Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Question

Do you meditate?  A simple question pertaining to what is, for me, a complex concept.

I keep reading and hearing that one should be in the moment, experience the here and now.  Take the time to center yourself instead of letting your mind go off in ten different directions.  This sounds like what meditation might be.

One definition I found listed the benefits of meditating as increasing awareness of the present moment, reducing stress, promoting relaxation and enhancing personal and spiritual growth.  (Make mine a double, please.)

In her book Inner Simplicity - 100 Ways to Regain Peace and Nourish Your Soul, Elaine St. James says:

"Meditation is one of the most powerful tools
we have for self-expansion and inner growth.
Through meditation we can reach levels
of mental clarity that we cannot achieve
through any other means."


But, try as I might, I've been far from successful at learning to meditate.

I should be able to do it.  I've always thought of myself as quite single-minded (Narrow-minded?  Who said that!?), comfortably focusing on a task, thinking of nothing else but moving toward completion. 

I suspect my inability to learn to meditate may be connected, in some way, to the fact that I've tried yoga and tai chi and have been amazingly unsuccessful.  Both are too slow!  Now don't laugh at me because I'm serious.  Admittedly, one of my faults (yeah, there are many) is that I'm impatient.  (Just ask my husband.  No, never mind, please don't.)  I have a need to move (at more than a snail's pace) my mind or body.  A hike or brisk walk is more to my liking.  Any day.

Do you meditate?  When did you start?  Was it difficult or easy for you to learn to do?  How often do you meditate?  In what ways is it beneficial for you?  Please share.  I need your input.  Something you say may show me the way.


Michelle said...

Tricky question to answer because of semantics; I suppose my spending time every morning in Bible reading and prayer is defined by meditation by some but it is not just "inner focus." The Bible reading does help my mind stay in place instead of skittering off in ten directions; it sounds like you and I are very similar in that respect and the need to move QUICKLY, not mosey (my guys are mosey-ers).

tpals said...

Not me! Navel-gazing has never appealed.

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - I've thought perhaps prayer could be called meditation, too, but then you're not emptying your mind but rather concentrating on a particular thing. I understand you completely in needing to move quickly. I've often said I'm the brawn (moving) and hubby is the brains (thinking) of our partnership!

tpals - Well, you're no help! ;o)

Anonymous said...

First I would like to thank you for writing your blog. I truly enjoy reading it each time you post.

When it comes to meditation I think there is more than one way to accomplish the ultimate goal.

I practice meditating while walking (at a good pace!) by paying attention to the way my feet feel striking the ground, noticing what I am smelling or hearing. While I do that I am less likely to become embroiled in my own hamster wheel of thinking for those brief moments.

Inevitably the hamster has it's way and my thoughts distract me again. So I gently start paying attention to my breath, or the wind on my skin.

The thing that has helped me most is understanding that meditation doesn't mean your brain gets quiet (although the more I do it, the more moments I have where that can happen) but what I do is let those thoughts flow through me instead of hanging on and following them where they go.

Sometimes I visualize them as flying away in balloons or I let them run wild like dogs in the park. I see that they are there, but I don't grab onto them. And if I do, I notice that and gently let go again.

Truly meditation can be done anytime anywhere. Doing dishes is a good time. Pay attention to the water on your hands, the smell of the soap, etc.

I hope this helps. If you persist you will find your own way and what works for you.

Stay safe and healthy!


Mama Pea said...

Veronica - Thank you so much for your very nice words and for your detailed explanation on how meditation works for you. You've given me some concrete ideas. The thought of "letting go" of all those things the monkey mind keeps bringing to the forefront certainly appeals to me. Banish them, set them free floating far, far away. I will be reading over your comment several times and, again, I thank you for taking the time to write it down. :o)

Sparkless said...

Yup I meditate as often as I can. There are different kinds of meditation. The one that most people have trouble with is the one where you clear your mind. If that is the one you can't do then try what's called a guided meditation. A voice guides you about what you should be doing like your breathing and where your mind should be going like on a walk in the forest or even doing an activity you love like quilting. It's all about concentration and imagination. Once you get the guided meditations down move on to the kind where you clear your mind even if you just start with a few moments. I tend to always have a self monologue going in my head so sometimes I need to shut that off for a bit and stretch and come back to center. Even a walk is a kind of meditation if you are taking the time to enjoy your surroundings.

Mama Pea said...

Sparkless - Yes, I've been trying to do the process where I clear my mind. (Not working. :o[ ) I have read of the guided meditation but I didn't think I needed anymore voices in my head. (Just kidding.) That sounds like something I should try. Thank you for your input!

Nancy In Boise said...

