The “Sanbox” is where I ask, you, the reader to join me in a discussion about a specific topic. Today, I would really like your feedback on Meditation.
My earliest memory of doing a meditation was always listening or following along to audio instructions, relaxing, breathing and trying to clear your mind. In the last year I had done more meditation to music/chats and as part of one of my classes, we do a walking meditation. One of the sources of some chanting/meditating songs can be found on this Amituofo/Amitabha Buddhism website.
Two of my biggest issues with meditating was staying focused and finding time to do it. I can admit when I first did a walking meditation, I concerned myself with what others would think if they saw me doing it. That thought disappeared from my mind when we finished the walking meditation, the song continued on and I was able to find a special connection to it. Since the speakers were slightly overhead and the ceiling was vaulted, it almost sounded like the sounds was coming from “the heavens above”. It really cleared my mind.
When I first started other meditations, I found my thoughts wandered off to my responsibilities, or back to a stressful part of my day. It seemed I could only hold my focus on the meditation for a few minutes. One of the teachers I went to basically said “draw your mind back” and that’s what I started to do. I would be relaxed in meditation and when I realized my thoughts wandered off, I just focused back on the music or my breathing. After you meditate for a while, it becomes easier to stay focused. You will be able to meditate for longer periods of time but there will always be internal and external interruptions. Just “draw your mind back”.
One of the strange and wonderful things I have found about meditation is that it has cleared my cluttered mind. In the past I would start reading a book and after reading the first chapter, I realized I absorbed nothing from the chapter. I read words, single individual words and never really got into their meaning. In the past, I would start listening to a dharma talk on my iPhone but then my mind would wander, 20 minutes later I would have to play back the audio because I listened to the voice but never really listened. The same thing in life, if you only half listen, you don’t know what is going on around you. Meditation has helped me read and listen better than I ever have… unfortunately, if I am not mindful, my mind will still drift off from time to time.
Time has previously restricted the amount of time I could spend in meditation… that is, until I figured I could pretty much meditate throughout the day. You can! On my way to work, I listen to some chants. If I am driving from one location to another, I can also listen to a chant or dharma talk. You can put in your ear bugs and listen to some meditative sounds while waiting on a line. You can pretty much do this throughout the day except for the times when it is not possible. I work in the Computer IT field so I have to be attentive to what is going on during working hours and yet still, meditate during my hour lunch.
Lately I have concentrated on my breathing. I like to think I am breathing in pure, positive, clear/white air. When I exhale, I imaging I am breathing out any negativity, stress, polluted air. Sometimes I imagine the air I am inhaling is going through my noise, down my throat, into my shoulders, chest, stomach..etc and on the exhale, again, pushing out any stress or negativity. It really helps reduce stress and keep the mind focused on what is important.
Tell me, What is your process of meditation?