I wrote what I thought was a hugely powerful blog this week. It looked at the sibling-esque rivalry between groups of all kinds attempting to master their “enemies” and be king of the hill. No single country or religion or sect will overtake the country or the world. It’s been tried through the ages. It hasn’t worked. So can’t we simply stop labeling and segregating and instead deal with people as individuals? Stop asking “what someone is” so they can be placed into a box by race, religion, political affiliation or sexual preference. Instead just look at the person, and interact with him/her as an individual?
Well…as you can see, that blog wasn’t published because there are those who thought I might offend with my language and logic. So…here I am, on blog day, resharing with you my journey into meditation.
Twenty minutes twice a day has truly become my salvation as the world gets crazier and the rhetoric gets meaner. Twenty minutes twice a day to center. Twenty minutes twice a day to calm my head and body, clearing the way for what I can do each day to make the world a better place. Give it a try.
If you had lunch with a friend and he/she looked and sounded amazing in spite of having a crazy life, you would want a piece of that action, right? Assuming that it didn’t involve illegal substances or deeds, of course. Well, that’s exactly what landed me in meditation school this past weekend. And while I went with a good dose of skepticism due to the price and class structure, in the end, I’m so glad I did it.
A little background: Several months ago, I had lunch with Bottom Line expert and friend Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum. She looked better than ever and was effervescing with energy in spite of her hectic daily juggle as a top cardiologist at a leading New York hospital and a single mother. I asked her what was different, and she explained that she had been meditating. I know this sounds like a bad script from some commercial for a new skin cream—“What’s your secret to looking so great? It’s my new meditation technique”—but it truly was the conversation we had. Given that she and I trade hectic-life-stories all the time, I really was interested in what she was doing to handle things so well because my head often explodes from overuse on a daily basis.
Suzanne explained that she was doing full-on Transcendental Meditation (TM)—20 minutes twice a day—and that I needed to get lessons and practice that technique. I accepted her offer to find a teacher for me, but my mind quickly went to work figuring out how I could do it on my own without spending nearly $1,000 and without having to commit 40 minutes a day to meditation in my already overprogrammed life.
It’s not that I didn’t trust or believe Suzanne. I totally did. But you know how we all make excuses when we want to avoid difficult changes. We rationalize why those changes just won’t work and then we make feeble attempts to “try” it so that we can assuage our guilt at not really doing it fully. So I spent the last several months making my efforts to meditate—10 minutes a day, sometimes 10 minutes twice a day, using assorted meditation aids including YouTube videos, binaural beats and deep-breathing techniques. And all the while, I was grateful that Suzanne hadn’t yet gotten me the name of the teacher. But then, one day, she sent it.
I registered for the introductory night at the local Transcendental Meditation center where the recommended teacher taught. Given that I’ve known about TM for years and that Bottom Line has written a great deal about its benefits, there wasn’t a whole lot new for me to learn there. It was just a question of committing to four sequential days of one-to-one-and-a-half-hour classes—one is private and the other three are classes with group meditations. Did I really want to meditate with strangers? That seemed like such a public act of a private moment. I reconfirmed with Suzanne that it really was worth the money, and she confirmed that other more simplistic techniques would not be effective for me. This is the way to go.
So I went. And guess what? I really do feel better.
I generally am such a skeptic and not one to have magical results since I am so prone to overthinking everything. In fact, I often am jealous of people who try something like hypnosis or meditation and suddenly their world is changed. But true story—each time I have meditated since getting my mantra…
I feel refreshed
I have more energy
I am fascinated watching the thoughts and images float through my mind. It’s like dreaming, but I am awake.
This isn’t to say that I don’t have to talk myself into getting up 15 minutes earlier each morning to make time to meditate before I exercise. And I have noticed that if my brain feels like it needs a break, then I have a much better meditation session. But if I am in a good mental/emotional state and feel like I am cramming the meditation session in between other things, then I am distracted and it isn’t as effective.
I know that this is a change for the long haul. The benefits of meditation have been proven time and again with improved physical health, improved mental health and even behavioral improvements in the most challenging populations of criminals and children at risk.
As with all behavioral changes, I just need to frame the situation properly. Rather than focus on the burden of 40 minutes a day, I will focus on the feel-good outcome of it. A while ago, I blogged about micro-cations. This is a whole different twist on the concept. With meditation, I can take my own private micro-cation and I don’t need to go out into the cold.