Hi Mama, meditation can certainly be done while you're walking and I think it's just really concentrating on something simple like color of the sky. I'm pretty sure nobody looks at their Naval anymore when they're meditating. there's a lot of different kinds of meditations and one little visualization trick I Learned was to take a thought that keeps coming back and visualize putting it on a cloud and having it float away. but if you're more active you can do it really with whatever you're doing. friend since taking a bicycle ride or brisk walk just focus on your breathing and you can even count your breaths if that helps you. I found meditation exceptionally helpful especially during stressful times

Karren said...

I actually followed the Transcendental Movement technique for a while, where you focused on a mantra, or meaningless sound for a while. That didn't really work for me, for the reasons you mentioned. My mind kept running off to play. I do, however, still use a relaxation technique where I simply sit comfortably, close my eyes, and focus on relaxing each part of my body at a time, moving from head down, and releasing the tension from each part as I concentrate. By the time I get to my feet, I feel calmer, and more rested and usually set for a few more minutes, just letting my mind focus on what's next and enjoying the ease I feel in my body. It does help, and the more often you repeat the process, the easier it happens, so it's very helpful for getting rid of those clenched muscles that we fight against each day.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

I do not meditate as such. I'm not good at that, and can't abide yoga either. I have dabbled in Tai Chi because a friend wanted to do it, but a lot of the time I'm frustrated because (and this is going to sound ridiculous) it's slow and repetitive.
I do find that when things get to me, when I am sensory overloaded (as one can get in my world), I need to be quiet, still. I feel so much better if I can just get outside, and as you know, I do some chicken watching and just zone out, or get lost in my own thoughts. I consider it kind of like re-charging, or soaking up energy from the earth when I feel like all my energy has been sucked out of my body.
But no, I don't do specific meditation. That whole "emptying of your mind" thing is quite impossible for me. -Jenn

Sam I Am...... said...

I tried and even if you 'fail' it is still worth it although I went to journaling. I was forced to slow down when I got RA and also Graves' Disease where I almost went blind. I think we get wake-up calls and I know I did. So, I had to change my lifestyle and listen up! I did and I am happier and more balanced and at peace than I have ever been. I took to journaling every morning when I went through my divorce. I wanted to get all the negative out on paper and out of my head and that was about 25 years ago! LOL! It's so much a part of my day now I get my coffee and crawl back in bed and write both sides of a piece of notebook paper. I write about the day before and what I accomplished or didn't. I write 10 things I am grateful for and a written prayer and also what my plans/priorities are for the day.
If you are happy and at peace I wouldn't change what you do but if you think it would help you in some way give it a try. You will always have to fight the 'wandering thoughts' though but in the struggle you will find peace and clarity. The journaling just seemd to fit me better and cover all bases. Good luck!

wyomingheart said...

Hello Mama Pea. I have tried to zone out, as they say, and I have never been able to stop the boring noise in my head. It is simply just too slow for me to get quiet. I do find that on my walks in the woods, my mind is able to live completely in the moment and it is there that I can find my own kind of zen. My sister in law is a yoga instructor, and she has tried her best, to no avail... I am just not on that level, and that seems to be perfectly alright with me....lol !

Cockeyed Jo said...

Standard meditation, no. Prayerful meditation, YES. It's a form of meditation oft overlooked. I end it with the same relaxation and rejuvenating results. I'm recharged to face anything ahead.

wisps of words said...

Never really mastered it. And I take solace in what Joseph Campbell (a brilliant but wonderfully accessable man/author) said... I paraphrase but, he couldn't and thought maybe, it is the difference between the Eastern mind and the Western mind.

So I must have a very Western mind. -smile-

I did get into it a bit, recently. Actually paying attention to my breath, going into my body, and coming out. While doing that, I let other _thoughts_ pass by, as it were. Do not grab onto them. Guess that is what-we-are-to-do.

But you need to do that, for 15 minutes!!!!!! -grin-

You know I dearly love Susan, but also feels she is a bit "over the top," on some things. Her doing of certain things, feels a bit simplistic, to me. Too quick, maybe...

But then we don't _know_, how long it took her, to do things.....

Anyway, I wouldn't worry about not being able to master this. As I said, Joe Campbell couldn't, and he is about the most brilliant person, I ever read. -smile-

Stay safe.
P.S. I feel a question coming... "Titles of books, by this man, please?"

Retired Knitter said...

No - not a mediator. Just never seemed to work as an intentional practice. But I think there are times when it happens spontaneously - when I am quiet and start to let my mind wander and sometimes empties.

Mama Pea said...

Nancy - You bring up some good points. Maybe I'm thinking of meditation in more of a strict sense of the definition. It doesn't have to be done while sitting still as you suggest!

Karren - I do like the thought of relaxing the whole body part by part. To my mind, that's still "doing" something instead of trying to make my mind blank . . . which totally escapes me!

