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How to Make Meditation a Part of Your Life
“Meditate Schmeditate,” my mother-in-law, Dora, once said to her son, my husband, Mark, as he walked one summer day in Long Beach to find a quiet seat on the beach to engage in his twice-daily meditation practice. From that day on, every time Markos went to sit for meditation, he would say to me, “I will go meditate-schmeditim” and we would both laugh at it.
Twenty minutes a day, twice a day for more than thirty years. Mark rarely missed time to do his meditation practice. When he was an educator in the New York City Public Schools, he would get up 45 minutes early to meditate, then shower, shave, dress, make himself coffee and a peanut butter sandwich (for the energy he needed in her high-stress -very- messy- needs- school principal’s job) and then packs herself an apple, some clementines and some almonds. Then he would get in his car to head to East New York, Brooklyn. In my eyes, Mark was a true enlightened warrior.
Mark trained for TM in Manhattan in the early 1970s. Once, when I asked him what meditation meant to him, he said something like, “It helps me focus. Meditation relaxes my mind. It helps me relieve stress. It helps me to find solutions to problems. I do more.”
I often noticed that when he finished his daily meditations, he seemed happier and more relaxed. I admire how he keeps up with it day in and day out.
When I asked him if meditating meant he shuts down his thoughts, he said, “No, on the contrary, what it does is I just notice my thoughts and let them go while I focus on a mantra. ” A mantra is a phrase or sound. Don’t let your mind wander over to-do lists and look ahead to the busy day ahead.
Meditation has become somewhat noisy. In a recent interview at the 92nd Street Y, Ariana Huffington talked about the many CEOs who meditate, most famously the late Steve Jobs.
Studies using MRI have shown that the brains of Tibetan Buddhist monks who meditate daily and for long periods of time have increased gamma wave activity, which helps with many cognitive functions, including increased compassion, improved memory and test trials. In short, Gamma brainwaves are what get you “in the zone.”
There are also health benefits. Science has shown that meditation can reduce stress, help reduce cortisol, produce adrenaline, and in turn lower blood pressure.
In a recent New York Times article, The Path The meditation center in Manhattan is an online meditation center for fashion and technology millennials. According to the article, many contracts have been made and jobs have been found after meditation. In Los Angeles, there are “Drybar” style meditation centers popping up.
If you ask me, meeting your true love or business partner through meditation is more promising than cocktails at the hippest trendy bar. At least you know who the person is in the moment.
Another article also pointed out that meditation has the potential to help students increase their scores on major tests such as the SAT and ACT exams.
Looks like Mark was really onto something many years ago. Meditation has served him well throughout his life, working through some very complicated situations in the school system and when he was losing his battle with cancer, meditation helped him stay centered and free of complaints even when I know that he just wanted to scream.
It was because of Mark that I began my thirty year journey of yoga and meditation. As someone who is high energy, active, and needs movement, I found that in order to meditate I had to do a little yoga or dance around the gym, walk, or just walk in sedentary circles to relax myself. move and release more. inertia Then I can sit back and enjoy the silence. I am grateful to Mark for starting me on my yogic path. He said, “I have great powers. I grew up on the streets of Brooklyn which taught me a lot about people.” And I appreciate that he shared it with me.
Being a social person my favorite way to meditate is to practice in a group with my yoga buddies which is where the practice really opens up for me.
But it becomes something else with me at home. The practice is to give myself a few minutes of grace every day. Even just for 5 minutes to let my busy, monkey mind go. Productivity increases when I relax my mind and body.
There are many places to look for those who want to practice meditation. There are many types of meditation to try on YouTube.com, which you can practice in your living room.
Try not to judge yourself. According to meditation teacher and American Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfeld, it takes a lifetime to master meditation, so why not just enjoy it? There is no right way. Just sit down and it will open.
The UCLA Mindfulness Research Center is a good place to get a free training and introduction to meditation, marc.ucla.edu and look for the link to Free Guided Meditations. Or check out iTunes for both free and paid meditations.
There are also many APPS to help you learn.
Although when I think about it, the whole concept is a bit of an oxymoron. Meditation app. Kind of like the old “jumbo shame”. The idea is to reduce the noise in your head. If you can do it without checking text messages, don’t bother putting down the phone then here are some apps to try some free and some charge:
Breathe2Relax helps you work with your breath,
Buddhify 2 short and long meditations and information,
Omvana has music, talks, guided meditations and more. Browse your APP store to see what’s available read reviews try a few types of meditation.
I have had great success with the yoga nidra meditations I listen to on YouTube.com Google: yoga nidra and many variations will appear
Yoganidra is one of my building blocks that I can lean on after losing my wonderful husband Mark to cancer. Depression can be debilitating. Yoga nidra let me heal.
One thing I know for sure, meditation is neither strange nor complicated. It can be as simple as finding a quiet place, closing your eyes and telling your mind to follow the breath. I tell myself, “breathe in, breathe out” until I say it, I just follow it.
My best recommendation is to find a meditation center or yoga studio that offers meditation practice.
Some, like Yoga Nanda in Garden City, NY offer free community meditation every week.
Or just find your place of peace by doing what Mark always did: sit wherever you are.
Follow your breath and relax your mind.
Notice your thoughts as they flow and let them go.
Follow the breathing for 5 minutes or longer. Make an appointment with your peaceful self.
Go find your peaceful place, I bet you’ll be glad you did.
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