Wanna figure something out? Meditate!
I was updating an old post today ( Yahoo!! I’m a Baha’i!: Staying Motivated ) and I wanted to add something about what a great and useful tool meditation is. As I was writing, I realized I need to write a separate post about this, ‘cos I just could not be brief about this subject.
Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries. In that state man abstracts himself: in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves.
Though I’ve been a Baha’i almost my whole life, I didn’t spend hardly any time specifically on reflecting or meditating for my first 30 years or so. As I’ve gotten older, I realize that I did do both things kind of unconsciously as I spent a lot of time by myself in the woods surrounding the house I grew up in, or riding my bicycle (I had a 5 mile long paper route for a few years), or trying to fall asleep (insomnia started back when I was 3).
My real journey towards meditation began about 25 years ago, I was staying with a friend, it was bedtime and she wanted to share a guided meditation recording that she really liked. She said it wasn’t that long – maybe 15 to 20 minutes long and I thought it sounded like a good idea. She started it up and after about 2 minutes, I couldn’t be still. My nose itched, my foot fell asleep, I had to change my sitting position, and on and on. After about 10 minutes, I ashamedly asked my friend to stop the recording because I couldn’t concentrate hardly at all on what the fella on the recording was saying.
I was really bothered by this inability of mine – I didn’t seem to have difficulty focusing when Scriptures or prayers from any religion were being said or read – why couldn’t I meditate? I asked my friend what she would recommend and she started talking about movement meditation – like taking a walk and focusing on a single thing – like a word or how the breeze is blowing on your face or the color of the grass. I live across the street from a school that has a track oval – perfect! I didn’t have to pay attention to where I was going – the oval track took care of that – and I could just walk and try to focus. I won’t lie and say it was easy because I had never worked on training my mind in this way. Part of my insomnia problem has been my my mind racing with thoughts and my inability to slow it down. But even though it was difficult at first, eventually I found a rhythm that worked. Then I started using short guided meditation recordings, eventually moving to longer ones. I started experimenting with binaural beats and for me, that really helped train my brain (there’s loads of them on YouTube btw). Eventually, I got to the point where I could sit in silence, even in a room of people talking and I can successfully meditate.
Learning to meditate and doing it on a daily basis has been EXTREMELY helpful in many ways that I didn’t expect. Specifically, the first MRI I ever had was 20 years ago and I was stuffed into a very loud machine. When I say stuffed, I mean it: I was essentially the same diameter as the machine’s opening. It was super loud compared to the MRI machines they have now, but I decided to meditate and I just floated off someplace. I didn’t get anxious or feel closed in; I got to the state of meditation where my hands do this tingling thing – it’s hard to describe but the hand-tingling is usually accompanied by a sort of state of ecstasy. Anyway, it’s groovy and I realized afterward that if I hadn’t been able to meditate during that MRI, I would’ve had a panic attack!
Since my cancer diagnosis 2 years ago, I’m regularly put inside a loud machine for a scan. I’m smaller and the machines’ openings are bigger so I no longer have the stuffing sensation, but I’m still grateful for the ability to meditate. Instead of becoming impatient with all the “hurry up and wait” of medical treatments and appointments, IF I manage to remember that I have the ability to meditate, I no longer feel like I’m wasting whatever precious time I have left to live in this world. No, I’m no saint and I still get impatient frequently, but remembering to meditate really helps me with patience.
Another wonderful thing: it has calmed my “brain rats” down tremendously, which has greatly helped me in just about every thing I have attempted to do in the last 20 years. Brain rats are all those voices in my head that tell me how unworthy I am, how unskilled I am, how useless and awful I am, all the thoughts about how I shouldn’t bother even to try, have been vastly muted through meditation. Heck, it’s been way more useful than medication in this regard…and it’s FREE!
The last thing I want to share (though there are certainly many more ways that meditation has been beneficial to me – I *do* want this post to end fairly soon….) I have gained so many insights that I am absolutely certain are not the product of my own thought process. For example, recently (summer 2021), I was asked to sing at a wedding reception and I had no clue at all what to sing and there was NO time to learn anything new. While I was meditating, I was reminded of 2 short songs/prayers (in languages I don’t actually speak) that I had learned probably 15 years ago that would be suitable. In brief, it turns out, the groom – whom I don’t know very well – has a special attachment to one of the songs and was truly moved to hear it. This would not have happened without meditation. Thank you Baha’u’llah!
Anyone wanting to learn how to use meditation and prayer to gain insights and solve problems, I encourage you to go to this link which describes the 5 steps in using prayer to solve problems.
Many times when meditating I fall asleep – this has become a running joke in my family, that mediation time is actually nap time. Well so what? I probably need the sleep and I know I need the meditation. Let ’em laugh – I know what meditation does for me! Maybe you’d like to try it. 🙂
I of course always love to read your comments and maybe you can tell me about your own experience with meditation.
AND THANKS FOR ALL THE PRAYERS!!!