Jenn - Oh, yes, the chicken watching! Why does that appeal to people who keep a small flock? Hard to explain, but perhaps it's because they seem very content with their little world going about doing what comes naturally and not being the least bothered by upsetting thoughts. (Barring those pesky hawks spotted soaring in the sky occasionally!)

Sam I Am - I've tried journaling (is that a word?) on and off through the years, but have always given it up in that I felt it brought out too much negativity in me. Make any sense? Rather than putting down upsetting or negative thoughts to get rid of them, I felt they were just brought to the forefront. Guess I never learned the next step of booting them out the door!

wisps of words said...

Mar. 2

You have some wonderful comments...!!!!!!

It isn't easy at first, per most everything! And lots of us give up, too soon. I suppose. I did...

Paying attention to something.... your breath going in and out... the sky.... Isn't as hard.

But getting easy, with letting our monkey mind thoughts, just drift awayyyyyyyyyy... That takes practice. we are so used, to following all the monkey mind thoughts, that to NOT pay attention to them, is a biggg change.

Guess we *want* to *work* on it, too much.

And we have to *not work* on it. Calm down from *working* mode. Let the breath flow..... Notice it..... Let the monkey mind thoughts,,, JUST FLOW by, like clouds... We "see" them. But we don't "hold" them, or give them the usual attention. Let 'em flowwwwwwwwwwww...


You have me hooked on this meditation topic now!!!!! Better than being hooked on "the news"!!!!!

Stay safe
πŸ’› 😌 πŸ’›

Mama Pea said...

wyomingheart - So good to see/hear from you again! You know what? I'm beginning to think that's it's okay for me not to be able to meditate in the strictest definition of meditating. How's that for growing??! ;o]

Cockeyed Jo - Just goes to show we all should do and follow whatever it is that works for us! Wise woman you are.

wisps of words - Hubby and I think you have hit on a very important fact regarding meditation. It just may be the difference between the Eastern and Western mind. How simple (if true) that explanation would be!

Do you remember the columnist Sidney J. Harris? He was enamored of Joseph Campbell. I've not read Campbell but even have a couple of old columns (filed away somewhere) of Harris' so I wonder if they held the same kinds of philosophical thoughts and ideas.

Retired Knitter - I understand your comment but still can't grasp the concept of having an "empty mind." In my head, there's ALWAYS something there! :o\

wisps of words - Through this post and the wonderful comments, I think I'm moving toward a spot where I'm going to let the thoughts of learning to meditate float away on those clouds that will also carry my unpleasant, unnecessary or monkey mind thoughts. This has been a learning experience for me!

wisps of words said...

April 3

Would you believe, I am back again!?! Yes you would!

Anyway, I need to check how my today's Sig Line looks, and I know you have a Comment Publishes Right Away blog. So I can seeeee it, right away, and make changes, if I want to.

See, I am a sort of a neat-freak. (Sort of? Hahhhhh) And I like to have my Sig. Lines look 'balanced.' Sooooo... thank you for allowing me to check it. >,-0

πŸ’§πŸŒ·πŸŒ± πŸ’¦πŸŒ±πŸŒ·πŸ’§

wisps of words said...


The HUGS and the clip art line, are quite even!!!!

I know, I am a "Basket Case"!!!! LOL

πŸ’§πŸŒ·πŸŒ± πŸ’¦πŸŒ±πŸŒ·πŸ’§

Mama Pea said...

wisps of words - Hey, when you've got the time and talent to make your blog and comments look lovely, you should go for it. Glad to be of a small help!

Anonymous said...

The reason "your" way of meditating gives no comfort or ease or peace or just seems too "slow" is because you were not created to be "SELF" focused. The focus on self will always lead you astray...it holds no contentment. It is a lie. You have a VOID that only your Creator can fill, though you are high minded in thinking it is not so.

Psalm 119:15 says "I will meditate on YOUR precepts and FIX my eyes on YOUR ways". I know you do not believe in the GOD of Creation (the God of the Bible). You are old and are as dead man's bones though you live. NOW is your day of salvation. The world is under the curse of sin and the Redeemer who died to bring everything back under His REIGN is coming soon. Please Pea family, find your bible and read, read, read of Him that you have snubbed all your lives. He loves you and it's not too late. I know there has been the worship of the occult in your family ties. With all that is happening (and it's only going to get worse), will you not consider GOD's love for you and this warning?

Mama Pea said...

Anonymous - It would seem you know a lot about our family, our beliefs and family ties of which I'm not aware.

Anonymous said...

A life that is authentically lived becomes a moving meditation and a powerful prayer in of itself. It is quite obvious that you are truly blessed, my dear friend.--M

Mama Pea said...

Anonymous(M) - Well, you have lifted my spirits just about sky-high this morning. What a beautiful thing to say. I thank you, I thank you.