At my suggestion, my son tried a great way to ease into meditation through the "yoga nidra" pose where you lay on your back and completely relax with your legs about shoulder width apart and hands lain at the sides, palms facing up. In this pose complete relaxation is an understatement. I mean relaxing the teeth is even a part of the pose. That is simply the whole point: to relax every muscle and even the internal organs so that you can take your mind away from the body and imitate the observational detachment of slumber. The great part is that you don't actually fall asleep. Somehow even in the most tired state, you will maintain awareness, although it does appear to onlookers that you are sleeping.
For me, like my son, the difficulty in learning to meditate and recite mantras and the like was in the cerebral aspect of trying to understand what the goal was. I had a hard time doing something that my mind so vehemently resisted and, above that, something I didn't even understand. In time, the answer to my question came only in first taking the risky step of trying without knowing what I was doing or why.
I mean I knew about the ultimate claims of increased awareness, patience, mental rest, etc, but I had no frame of reference for any of those experiences in order to have any appreciation for the claims. Yet and still, I did have an affinity for the contexts that all urged me to meditate: yoga, tai chi, Buddhism, eastern medicine, eastern ideology & culture. So despite my resistance I acquiesced to the desire to learn more about what all my pursuits uged, meditation. Surprisingly, in the about the 3rd attempt something amazing happened.
Time stood still. In that moment, I felt every nerve ending in my body. I heard the clack of a squirrel's claws against a tree outdoors (and I was indoors). I saw the amber glisten of sunlight bend against the silver edge of a blade of grass through the screen door, in the field across the street. I heard the rhythm of the wind flying about the roofs and power lines and in and out of trees. I saw the single thread of web spin from the tail of a dime sized spider...
...Then I heard the click & clatter of a some rambling about tomorrow's laundry or if that midnight snack should be a whole serving of ice cream or a bit of cucumber; and what did I do? Well, of course, like any good, self-resisting soul I nimbly followed those rambles down their rabbit holes.
If truth be told, my whole shining moment of clarity endured for all of 3-5 seconds; but those 3-5 seconds felt like 3-5 eternities to me. When I said time stood still, I meant it. I learned in that unexpected and completely undeserved gift of stillness that meditation & mantras open our periphery of experience to the impeccable display of the present. In the practice of stillness, we leave ourselves room to take ourselves much less seriously. We can see the infinite threads that connect life and all the cacophony of ingredients that comprise a single moment of this illusive present tense. In that flurry of awareness, the mental debate about paper or plastic along with the majority of our unimpressive pressing thoughts just seem silly.
I say we "can" because none of these epiphany episodes are guaranteed to even the most expert practitioners among us. For the most part, we spend our meditation simply observing our thoughts in the midst of being far too busy clicking & clattering. Even that simple observation, is in itself a gift, though. In those rare moments we are not immersed in thought and riding those thoughts like a rodeo cowboys, we may be lucky enough to catch the falling star of watching our brains in action.
If you're lucky enough to catch your mind red-handed in the process of thinking, you're in the process of meditation as well. By observing ourselves think and not being "in" the thought, we get to see that we actually are not our thoughts. Most of us spend our entire lives immersed in thought and never get to know that our minds are merely tools to be used at our disposal. By stepping away from the fray of thought without stopping, judging, or engaging in the thoughts, we can observe the dynamic of the actual order of the mind. It's best understood by comparing the observation of our minds in thought to seeing yourself watching tv in a film or in a mirror. Until then, we could get so lost in the tv production, we forget that we are not actually in the M.A.S.H. unit or on the Survivor island.
What exactly then is the benefit of witnessing our minds thinking as spectators rather than as thinkers involved in thinking thoughts? To see that we can find a peace or center or calm even in the midst of a storm. We can maintain a place of stillness in the present (versus the future crisis of that thought's issue or the past glory of that thought's escape) that gives us a constant even when nothing in this world remains constant but change. The only other time we become this centered or still away from the barrage of thought is in our sleep when we surprisingly have no problem recognizing the thought process as symbolic illusions.
So just how do we unravel the lifelong habit of living "in" the thoughts that drag us down that insane rabbit hole? We create new habits of meditation or vibrational mantra to strengthen our ability to center in a changeless, unlimited, illogical, expansive, formless, fresh space--the source of our life's unique expression. From that center, from that neutral & open space, we have the room & stillness to catch that thought which may spontaneously arise containing the wisdom to guide us along our path.
Catch the present moment if you can! Meditate!
~ Danielle (dsjconnection)