Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Post #74: Taming the Wild Mind

Do you meditate regularly? Most of us do some form of meditation, whether we realize it or not. In school, I was always criticized for "spacing out," but now that I look back, it's clear to me that this was my way of protecting myself from becoming overwhelmed by too much activity and noise. This is one of the main purposes of meditation: to give our minds a break and allow us some downtime to sort things out.

Meditation is also a wonderful way to learn to just be. When we first start meditating, or sometimes even after years of practice, we get to observe the lower mind firsthand. It resists, complains: "I'm uncomfortable...there are too many distractions...the kids are making too much noise...this house is a mess...I have a million things to do...I can't relax...it's cold in here...I should be exercising...I shouldn't have eaten that donut...I forgot to pick up the dry cleaning...what's that smell?"

There are many forms and methods of meditation with different objectives, but most strive to help us find inner peace and deeper understanding of ourselves, others, the world, and the divine. They help us release unwanted mental and emotional debris, and gain clarity and stability. People who meditate regularly tend to be calmer and more balanced than those who do not. And this can be achieved in as little as ten minutes a day.

If you need motivation to cultivate your meditation practice, read the memoir, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Part 2, the India section of the book, guides you through the author's four-month stay in an ashram whereby she is transformed from "monkey mind" (reacting or bursting into tears at the slightest provocation), to "quiet mind" (able to sit in peaceful silence for several hours at a time). Gilbert's portrayal of her experiences beautifully demonstrates the many benefits of meditation.

So relax, take a few deep breaths, and have a great week.