I began my meditation commitment about two weeks ago.
I enjoy the sitting still and breathing for about 30 seconds, then my mind wonders, I start to fidget, I open my eyes and look at the clock and it hasn’t even been 30 seconds, try 15 seconds. But I do what I’ve read, take it easy on myself, bring myself back to my breath, relax my shoulders and try again.
I have been reading more about meditation and the practice that is going “mainstream” and found this article in the New York Times by Tony Schwartz, More Mindfulness, Less Meditation that had some interesting points.
“Here’s the promise: Meditation – and mindfulness meditation, in particular – will reduce your cortisol level, blood pressure, social anxiety and depression. It will increase your immune response, resilience and focus and improve your relationships — including with yourself. It will also bolster your performance at work and provide inner peace. It may even cure psoriasis.”
Wow, if it’s this great why isn’t it required in school just like gym and health class? And now it is really becoming the fad de jour when Rappers and Silicon Valley folks are getting on board, not to mention the Seattle Seahawks.
“50 Cent meditates. So do Lena Dunham and Alanis Morissette. Steven P. Jobs meditated, and mindfulness as a practice is sweeping through Silicon Valley. A week from Saturday, 2,000 technology executives and other seekers will gather for a sold-out conference called Wisdom 2.0, suddenly a must-attend event for the cognoscenti.“
The author, Mr. Schwartz, has been a regular meditator for nearly 25 years according to his article and wrote a book about it called “What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America” but his years of experience tell him that it isn’t a magic cure for all that ails you. He writes,
“The simplest definition of meditation is learning to do one thing at a time. Building the capacity to quiet the mind has undeniable value at a time when our attention is under siege, and distraction has become our steady state. Meditation – in the right doses — is also valuable as a means to relax the body, quiet the emotions and refresh one’s energy. There is growing evidence that meditation has some health benefits.
What I haven’t seen is much evidence that meditating leads people to behave better, improves their relationships or makes them happier.”
He goes on to write;
“Consider what Jack Kornfield has to say about meditation. In the 1970s, after spending a number of years as a monk in Southeast Asia, Mr. Kornfield was one of the first Americans to bring the practice of mindfulness to the West. He remains one of the best-known mindfulness teachers, while also practicing as a psychologist.
“While I benefited enormously from the training in the Thai and Burmese monasteries where I practiced,” he wrote, “I noticed two striking things. First, there were major areas of difficulty in my life, such as loneliness, intimate relationships, work, childhood wounds, and patterns of fear that even very deep meditation didn’t touch.”
I don’t expect meditation is going to solve all my problems, but I hope if I keep practicing that it might bring me a little bit of peace, help me focus more on what matters and help me understand myself a bit better. Maybe I am asking too much?
Mr. Schwartz’s column also gives some suggestions about starting with the basics. I might need the remedial class!
“First, don’t expect more than it can deliver.
Second, start simply.
Third, don’t assume more is better.”
The three steps in the article include more practical advise about using it wisely including this comment from Catherine Ingram, author of “Passionate Presence“,
“There is a difference between mindfulness meditation and simple mindfulness. The latter isn’t a practice separate from everyday life. Mindfulness just means becoming more conscious of what you’re feeling, more intentional about your behaviors and more attentive to your impact on others.”
I see both mindfulness and meditation with possibilities for improving me. If I improve me, I can use what I learn to improve things for others in and around my life. So I will keep trying, two minutes at a time.
Do you meditate yet? Why not – everyone else is!