wait a moment, and decide to act better, or not to act at all – decide what path to choose, or decide to allow. You can regain composure and direction and it’s as simple as pressing pause, waiting a moment. So what are you waiting for? You choose.