Meditation is as normal as breathing.
Much as our breath enlivens us, meditation maintains our body and mind in a balanced state, poised to function at its highest level of competence.
Meditation is scientifically proven.
Consistent practice of meditation balances brain waves, relieves stress, enhances self esteem, increases creativity, lowers blood pressure, and brings a multitude of additional benefits. Meditation offers serenity, healing and insight. It is not a religious practice, self-hypnosis, or one of the other misconceptions put forth by those who are less informed.
Meditation is more relevant today than ever.
In this age of instant social media, computer technology and internet communication, our brains are conditioned to move rapidly, switching instantly from one concept to another. For this reason, our mind is increasingly challenged to remain calm. Only in a calm state can we review, conceptualize, create, and think clearly.
Meditation adapts to any lifestyle.
In only fifteen minutes a day - as long as it takes to wash your face, brush your teeth, and put on clean clothes - you can meditate for benefits.
Meditation is a simple, natural process which benefits you on all levels: body, mind and spirit. You remain conscious, alert and inwardly peaceful. Your body and mind are rested and healed. You become increasingly aware of your true nature which is in command of mental attitudes, states of consciousness, mental processes, feelings and behaviors.
How to Prepare for Meditation
If possible, meditate at the same time daily. Choose a quiet, undisturbed time and place. A dimly lit room is best for beginners or extended meditation sittings. Commit to the experience, deferring other activities until meditation is complete (do not answer phone, door, etc.). Notify others in the household to not interrupt you. Arrange for any pets to be quiet. Avoid food or stimulating drink for one hour prior to meditation. Sit with the intention to focus, without expectation or judgment of results.
Ellie's upcoming book:
Meditate on This*: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Meditation for Personal and Spiritual Transformation
*Title is copyrighted
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This fantasy-adventure explores existence in an unfamiliar life, facing an onslaught of crises, and out of desperation applying spiritual principles offered from multiple traditions.
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A Brief Outline of the Meditation Process
Sit comfortably upright, with spine straight, comfortable, without slouching yet not stiff. Chin should be level or slightly elevated. Ideal is cross-legged “easy posture”. Sitting in a chair is good, too. Seek a balance of relaxed and alertness.
Relax. Inhale slowly and deeply. Exhale slowly, completely releasing the breath. Repeat 3 times to signal the body and mind to relax. Then begin to breathe naturally, observing your breath, allowing it to be fast or slow, smooth or jerky. As you continue to observe the breath, in time it will slow down and smooth out on it's own.
Place attention on your chosen focus technique (observing the breath, gazing at a candle, listening to inner sound, observing inner light, mentally chanting mantra, etc.) When you become aware your mind has wandered, release its current thought and gently bring your attention back to your focus. Do not try to finish your thought or dwell on your wandering mind. A busy mind filled with many thoughts is normal, especially in the beginning, so accept that your subconscious is releasing thoughts to bubble up into the silence, trying to get your attention. The key to benefits is to simply release them and return to the focus again, and again, and again!
Continue the process for 10-15 minutes. If at any time your mind remains calm and thoughts have receded, sit in the quiet and observe, enjoying the calmness. If not, continue observing and returning to your focus, with no expectations or disappointment.
When it is time to conclude, bring your awareness slowly back to your body and the room where you are seated. Remain seated, adjusting to the outer world again. It's essential here to remain quiet and calm for a minute or more, as this is when your body is re-calibrating to be active again. If you rush out of meditation, even if it seemed mentally busy, you can experience a headache or other discomfort. During a meditation sitting, your body processes shift into a slower, deeper state and it will experience shock if rushed back to the normal state too quickly. If this happens unintentionally (such as a phone call or knock on the door), handle the situation and then re-enter the meditation as best you can, and conclude slowly as instructed.
Carry the results out into your daily life to experience "meditation-in-action". Meditation offers serenity, healing and insight. Its benefits expand further when you resolve to maintain the centered attitude during daily events.
If you can breathe, you can meditate.
Simple Meditation on Breath
Meditation offers serenity, healing, and insight.
I can't meditate. My mind is too busy.
Here we have the number one frustration with meditation! It's time to let go of judgement that thoughts are bad during meditation. In fact, thoughts are part of the meditation process, not something to be maligned. It is normal to have an active mind when you sit to meditate, especially in the beginning. Whether you have a quiet or busy mind is not the measure of a meditation sitting's success. With consistent meditation practice, your mind will eventually quiet down.
