In the last issue, we discussed meditation and its benefits as a health technique. We also discussed some of the concerns people have about it. What can you do if you don’t have the time to sit and meditate? Or, what do you do when you’re stressed, and it’s not practical to take some quiet time? How do you maintain the calm while doing activities? The answer is you can still meditate.
The brain is composed of two minds: the working mind and the thinking mind. The thinking mind is the part of the brain that worries, has anxiety, overthinks, and lumbers over the past. It’s the revolving hamster wheel. The working mind executes an action and is task-oriented. It’s the one that picks up the pitcher and pours a glass of water, while the thinking mind worries about dropping the pitcher, spilling the water, and whether the cup is dirty. While driving to work, the working mind has you turn, slow down and speed up. The thinking mind is yelling at the person for going too slow, stressing out about being late, and irritated about the weather. For daily life, the working mind is very important; the thinking mind, not so much.
As we discussed in the last article, the purpose of meditation is to engage the working mind so as to block out the thinking mind. This is done through using a mantra, song, or prayer of your choice. Continual repetition of the mantra engages the working mind and keeps the mind clear, allowing the body and nervous system to fall into a deep state of peace.
So how does one do it in daily life? It’s simple. Just use the same methods while doing activity. Whether jogging, brushing your teeth or working, you can gently recite your mantra. In the beginning, you can begin reciting the mantra and stop when you have to speak or think a thought. When finished speaking, just start the mantra up again. With practice, the mantra will become automatic, running quietly in the background, enabling you to do any activity while keeping clear and calm.
One living example of using meditation in daily life comes from a group of monks who live on Mount Athos, a remote mountain in Northern Greece that is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries, housing thousands of monks. These monks have dedicated themselves to God, going to an eight-hour mass daily and sleeping only a few hours. In order to enhance their connection to God, they are engaged in active prayer, or praying without ceasing. The prayer they use is called the Jesus prayer, which is repeated without ceasing, all day, even while doing chores. These monks report a deep peace and joy, almost a blissful state throughout the day, and it’s because their thinking minds are very inactive, allowing them to enjoy their spirituality.
Remember, meditation is customizable and can be modified to fit anyone’s needs. You can count numbers, recite a phrase of meaning, chant a verse, or watch the breath. Itâ€™s the practice that will make the difference.
It’s also flexible. If you start out the day jogging and meditating, and then realize that it’s the end of the workday and you forgot to do it, don’t stress about it, and just pick it up again when you remember. With practice it will get easier and easier and will sustain itself for longer periods. Your mind will calm, thoughts will become clearer, the world will slow down, and you’ll find it easier to enjoy life.
For some who find starting out to be hard, coming in for an acupuncture treatment to calm your nervous system may help jumpstart your meditative practice.