Back by popular demand, some more meditation advice from Michael Brandon.
Meditation remains one of the most potent tools against the ever growing tide of stress that threatens to overwhelm us (me included) and undermine our health and wellbeing. To my mind, deep breathing and meditation coupled with some sort of exercise are the very best tools you can use to de-stress and maintain a clear and happy mind. Recent research has revealed that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions that those who do not. As expected, people who meditated also built valuable long–term skills. For example, three months after the experiment was over, the people who meditated daily continued to display increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms.
Michael has been meditating for longer than I’ve known him and as we are celebrating 25 years of marriage later this year, that’s quite a long time!
Your mind will try to find reasons not to meditate. This is true even for monks. Too much to do this morning, errands to run, calls to make, problems to solve etc, etc.
Forget all the excuses. The mind is afraid of giving up any time. Tell your mind, “it’s okay you can watch me meditate, just stay out of it.”
You are going to sit down somewhere comfortable where you won’t be disturbed by outside noises if possible. Put a pillow under your hips and cross your legs in front of you comfortably. I use this word comfort over and over. Meditation is not meant to be painful or uncomfortable, it’s meant to be easy. If the floor is painful sit on a chair with both your feet flat on the floor.
If possible, take time to light a candle or incense or play something soothing like a tamboura (Indian guitar) quietly in the background. It will block outside noises and not disturb your focus. Do the meditation in the same place each time as repetition will allow the mind to relax knowing what you are doing.
The mind is a tool. We are not our minds. We are more than our minds. Let the mind be a witness to our meditation. Then it becomes a useful tool.
Meditation is not a religion or a cult. It is an arc or bridge, connecting you to whatever your highest principle is. Whatever your religious beliefs are will be intensified through meditation. It’s not one or the other. It enhances your experience of your highest belief or your personal understanding of GOD.
In the prisons I have taught in, in the UK and the US, this has been a very important principle to understand; there is no conflict with your beliefs and you also don’t have to believe in anything other than yourself to meditate.
Just sit quietly and let yourself breath naturally and sense yourself in a safe space. That’s it. Let it go. The whole weight of the world can leave you alone for five minutes. That’s it! Five minutes. I am not asking you to do this for an hour, or thirty minutes or twenty, just five minutes. Just breathe easily in and out letting it come from lower down in your abdominal region.
Close your eyes, and let it all fall away, who you are, what you are, and all that you are supposed to be doing. Allow any noise or interruption to be an invitation to go deeper within yourself. Your mind will remind you of things you have to do. Thank your mind and go deeper, like a fish swimming effortlessly deeper.
If you only get a few seconds or a minute of true stillness in this five minutes it’s worth it. The next time it might double and thereafter it will get easier and your results will be true riches.