Hi. Remember me, I used to blog here. Seems as if I had a writer’s block with the magnitude of Hoover Dam. I couldn’t think of anything to write and when I did think of something, I couldn’t write it. I’d start and then I would get the feeling that it was going nowhere, and it was just to exhausting to contemplate finishing.
I hope that’s going to change. I feel like it is.
Why? Because I’ve opened a new chapter in my life. I’ve started meditating. I can almost see the eyes rolling out there in the webosphere. I’m as cynical as the next guy and there are no shortage of opportunities to cynically poke fun at meditation, meditators and the ‘new age’ lifestyle. It’s so California. And I’m so Minnesota.
I’ve been interested in meditation and Zen and contemplation since my college days, it was all part of that hippie thing and the Beatles and sitar music. But then I have a vague interest in a lot of things. A couple of years back a good friend of mine started meditating as part of his efforts to deal with physical and mental health issues he was having. He sent me to a website that had some very brief instructions how one goes about meditating, gives you a mantra and sends you on your way to enlightenment. I tried it for awhile and noticed some benefits but soon my progress stalled and I didn’t feel like anything was happening so I drifted away from it.
Earlier this year I ran across Waking Up by Sam Harris in a list of the best books of 2014 on Brain Pickings, Maria Popova’s wonderful intellectual curation blog. The subtitle is A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. I started reading and also resumed some of my previous practice of meditation. Also the same friend that got me going on meditation sent me a book, Words to Live By by Eknath Easwran, which has short daily readings based on quotes from various spiritual sources, both Eastern and Western.
I was using the techniques from before plus a few from the Harris Book, combined with daily readings from the other. I was making some progress toward achieving a quiet mind, but then started to find it more and more difficult.
It’s like that old trick of trying to count to ten without thinking about a rabbit. Have you ever tried not thinking? Pretty soon you’re thinking about not thinking. You’re mind quiets and, “Hey, I’m not thinking, wait, I just thought about not thinking.” It’s hard, but it’s not, because it’s effortless. You can’t make an effort and you can’t make an effort not to make an effort. I was frustrated.
The subject came up in a conversation with my daughter Quinn. She had also been starting to dabble and she mentioned guided meditation and that there were lots of podcasts devoted to it. The next day I checked it out and found a series of podcasts presented by Meditation Oasis and gave them a try. I like these sessions because, well for one Mary Maddux, who does the voice might have the most soothing voice in the universe. Another thing that I found very helpful is that she reminded me (the other sources had talked about this) not to fight it. If a thought comes up, it’s OK. Just don’t follow it. If you drift away from the instructions, it’s OK, just come easily back to it.
They have guided meditations for every occasion. Morning energy, going to sleep, creativity, intuition, your inner child, the list is long. I’ve found them to be effective, very helpful. I think I’m actually feeling better and more creative and less crazy. I’ve found that ideas for new blogs have been coming again. Which is a good thing.
So I’m going to keep this up. Of course there is much more to meditation than I can capture in one blog post, so be warned, I’ll be writing about it more in the future.