Most of us have heard the expression, (also the title of a 1962 musical and song), “Stop the World, I want to get off!” During 2020 and into 2021, the world did stop but our minds did not. Our thoughts took us to some very scary places and created a different type of stress – one that filled us with anxiety, depression, fear, grief, and sadness. So, stopping the world, for many, was not the answer to helping us slow down and calming our minds.
How do we quiet our monkey minds, cut out the chatter, and become still? My favourite tool is Meditation. It is a way of focusing our attention inwards. Meditation can help us gain a greater self-knowledge; get in touch with our emotions; reduce chronic pain levels; live a fuller, richer life. As our awareness increases, we may become more compassionate and more open to each moment of our lives. For moments in time, we forget about our past regrets and our future fears and focus only on the here and now.
According to Edgar Cayce, “Prayer is like talking to God. Meditation is a way of listening to God.”
By connecting to the stillness within, we may truly discover our place and purpose in this vast Universe. We cease responding to “situations” or reacting to the words of others, we are simply being. We are no longer connecting to Ego, filled with anger and fear. Instead, we communicate with Spirit, taking an important step towards forgiveness, gratitude, and love. Our hearts open.
We become aware and are no longer anxious or worried. During these precious moments, we feel safe with no need to make decisions or plans. We are calm and at peace and, sometimes, we even feel a bubbling of joy. This joy comes from nowhere, connected to nothing, just emanating deeply from within.
This stillness even transcends our moments of meditation. Our lives change. We become more conscious and less reactive. We learn to ask for help to see things differently. We may even learn to stop and take a breath before responding to harsh words or uncomfortable situations.
Meditation can take many forms. It can vary from Transcendental Meditation, where you repeat an Ayurvedic mantra, to Mindful Meditation, which involves in being in the moment, aware of every sound or thought without reacting, to a basic meditation involving repeating a word of your choice or simply watching the breath. Most forms of meditation are seated but there are also walking meditations, standing meditations, and eating meditations.
Meditation can be guided or silent or accompanied by soft music. It may be done in a group or by oneself. It is performed sitting in a comfortable position, on the floor or in a chair, usually with backs straight and knees bent. Lying down is not recommended because this often ends with falling asleep in the middle of the session. Eyes are usually shut but may remain open. It can be done anywhere and anytime as long as you are not driving a vehicle or using heavy machinery.
Meditation is an excellent way to begin and end each day, even if just for 15-20 minutes per session. For many, it changes how their day goes and deepens and improves their sleep.
How do you figure out which type of meditation to choose? Just choose a simple method and begin. One of the easiest methods is simply to focus on the breath. Breathing in on the count of four, holding the breath on the count of four, and breathing out on the count of four. Repeat. Or you can simply breath in for four and out for four.
Heart Math involves breathing directly into your heart for a count of 4 or 5 and out from your heart for the same number of counts. Feel the relaxation that follows. Feel the stress relief. Is your body sending you messages or guidance? Listen. Your Ego speaks very loudly but your Spirit and intuition speak softly. Feel the gratitude.
By meditating at the same time each day, you will develop this new habit. Find a time that works best for you and easiest to maintain. If not, you will probably forget to meditate for days, or even weeks, and eventually stop the practice completely.
Meditation is indeed a practice and the more we practise the better we become. The easier it is to go within. The deeper we go. The more benefits we discover. And yes, eventually, no matter what is happening around us, our bodies slow down and our mind is calmed.