Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meditation - focused awareness

This week in my classes I am focusing on awareness.  Awareness is one of the best lessons to learn from your yoga practice and it is what meditation is all about.  Most of us think meditation is about making the mind be quiet, but it's not actually that at all.  Of course, getting practiced with meditation makes a quiet mind easier to accomplish and it is definitely a benefit.  However, meditation is creating awareness and focus to some mantra, to the breath, a visual such as a candle, etc. With this awareness the mind quiets, but it is the practice of focusing the mind that creates the benefit.

The best lesson I learned in trying to meditate - something I struggled with literally for years - was being told that meditation is the act of hearing, seeing, knowing thoughts and just keeping one's self separate from them, just observing with detachment.  Here is an example:  when I would meditate prior to this realization, the garbage trucks would come through and immediately I would think "how can I meditate with this noise?!"  I would allow myself to be affected by the awareness of garbage truck noise.  Now, I hear the garbage trucks, but because I am focused on my breath or my mantra, my awareness doesn't shift to the noise, it stays focused, despite distractions.  Distractions only happen if you let your mind and your attention to shift toward them.  Meditation helps us to learn to not make that shift.

Some of the benefits of meditation, according to Dr. Andrew Weil:  lowering blood pressure, decreasing heart and respiratory rates, increasing blood flow, enhancing immune function, reducing perception of pain and relieving chronic pain due to arthritis and other disorders, maintaining level mood, and bringing awareness and mindfulness to everyday aspects of life.  I can vouch for the last 2 benefits.  They have literally changed my life.  The healing that occurs when you create a time for your awareness to be in a healthy and positive direction undo so many negative influences life throws at us daily.  The ability to stay present and not wander into the past or the future with worry and stress and regret is an unfathomable gift.

I can not say enough about how meditation has changed my life - my ability to cope, my emotional stability, and my daily focus on living joyfully are all enhanced by my meditation practice.  It never stays the same.  It changes and differs depending on what my needs are in life.  I use this amazing tool in whatever way I can!

How will you try to incorporate meditation in your life this week?

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