Mental activity is inherent to the human condition. Our mind's job is to scan our environment, seek information, analyze, form decisions, ruminate on past experiences, anticipate future ones, and review our history to guide us in the present. The moment we sit down to quiet the mind, forgotten details pop up along with suppressed feelings and unexamined aspects of life, all arising to be heard. For meditation to be successful we do not examine these thoughts at that time. Instead, we acknowledge their presence and promptly set them aside, returning our focus onto our chosen meditation technique.
It is important to note that proper meditation practice does not suppress thoughts and emotions. On the contrary, it actually encourages open mental space where they can arise into awareness to be addressed. The key is to address them outside of the meditation experience itself.
As you release attention from mental chatter during meditation, unnecessary thoughts eventually lose potency and dissipate. On the other hand, once meditation is concluded, it is important to schedule time to process through any unresolved influential concerns, emotions and memories. Until these are dealt with, they cause background tension and static that constantly drains energy, promotes illness, drives addictions, and feeds depression. Thoughts carrying strong emotional responses need to be processed when you have freedom to sob, rant, tremble, and physically release. Meditation clears your mental field of debris so that when you do give attention to important thoughts and feelings, you are able to discern and resolve with wisdom instead of habitual, repetitive reaction.
This subject is a book in itself. Contact me if you wish more in-depth information.
I don't have time to meditate.
If you take time to shower, brush your teeth, and do laundry, you can find 10-15 minutes a day to meditate. With regular practice, it can replace dependence on hourly coffee boosts, snack breaks, worry distraction, stress, and a myriad of other undesirables that currently clutter your mental and physical space. Commit to daily practice for 3 weeks. Demonstrate to yourself that you are worth the time.
But I have children...
Meditate in the morning before the kids wake up, and in the evening after they have gone to bed. Better yet, teach them to have "quiet" time playing in their room as you meditate. My girls grew up knowing that when Mom or Dad was meditating, they also practiced quiet. Meditation was a natural part of our family life.
I fall asleep when I try to meditate.
This is a common problem as we strive to meet expectations and demands of daily life. If it happens frequently, perhaps you need more sleep. Sleepiness is not a reason to stop meditating; it's a reason to continue so you can experience the deep relaxation inherent in meditation. During meditation, the body relaxes more deeply than in sleep - down to the cellular level.
Here are a few suggestions to remain more alert.
1) Sit toward the front edge of a firm chair with feet flat on the floor. This position signals your body to remain alert.
2) Avoid meditating before bedtime when the body is conditioned to sleep. Meditate in the morning, or earlier in the evening.
3) Before a morning meditation, complete part of your morning routine prior to sitting. At least splash water on your face, brush your teeth, and run a quick brush through your hair. Do enough to wake up, but not so much that your mind becomes overly involved in the day.
Can I meditate during the day?
Of course. During my years of full-time work, raising children, and community activities, I frequently meditated over the lunch hour in my car. Contact meif you need suggestions on how to pull this off in a hot or cold climate.
My family (friends, partner) will think I belong to a cult.
Who is living your life? If you recognize meditation's value, it's your right to meditate. As mature adults, we can define our own journey. Share scientific studies of its benefits with people who question its value. If they still harass you, perhaps it is time to look elsewhere for validity of your life choices.
On a practical note, it is not necessary to announce to the world that you meditate. When I first learned meditation, I realized it would make some friends and family members uncomfortable. Thus I felt no need to share my experience with them. During my business career, when sharing a motel room with women business colleagues at conferences or in travel, I explained that I sit daily in silent prayer. This was an authentic explanation for me because I experience meditation as a time for connecting with my Source. More than once, friends loved the idea and sat down to join me.
Doesn't meditation open me to negative forces?
Such a belief is contrary to the purpose of meditation. Quite the opposite, it releases fears and judgement that would attract undesirable circumstances, replacing it with self-assurance and the innate memory of being connected with an infinitely promising and unconditionally loving quantum field.
I never experience bliss or exciting phenomenon.
No problem! Such "delights" are never the goal of meditation. We hear of such amazing experiences from gurus, movies, books, and perhaps fellow meditators, so we may desire them as a "reward" for our dedication. In fact, many experienced meditators never experience such phenomenon. Instead of expecting these, simply commit to consistent meditation practice, knowing that as you do, your neurological system is being refined, brain waves are balancing, your connection with inner wisdom is expanding, and you are evolving. Your meditation offers serenity, healing and insight. Measure meditation benefits by observing subtle, positive changes in your daily life. If you practice regularly and still don't see benefits, contact me to discuss how to proceed.
5 podcasts by Ellie Hadsall, 25 minutes each, provided courtesy of the Allen County Indiana Public Library's Audio Reading Service. Listen here
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