Don’t Just Do Something; Sit There—It’s National Meditation Month
Meditation means different things to different people. For some, it involves spirituality and ritual. For others it is as simple as gazing at a beautiful sunset.
The Zen philosophy came from Zen Buddhism but the word Zen is often used to describe things that are paradoxical. No matter what type of meditation you choose, there is no denying that meditation is so Zen. It's so easy it's difficult and the very highest pinnacle to which you can aspire in terms of meditation is that of a beginner.
"In the mind of the Beginner, there are many possibilities. In the mind of the expert, there are few."-- Shunryu Suzuki, from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.
Maybe that's why it's so difficult for those who need it most-over-achievers who want to be anything but a beginner. We could benefit from a practice that stills the monkey-mind (a Buddhist term that means unsettled, restless and uncontrollable), but we are unable to still the mind enough to begin, creating another paradox.
It has been more than twenty years since I had my first meditation instructions at a Zen Center in California. When people ask me about it, I'm happy to share what I've learned, but I tell them that their experience with meditation will not be like anyone else's experience. It's an individual process. Not only is it different for each person, each meditation session is different.
Sometimes I am not able to free my mind of intrusive thoughts and at other times, something as simple as sitting on a rock by the river and watching the water flow will enable me to slip into a sustained reverie.
The best thing about meditation is that it is always a clean slate, and it's good to be a beginner. That's something that appeals to me, an over-achieving, self-driven, straight-A student kind of person. It's nice that there is no goal, no pinnacle for which to strive. In meditation, it's all about the journey.
"The journey is what brings us happiness, not the destination," ― Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives
I am delighted that guided imagery works so well with meditation, whether you want to begin meditating or deepen your practice.
For beginners (and remember we are all beginners) our Introduction to Meditation Pack is just the thing.
Jon Kabat-Zinn's Guided Mindfulness Meditation is great for beginners, no matter how long they have been practicing. For those who prefer a DVD, try Mindful Movements, a collection of daily contemplative exercises by Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the greatest meditation teachers of our time.
For most of us, any guided imagery program, such as Belleruth's Relaxation and Wellness, will help clear the mental clutter and make it easier for us to begin meditation.
Tell us your stories. As always, we love hearing from you. Happy meditation month from your friends at Health Journeys, and remember the best thing you can be, in meditation and in life, is a beginner.
"If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few. " ― Shunryu Suzuki, from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.