We’ve had an absolutely amazing response to Michaels’ meditation advice. He came up with this piece hot on the heels of his last one. I’m hoping this will be an ongoing, regular thing. He writes in a very free and easy style that completely reflects how he talks in the meditation sessions that he gives. It’s almost like he’s there to help you along.
Thank you all for the feedback on the first two mediation articles. Glynis has read me your amazing experiences and in many cases your incredible successes with your practices in meditation (you can look them up under Articles on the home page if you missed them).
Many of you have been saying it’s hard to shut off your mind. Hellooo, there are monks, gurus and practitioners dedicated to meditation who have similar difficulties. Let’s not call them difficulties. You must be patient with yourselves, because it’s all part of the journey. Your frustrations and realisations in meditation are all part of the process. Embrace them.
I was teaching at the Priory some years ago and in the middle of a meditation one man jumped up and threw his arms in the air and stood transfixed. Ecstatically he exclaimed, ‘I got it! I see it all so clearly now. Thank you, thank you’. He ran out the door and I never saw him again. These things happen and you accept the clarity and the existential messages you glean and GO ON.
Try to think of the mind as a tool, a very useful tool that affects our lives directly. Good thoughts and negative thoughts have a direct impact on our general daily life. On an average type day, it only takes a change of mind to turn a bad day into a good day.
So if we can change our minds, then can you see we are not our minds, as we are the changers? We are the witness behind the mind. The captain of our ship. Our minds would have us think it’s running the ship. We must watch our thoughts. So how do we get in touch with the witness, this mind-changer? Meditation! It is the key to the door of consciousness.
A little story: back in NYC when I was a teenager who just got his driving license and spent my savings on my first car and now I was ready to launch into some serious dating. I got a date with a girl I wanted to impress. Picking her up, opening doors and dressing nice all fell apart on the road when a guy cut me off and I yelled out the window and he yelled back and we gave each other rude signs and we jumped out of our cars to engage in some stupid face to face raging. After beating my fists on my chest, (metaphorically) I returned to my car to find my date had fled the jungle. She didn’t take my calls afterwards either.
So when I realised my behaviour had cost me dearly, I decided I was not going to do that anymore. Then the next day another idiot cuts me off and I nearly crashed my car. The loud hairy monster was out of the car and beating his chest again. ‘But I said I was not going to do that anymore, and I just did it again’. The next time (as there is always a next time) I did make rude signs and yelled but I stopped myself as I reached for the door handle. NO, I am not going to do this. The next time I stopped as I made the rude sign. I felt like something was changing. I caught how I did something and made a conscious decision to change it.
The point of the story is becoming aware of our process we can become more conscious and lift our living experience to a higher state. First, we have to become aware of our process; how we do things that depress us or make us unhappy. When we are aware of this process, we can change it. The hairy monsters within us all are controlled. We have the choice to let it out or not by taking responsibility for our actions.
The choice a martial arts master makes in that moment between action and reaction is meditation. That space between the in-breath and the out-breath of every human. Meditation is simple. It’s not complicated and we don’t have to live in a cave or on a mountain top to do it. If you garden and get lost watering your plants or involved deeply reading a book, doing something that absorbs your thoughts and takes you out of your daily thinking, that is a form of meditation. The only difference between that and here is; here we are focusing our mind inwards. Within!
So by seeing our minds as a clear sky and not trying not to think, or turn off our minds, we simply witness our thoughts as they come like little puffs of clouds crossing our clear blue sky and we don’t become involved with them. Let them move on across our sky and be gone. We don’t get engaged or attached to the thoughts and we can then go deeper into meditation.
Meditate as long as you like. I usually sit for twenty minutes. Some day’s it can go either way. Forty minutes can feel like twenty or there are days when my mind is filled with chicharoo. (Chilean, for chickens rubbing their legs together).
In this case:
Start with lying flat on your back on the floor or on a mat and taking three slow deep breaths. Then starting with your toes, imagine in your mind that they are filling with warm golden oil.
Let this warm golden oil begin to fill each foot, then the arches, the instep, then the heels and imagine the warm golden oil moving up your ankles to your calf’s, from shins to knees and so on. The natural time it takes to allow this golden oil with its healing warmth remove any tension or pain it comes across.
Bring the oil up into the thighs and into the buttocks and groin. Then fill your stomach, and move up the spine of your back. The oils warmth healing and relaxing every part it touches. Filling the chest and surrounding your heart. Can you see the golden glow around your heart? Bring the oil up to the neck and back of the neck and then flow down your arms to your elbows and to your hands. Feel the warm oil right to your finger tips. Slowly move back up your arms and into your shoulders removing all the tension and tightness as it moves up your neck into your head. Filling your skull, your facial bones, your ears, your lips, teeth and eyes and then your brain, all the way to the hair follicles on your head. Relaxing and calming your whole body. Breathe deep and let it all go. Breathe.
You are now ready to meditate.